Midrange Magic+: Florida Audio Expo Show Report

Event flyer
Philip O’Hanlon, On A Higher Note with Graham Audio LS8/1, Artesania AIRE , Krion Turntable Platform, showcasing Bergmann Audio Modi and Thor Arm, and Moonriver Audio 404R Integrated Amp

Huge thanks to the show organizers, Mike Bovaird, Bart Andeer, and the team for a fantastic experience.  Grateful for the support from the press and fellow show attendees for the positive feedback that continues to flood in.  Big thanks to Angela Cardas from Cardas Audio for the collaboration in the room and for the “Clear” cables and accessories that connect the sum of parts, completing the assemblage of synergistic components to make magic for our Midrange Magic+ presentation in Florida.

One might ask, what is Midrange Magic+?

Truthfully, it is difficult to put in words what you must experience yourself.

We felt it, heard it, felt we could see it, taste it, and could almost touch it.

We want to share it, which is why we built this series to go on the road with different curated music for each show to highlight local audience flair.

In short, Midrange Magic+ is the new frontier, where technology is at the service of music, where performers communicate directly with the listeners with an ethereal experience of musical enjoyment as if they were right there when the music was made, be it half a century ago in a faraway land, or yesterday in the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London.  The perfect synergy in curating the components in a system that squeezes the last drop of Midrange Magic would disappear, leaving nothing other than the music’s purity and clarity.  This can only happen when the midrange is supported by a strong foundation.

This happens when a curated system is hand-picked from manufacturers that dedicate their technology to create an uncanny realism that could lift our souls to the heavens with happiness, or strum the stygian depths of our despair.  Where the system is optimized to deliver goosebumps and tug on all the heart strings.

Midrange Magic+ has to be experienced and savored, up close and personal to be appreciated.

Show Awards:

2022 Soundstage Best of Florida Audio ExpoBest of Florida Audio Expo 2022, by Doug Schneider: … The sound in the On a Higher Note room—which had a Bergmann Audio Modi air-bearing turntable connected into a Moonriver Audio Model 404 Reference integrated amplifier, which was driving a pair of Graham Audio LS8/1 loudspeakers—was flat-out fabulous with every piece of music played. There was plenty of bass, while the midrange was so palpably full, you’d swear that there must be giant tubes somewhere in the system … I have to give credit where it’s due—I wasn’t listening to any one thing, I was listening to a whole system.”  (Here for more …)

absolute sound logo  Five “Inspirational” Systems, by Alan Taffel:  The On a Higher Note Room. Philip O’Hanlon knows his audio gear (and his Irish whiskey) and is unswayed by fads. Case in point: his room at FLAX featured a speaker, the Graham 8/1 ($9k) that according to modern wisdom is built completely wrong, along with a Moon River 404 Reference integrated amp ($5k) that no one has heard of. Yet the sound was phenomenal—extended and naturally rich, with flawless spatial performance and resolution. This from a speaker with a thin wood enclosure, wide baffle, old-tech drivers, no time alignment, and lots of parallel surfaces. Go figure  (Here for more…)

Best Of FLAX 2022 AwardBest of FLAX 2022, by Maurice Jeffries:  Best old school vibes:  The nod here goes to On A Higher Note’s dapper Philip O’Hanlon.  Mr. O’Hanlon enchanted with a life-affirming combination of utter simplicity: the Moonriver 404 Reference integrated amp, the Danish Bergmann Modi air-bearing turntable and Thor air-bearing arm (plus Hana MC Cartridge), and the old school/new body Graham Audio LS8/1 loudspeakers.

The first great audio system I ever heard consisted of a pair of venerable Spendor SP1 speakers, Heybrook TT2 turntable, and Audio Research electronics. The sound that humble system gifted changed how I saw (and see) audio and floored me with its sheer musicality and charm. Philip’s elegantly minimal setup conveyed that same magic, taking me full circle in my audio journey.  (Here for more …)

Other Press Coverage:

Best Of FLAX 2022 AwardShow Report: The Third Time’s A Charm: Part II, by Maurice Jeffries:  On a Higher Note’s Philip O’Hanlon enchanted with his larger-than-life personality and large as life sound. The Swedish-designed and built Moonriver 404 Reference integrated amp ($4,995 with built-in phono stage) and Danish Bergmann Modi air-bearing turntable and Thor air-bearing arm ($8,990 for the table, $17K for the table/arm combo, plus $1,200 Hana MC cartridge) drove the Derek Hughes-authored Graham Audio LS 8/1 loudspeakers (approx. $9k per pair with stands) to truly gorgeous effect.

Everything O’Hanlon played sounded of a piece, with incredible coherence, superb focus, and scintillating naturalness. Composer/producer/bass guitar wunderkind Marcus Miller’s Siesta soundtrack sounded positively otherworldly, with ambience, air, and electric tension thick enough to cut. A BOS contender, and proof positive that vinyl replay still holds the edge over digital in its ability to engage and delight the inner music lover. (Here for more …) 

Best Of FLAX 2022 Award

FLAX 2022 Show Coverage, by Chuck Bruce: Graham audio was showcasing their UK-built, 1960s/1970s cabinet style stand-mounted LS8/1, three-way box speakers. Visually they may have a retro wood cabinet appearance, but don’t be fooled, the sound was very modern, dynamic, harmonically rich, natural with engaging female vocals, some of the best heard at the show.  Completely updated with all new components and sourced by solid-state moon river electronics.  Also demonstrated was a Bergmann Modi air-bearing turntable to excellent effect.  This set-up attracted multiple visits all while co-hosted by the ever-engaging audio veteran Philip O’Hanlon of Irish spirits fame, we had some tasty sips after hours and just a great time listening to music!  After all, this is what’s it’s all about… the music!   (Here for more …)

Equipment list:

Artesania Audio “Aire” amp stand  $4,000 and KRION turntable platform $4,300
Bergmann Audio “Modi” air bearing turntable & “Modi” Air-bearing, linear tracking tonearm $17,000
Hana ML cartridge $1,200
Graham AudioLS8/1 speakers $9,700 Inc. stands. (Spikes resting on Artesania 30mm Decoupling Discs @ $60 each.)
MoonRiver 404 Reference, integrated amplifier $4,999 and optional internal phono MM/MC phono-stage $550.
Cardas “Clear” cables, interconnects & power cords.


Photo Gallery:

Not our best presentation, behind the scene back story for a laugh:

We had a little issue with our show banners shipment.

The TV screen in the middle of loudspeakers has been the bain of our existence from a sound standpoint.  Back home, when we do any active listening in our 2nd listening room which also doubles as our TV room, Pandora would always put a thick blanket on the TV.  We had arranged for seven fabric banners shipped over and we were supposed to hang them from the ceiling before the show began.  The center banner was missing the whole time and the six smaller ones showed up a day late.

So, day one, a bedsheet became our center banner with nothing else in the room other than a Cardas sign.  For a laugh, here’s what our room presentation looked like at the show.  Pardon the movers glider set under the Artesania decoupling discs as that’s what we use to position the speakers for ease of movement.

For the rest of the show, we had to use two smaller banners to cover the bedsheet to fain a center banner.  The press was very kind and didn’t print that.




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