Oct 082010

In this part of the NAS show report we will continue exploring the ground floor exhibition areas.

Beside the Imola Suite that Absolute Sounds were using (for Audio Research) Coherent Systems, a UK dealer and distributor had the Monaco Suite and was using the room to great effect.

Monaco Suite  Coherent Systems

The system in use comprised an Oracle Delphi mk6 with Bel Canto and Belles electronics and a new pair of Cabasse Pacific 3 SA speakers which Tony Sallis MD of Coherent thought “would have about 40 hours on them by the end of the show”. Despite being new the speakers sounded very good on the Saturday morning and much improved on the Sunday afternoon when I revisited the room.

The Cabasse 3SA Pacific speakers are a brand new design which have only just been launched (the NAS show was their first outing in the UK) to market and this is what Cabasse say about this speaker.

“New from the Artis range, Pacific 3 SA is the first tower loudspeaker fitted with the 17cm coaxial unit, the BC17. This unit consists of a dome midrange-tweeter and ring shaped low midrange-woofer membrane, forming together a portion of pulsating sphere. With constant control of the directivity all along its 175-20,000 Hz bandwidth, it provides Pacific 3 SA with all the benefits of the SCS (Spatially Coherent System) principles developed by the Cabasse laboratory.

“With constant control of the directivity all along its 175-20,000 Hz bandwidth, it provides Pacific 3 SA with all the benefits of the SCS (Spatially Coherent System) principles developed by the Cabasse laboratory.
The twin honeycomb dome woofers are powered with a 450 W Cabasse built-in amplifier; providing, in a slim cabinet, powerful and controlled LF response down to 37 Hz and deeper. The required cabinet depth has been reduced by 20% through the use of an innovative technical solution, which enables fine tuning of the LF for easy positioning and amplifier matching.”

The SA in the title satands for Semi Active as a the twin 21cm drivers are powered by a Cabasse-designed 450-watt amplifier, which is intended to make the Pacific 3SAs forgiving of room position and easy to match to an amplifier. There was none of the nasties in the Coherent room that other exhibitors had to contend with such as bass boom.

Also dotted around the edges of the room and on an L shaped table there were various Cabasse, Oracle and Belles products on static display.

Overall the sound was very nice on both days but on the second day things became more open and detailed with more air and the bass was more articulate. I wonder just how much better these Cabasse speakers will get when fully run in.

Monaco Suite  Pure Sound

Also sharing the Coherent room was Pure Sound, who had several exciting new products on display; namely the L10 line pre-amplifier and the M845 mono block power-amplifiers.

The L10 (taken from Pure Sound’s website)

“Following the positive response to our flagship L300 pre-amplifier, pure sound has developed the L10, a new, more affordable design which incorporates much of the thinking that makes the L300 so highly regarded. The L10 has 4 inputs, a separate passive Record In Record Out loop and two pairs of single ended outputs. The circuit uses output transformers and a sophisticated full valve rectified, twin choke smoothed power supply. It also offers remote control of the volume via a separate handset.

In the L10, source selection is via a high quality switch located near to the input sockets. The chosen source is routed to a high quality motorized, film potentiometer and from there on to the audio circuit.  This consists of a single ended triode stage loaded by a custom wound wideband output transformer which steps down the amplified signal allowing it to be coupled to the power amplifier at a manageable level and as a low impedance source. The output stage of the L10 is impervious to long interconnecting cables or lower impedance power amplifier input stages.

The L10 also incorporates an extremely sophisticated power supply to maintain constant operating conditions for the audio circuitry. It includes a valve rectifier, and a twin choke filtered LCLC stage which provides a stiff, voltage rail allowing the audio circuit to operate in a calm and orderly way regardless of the demands the music makes on the amplifying stage. Filament supplies are fully regulated to further reduce the potential for noise.”

The M 845 (taken from Pure Sound’s website)

“The M845 mono power amplifier is a single ended design based around the 845 power triode.  Operating in Class A and giving 27 Watts of output power, it will complement a wide range of medium to high efficiency loudspeakers.

The 845 triode was originally developed by RCA in 1931 as a radio transmitting and audio amplification valve. The anode is machined from solid graphite to allow high power dissipation. It has an extremely linear transfer characteristic.  In recent years, a renewed interest in this kind of valve has resulted in them being manufactured again by various factories in China.

Implementing the 845 in a sympathetic circuit which takes full advantage of its capabilities is not straightforward. The filament draws a significant amount of power and also forms a part of the signal path so energising it correctly is a critical part of the design. The valve also operates with very high voltages across it so again, a careful choice of filtering components for that high voltage supply is essential such that adequate current is available to the valve at all audio frequencies instantaneously. In the M845 this supply includes a hybrid Graetz bridge for the initial rectification and a substantial smoothing choke as part of its CLC type filter.

Although all of the elements; power supply, circuit topology & component choice have a profound effect on the overall performance of a valve amplifier, one of the most important aspects is the design & construction of the output transformer. A high primary impedance, the resultant large step down ratio and the need to maintain a high level of insulation between the windings all conspire against the transformer designer and the quest for extended bandwidth with efficient power transmission. The M845 utilises an in house designed output transformer that underwent extensive trials using a variety of core materials and winding techniques before the final configuration was chosen.

The other difficulty in using the 845 is in the design of a stage capable of cleanly delivering the voltage swing necessary at its grid to take it to full output. The M845 incorporates a driver stage based on the 6SN7 triode coupled via a custom wound, wideband, interstage transformer. The amplifier’s input stage is directly coupled to this driver meaning that there are no coupling capacitors used in the circuit at all.

The circuit also operates without any negative feedback.

The end result is an amplifier capable of reproducing the full measure of instrument tone with extraordinary dynamic contrast, energy and colour. When partnered with appropriate loudspeakers the M845 will deliver an unparalleled reproduction of all types of music.

Sadly these were only on static display so I can’t report on how they sound but they looked well, very much in keeping with the fit and finish of other Pure Sound products.

S24  ABC Audio/Synergistic Research

Paul Benge of ABC Audio was exhibiting a very similar system to the one he had used at the London Hi-Fidelity Show back in March except that he was using a very different pair of speakers.

These amazing works of art from SW Loudspeakers from Sweden comprise of four carbon fibre turbine shaped pod enclosures for the drive units, mounted on a thin up right. If you laid both speakers down on the ground bottom to bottom then they would look like the wings of a multi engined art deco styled jet plane. More details here.


The electronics were all MSB, with cabling from Synergistic Research and the room had also been treated with Synergistic Research resonators. These strange little metal cups where dotted around the room in various strategic positions on the walls. Regardless of what visitors might think about these the room sounded well and quite possibly as a result of them being there. As I have no direct experience of these items I can say no more. However unlike some I do have an open mind about the possibility that such things can work.

Overall sound quality was very good and it was a real pleasure chatting with Paul and his lovely wife after the show.

S25  NVA ltd

For many, many years I have wanted to hear Nene Valley Audio (NVA) products and this show offered me the opportunity to do so and despite the room being more akin to a broom closet the sound was quite good.

The electronics in use were from the newly redesigned Statement range.

The sources were the TFS Music Computer and Pioneer PL-71 turntable with MC Ortophon SPU Gold feeding NVA TAS Phono Stage.

The amplification was a NVA TCS Passive Control Unit feeding either a pair of NVA TDS Mono Power Amps or a single NVA TSS Stereo Power Amp or both bi-amping

Cabling used was NVA SSP (super sound pipe) interconnects and NVA LS5 loudspeaker cable.

The speakers were Cubix with Cube1 and Cube2.

I tried repeatedly to gain entry to the room but such was the popularity among some show visitors that every time I tried I found it full. It was only on the Sunday morning that an opportunity to get in presented itself and I was able to have a brief listen. So was it worth the wait ? Yes very much so I now understand why NVA has a devoted following and why Richard Dunn is held in such high esteem.

I hope I get a chance to hear these products again but in a better, bigger room.

S26  Sonos/Peachtree Audio

Sonos were exhibiting the Peachtree Audio range as they are the new UK distributors for this well liked and reviewed range of all-in-one integrated amplifier, DAC, valve headphone amplifiers.

They had the Nova and the Decco 2 on static display ? (when I was in the room there was no music playing). As I can’t tell you anything about the sound I offer the specifications instead so if of interest you can check them out for yourself.

Nova specification

ST mos-fet amp modules
80w/ch at less than 1% distortion in to 6 ohms
Internally wired like Sigma Servo control (two wires from amp to terminal) for better damping

Hybrid tube design (6922)
6.5V output @ 2.0V input
<30 Ohms at the output stage
Class A output stage
Switching relays in the signal path
Polypropylene caps in the signal path

Headphone Amp (shared with the Pre-Out stage)

Suitable for all electro-dynamic headphones
Frequency response: DC ~ 100 kHz +/- 0.1dB
Voltage gain: 10dB
Maximum output voltage: 7Vrms
output impedance: <30ohms Maximum output power: 100mW into 8Ohm / 300mW into 150Ohm / 150mW into 300Ohm Class A output stage 6922 Tube is in circuit DAC 5 digital inputs 1- USB, 2 coax, 2 optical 24/96 upsampling ESS9006 DAC 11 regulated power supplies Organic capacitors Class A output stage Transformer coupled digital Inputs for ground isolation Galvanically isolated USB stage. >122db S/N
<1picosecond jitter measured at the Master Clock (Super Clock)

Size 5” H x 14 ¾” W x 14” D (including volume knob and speaker terminals)

Weight 26lbs.

The Decco 2 specification

The Decco2 sports great features on the back panel.

a “sharp/slow” filter helps fine tune your listening preferences.

Preamp and fixed line out. So if you want to use a subwoofer or just use the Decco 2 as a standalone preamp.
2 aux inputs. USB, Toslink and coax digital inputs (Transformer coupled).
A bass boost for smaller desktop speakers.
There’s also a multi-voltage switch for operation in and out of the USA.

We feature a removable power cord in-case you ever want to upgrade

40 watts per channel <1% distortion into 6 ohms
Stereo MOSFET amp modules

Class A Preamp output stage
<30 Ohms output impedance
Hybrid tube design using triode (Stereo 6N1P)
6.5V output @ 2.0V input
Polypropylene caps in the signal path
2 Aux input
3 Digital inputs (all transformer coupled)
USB, Toslink (optical), Coax

Headphone Amp
Class A output with 6N1P tube in the circuit
Suitable for all electro-dynamic headphones
Frequency response: DC ~ 100 kHz +/- 0.1dB
Voltage gain: 10dB
Maximum output voltage: 7Vrms
Output impedance: <30ohms Maximum output power: 100mW into 8 Ohm / 300mW into 150 Ohm / 150mW into 300 Ohm Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) 4 digital inputs: 1 iPod, 1 USB, 1 Coax, 1 Toslink (optical) ESS 9006 Sabre DAC w/patented jitter reduction circuit 24/96 upsampling 11 regulated power supplies Class A output stage (for use as an external DAC) Transformer coupled digital Inputs for ground isolation Galvanically isolated USB stage. >118db S/N
<1 picosecond jitter measured at the Master Clock (Super Clock)

AC 115v/230v switchable from back panel

Size 5″ H x 14 ¾” W x 14″ D (including volume knob and speaker terminals)

Finish Black Gloss

Weight 25 pounds

These interesting items will be appearing in shops that sell Sonos products all over the UK soon.

S27  Canor Audio

Another new name (to me at least) was exhibiting at the show Canor Audio of Slovakia who had a number of interesting items on static display including a massive valve testing unit and a BT-1 tube burn in device.

They also had a system in use comprising of a pair of Sonus Faber speakers and items from their range of products including the TP 106 and TP 106+ version integrated amplifier and a CD2 VR CD player and CD2 VR+ version (the upgraded + models use Mundorf capacitors and better quality valves).

On the bottom shelf of the equipment rack they had their TP 206 and TP 306 phono stages and a TP 10 headphone amplifier.

Overall the  sound in this room was nice, though a tad thin (the room was very long and somewhat thin) I have heard Tracy Chapman sound fuller and richer. However in saying that Canor Audio products are still worth looking out for.

S28  SRM Tech

SRM Tech had a nice sound in their room. They were using an Arerzzo Reference turntable with Arerzzo SRM Rega arm with Ortofon Cadenza cartridge. Amplification was via an AVI S2000 pre-amplifier into a pair of no longer available active studio monitor speakers.

This was a very simple system that worked well in this relatively small room.

To the left side of the room they also had a display stand full of their various turntables

SRM Tech were also selling turntable mats of varying types, various vinyl playback accessories and anti-static record sleeves (as they were on show offer I bought two packets of 50 as I had just bought a classical music collection recently), isolation platforms and their clear turntable dust covers.

This was a very interesting room.

The Melbourne Suite  Henley Designs

The last ground floor suite The Melbourne was being used by Henley Designs distributors of Olive, Project, Roksan, Ortofon, Lehman, Audio Technica and Audio Vector speakers.

They had divided the large room up very cleverly into sections and had lots of items on static display around the edges of the room as well as setting aside the middle of the room to demonstrate a system comprising the new Roksan M Series Caspian  CD player and M Series Caspian integrated amplifier, an Olive 4HD HiFi server, Lehman phono stage Project RPM 10 turntable and Audio Vector speakers.

Henley were also showing the new models from Olive the Olive 3HD wireless server is set to feature all the best parts of the Olive 4 HD at a fraction of the cost. The Olive 3HD stores up to 1,500 CDs or 5,000 HD tracks. Most of the cost cutting appears to be in the areas of  connectivity, storage and the internal DAC used.

There was also the 5HD on show which uses a BD drive and a massive display screen for navigation. However at this time I can’t share any more about this impressive looking unit.

Around the room static displays held top project turntable the Xtension and the Roksan Radius, and their entry level to mid priced offerings as well as various other items from the small compact Project Box series.

A static display of Audiovector speakers.

Henley Designs always manage to get a good sound at the shows they attend and this time was no exception.


The End of Part Four

We will break here and resume our journey towards the Brooklands Suite market area in Part Five.

©Text and all photos Copyright Adventures in High Fidelity Audio 2010 all rights reserved, except for the show logo Chester Group copyright.
NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission.

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