AXPONA 2015

AXPONA 2015: Madisound

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When it comes to show coverage, the worst ordeal isn’t the airline travel. It isn’t the lumpy hotel bed, or the long hours, the lack of sleep, or the series of crippling hangovers. The biggest single problem facing someone who goes to too many shows is trying to figure out where to start writing.

Fortunately, we have Madisound, the home brewing maven’s supply depot, to help us out. If you’re looking for inspiration, Madisound’s room is the place to run to see the wackiest ideas in the joint. Take their demo system: a pair of assembled Linwitz LXMini kits with the optional MiniDSP 4×10 crossover ($895 total cost) was fed by Madisound’s usual Benchmark DAC1 HDR ($1295) and an Emotiva XPA-5 five-channel poweramp ($999) for one of the lowest total system prices at the show. Despite the lousy setup and indifferent musical selection, the sound was surprisingly tolerable. The soundstaging experience alone rivaled anything else at the show, and brought home my motto: those who won’t DIY deserve to pay through the nose.

But that’s hardly the reason to go to the Madisound room. As always, the tables filled with drivers and parts are the real draw. Just a few minutes’ gawping at the candyland buffet is enough to send any approximate carpenter into at least a weekend’s frenzy of daydreaming up their summertime plans — a pastime that Madisound’s Adam Johnson and Brian Kane are always happy to encourage.

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RMAF 2014

RMAF 2014: Madisound and the paradise that awaits

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Logo - Blue VectorMadisound, which my daydreams assure me is a magical paradise filled with sugar covered hills and whiskey lakes, where all the great DIY adventurers will rest when they die, and where everyone gets issued all the Festool toys the day they show up, took out another two rooms in the hotel.

The most popular room saw Siegfried Linkwitz demonstrating both the LX521 that I wrote about last year as well as the handy-dandy, easy-peasy, $400 LXmini. I’d tell you more about those, but my five attempts to get into Grandmaster Linkwitz’s room were foiled by the press of an excited crowd and the defensive viciousness of its elbows. It sounded good from the hallway. I do hope to meet the good Mr. Linkwitz one day, but the adoring crowds at RMAF made that seem less likely than an audience with the pope.

Fortunately, Madisound ran another room bursting with raw drivers, enthusiasm, and the most perverse little system I would have imagined. Of course they were playing it when I went in.

It’s not listed on their website, but the crazy gents from Wisconsin have created a new standmount speaker based on the Seas Exotic range. Each speaker boasts a T35 X3-06 alnico tweeter ($540ish) and a W8 X2-08 alnico woofer ($900ish). You and I both starting thinking “tubes” right about now, but those Wisconsin winters had the gents thinking “Hypex.” The back of each speaker sports a Class D, PCS2.400 DSP amplifier ($370ish) with active crossing and DSP processing. Buy some wood, build some cabinets, and you’re at less than four grand for a system that will make no apologies. If that excites you, talk to Madisound. They’ve programmed some DSP filters that make them very happy, and they’re willing to share.

I wasn’t as thrilled with it as I might have been. Jim Salk is doing amazing things with those very drivers (at something more than three times the price), and I’m excessively spoiled. I was at least impressed enough to think that the room would have been better served without the grain of the Benchmark DAC-1, which says something about how revealing the speakers are. Honestly: if a Benchmark DAC is identifiably the worst thing in the room, there’s some very solid work being done.

But, really, who cares? A selection of the shiniest wares were laid out on tablecloths as though the Tech Center Marriott were a stolen watch convention. If Kirsten hadn’t been with me, I would have handed over my wallet and scooped up toys with both arms.

Madisound understands the hobby in its most elemental form. This would have been one of my favorite rooms even if it had been silent. The only things missing were a cold beer and a table saw.

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