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DALI, Mission, Audiolab & Linear Tube Audio: AXPONA 2023

The DALI KORE, Mission 700, and Linear Tube Audio Ultralinear+ Integrated Amplifier turned more than a few heads at AXPONA 2023.

DALI KORE, Mission 700 Standmount Speakers, Audiolab and Linear Tube Audio

AXPONA 2023 was a necessary shot in the arm for N. American distributors and high-end retailers and based on our behind-the-scenes and post-show conversations with vendors, the overall consensus is that the event was very positive and that the crowd was significantly better than 2022.

The focus on products that most consumers can’t afford was not a positive according to some attendees who spoke with eCoustics Podcast Editor, Mitch Anderson, who attended the show, but that has always been the case with high-end audio events. Manufacturers bring their best to stand out from the rest of the exhibitors — who are doing exactly the same thing.

There were also a lot of companies demonstrating products below $2,000 including Polk Audio, Audiolab, Cambridge Audio, Q Acoustics, Rotel, Pro-Ject, and dozens of headphone and personal audio brands.

We also know from experience that it is very difficult to base any buying decisions on how a component performed in a show setting; your room at home will never sound anything like a hotel room or large exhibition suite and it is advisable to view product demonstrations at consumer A/V events as an appetizer.

We know that 99% of the audience can’t afford products like the DALI KORE Loudspeakers, but there is no question that they offer rather exceptional performance for those who can; assuming that have the right room and drive them with appropriate amplification.

DALI KORE

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The $110,000 DALI KORE Loudspeakers are a state-of-the-art assault on your ears and wallet.

Bang & Olufsen raised a few eyebrows with the release of the $115,000 BeoLab 90 loudspeakers — but the DALI KORE at $110,000 USD are more likely to pass the proverbial smell test. That’s not a fish joke. Maybe it is. Our Danish friends love their herring. As do we.

The Danish manufacturer is widely respected in Europe and Asia and it might shock some audiophiles to learn that DALI is the second largest manufacturer of loudspeaker cabinets in the world. Klipsch still holds that title. 

Their audiophile loudspeaker line ranges from $500 to $25,000 pair, so its rather shocking to see the company throw the kitchen sink into a state-of-the-art loudspeaker.

DALI first announced the KORE in September 2022, and represents what can be developed when no limits are placed on the product team. The acoustic engineering and industrial design enunciate subtle musical detail, rich dynamics, and lifelike imaging that is unexpected. The KORE is assembed in Nørager, Denmark.

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The KORE incorporates two 11-inch woofers and a 7-inch mid-range driver, produced with the brand’s signature wood fibre cones and honeycomb sandwich paper-pulp diaphragm. This is designed to balance stiffness with nuanced movement for optimal frequency and dynamic response. 

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High frequencies are handled by an all-new EVO-K hybrid 35mm dome and soft fabric ribbon tweeter, tuned to deliver the high-frequency octaves between 15 and 30kHz with the dome tweeter elegantly crossing over to the midrange driver. 

The drivers are controlled by a patented dual voice coil design with next-generation SMC (Soft Magnetic Compound) material that prevents electromagnetic forces from interfering with the circuitry that precisely regulates coil movements.

According to Jason Zidle, DALI Brand Manager Lenbrook Americas: “While the brand has wide acclaim in other parts of the world, it is our hope that DALI KORE makes a gutsy statement for the brand in Canada and the United States…Combined with the artisanal nature of their production, only retailers who are capable of reinforcing the exceptional level of design and manufacture that DALI KORE represents will be allowed to carry the product.

Mission 700

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At the other end of the price spectrum we find the Mission 700 Loudspeakers; Mission is part of the “vintage audio” renaissance that has become rather popular with a lot of audiophiles who remember the brand rather fondly from the 1980s and 1990s.

Mission has already found great success with the launch of the 770 loudspeakers and there is clear synergy with the Audiolab 7000 Series of electronics that are also manufactured by IAG; the parent company of Mission, Audiolab, Quad, Wharfedale, Leak, and Castle.

Mission introduced the 770 loudspeaker during the pandemic and it has already become one of the most popular modern “vintage audio” loudspeakers on the market. It is also rather expensive at USD $5,000/pair with stands.

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The USD $2,199/pair Mission 700 stand-mount speakers offer a striking aesthetic resemblance to the original model with a quoted frequency response of 45Hz to 25kHz (+/-3dB).

The Mission 700s are a two-way, vented stand-mount with a rather friendly impedance (8 ohms, 5.2 ohms minimum impedance) and 86dB sensitivity rating.

LTA Ultralinear+

Maryland-based, Linear Tube Audio (LTA), belongs on any list of the world’s best headphone amplifier manufacturers. The LTA MZ3 is a reference level headphone amplifier, pre-amplifier, and integrated amplifier packed into a desktop-sized package that offers the best of both topologies.

Linear Tube Audio microZOTL MZ3 front and back views

If you’re staring at the image of the MZ3 on their website and focused on the top panel which clearly shows off its compliment of 4 vacuum tubes, you would be incorrect if you think it sounds anything like a traditional tube amplifier.

It does not. Not even remotely. 

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Does it demonstrate the ability to infuse almost every type of recording with immediacy, texture, detail, and a rather impressive degree of space?

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Almost always. 

The MZ3 can be transparent, detailed, and colorful at the same time if the rest of the system is up to the challenge. 

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The “integrated amplifier” part of the equation only outputs a single glorious watt of power. 

One. Not even 1.5. 

The rear panel has two sets of outputs, and three single-ended inputs which is a lot for a desktop amplifier. 

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Its tonal balance works well with a lot of headphones from brands like HiFiMan, Audeze, Dan Clark Audio, and Meze Audio. You don’t have to spend $3,000 on a pair of headphones to experience what the MZ3 is capable of.

LTA also offers some of the most revealing integrated amplifiers and power amplifiers money can buy; and that’s at any price.

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Room 690 featured the $7,650 USD LTA Ultralinear+ Integrated Amplifier that was used to drive a pair of PureAudioProject Duet15 Prelude Open Baffle Loudspeakers which retail for $6,490 USD.

Linear Tube Audio also demonstrated a pre-production prototype of a forthcoming DAC (Price and Release Date TBD) which was connected to the $3,149 USD Innuos ZEN MK3 Server; the entire system was wired with ANTICABLES loudspeaker cables, interconnects, and power cords.

For more coverage of AXPONA 2023, click here.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. GM

    April 18, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    “Bang & Olufsen raised a few eyebrows last year with the release of the $115,000 BeoLab 90 loudspeakers…”

    Erm–the Beolab 90 was released in 2017, not “last year”. I happened to work for a company at the time which brought in one of the 1st pairs in North America for a client.

    • Ian White

      April 18, 2023 at 11:19 pm

      Gordon,

      Actually, it was 2015. Will correct.

      Good catch on that one. One too many B&O articles in the past two years.

      Ian

      • Ian White

        April 18, 2023 at 11:21 pm

        Gordon,

        I was correct about the price in 2022 though. It was raised to $115,000 last year.

        best,

        Ian White

  2. ORT

    April 19, 2023 at 1:36 am

    If I may?

    The only thing more expensive than the “toys” we buy is the life we spend them on.

    Yup. My mom.

    ORT

  3. RJ

    April 20, 2023 at 11:29 am

    I have listened to both the Dali Kore and the BeoLab 90’s

    In my opinion the BeoLab 90 performs well above their price tag while the Kore performs well below it’s price tag.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Kore can sound amazing!, But only while playing a very limited selection of genres, While the BeoLab 90 sounded exceptional no matter what I threw at them.

    • Ian White

      April 20, 2023 at 2:34 pm

      Rene,

      Curious to know the systems surrounding both. I’ve never been overly impressed with any of the six-figure loudspeakers I’ve heard over the years.

      Best,

      Ian White

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