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Christmas Gift Guide

Kronos Pro Turntable

64 Audio Tia In-Ear Headphones

KEF LS50 Wireless Speaker

Jolida FX 10 Tube Integrated Amplifier

Emotiva’s Dan Laufman

ELAC Adante AS-61 Speaker

Pioneer SE-CH9T In-Ear Headphones

Avantgarde Acoustics Zero 1 Speaker

Vinnie Rossi LIO DHT Preamplifier

Technics SL1200 G Turntable

MA Recordings Todd Garfinkle

Audio Technica ATH AD1000X Headphones

PlanterSpeakers

Focal Sopra No.1 Speaker

Acoustic Signature Ascona MK2 Turntable

Anvil Alloy Convertible Turntable

The Axpona (Audio Expo North America) show was held last weekend at the Westin O'Hare Hotel in Chicago. I've never attended before, but I'm happy to report the exhibits of affordable to high-end audio were outstanding. At least half the demonstration rooms were playing LPs, and the ones that weren't streamed digital files. Only a handful played CDs.

First up, the Kronos Pro turntable uses counter-rotating platters not only because they look cool, the twin platters are said to produce high-resolution sound quality. Build quality is absolutely stunning, the Kronos Pro is what high-end audio is all about.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The 64 Audio Tia is a "tubeless" in-ear headphone that puts its balanced armature drivers just behind the ear tip for greater clarity. I heard Tia at the show, and can't wait to get a pair in for review.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

When the original and still available wired LS50 debuted not that many years ago, audiophiles all over the world (including me) were bowled over by the sound. KEF recently introduced this bi-amplified wireless version, which I hope to review in the coming months.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

This glass-encased compact all-tube amp sounds sweet, and it's ideal for use with desktop and small room speakers.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Laufman was at Axpona with a bevy of affordable new Emotiva designs, a truly wide range of two-channel and home theater components and speakers.

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The Adante AS-61s at Axpona were pre-production speakers, but were a lot closer to the final version than the ones the press heard at CES in January. The sound was remarkably transparent and focused.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

I got an earful of these little guys. They're nicely made, comfy, and the sound balance was smooth and even. Hope to get a pair for review.

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The Avantgarde Acoustics Zero 1 floor-standing speaker is an all-in-one solution, with built-in digital processors, power amplifiers in a fully integrated, high-end system.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

There's nothing quite like this "convertible" preamp that's compatible with 2A3, 300B, PX4, 101D, and SV811 triode tubes. When you change tubes, you change the sound. Like all Vinnie Rossi designs, the LIO DHT PRE is made in the US.

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If you want a direct-drive turntable with a long history and huge success, the Technics SL1200 G is the latest model in its line. With any luck I'll get to review it soon.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Todd's holding one of his new red LPs, but MA Recordings is best known for fantastic sound quality on its CDs of world, jazz and classical music.

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The ATH AD1000X is the first open-back headphone I've ever heard from Audio Technica. I liked it a lot!

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Yes, the planters and the center column are all speakers designed for indoor or outdoor use. Sound quality was decent.

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Focal is France's leading high-end speaker brand, and the Sopra No. 1 packs a healthy dose of Focal's design expertise and juicy sound quality. The speaker is available in a wide range of colors.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The Ascona is what audiophiles call a "high-mass" turntable -- one that uses precision design, combined with weight to minimize resonance to produce the best possible sound quality.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The Anvil Alloy Convertible turntable features a magnetically levitated 25 pound platter and motor. This turntable is loaded with unique features.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET
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