Apr 062010
 

The inner section of the Blue Conference Centre was set up like a village market, with a number of interesting manufacturers, distributors, software and hardware vendors displaying their wares on table tops; each within their own individual booths.

Most of these displays were static in nature with no actual music demonstrations taking place. However a few were taking the opportunity to make music and one display proved somewhat revelatory, but more of that a bit later on.

Following the Chester Group floor plan at this stage would lead to some confusion I feel, so I will present this part of the Show Report in as natural a way as I can. We will start with the Audio Note stand and work our way down the right side, round the middle island and back via the far left side of the room.  This is the most natural way to proceed and would, I think reflect how one might have walked this part of the show.

Of course you might have made a bee-line straight for the Emporium or the music vendors and not followed this route…

AUDIO NOTE

This table sat out on its own away from the main body of exhibitors (but was first on the left after entering the room) and had a range of (end-of- line/ex-demo ?)Audio Note Zero items on special offer. My understanding is that there were bargains to be had off that table top, during both Show days.

SOUND HIFI

Dave Cawley has in recent years found himself the focal point of a storm of controversy.  Various audio forums have seen flame wars rage about a humble direct drive (remember those?) turntable beloved of the DJ set, the Technics 1210. Blood has almost literally been shed over the claims that have been made about just how good a Sound HiFi modified 1210 can be.

Dave saw huge potential in the basic design and set about developing/finding a  range of add ons and modifications that would turn the 1210 into a true high end turntable.

Pride of place on his stand was given to a fully tricked out Sound HiFi 1210 turntable. This included a Mike New bearing upgrade, Time Step power supply (a Dave Cawley design), audiophile mat, Jelco SA 750D arm  and various other add ons.

Also on display and in use were various electronics from Alex Nitikin’s company ANT Audio, namely a Kora phono stage and two Amber headphone amplifiers, these all connected via MAD cables. Also taking pride of place opposite the 1210 was a Technics cassette deck, which Alex had modified.

Alex is considered among those in the know as somewhat of an authority on many makes of cassette deck and what makes them tick.  I think most of us have seen pictures of the aeroplane storage facilities in the American deserts. I have it on good authority that parts of Alex’s home have a similar look. Rather than planes, in his case its various vintage and classic cassette decks all parked up and waiting for action once again.

Both Alex and Dave Cawley where in attendance and I enjoyed very much talking with them and having a listen to the Technics 1210 through a pair of Denon headphones. In fact it was possible to listen to both Technics sources through identical Denon headphones and this is something I did.

The music being used, was a review favourite of mine Hugh Masekela-The Coal Train; a sublime, full bandwidth, live recording taken form the album Hope. A high quality cassette tape recording had been made and a 45 rpm vinyl version was spinning on the Technics 1210. The sound from either source was stunning. However the cassette deck was very much the poorer cousin at this party, lacking the detail and openness of the vinyl version of the song. To be fair though, the cassette deck’s performance was among the best I have heard from the format.

Its not often you get to handle or see the bearing of your turntable, at Dave’s stand you could see the standard Technics 1210 bearing assembly and the new Mike New update £425 (Dave’s Time Step bearing mod is £175 but was not on show) side by side. I think its evident from the photos, that the Mike New bearing assembly, is vastly superior to the stock Technics unit. I held both in my hand and not only is there a difference in weight, materials used but also in the feel of the bearing as it turns; with the Mike New having no play in it at all. Just from handling this substantial bearing I would say this is a no brainer upgrade for any Technics 1210 owner.

On a number of levels my visit to this stand was a show highlight. Firstly I got to hear what all the fuss is about in regard to the Sound HiFi Technics 1210. Now I need to do a formal review at some point, to get a full handle on what exactly a 1210 brings to the analogue party but what I did hear leaves me able to say that the Sound HiFi 1210 is a viable alternative to other turntables in the market place and well worth considering.

Secondly Alex’s tweaked Technics cassette deck offered a level of sound quality which should seriously challenge the bias of those who think tape is a dead format and digital recording is better. It was that good.

This was also the first time I  heard Alex’s well reviewed electronics, The Kora phonostage and Amber headphone amplifier and they impressed me as well. All in all an excellent stand, with much to offer the discerning music lover and audiophile. One for you to check out at future shows or on-line.

HiFi WORLD

HiFi World show sponsors had a booth selling back issues and subscriptions.

DIVERSE VINYL and STAMFORD AUDIO

Both music vendors were stocking  a mixture of high quality audiophile vinyl, new popular releases and back catalogue albums with some better quality Cds and Sacds. However both companies were stocking much more in the way of vinyl, than 3in digital silver discs. It was almost as if digital had not happened.

Both of these companies seemed to be doing well each time I visited this part of the show. Indeed I myself bought Holly Cole’s 200gr vinyl edition of her album Temptation and a 24K Gold Cd edition of Jennifer Warnes album The Hunter from Diverse Vinyl and Vapor Drawings Cd by Mark Isham from Stamford Audio. I have been looking for this 1983 Windham Hill release for a few years now, so I was pleased to find it on sale at the show.

CONCERTO HIGH END AUDIO

I had a couple of nice chats with Santosh who is both a retailer and a distributor of a number of interesting brands in the UK namely New Zealand company Perreaux  and German company Octave. His stand was well laid out and was a feast for the eyes.

I was able to hear a Perreaux amplifier in the Audio Epilog room…more on that later.

SUPRA CABLES

This Swedish company have been around for as long as I can recall and were originally distributed in the UK by Gamepath back in the late 80s through to the mid 90s (this would be when I last heard any of their products). The name Supra is well established among UK audiophiles of a certain age and they have done much to raise the profile of the company in recent years to address ignorance among the rest of their potential market. The Supra brand is available through select dealers in the UK.

ISOKINETIC

Isokinetic offer a massive range of specific upgrades for Rega,Systemdek and other brands of turntables. In their own words

“Reconditioned turntables and tonearms upgraded with ISOkinetik products to bring the very best out of great hi fi. Here we will sell items already upgraded to ISOkinetik spec giving you a chance to own a turntable or arm or both with all the upgrading modification work done for you

We use brand new ISOkinetik upgrade products for example isolation feet, counterweight, tonearm wiring, mains wiring, sub platters , platters and bearings together with brand new Cabezon tonearms

In most cases the turntables will be better than new, ready to go out of the box

If you dont see what you want here please feel to email with your wish list and we will do our best to get you your dream deck

The donor decks include Rega 2, 3, Townsend, VPI Linn

Included in this category are some of the suggested brand new upgrade components suited to the reconditioned turntables” lifted from their website. I myself have no direct experience of their products/service but it did look interesting.

THE EMPORIUM

This retailer of vintage and S/H goods had a vast array of goods on show and sale. These included Nakamichi, Garrard, Quad, Leak, Audio research and many more. Can you spot your secret desire among these ? I know I can.

ADVANCED ACOUSTICS

This company had a small booth which was constantly busy….always a good sign.

Like,  MAD they had loaned many acoustic panels out among their fellow exhibitors to great effect. Many problematical hotel rooms were tamed by use of their acoustic treatment products. More details can be found herehttp://www.advancedacoustics-uk.com/

Shaun from Advanced Acoustics had treated a number of rooms  being used by Paul Benge of ABC Audio and Alium Audio’s room. I know first hand that both Ian and Peter of Alium Audio were very grateful for his help as was Paul Benge of ABC Audio.

MERLIN CABLES

I had a very interesting chat with the Merlin cables representative about cable retailing in the UK, cable construction, coherence of materials used and Merlin’s approach to all of this.

Merlin very much follow the approach of using the same construction material within their cable ranges thus allowing the end user to use a complete cable loom from any of the various levels of Merlin cable.

Materials only change between ranges, getting better as you progress upwards. This is not as common as you might think among other cable manufacturers who feel it is okay to use various materials within a range level. In the past my own experience with cables has pointed to this with single cable looms often disappointing.

In fairness Merlin are not the only cable company in the UK saying this but range material coherence is still somewhat of a rarity with only Atlas coming to mind as offering the same approach to Merlin.

MY AUDIO DESIGN

This show saw the UK and European launch of the My Clapton loudspeaker, only on static display in this location but being used to great effect in the Music First room (more on that later) elsewhere in the show.

A bit about the My Clapton speakers, taken from Tim Jung’s website.

Manufactured and engineered in England – designed at The Newton Institute in London.My Audio Design (MAD) is renowned for the legendary designs it has produced. Our proprietary DRC technology, carefully designed components, and ultra precision drive units, make our loudspeakers vanish in your listening room.. All you can hear is the music, and your soul, resonate with the passion of the performers.

My Clapton Loudspeakers sports a coaxial driver has a mid-bass drive unit(s) with a symmetrical field magnet, dual rear suspension, and a specially treated surround for maximum linearity,  minimum coloration. The neodymium tweeter is fitted with a special acoustic foam disc behind the waveguide to minimize diffraction problems and give a wide, smooth dispersion.

The cabinets are critically damped, and constructed with our proprietary DRC technology that keeps resonance to a minimum. Moreover, these front ported Claptons are amplifier friendly, having a sensitivity of 91db and ultra flat impedance curve. Which means they will partner with most amplifiers perfectly.”

The My Clapton speakers are available in various finishes, with that pictured above, coming in at £1388, semi gloss £1588 and piano black £1999. Samples of these finishes were on display.

These speakers were being used on the end of a system in the Music First Room, to great effect.

I had a number of both interesting and pleasant chats with Tim Jung (owner of MAD) and a new assistant of his Mark Osborn (a former customer turned employee). These conversations covered various aspects of the company and products.

Tim also has a complete range of cables covering every price point and performance level.  Samples of these were on display at his stand and were being used by numerous companies throughout the show.

MAD is deffinately a brand very much worth watching out for.

Neil


The London Hi-Fidelity Show coverage will continue with the Syndicate Rooms…..coming soon.

© Copyright 2010 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.

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