Oct 102010

As Adventures In High Fidelity Audio’s Show Report continues we leave Henley Designs in the Melbourne Suite and make our way down towards the Brooklands Suite via a corridor.

On the right hand side of this corridor a number of rooms were in use as exhibition spaces. The first of which was…..

S30 EAR/Yoshino

Tim de Paravicini of EAR/Yoshino always has an interesting room at audio shows and this one was no exception with plenty of thermonic goodies to look at.

Tim was using his own unusual speakers and electronics for demonstration the Primary Drive speakers come in two models the Small £ 5757 and PDL £8225.

His website says this about them

Primary Drive Loudspeaker
Primary Drive Loudspeaker
Primary Drive Loudspeaker Coloration occurs when an audio signal is altered by the device producing the signal. In practice, no loudspeaker is free of coloration, but closed-box designs are particularly susceptible. Coloration is caused by resonance and reflected sound within the cabinet.
It is usually tackled by making the box as rigid as possible, with a consequent increase in weight and mass. Internal reflections are controlled by filling the enclosure with an absorbent material like wool or fiberglass. These methods do
not eliminate coloration�they merely place it below the musical signal, where it is not particularly noticeable. Volumetric damping also reduces efficiency and curtails the speaker�s dynamic performance.. In phase-inversion systems,
the box is, in effect, tuned by the use of a tube or port. However, only a narrow band of low frequencies is covered, and in effect, the low-frequency output from the rear of the driver is added to that from the front.Transmission-line and horn loading are also used, both of which require large enclosures. Horn loading is used where high efficiency is required, but for
acceptable low-frequency results, the horn flare needs to be several feet across. Electrostatic loudspeakers, which use a different principle of operation to moving-coil devices, are often low in coloration, but they usually have low power handling, poor efficiency, and have difficulty producing low frequencies.
An ideal loudspeaker would be of acceptable domestic size, and would have the low coloration of electrostatic designs with the power handling and dynamic qualities of the best moving-coil designs. Such a loudspeaker now exists! The Primary Drive Loudspeaker is a plane wave propagator with a dipole polar response. No damping material of any kind is employed. The Primary Drive uses three moving-coil drivers, two of Primary Drive design plus a conventional dome tweeter.
The drivers are mechanically isolated from each other, in three separate modules. Power handling is 200 watts AES. Efficiency is 90dB (1w/1m). Because the Primary Drive Loudspeaker has no panel or enclosure loading, it lacks box or panel coloration. No reflected sound (other than that produced by the room) is produced. The inherent smoothness of the system allows for the use of simple, high-quality, high-power-handling series inductors and capacitors in the crossover. Only three highly-rated crossover components are used.
The Primary Drive Loudspeaker is capable of producing high-definition, dynamic bass at high sound-pressure levels. It is capable of reproducing the subtle quality of the bass produced by many acoustic instruments. Many loudspeakers generate extended bass, but do not allow the listener to determine the exact nature of the instrument producing the bass. In the midrange�the most vital part of the frequency spectrum�the Primary Drive Loudspeaker utilizes a 5-inch, studio-quality driver that covers the frequency range between 160Hz to 8kHz.This wide range was chosen to ensure a seamless midrange presentation. The midrange of the Primary Drive Loudspeaker is fast, uncolored, and tonally accurate. Treble frequencies are handled by a high-quality dome tweeter loaded into a diecast horn that extends the response to 25kHz. The Primary Drive Loudspeaker retrieves a high level of information and produces excellent imagery. The soundstage is projected to the rear of the speakers, with exceptional lateral imagery and a solid, deep soundstage. The phase coherence of the system
Ensures that the image is very stable, within a wide listening area. The Primary Drive Loudspeaker is available in two sizes. The smaller of the two is suitable for small- to medium-sized rooms, the larger for medium- to large-sized rooms. The midrange drivers and tweeters are identical in both speakers, and the woofers are identical except for size (8-inch in the smaller speaker and 10-inch in the larger) The Primary Drive Loudspeaker offers a unique listening experience, with an unmatched combination of low coloration, high power handling, high sensitivity, and exceptional imagery, detail, and dynamics.

Also around the room were various items from his range including the CD player Acute £3754, the EAR 912 pre-amplifier £7994  and the Master Disk Reference turntable and arm £13735.

His website says this about this very unusual design

Ear Master Disk
Ear Master Disk
The current resurgence of the LP has a new
champion! Amid the many new turntables gracing the market, few if any offer
many novel features as EAR Master Disk. But this is not novelty for the
sake of it,
and we are proud to announce a new raising of standards.
Most striking perhaps is the all-new �no contact� drive
system. The need to transfer power to the platter of a turntable has always
been a source of trouble, as any system with the capacity to transfer power
by the very same means transfer vibration too. Flexible rubber belts have
proved a fairly satisfactory solution, but suffer problems of slip and
slightly uncertain speed, and they also pull the platter sideways which can
result in stability problems.

Now Tim de Paravicini, the renowned designer of EAR
amplifiers, has come up with an ingenious solution that solves all these
problems. A low-noise motor, controlled by a carefully optimised servo
drives a sub-platter via a toothed belt. This immediately eliminates slip
ensures that speed is absolutely controlled. The sub-platter drives the
platter via a clever arrangement of opposing magnets. Again, this cannot
but it allows just enough compliance to filter out any remaining vibration
the motor and belt, whilst applying a fully symmetric driving force.

Bearings are another problem for any turntable designer. We
have solved this by using precision Swiss angular contact bearings which
are at
least as quiet as the more common �point contact� types but wear much
slowly, so that performance after years of use will be as good as on

The platter is made of an ultra-low resonance composite of
resin and inorganic filler, accurately machined and supported on an
aluminium chassis. Adjustable damped feet support the assembly and all the
usual arm types can be mounted and adjusted with ease.

For the ultimate in flexibility all three speeds – 33, 45
and 78 – are offered, with a fine adjustment control for 78 to accommodate
discs cut at non-standard speeds.

Truly a turntable for the connoisseur!

I must be honest and say that while I really like the sound of Tim’s electronics his speaker design just does not do it for me. However despite saying that you should get a listen yourself as they may be exactly what you are looking for in a loudspeaker.

S31 Ikon Audio Consultants

A relatively new distribution company has put together a very interesting range of products including Audioplan speakers and cabling, Isem, Tsakiridis, Musical Life Audio and Curvi HiFi speakers.

The system in this room was made up from the following items.

The mains filtration systems and mains, interconnect and speaker cables were all from the Audioplan range, and the amplification was from Tsakiridis Devices (Alexander pre-amp with Apollo 70 W mono-block power amplifers).  The integrated CD player was part of the Ego range from Isem, based in France.The speakers were Audioplan Kontrast V’s

There were some really interesting products in this room and most of them completely unknown to me. In fact the only products that I had any direct experience of in this room were the Audioplan speakers and cabling; all-be-it my experience dates back to the mid 90’s.

So where to start ?

There was a very interesting turntable on static display. The Musical Life Audio Jazz Reference Mk2 part of a range of turntables from this company which includes the Concerto, Condoctor, Symphony mk3 and a really pretty tonearm the Fortissimo mk2.

The Ikon website has this to say about The Jazz Reference Mk2

“The constructional characteristics are similar to the Jazz MKII. The sound quality of the Referance takes the deck to a new level. Noble woods furniture trim was covered with piano lacquer. Not only an optical highlight, but also acoustically, as this has the effect to decrease the resonance particularly effectively. In addition the wood trim is bolted firmly with a 20mm shale platform. This measure provides for mass and an extremely solid soundstage.

As the further measure the Jazz MKII Reference is equipped with the very complex external motor control. The drive gains clarity, peace, precision and resolution. The ideal partner for Jazz MKII Reference a potent partner for our internal tonearms, like e.g. the Fortissimo MKII.”

How it sounded I can’t say but it looked beautiful.

As part of the demonstration system Ikon were using a Isem Audio Ego Phase CD player which forms part of a four model range. Two players are integrated and two are transports only.

Ikons website says this about the Ego Phase

“The award winning eGo range comprises four models, two integrated player and two transports, all built on the same principle and combining advanced technology with simplicity. Concerning eGo Phase 1, 2 & 3, the read-out/transport system is none other than the renowned Philips CD pro Aluminium, which is a reference in the field. The mechanism is mounted directly on top of the chassis, and suspended as with the finest analogue LP turntables, and combines the pleasure of a visible rotating disc with complete isolation from external vibration. A 24 bit D/A converter with differential output, low phase shift analogue filter, switched calibrated resistor network for volume control, ultra low noise Class A amplification, dedicated power supplies, are further features, according to the model chosen. Models eGo Phase 1 and 2 are CD transports offering alternative digital standards and outputs, for connection to a D/A converter. Model Phase 2 also offers a balanced analogue output and is equipped with an asynchronous sampling rate converter. Model eGo Phase 3 is a full CD player with built-in converter, pre-amplifier and volume control, for direct connection to a power amplifier. Model eGo Phase 4 is probably the most appropriate response to the often more conflicting demands of performance, simplicity and value. While most of cd players of the same category are built on cheap mechanisms, model eGo Phase 4 features a true “top loading” concept”

Isem Audio also  make two Element front loading CD/DVD/SACD players one of which plays video as well as audio and one the Element 2 is audio only.

There were also several Curvi HiFi speakers in the room Model 1 v2 and the as well. Curvi speakers are hand crafted in small production runs in East Sussex by Simon McLay of McLay Furniture. Whilst assembly and finishing of the cabinets is carried out by skilled hand work, McLay Furniture has a state of the art CNC router which is used to machine the profiles. Sadly time prevented me coming back in the afternoon for a listen as when I was in the room they were on static display only.

I had an interesting chat with Christopher Liauw of CML Audio who are involved in the designing of  Curvi and Etude speakers at the show but I had to apologise to him after the show for not being able to come back to his room;  to hear his speakers being used. This was an annoying consequence of the show being too big and me not having enough time to hear everything fully; two days was just not enough time as I have said elsewhere in this show report.

The Etude speaker looked particularly interesting so in lieu of being able to say how it sounds here is some info that Christopher Emailed me on the Etude 1.

“The Etude 1 loudspeaker from CML Audio is a state-of-the-art, free-space located,stand mounted loudspeaker with a 10 litre cabinet.By virtue of recentlyintroduced balanced mode radiator (BMR) full range drive units, together withcareful cabinet design and painstaking voicing, it has an exceptionally high audioperformance in relation to its retail price of £995 per pair.

With BMR drive units, the crossover network that divides frequencies between theusual tweeter and bass-midrange drive units is eliminated. The aurally critical1.5 to 4 kHz frequency band, where the crossover frequency usually resides, istherefore reproduced unadulterated.It is entirely free from phase-relatedartefacts that can give poor coherence and contribute to listener fatigue and lackof involvement, due to the extra neural processing that is required to assimilatethe music being reproduced.
The sound quality obtainable from the Etude 1 is characterised by a pure, liquidnature that has hitherto only been obtainable from full range electrostatic ormagnetically driven panel driver based loudspeakers. The midrange is highlytransparent and the treble is naturally extended without the usual spotlighting,(often engineered to give a falsely exciting sound in the demonstration room, orindeed at a Audio Show). Bass reproduction is well controlled with accuratereproduction of bass instrument harmonics that leads to an impression ofexcellent extension for the size of cabinet. There has been no attempt boost the80 to 100 Hz range to give a false impression of bass weight.
The BMR drive units are resiliently decoupled from the cabinet and the cabinetitself is critically braced and damped. The fascia plate further damps the baffleand provides a clean-cut appearance whilst eliminating diffraction effects arisingfrom driver mounting screws and rebates. The cabinet is available in user-selectable colours. An eggshell finish is standard but high-gloss lacquer isavailable on request at extra cost.”

An amazing looking equipment table called the Inquisition Rack was also on display in the room. Sadly space prevents me from going into much detail here but it had adjustable shelves and each shelf was made up of a acrylic composite laminated with a viscoelastic constrained damping layer and layers of wood dust. Its available in Wenge wood and other hard woods on request.

Also in the room, in use and on static display were valve amplifiers from Tsakiridis Devices such as the Aeolos, Odysseus, Alexander pre-amplifier and Apollo 70 watt power-amplifiers; these looked very well made and were quite affordable as well.

Overall sound in the room was very nice.

You can find Ikon Audio Consultants here http://www.ikonaudioconsultants.com/index.html

S32 Origin Live/Eminent Technology

Mark Baker of Origin Live had a few surprises up his sleeve for NAS in the form of two new add on power supplies for the Technics 1200/1210 turntables.

In recent years many companies including KAB in America and Sound HiFi is the UK to name a few have been marketing add on PSUs for the venerable Technics turntable and I guess its no surprise that Origin Live would do so at some point as well. There are two supplies The Advanced and the Ultra with a price of around £300 for the Advanced and £450 for the Ultra. These will be available in a about ten days or so (from the date this report is published), these are exciting times for Technics users.

Dotted about the room were various Origin Live tonearms , accessories and power supplies and motor upgrade kits as well as complete turntables.

Origin Live were sharing the room with Eminent Technology who mostly make speakers now. This is the same company who once made their name with an airbearing tonearm and who still thankfully make that arm; the ET Linear tracking airbearing tone arm, now in 2.5 guise. Sadly not on display.

However they were using their LFT8 and LFT16 speakers in the room and very interesting they are too.

On their website they say this about the LFT8 …..The Eminent Technology LFT-8b is a hybrid, with push-pull, dynamic planar loudspeaker elements for the midrange and tweeter and a conventional cone loudspeaker for bass. The planar section is in a sense, the magnetic equivalent of a push-pull electrostatic loudspeaker, differing in that it requires no step-up transformer or bias voltage, and that the audio signal is applied directly to its diaphragm.

And this about the LFT16…. The LFT-16 is Eminent Technology’s first hybrid bookshelf size speaker system using the highly acclaimed Linear Field Transducers combined with a 6.5” woofer in a low Q sealed enclosure. The magnetic drive principle developed by Eminent Technology for the LFT speaker series is unique to the industry. As the diaphragm of the speaker moves between the magnets following an audio signal, the magnetic field intensity remains constant. In a sense it is the magnetic equivalent of a push-pull electrostatic loudspeaker, differing in that it requires no step up transformer or bias voltage and that the audio signal is applied directly to the diaphragm. As a result, distortion remains low even at high sound pressure levels.

Overall sound in this room was quite good.

You can red more about ET here http://www.eminent-tech.com/main.html

The Brooklands Suite Market Place

This massive exhibition space was set up as a village market place with stalls set around the walls and in the middle of the room and there was a lot of interesting things to both see and buy.

Rather than start from the second public entrance to the show, I will start from the exit entrance to the main show exhibition, just as a visitor would who has just walked into the Brooklands Suite  from there.

SS16 Sound HiFi

Just to the left side of the entrance to the room Dave Cawley had his stand with his Timestep modified Technics 1200 as the source for a ANT headphone amplifier.

Many Technics fans and Timestep users had hoped that the new Timestep bearing and platter would be ready in time for this show but alas they were not. The fact that Dave was not showing them shows great attention to detail on his part in so much that he did not want to bring to market a set of products that were not 100% ready to go to market and because of this approach to things, he also, or so it seems, decided not to exhibit any prototypes either.  I for one applaud this approach.

I had a few pleasant conversations with Dave after the show on both the Friday and the Saturday in the main about FM broadcasting and satellite radio subjects he knows a great deal about.

SS10 HiFi Racks

HiFi Racks display of their equipment tables and isolation platforms was a feast for the eyes with all of the beautiful wood they use in their construction on display.

The range is called Podium and they offer a number of solutions for different sizes of equipment and they even offer a rack for Cyrus electronics. As the products are handmade to order they will also custom make each item in their catalogue to suit your equipment.

I particularly like the look of their media storage units and the turntable wall shelf.

As there are too many items to list individually you can explore their range by visiting their website http://www.hifiracks.co.uk/index.htm

T4 Advanced Acoustics

This is one of the few UK based companies offering acoustic solutions designed for UK/European homes. As in the past they were using XTZ electronics as part of their product demonstrations.

Visit their website for more info http://www.advancedacoustics-uk.com/

SS11 Black Rhodium

Its been a very long time since Sonic Link Graham Nalty’s original cable manufacturing company was a common name on the lips of UK audiophiles. I remember Sonic Link fondly and to my mind Graham has achieved much more with Black Rhodium company; which despite being launched in 1990 has come along way and achieved more in a relatively short time.

Black Rhodium cables are distributed in the UK by Hi-Audio so are available from a network of dealers.

SS9 Henley Designs

As well as a larger room in the main exhibition Henley Designs also had a small stall selling Project and other Henley distributed products.

They seemed to be very busy each time I passed their stall.

SS7 Supra Cables

Supra Cables of Sweden had a nicely laid out display stall with their cables and accessories on sale.

SS8 Track Audio

Track Audio are a new company offering a range of beautifully made modular speaker stands and equipment tables.

However as no information sheets or price lists were available round their stall; I can’t tell you much about their products which is a real shame. It would seem that the keys to the kingdom were only to be found on a laptop and in a folder that was being closely guarded on a desk at the entrance to the stall.

I don’t want to be overly harsh or critical here but not everyone has the time or inclination to have to ask for information. To my mind it makes more sense to have information sheets and price lists dotted about the stall with the products, thereby giving the information to those as in my case who did not have the time to ask and providing it for those who would use that info as a spring board for discussions with the company.

Regardless of this oversight the products themselves were very interesting.

This is a link to Track Audio’s website where you can read more about their products.


SS4 Atacama Audio/Nordost/Elac

Well established, well reviewed, manufacture of speaker stands and equipment tables Atacama had a large exhibition area full of their products and they were also sharing the space with Nordost cables and Elac as well.

T2 BBC Music Magazine

BBC music magazine has joined the list of press publications that actively support the Chester Group audio shows and had a stall selling subscriptions.

SS3 HiFi World

HiFi World a long time supporter of Chester Group audio shows had a stall selling subscriptions to the magazine and answering audio related questions.

I very much enjoyed meeting Debbie Silva on the Friday night and after the show on the Saturday evening Sharon Mehlhorn. Both these ladies work tirelessly behind the sceens as do the other HiFi world staff to produce a very interesting printed magazine.

SS1 The Missing Link

Cable manufacturer and audio dealer The Missing Link had a stall selling their large range of cables.

MH1 Stamford Audio

Stamford Audio had a mix of new and S/H vinyl, SACDs, CDs and audio accessories on their large stand.

A few purchases were made by myself off this stand including a Yellow Jackets SACD.

SS22 Russ Andrews

I wonder if Russ Andrews had left anything behind at his Cumbrian base of operations, as it seemed to me at least that he had brought everything with him.

This area was a real Aladdin’s cave of audio and video accessories and was a hive of activity and no-doubt many sales were made during the weekend.

SS19 HiFi+

Had a stall selling back issues and subscriptions.

SS14  Claro Precision Audio

Just beside the Diverse Vinyl stall Claro Precision Audio were showing their beautifully made limited edition (only 30 are to be made) Clarity 09 turntable. Various parts of the turntable was on display as well. This showed a very high level of fit and finish. Its always nice to see the constituent parts of a design on display as you learn a lot from seeing that.

CPA also make record pucks, clear covers and a very clever counter weight.

The Clarity 09 retails for about £2000 sans arm.

You can read more here http://www.claro-audio.co.uk/

S13 Audi0/Italia

A new company to me had a very nice range of equipment tables on display. The furniture has been designed to complement Linn electronics and the Modena 4 or 5 shelf suits the Majik, Akurate and Klimax particularly.

There are also isolation products designed to suit DCS, Stax, Linn and Naim.

I had a brief chat with those manning the stand (I assume Colin Locke was one of them ?) and they struck me as being particularly nice people.

More info here http://www.audioitalia.co.uk/

MH2 Diverse Vinyl

Diverse Vinyl, who sell CDs and SACDs as well as vinyl were doing a brisk trade over both days. I myself bought a few records from their stand, finding some albums I did not know about.

SS18 Loricraft Audio

Loricraft’s stall was covered with examples of all things Garrard related, including plinths and examples of the venerable  turntables as well.

A Loricraft 301, 401, 501 and the 601 were on display. Recently Loricraft Audio secured the rights to manufacturing Garrard turntables (they bought the rights and name from Garrard owners Gradiente of Brazil) and the 501 is the first fruits of that new situation.

Loricrafts record cleaning machine and power supplies were also on display.

You can read more here http://www.loricraft.com/


The End of Part Five

That concludes the coverage of the ground floor exhibition areas. In part six we will go upstairs to the first floor part of the NAS show.

©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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