Apr 082011
 

In this part of my report on the Audio World 2011 show at the Park Inn Heathrow we will take a long walk up the corridor from the Conference Centre, take a left turn (the show was laid out like a large capital letter T) and then proceed to the very far end of the show and visit the first half of the Syndicate rooms.

Syndicate 1 – Deco Audio

Within this room the system in use was made up of a Nottingham Analogue Dais turntable £4195, Audio Note Arm1 £649and Io1 MC cartridge £2400, Audio Note step up transformer £540, Audion Premier MM phono-stage £850, Silver Core pre-amplifier £2000, Audio Black Shadow 845 power-amplifiers £7000, Audio Note AN-E HE speakers £5400. The digital front end was a CEC TL51X transport £1725 and Audio Note DAC2.1 £4320

They were also using Something Solid stands and accessories plus Heretic Audio cabling and Deco Audio’s own brand of mains products.

The SilverCore  One pre-amplifier was a new design to me, not having come across it before and Deco Audio have this to say about it on their website…..‘ German hand made Silvercore Preamp One….. http://www.silvercore.de/index.php?preamp-one

This is a real purist design, it features a pure silver signal path, from the csilver plated onnections through to all the internal wiring -both inside and outside the transformers. There are three phono  (RCA) line level inputs and a choice of phono or XLR output. Switching is done by high quality silver plated Elma switches. The dual mono design has twelve volume steps that range from -48dB to 0dB and it works in a logarithmic manner, the lower volume steps are 3dB apart and the higher ranges are 6dB, in use this provides a good range of control – much more than you’d ever expect from a comparative limited number of steps and unlike many other designs I rarely feel that I would like to listen between two of the steps, they’re that well spaced. The casework is constructed from polished stainless steel and white Delrin and looks wonderful.

This has all the strengths of a good TVC-  great dynamic range and tonal colouring that is natural, where it scores over its competition is the lack of grain to the higher frequencies and  removal of muddle and strain when the going gets complicated in the upper midband. It sounds effortless yet never boring and simply ‘gets out of the way’ more effectively than any design close to this price point.’

You can read more about SilverCore here http://www.silvercore.de/?sc

I visited the Deco Audio room a number of times during the course of the show and the overall sound of music being played within  the room was good, however at times I felt the sound was just a tad bright, forward and occasionally slightly constricted. To be honest there are too many unfamiliar elements in this system for me to say why that might have been the case. Please note though that I have used the words tad and slightly above as Deco Audio had managed to produce a very pleasant sound within their room; which is more than could be said for some other exhibitors rooms at the show.

I would also like to commend them for a well laid out carefully set up system and having a POS info sheet informing any visitor to their room as to what the system was and just as importantly the cost of the items in use.

Syndicate 2 – Select Audio/AMR

I spent a little bit of time in this room during their set up (on the Friday night) but as I featured this company in my September last Whittlebury show report, I decided this show report to feature another company for my pre-show article. I can tall you though that as was the case at Whittlebury, Steven of Select Audio and Vincent Luke of AMR spent a lot of time setting the room up and getting it to sound good.

The main star within the room was the brand new final prototype of the Abbingdon Music Research DP-777 digital to analogue converter (due sometime in June, with an approx price of £3000 ish). As you can imagine AMR are being a bit tight lipped about the exact layout and tech in the DAC but it did sound very good.

The system being used in the room consisted of a Pass Labs XP20 pre-amplifier, XA60.5 Pass Labs mono power-amplifiers, Verity Audio Amadis speakers, AMR CD-77 CD player, various cables from Harmonix and a Vibex passive mains conditioning unit.

The Verity Audio Amadis speakers on show were also of major interest being the third from top model in the Verity Audio range at £24950 for the piano black finish. According to the Verity audio website ‘The Amadis impressive blend of state-of-the-art electrical, mechanical and acoustical features, essential to any pure sound reproduction, will delight music lovers that are truly serious about their listening. The Verity designers optimized the cabinet proportions to meet all room adaptability criteria and invested in the best quality components in a matter to make Amadis an indisputable choice for high sound performance in all acoustical environments.  Its attributes of overall refinement respect Verity Audio’s tradition in creating loudspeakers you will want to keep for a lifetime.  Verity owed it to their community of fans, exceeding all expectations and respecting every last detail in the creation of what turns out to be a total tour de force.

  • Efficiency of 93 dB @ 2.83 Vrms & 1meter on axis.
  • Bandwidth of 20 Hz to 50,000 Hz;
  • Resonance free, pure neo-ring soft dome tweeter;
  • Superb proprietary 5-inch (127 mm) midrange;
  • Superb proprietary 10-inch (254 mm) woofer;
  • Verity Audio rear woofer configuration for extreme definition down to the lowest octaves.
  • Wide amplification selection starting from 18 watts up to unlimited power;
  • Bi-wirable and bi-amplifiable;
  • Beautifully crafted and finished with exquisite Italian lacquer;
  • Nicely packed and delivered in deluxe Air Transportation Approved metal cases.’

Front and rear view of the AMR DP-777 Digital to Analogue Converter.

Initial bass boom problems were solved by using empty boxes in the rear corners of the room and by day two the overall presentation of music within the room was very good; though if I am honest, I think the sound in the AMR/Select Audio room at Whitelbury was slightly better (the room acoustics there were slightly better in my opinion). Lose ceiling tiles (a bane of some of these rooms at the Park Inn) were causing the odd distracting noise during playback of some music; that had good strong bass.

However despite these slight issues the overall quality/presentation of the music I heard playing in this room was to a very high standard with an open and detailed, spacious soundstage, very good image width and depth. Bass was also very good too.

During the course of the show the Select Audio room was very busy and Vincent from AMR was playing some very interesting music from his laptop and from various CDs

Syndicate 3 – Kog Audio

KOG Audio had a much smaller scale system in their room at this show than previous ones I have attended, where they have been exhibiting. The usual speaker choice for KOG was a pair of Focal speakers but in this case the electronics were from Densen http://www.densen.dk/ rather than the usual choice of VTL or Storm Audio.

The main system in use comprised of Densen B420 CD player, B150 integrated amplifier, B44o CD player, B410 CD player and a B110 integrated amplifier. The speakers were Focal Electra Be 1028 £4769. Cabling was Tellurium Q Black.

Densen are fairly unique in giving a lifetime warranty on their products, unlike most others (excluding Bryston who give a 25 year warranty) who only give a 1 to 3 year one. Well done Densen.

It has been quite a few years since I last saw or heard any electronics from Densen and the sound in the KOG Audio room was very nice indeed, being open and detailed, with good control and an overall relaxed, musical and delicate presentation. At least that is how I heard it when I visited it several times.

There were other items on static display around the room including prdoucts from Storm Audio, VTL, Tellurium Q and Densen.

Syndicate 4 – Kronos AV

KronosAV a Northern Ireland based retailer was exhibiting at the show for the first time in many years. In fact I don’t think they have exhibited at a UK mainland show since the days of Kronos being a distribution spin off from Zeus Audio or a stand alone distributor after Zeus Audio folded (Kronos was a separate entity by that time and was involved in distributing Triangle and Project; among other brands).

Kronos had a system on show comprising products from such diverse companies as Townsend Audio, Focal, VTL, DCS and Tellurium Q cabling.

Within the room Kronos were using the brand new two channel and home cinema speaker the Focal Utopia Viva, priced at £7699 each, excluding stands (this pricing reflects the possible use of 5 or more speakers in a home cinema set up and the fact that the position of the central midrange and tweeter assembly can be rotated by 90 degrees to turn the Viva into a centre speaker).

This info is taken from Focal’s website….‘The latest model of the Utopia III range, Viva Utopia  is a 3-way audiophile loudspeaker dedicated to the most sophisticated multichannel configurations. Vertical (Viva Utopia) or horizontal (Viva Center Utopia), either in Home Theatre or Stereo configuration, it’s always efficient. Advantages: extreme clarity of the midrange, high efficiency and power handling and very low directivity on the horizontal axis for perfect control of phase and 3D image. Plus all the Utopia 3 technological skills’

Specifications:

Type 3-way LCR bass-reflex loudspeaker
Drivers Two 8 “(21cm) “W” woofers Power Flower 6 1/2” (16.5cm) “W” midrange 1″ (27mm) IAL2 pure Beryllium inverted dome tweeter
Net weight 125lb (57kg) – 176lb (80kg) with stand
Dimensions (HxWxD) 371/16x1211/16x201/16
(942 x 322 x 510mm)
293/16x371/16x 263/8
(742 x 942 x 670mm) with stand (Viva Center Utopia)
5215/16x151/2x263/8
(1345 x 394 x 670mm) with stand (Viva Utopia)
Recommended amplifier power 50 – 600W
Crossover frequency 270Hz / 2200Hz
Minimum impedance 3.2 Ω
Nominal impedance 8 Ω
Sensitivity (2,83 V/1 m) 92dB
Low frequency point 34Hz
Frequency response (+or-3dB) 39Hz – 40kHz

Syndicate 4 -EmporiumHiFi and Funk Firm

In this room EmporiumHiFi had a system comprising Viva Audio amplification of Italy and Docet-Lector CD players, Funk Firm turntables and various speakers including a pair of MAD My Claptons.

Along the left side wall of the room, a number of items were also on static display including a Funk Firm modified LP12, more items from Docet-Lector, and a pair of Pure Sound M845 mono power-amplifiers.

You can read more about Viva here http://www.vivaaudio.com/philosophy.htm and Docet- Lector here http://www.docet-lector.com/start.htm.

Syndicate 6 – Lecture Room

Various members of the Audio Trade and Audio journalists gave lectures on various topics during the course of the show.

Syndicate 7 – Cognosenti Audio

Within this room Cognosenti Audio where showing a new range of audio and home cinema speakers to the UK in the shape of Richter Speakers.

This interesting range of speakers come from Australia company Richter Acoustics, who have been in business for 18 years and have in that time been ‘ given 21 awards for excellence’ (taken from their website).

The range is split into two the Precious Metals home cinema and two channel speakers and the Legend Series 3 two channel and home cinema speakers range.

You can get more details here http://www.richter.com.au/index1.html

Syndicate 8 – UKD Ltd

Not having exhibited at a UK show in awhile it was nice to see UKD back at Audio World 2011. Nick Green was a very busy man so sadly I was unable to chat with him but his room was producing some very nice sounds indeed from a Pathos, Unison Research, Thorens, Opera system.

The system comprised of a Pathos Acoustics Endorphin CD player, Thorens TD-2030 turntable, with TP300 arm and Benz Micro Ace cartridge, Pathos Acoustics InTheGrooveMkII phono pre-amplifier, Unison Research S6 valve integrated 33 watts amplifier, Unison Research Unico CDE Twin-DAC and Unico Nuovo. Speakers were the stylish slim floor standing Opera Grand Callas. BCD equipment tables housed the electronics.

Nick Green also had a number of items on statc display in the room including: Pathos Acoustics InPol Remix, Onix CD-15 and Onix A-65.

InPol RemixThe Pathos Acostics InPol Remix is a very beautiful integrated amplifier (£3800, £4350 with in built DAC) and is a new product from this Italian company know for their ‘Unorthodox Approach’

It says this about the Remix on UKD website…’ Connect the InPol Remix integrated amplifier up to loudspeakers of good quality and adequate sensitivity and prepare yourself for a very pleasant surprise. This compact 10-watt amp is a little marvel.

Within its minimalist cube-shaped chassis lies the very best of Pathos Acoutics` sonic expertise. Its double-InPol circuitry (derived from the legendary TT and InPol2) reveals a sound of exquisite detail  and rich tonal palette.

The sound -according to Pathos` unique design philosophy -is defined  as triode tube with clean gain added by the patented InPol stage. Driving ability is more than adequate for normal domestic listening requirements, particularly if used with loudspeakers of good sensitivity (90dB and up).

InPol Remix can be ordered either as a regular integrated amplifier, or with a top-quality optional DAC , which enables it to accept all kinds of digital sources (PC, laptop, internet radio, iPod etc).’

You can read more about Pathos Acoustics here http://www.pathosacoustics.com/

The other stars in the room was the newish Unison Research S6 £2990 valve integrated amplifier which is visually stunning in the flesh (my photos don’t really do it proper justice) and very nice sounding. It says this about the S6 on Unisons website ‘After many years of great success we have decided to propose a new updated and improved version of ‘S6.

In this new model, the configuration of the final stage was maintained with a Parallel Single Ended Ultra-Pure Class A. The polarization of individual tubes has been changed and transformed from fully automatic to mixed.
About 2 / 3 Bias is obtained with a cathode- type auto polarization and a third from the fixed polarization.
The fixed polarization of each valve is adjustable through a potentiometer and an illuminated analog instrument (for each channel).

The choice of the mixed polarization increases the efficiency of the final stage and reduces the factor of local feedback with an appreciable improvement in sound.

The output transformer is a new design and has a fixed output impedance of 6 ohms.
As is known the nominal impedance declared for an acoustic diffuser is not very significant: the real impedance undergoes significant changes with frequency, and its value may even drop below the nominal value stated. In this regard it should be noted that all the speakers produced by Unison an Opera are in accordance with DIN specifications and never drops below the minimum values indicated by that rules (20% of the nominal value).

The decision to standardize the output impedance to 6 ohms is aimed at optimally interface all speaker with nominal impedance of 4 or 8 ohms.

Particular attention was paid to the power stage: each preamp stage is decoupled and filtered separately.

The new S6 has also been redesigned from the mechanical point of view: the two channels of the amplifier no longer share a single printed circuit but are now separated in two circuits located on the right and left of the chassis. This solution has greatly improved both the crosstalk and the heat dissipation. In this way the temperature in the various circuits is more controlled in the interest of sound quality, stability, reliability and the very life of electronic components.

The S6 aesthetic has been totally renovated giving to the amplifier greater personality and refinement. In particular, the new front panel, with inlaid wood in contrast, shows the amplifier technology and highlights the unique “Made In Italy” taste.’

You can read more about Unison Research here http://unisonresearch.com/

Nick was playing The Swing Era 1936 to 1937 on the Thorens vinyl playback combination, when I visited his room and the sound was lovely, effortless and relaxed with an overall beautiful and open sound. I have yet to hear a bad sound come out of any room UKD exhibits in.

Well done Nick Green.

Syndicate 9 – Air Audio Distribution

Air Audio Distribution had a number of very interesting products both on demo in their room and on static display. Their system was made up of Astin Trew electronics, AT3500 CD player, AT1000 pre-amplifier, AT2000 integrated amplifier an Acoustic Signature turntable, SME 5 tonearm and Sound Smith The Voice cartridge and DSS  GEA1 solid silver wired speakers £7000.

At the back of the room, to the right side, a pair of copper wired DSS Hawk floor standing speakers stood £6500, with an Astin Trew AT1000 and AT5000 were on static display; also along the back wall a selection of Acoustic Signature turntables were also on display.

However for me the star attraction in the room (on the second day) was the originally to be exhibited in the Revolver Audio/Audion International room this stunning looking CD player from Loit Design of Singapore, the Passeri (£21000) was on static display, though powered up (it seems from what I can gather, rather sadly, that carrier damage had rendered it not fully functional). Cutting a visually impressive presence within the room, I really wanted to hear it but instead had to content myself with taking as many photos as I could.

As I feel this is going to be a significant future product, I will offer the AIHFA reader as much information as I can in this room report on the Passeri.

‘The inspiration of the Passeri comes from the 4000 species of songbirds, in which its vocal organs are developed to produce diverse and elaborate bird songs.

Most of the bird songs are unique and melodious to the human ear. There is evidence that songbirds had a large influence on the development of music as we sometimes see the composers integrating bird songs with music.

Passeri can reproduce the CD recording faithfully. You will experience the sound stage with incredible space between the instruments and a blackness where all instruments emerge from.

It is the epitome of true sound!’ taken from Loit’s website.

The player uses 6H30 valves as part of a balanced transimpedance current to voltage converter amplifier without negative feedback and also 6H30’s as a high voltage regulator; with a mosfet also involved in providing low noise clean high voltage power to the amplifier output.

The DAC is a high speed dual differential type (24 bit x 8x oversamling) but Loit don’t say what make of DAC they used in this design. The transport is the highly regarded Philips CD-PRO2 LF drive, with a number of Loit additions (see info in image below)

The following images, also taken from Loit Designs website, will give some technical info on the design and some interesting cutaway images, showing the internals of the Passeri.

One of my big regrets of the show was not being able to hear this player operating….such is audio show life.

You can read more here http://www.loit.com.sg/home.html

While visiting the room the main sound source was vinyl and very nice it was too, with a very musical and relaxed sound. Being honest, over all the shows I have been going to over the last number of years this was the first time I enjoyed the sound of Astin Trew electronics.

Visiting this room was a real eye and ear opener, well done Air Audio Distribution.

Syndicate 10 – Audio Note UK

As with all the recent shows I have attended the sound in Audio Note UK’s room was very good.  They also had their equipment well labelled and these labels included all the pricing details.

The system on show and make no mistake it was very much a totally synergistic system (the key to their excellent track record for sound quality in the rooms they exhibit in) was the Audio Note TT Two  turntable £1269, Arm Two £935, OTO integrated amplifier £1935, CD2.1X3 £2950, AZ-2 speakers £1045 and Audio Note cabling.

This was a simple system for sure but it punched way above its weight in regard to its sound quality, which was open and detailed, articulate, punchy and very musical.

Once again very well done Audio Note UK.

Neil

In part three of the Audio World 2011 Show report I will report on the exhibitors who were in the last group of Syndicate rooms.

Coming soon….

© Text/Photos Copyright 2011 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.

NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission.

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