2015 Newport Audio Show Report- Ayon Audio – The Absolute Sound


2015 Newport Audio Show Report

Show Report by Paul Seydon       |           Jun 04th, 2015
Categories: Solid-state power amplifiers, Tubed power amplifiers, Solid-state preamplifiers, Tubed preamplifiers, Integrated amplifiers.

Are there now too many audio shows? I ask because, coming hard on the heels of the Munich Show, this year’s Newport event seemed to get something of the short shrift. Several manufacturers did not have new product on display because the items had not yet arrived from Germany, which is a pity as the show occupied new digs at the Irvine Hotel, a more spacious and elegant venue that the Hilton of years past—and one that’s able to house the whole exhibit in a single building instead of spreading it out over two.

Amps, preamps, and integrated amps were my beat. I noticed three trends: One, everything was getting more expensive, in many cases, much more expensive. Two, there were more tube/transistor hybrids—the former in the front end, the latter in the amplification stages—than in the past. And three, quite a number of products were trumpeting zero feedback circuitry.

Auspicious Debuts

With Newport coming so soon after Munich, there wasn’t much in the way of auspicious debuts. However, though it’s not my category this year, my heart was gladdened by the reappearance of QUAD electrostatics (also recently seen at AXPONA in Chicago), absent these last two years due to a lack of North American distribution. That has been rectified as the brand is now being imported by MoFi Distribution (sister company to Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs), which had on display the QUAD 2812 ($11,999/pr.), the latest updating of the ESL-63 (that began with the 988 and continued with the 2805, my reference), sounding gloriously transparent and uncolored (despite a distinctly less-than-sympathetic room). Norbert Schmied, formerly with Sumiko, informs me that QUAD’s entire electronics lineup has undergone a redesign and will be along soon. Happy news indeed. Meanwhile, Robert E. Greene is in line to review the 2812.

ayon titan 2015 Newport
Ayon Audio Titan SET Gen 4 mono block with onboard computer for checking tubes and monitoring operation

Ayon Audio introduced a bewildering number of products, the most imposing of which was the Titan SET Gen 4monoblock ($53,900/pr.), 75 watts of pure Class A, with an onboard computer system that lets you know in advance the condition of the tubes and the overall operation of the amplifier itself. Modwright’s PH 150 phonostage ($7895) is an all-tube transformer-coupled design (with external power supply) featuring resistive and capacitance loading that can be adjusted on the fly. Moving coils are accommodated with transformers—used more and more on phonostages, I’m discovering—and there is a stereo/mono switch and both RCA and XLR outputs are provided.

Modwright PH150
Modwright PH150 all-tube phono preamp with on-the-fly loading and capacitance adjustment