Well i’ll be interested to hear about attendees experiences if any of you feel like posting
Will be visiting tomorrow - looking forward to hearing both Vertere and Kuzma turntables for the first time.
This was my first ever HiFi show, and I suppose it was pretty much what I expected. Even though I don’t have Vinyl, I did enjoy the TTs and their accompanying Tech on show. I particularly liked a chat from an American talking about how getting the several axis wrong of a Stylus can really effect SQ. He also decided how a manufacturer sent him an £18k cartridge, and with his scope he was able to show that the angle the stylus was to the cantilever (sorry I may have terms a bit wrong here) was way off the 5% difference allowed.
Doug Brady had a particularly good setup there.
I thought overall there was a lack of HiFi accessorories on show. Russ Andrews and Chord we’re here though, with some show discounts. There was a £200 Chord Ethernet cable for £50, which was slightly tempting.
I only found one setup with headphones available to listen to. Having never heard a Hi-end headphone setup, I was intrigued. Unfortunately I was very much underwhelmed by the £900 open back headphones. Perhaps the headphone amps were not as Hi End as I would hope, or I just like speakers too much.
On the whole most of the other rooms consisted of various combinations of amps/dacs/speakers each from various suppliers. To me that was all a little too confusing. With so many permutations of gear, and music, I was bemused and dismissive of the majority. Of course acoustics have a lot to answer for in these environments, but most of the time I would walk into a room, and think “this is worse than my system” and then walk out again. Now rather than disappointed, it made me feel even more happy about my own system
I went into one demonstration where the speaker said that if you wanted Dire Straits or Pink Floyd type stuff, then his HiFi was not for you, and you’d be better off going to other rooms for more of a PA sound. I did think that a bit rude.
Coming home and really liking my own system has always struck me as the main purpose of h-fi shows.
Which speakers where on the end of said system ?
I really enjoyed the NW Audio Show.
Highlights were meeting @GadgetMan and having a long chat about audio systems.
Visiting the Acoustica room 3 times - it was very relaxing and listening to the Solstice into S1 pre was great.
The ‘Chasing the Dragon’ room was also impressive, with what looked like ATC SCM150ASLTs playing some excellent binaural recordings.
I spend a wonderful hour in the NewBriks room, chatting with Simon Hamnett, and Sean Jacobs, and listening to LP12 - NAC52 - 6-pack of 135s driving beautifully renovated Briks - this was the best system I’ve ever heard.
Some good sounding systems, some not so good and some very poor.
The nicest sounding system IMO was a Luxman Power/pre fronted by an Inneos Statement/Chord Dave. (I think).
Kii speakers sounded impressive and Hegel integrated with Rega P8 sounded good.
And. Some impressive looking speakers.
I wonder if they found it wonderful?
Personally if I walk into a room with people chatting, I usually walk out pretty much straight away.
Each of those people seemed to enjoy speaking to me otherwise I would have got the hint and moved on.
When I entered the New Briks room there was one other person in there - when I left there were over 10 people.
Cleverly the room had been designed with only one set of about 5 chairs along one wall and the speakers across the other side, which gave more space to hear the music and more room for people to stand where they wished to.
I so enjoyed the sound quality of the system that I clapped twice (after a Bach piece and a live drumming piece), and told Simon that his system was by far the best in show for me because it sounded as though the musicians were in the room, much more so than other rooms.
Some other listeners joined in with my clapping.
I was delighted to have heard such a great system - and surprised to find it at a hifi show where system set up is almost always way below optimal quality for obvious reasons.
Simon also played music based on acoustic instruments recorded in particular rooms that allowed this quality of his system to shine.
Simon, and Sean are all craftsmen and true lovers of music and hifi, and I have great respect for each of them.
When I went into that room there wasn’t anybody sat in the chairs listening, but I’m not surprised, the music volume was very low.
Presumably to make chatting a bit easier.
I apologise for chatting to people.
One of my great bug bears at shows. You walk into a room to hear a particular set up. You don’t expect absolute silence but you do expect any conversations to be hushed or taken outside the room. It shows basic respect for all concerned snd almost never happens. I have missed out entire rooms I really wanted to get my head around because someone was chatting to a dealer or talking across the music. I’d come back repeatedly over an hour or two but eventually give up.
I could grudgingly respect the conversation if it was a dealer talking through basics with someone new to audio or new to shows. Invariably it’s someone catching up with old friends to the exclusion of people who might have a question to ask or emoting the opportunity to show off their knowledge. Taking up an hour of anyone’s time at a show is disrespectful from the consumer side and dreadful behaviour on the dealer side.
Over the years I’ve lost count of the number of doors I’ve walked through with friends where we lasted 3 minutes before walking. Any half decent dealer in the middle of a conversation acknowledges you have entered through eye contact or body language. The ones who don’t even clock someone coming through the door get not a second more from me.
I thought the show was excellent yesterday. Lovely setting, very well organised and a good attendance with most rooms busy or full. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Knowing how tiring these shows can be - if you try to see everything, you can get sensory overload by the end - this time I was more selective and focused on just systems that a) I was interested in out of curiosity and b) those I wanted to hear to see if they lived up to the review hype.
I had mixed impressions; some better than expected, others disappointing.
For me the three highlights were;
Icon Audio room
Stereo 40 integrated amp - Marantz CD player - Klipsch Cornwall (far right) / Icon MFV3 Super (far left) speakers
playing a variety of jazz, pop and soft rock.
Really impressed. Detailed, textured, wonderful midrange, and had a natural warmth that drew you into the music. Didn’t lack any dynamics of SS amps. The soundstage on the Cornwall’s was HUGE.
At just £10.5k for the whole system it was also an absolute bargain.
Aurender A30 streamer - Nagra Classic tube DAC + PSU - Classic pre - Plinius power amp - YG Acoustics ‘baby’ speaker (couldnt remember the name)
Oh my word, what a sound but what a price - £110k by my rough estimate.
Refined, balanced, detailed and just the right amount of emotional connection / involvement, although the soundstage was slightly narrow. (the sales rep confessed they only brought the small speakers as they were originally scheduled for a smaller room, but when they arrived they had been allocated a much bigger room. In which case he said they would have brought larger speakers 2 or 3 levels up)
Really impressed with the Plinius amp which I didn’t know at all beforehand. Apparently the one they used puts out 100w in class A, and the TOTL 300w in class A.
Music played was classical and movie themes.
Auralic / ATC room
From one extreme to another ; a simple one-box player into active speakers.
Auralic Altair G2.1 streamer - ATC SCM40A
Very nice to meet @Yorkshireman there. We both agreed it was an excellent sound and very ‘real world’ in size - detailed, natural textures and well balanced across the mids and bass.
Played a mix of pop and blues.
I sympathise with Mike over the talking issue. Yes, members of the press covering the show need to ask questions or interview manufacturer representatives, but in that capacity, I always take the conversation outside to avoid disturbing those who are enjoying the system and the music.
At the end of the day the primary function of shows is to demonstrate systems playing music to the widest possible audience - this industry needs to engage new people and especially the new generation. Personally I curse the manufacturers who spend their whole time playing audiophile ‘tinkly’ music too. I know it sounds brilliant on just about any half capable system but it bores the pants off me and I always respect those manufacturers who play a variety of programme material. The odd audiophile disc is fine but there’s enough well recorded mainstream music around surely?
Perhaps the most impressive example of this I heard was at Munich on a megabucks Nagra/Wilson system. They had a programmed dem every so often and played Dean Martin’s “I don’t know why, I just do”. It was utterly magnificent to the point that the whole room stiffened as he started singing - Dean was absolutely in the room… That’s the way to do it, find a stunning song performed by one of the all time greats and blow everybody away with it…
Despite any frustrations though I still love hi-fi shows, the opportunity to mix with fellow audiophiles, to meet the designers and manufacturers, the breadth of equipment you can hear in a single day and the opportunity to discover new brilliant music. They’re always a highlight of my year actually, even after attending them for around 30 years.
Good to hear the Northern show was a success.
And of course for every high there’s a low. I was really looking forward to the following but was underwhelmed and disappointed, for different reasons;
CD 1 player - Cobra integrated - AN E speakers
It started off well with an acoustic track, detailed, full bodied and textured but when they played reggae the bass boom was horrendous. The rep blamed the small room acoustics which I accepted, but my feeling was that even in a bigger room it would have it’s flaws.
Just a pair of BX 3 speakers controlled by a tablet
Great sound and they had the potential to be a winner, but just too loud for the room. The rep played a Beyonce live track at such an extreme volume that I felt the bass pounding my ear drums and had to leave.
This was bizarre. They were showcasing the new LS60 meta active floorstander speakers. The problem was that before, during and after every track the rep gave a sales pitch about how amazing the meta-material technology was. Given that they will certainly be reviewed in all the main hifi magazines and online sites, it seemed overkill for the hard-sell at a demo.
The tracks were all hi-res audiophile quality, and so it all seemed over controlled and unrealistic.
Too much chat and not enough music. But from what I heard they sounded good.
Also - in the background were a pair of Blades to be driven by a lovely looking Soulution 5 / 7 series system. I thought that would be an impressive demo … but they never got to play them in my two visits to the room.
I went to the show with an open mind and with no real expectations. I felt there was nothing I wanted or needed as I’m quite happy with my system at the moment, given the usual caveats of my room, my music tastes and my preferred listening presentation etc.
However, I came away seriously impressed by the modest Icon Audio system and had fallen in love with the Plinius amp.
Damn this hobby!! Still, good fun as long as you don’t get your wallet out.
Interested to hear of others’ impressions of the rooms I didn’t get to …
Interesting reading the different takes on the show. I have never attended a hifi show because of my expectation of all the negative things different people have mentioned, plus dislike of having to fight my way into a popular room and stand wedged between lots of other people, though overcrowdedness doesn’t seem to have been a feature with this one.
A potential draw for me would be the chance to hear kit that is of particular interest, but no good if a room crowded or people talking other than very quietly, and that would require music that I appreciate, so a good variety of styles , perhaps changing after every track, would be sensible for a demonstrator to adopt. If I walked in and jazz was playing I’d be out after the briefest of glances, and if I returned to find jazz playing again I’d likely walk away disinterested, unless the room was empty enough to speak to the demonstrator and ask for something to my taste. Another potential draw would be the opportunity to buy at special (reduced!) show price - but for things needing a proper audition that would need to allow a window of time for post-show follow up.
What is always interesting to read is what people thought of the different setups (and @BertBird and others did that excellently with the Munich show).