Oct 162012
 

After working my way around the Brooklands suite – see Part One for details – I entered the rabbit warren of corridors that wend their way into the interior of the hotel and the first room I visited was Decent Audio who this year had opted for a smaller downstairs room to their usual upstairs one.

Room 531 – Decent Audio

Decent Audio distribute Magnepan speakers within the UK and despite the much smaller room than they have used in the past they were still getting a fairly decent sound. Decent Audio also had a stand in the HeadZone exhibition as they distribute Audez’e headphones.

One thing I really like about this company is that they do a small range of products that they support and promote really well.

One item from Magnepan I had not seen before was their mini speakers system called The Mini Maggies. Magnapan refer to this set up as a miniature version of their 3.7s.

Magnepan say this on their website….

‘the Mini Maggie System is essentially a 3.7 in miniature. No, it is NOT a “computer speaker”. (And it wasn’t made in China). The Mini Maggie System is the world’s first full-range dipole speaker system that will sit on (and under) your desk. The Mini Maggie (“satellite”) is essentially a miniaturized version of the 3.7 midrange and tweeter. The bass panel of the miniaturized 3.7 sits under your desk in the foot-well.’

To these mini panels one adds a DWM Bass panel for the low frequencies.

‘…..the Mini Maggie System is a different concept (near-field speaker) than any previous Magneplanar models. Some precautions should be taken. Because your desk is a known acoustical environment for us to design around (unlike your sound room), we know how the Mini Maggie System will sound on your desk. (Note–These reviewers tested it as a desktop system in a 10×12 foot office.) It is almost impossible to set it up wrong as a desktop system (assuming you follow the guidelines of installing a dipole bass panel in the foot-well of your desk). But, a woofer/satellite system in a small room is another matter.’

These were on static display so I can’t report on how they sounded, but if you want a very different desktop system then surely these should be on your to audition short list – price was £1675

The system in this room comprised of a Music Works Revo equipment rack and Quad electronics. This was surprising as for the past number of years Decent Audio have used Rega Isis electronics for their show demonstration systems. The speakers being demoed were 3.7s at £6000.

There was also a static display of Magnepans at the back of the room.

http://www.decentaudio.co.uk/

Room 532 – Brodmann Acoustics

This Austrian company were exhibiting a number of their speaker designs and over the two days I was able to hear both speakers they had on demo on separate occasions and very impressed I was as well.

I have to say that this company was being a bit naughty in that it wasn’t clear which speakers were on demo from just walking into the room as they had no ‘on demo’ sign in front of the speakers being used. In away this was a good thing to highlight the performance of the speakers.

On entering the room I say down and as I am fairly familiar with the electronics they were using I sat back, closed my eyes and was very impressed by the fairly wide deep soundstage, nice extended bass, instrument separation, clarity and focus. The music filled the far end of the room and it was very much free from the speakers.

I turned to Colin Taylor and assuming the VC -7’s were playing asked anyway. His reply had my mouth gaping – I am quite sure – as he informed me that the music had been coming out of the tiny F-S speakers sitting either side – on the top of the equipment table – of the Electrocompaniet 250R power amplifier.

The rest of the electronics were an ECC1 CD player and MC4.8 pre-amplifier.

Frankly there really should have been no way this modest pair of £2000 speakers should have been able to produce this magical sound. I have heard similar mid, treble performance and imaging from tiny mini monitor speakers in the past but not the weight scale and quality bass.

The amount of info on the Brodmann Acoustics site is sketchy but these are the specs…

‘Our model Festival Shelf was designed for advanced listening. The Festival FS is proof that optimal design need not be spatially overwhelming to leave a lasting impression.

Frequency Range: 55 – 20,000 Hz ±3 dB

Transitional frequencies:
Acoustical Active 130 Hz – 4.5 dB/oct
Electrical 2.0 kHz – 6 dB/oct
Operational Output: 1.9 Watt for 91 dB/m
Nominal Load: 40 Watt
Music Load: 80 Watt
Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohm
Dimensions (H x W x D): 952 x 202 x 276 mm
Weight: 10 kg’

The larger VC-7s £12000 really needed a larger room when I heard them later on but – despite some bass issues they still sounded very good.

Brodmann say this about these speakers which are part of the Vienna Classic range…..

‘The joy of listening to music knows no compromise. Our premium VC 7 is a landmark in the hi-fi class, marking the pinnacle in building speaker systems. To many audiophiles, it is the best such system in the world. The VC 7 is our largest floor- standing speaker, and we created it with one thing in mind: your absolute fascination when listening to music, whatever genre you choose.’

The specs are….

‘Frequency Range: 25 – 27,000 Hz ±3 dB
Transitional frequencies:
Acoustic Active 130Hz -4.5 dB/oct
Electrical 1.6 kHz – 5.7 dB/oct
Operational output: 1.1 Watt for 91 dB/m
Nominal Load: 180 Watt
Music Load: 360 Watt
Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohm
Dimensions (H x W x D): 1330 x 195 x 403 mm
Weight: 36.5 kg.

Also in the room there was a row of Broadmann speakers on static display.

I was very impressed with my exposure to these fine Austrian speakers and despite a small room the sound was very good indeed. I look forward to hearing them again in the future.

http://www.brodmannacoustics.com/

Room 530 – Art Audio

Art Audio had opted this year to be on the ground floor and it was within their room I had the pleasure of hearing a Claro sourced turntable, all-be-it it this is an Art Audio design made for Art Audio by Claro, so this turntable only has a passing similarity to the Claro Clarity Dual. This particular turntable has two motors and all new drive electronics. Price around £2999 not including arm.

Art Audio always have a fairly good sound in their rooms and while this system was not too different – different power amplifier this time around a Diavolo stereo power-amplifier – to previous shows. The system comprised of a Conductor pre-amplifier, Conductor pre-amplifier, Vinyl One phono-stage, PS Audio CD transport and DAC, Composer One turntable which was fitted with an Ortofon tonearm and Ars Aures M1 speakers.

The sound was open, detailed, musical – tonal balance leaning to the slightly warmer sweeter side of neutral – with an ability to pull one into the music, with all the detail there to be heard but in a pleasant way that avoided the machine gun etched quality that some other audio set ups can have.

I could have sat on all day but sadly I had many. many more rooms to visit so with some sadness I pulled myself away and continued onto the next room.

Melbourne Suite – Henley Designs

As usual Henely Designs had a massive amount of equipment in their main room – way too much for me to comment on them all – and as there were a couple of NAS show firsts in this room in the form of new products from Roksan and Sansui – so it is these that I will focus on in the main.

The Oxygene amplifier and CD player are pretty radical designs in that they don’t look like traditional audio products, in fact they look more like computer related designs and with minimal controls – touch panels on the top – they are a big departure from previous Roksan products.

I like the clean minimalism of them and the satin finish but I can’t help but wonder how they could be operated without a remote if one lost it.

Roksan have this to say about the Oxygene amplifier £3000

‘The Oxygene Integrated Amplifier is the end result of countless hours of development, fine-tuning and a relentless dedication to sonic perfection. It incorporates an elegant, simplistic design with traditional amplifier inputs, plus bluetooth wireless audio technology. All at the highest possible performance level. Simply pair your bluetooth music-playing device to the amplifier and prepare to be astounded. It’s a sleek, innovative design with only the words ‘LESS IS MORE’ discretely printed on top of the cabinet – not a button or knob in sight. These three touch sensitive words control all functions of the player. Touch MORE to increase the volume or LESS to reduce it. Press IS once then LESS or MORE to move forward or backward between inputs. The perfect exterior is a constant reminder of the craftsmanship within. This is a product that combines audiophile quality sound with cutting edge design and technology.’

Roksan continues thus….

‘Every now and then something comes along that completely changes the way we perceive the market. Roksan’s Oxygene range is one such concept. The designs of the new, top-range Oxygene range were acquired by Roksan from the renowned Danish high-end designer, Bo Christensen. Roksan – through its highly regarded manufacturing tradition and widespread world distribution network – is the ideal home for these remarkable products to gain recognition and prestige. The designs have been honed to perfection by Roksan with high quality metalwork, the most rigorous quality control and top componentry. Many manufacturers in the hi-fi industry have claimed to have designed ‘breakthrough’ electronics products but to little (or no)avail. However, the Oxygene series is a different proposition altogether. Numerous factors combine to make Oxygene the most exciting audio products for the current generation of discerning music lovers.’

Roksan continue thus….

‘Understated and elegant aesthetics are matched with easy user-friendliness to result in a unique and striking design. Materials are beyond reproach: cast aluminium and high quality finishing are utilized to create a solid, impressive-looking chassis that blends in seamlessly with its surroundings whilst still being a striking, head turning object. For the ultimate usability experience, the Oxygene range employs touch-sensor operation technology. Control of the amplifier and the CD player is by a simple touch of the words ‘Less is More’ . The beautifully tactile Oxygene system remote utilizes the same touch sensor technology to make operating the system an experience in itself!’

and

‘Within the simple design ethos there is a plethora of top-spec technology used to make the operational process as easy and enjoyable as possible. As well as traditional stereo inputs, the Oxygene integrated amplifier has built-in Bluetooth receiver technology. This means that you can wirelessly connect any device that holds music and has Bluetooth technology, including iPhones, iPads, smartphones, tablets and computers. Its connection flexibility is phenomenal: The Oxygene amplifier’s sixteen Bluetooth channels can link as many devices as desirable. The first fifteen being individual devices, with the sixteenth being infinite. The Oxygene CD player uses the best components and DAC available for optimum sound quality.’

Specification

2 channel integrated amplier,3 pairs of analogue inputs via RCA,Up to 16 Channels of Bluetooth input,L/R outputs for active subwoofer(s).2 loudspeaker outputs via banana sockets,Latest aptx bluetooth connection,Power bandwidth 1 Hz – 43 kHz,Total Harmonic Distorsion (THD) Better than 0.1 %,Signal to noise ratio 95 dB,Input sensitivity > 1 Vrms,Input impedance 10 kΏ,Output power 75 Wrms/ 8 ohm,150 Wrms/4 ohm,Output Impedance 0.02 ohm @ f > 1 kHz,Current limit 10 A,Mains power 100 V / 120 V / 230 V at 50Hz,Power consumption at Idle 20 watt,Max power 230 watt, Dimensions (WxDxH) 12 x 12 x 2 inches (31 x 31 x 6 cm),Weight (Net) 7KG (15.4 LBS)

On Roksan’s website they say this about the Oxygene CD player £2500 …..

‘There are both coaxial and optical digital outputs and single-ended analogue RCA stereo outputs.

The Roksan Audio – Oxygene CD Player is housed in the same stunning cast aluminium chassis as the Integrated Amplifier.

Featuring a front-loading mechanism and the same large, high-quality dot matrix display as the Integrated Amplifier, the CD Player never fails to impress when it comes to looks.Every now and then something comes along that completely changes the way we perceive our needs.

This product is a natural match for the Integrated Amplifier that impresses both musically and aesthetically as a synergic system.’

Specification D/A – CONVERTER 24 – bit/192kHz (BB PCM1796).Analogue output Single ended via RCA,Digital outputs Coaxial and optical,Signal to noise ratio Better than 100 dB (A – weighted) Total harmonic distortion Better than 0.002% @ 1 kHz Maximum output 2.3 Vrms (1 kHz @ 0 Db) Mains power 100 V / 120 V / 230 V at 50 Hz Power consumption at idle 8.2 watt Max. power consumption 12 watt Dimensions (WxDxH) 12 x 12 x 2.3 inches (31 x 31 x 6 cm) Weight (Net) 4 kg (9 lbs)

The name Sansui will be a familiar one to the more mature audio enthusiast and particularly to those who have an interest in quality FM tuners of the 70’s as Sansui had an excellent reputation for such then. Sadly the brand pretty much vanished from the UK in the 90’s and has until now been well off any ones radar except in the context of their vintage designs.

Sadly the Sansui items Henley had in their room were on static display so I can’t report how they sounded but certainly they looked good to my eyes but looks alone only tell part of the story.

The new CDD – 201V CD player £200, SAP-201V integrated amplifier/DAC £300 and WLD-201 Network Music Player £349 give audiophiles on a tight budget an alternative to Marantz and Cambridge Audio who pretty much dominate the budget UK market these days.

This is what Henley have to say about each item on their website….

‘The Sansui CDD-201V CD Player offers those of us who wish to enjoy our CD collection the chance to experience excellent audio fidelity at an affordable price. Engineered to a high standard with carefully selected components for a ‘best-in-class’ performance at the price point, the CDD-201V is an essential piece of affordable audiophilia.

Available in silver or black finish.

Key Features: Plays CD, CD-R/W, CD-R-, CD-R+, Decodes MP3 and WMA files copied to CD-R

Specially chosen capacitors and other passive components with close tolerances for critical circuits, Full function remote control, Informative VFD display gives complete information about tracks and time, Matches the SAP-201V amplifier.

Specifications: Playback Support: CD, CD-R/W, CD-R-, CD-R+ MP3 and WMA Files Copied to CD-R, Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz, Channel Balance: Better than 2.0dB, Separation: > 60dB, THD + Noise: < 0.05%, Signal-to-Noise Ratio: > 87dB, Output Level: 1.8V ± 2dB @ 1KHz, 0dB,  Outputs: Digital – COAX & Optical, Analogue – Stereo RCA, Power Supply: AC 230V ~ 50Hz, Max. Power Consumption: 20W, Dimensions (W x D x H): 430 x 283 x 70mm (+10mm Feet}’

‘The Sansui SAP-201V Stereo Amplifier is a solidly built stereo amplifier that breaks all the rules. It’s the first in its class to offer a built-in DAC, a feature usually exclusive to much more expensive models. The implemented technology provides fast and accurate signal processing, resulting in a well-balanced, open and precise stereo sound stage. A rigid and solid feel is provided by its all-metal case, and the audiophile grade components used throughout (along with a high-spec toroidal power supply) ensure accurate sound tuning. ‘Direct Access’ circuitry ensures very short signal paths for a truly great sound at an amazing value.

Available in silver or black finish.

Key Features: RCA stereo inputs for: Line In, Tuner, CD, Aux, Tape & Phono, 3.5mm line input jack on front panel. Headphone socket on front panel, Full feature infra-red remote control, Audiophile toroidal transformer/power supply for low noise and high performance, 40w per channel RMS power ourput, Separate 3 pin power cord connector socket.

Specifications: Power Output:, 40W RMS, 1% THD @ 8Ω, 50W RMS, 0.8% THD @ 4Ω, Dynamic Power: 150W, THD: 0.08% (1kHz, 1W), Damping Factor: 60 (Front’1 kHz’8 ), Input Sensitivity: Line – 250mV, Phono – 6.5mV, Input Impedance:, Line – 47kΩ, Phono – 47kΩ, Input Channel Separation: + 70dB, Output Level & Impedance: 250mV /47kΩ (REC OUT), Phono Overload: 60mV (MM 1kHz, 0.5%), Frequency Response @ 1KHz ±3dB: 10Hz – 50KHz, Tone Control: +14 dB, -14 dB, 100 Hz (BASS), +14 dB, -14dB, 10 kHz (TREBLE), +0 dB, -14 dB (BALANCE), Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Line – >85dB, Phono – >60dB, Noise Level: 1.2mV, Speaker Impedance: 4Ω, 8Ω, 16ΩDigital Inputs: Optical (Rear), Coaxial (Rear),DAC Chip:Wolfson WM8761, 24-bit / 192kHz Analogue Inputs: Phono (Rear),CD (Rear),Network-Player(Rear),AUX (Rear),TV (Rear), Line-In (Front),Analogue Outputs: REC OUT,Headphones: 1 x 1/4″ (Front),AC Input: AC 220-240V ±10%, 50Hz,Power Supply: 230V, 50/60Hz, Max. Power Consumption: 250W,Dimensions (W x H x D): 430 x 80 x 283mm,Weight: 6.3kg’

‘The Sansui WLD-201 Network Player is a stand-alone audio component that can integrate into your existing hi-fi set-up in much the same way as a traditional radio tuner or CD Player, except it comes with all the advanced technology necessary to access your digital music library.

First of all it has a built-in DAB/DAB+ radio tuner allowing you to get access to a host of local digital radio broadcasts. Secondly, once connected to your home network (via wireless or Ethernet cable connection), it will give you access to over 15,000 internet radio stations from around the globe, many of which are now in digital HD sound formats giving exceptional audio quality. Finally, you can listen to any of the music tracks stored on your computer or network attached storage (NAS) drive, giving you access to your entire library without the need for any other device.

In addition to the remote control handset that comes with it, if you own an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad, you can download the free Sansui Libretto remote control application, allowing you to browse all of your music from the palm of your hand.

Key Features: Access over 15,000 internet radio stations, including live broadcasts and ‘listen-again’ content. Music streaming with playlist capability. Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) & Ethernet Connection with Push Button WPS security for easy setup. Supports FLAC (up to 48/24), WAV, AAC/AAC+, MP3, Real- Audio, WMA (DRM). Audio playback from USB. iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad control interface via Sansui Libretto application.

Libretto Application:

The Libretto application from Sansui offers full control of the WLD-201 Network Player’s functions. Navigate radio stations and digital music libraries from the comfort of your arm chair.

Audio File Support: Codec Supported Min. Max. FLAC 1.5 mbit/s* Undefined 24 Bit / 48kHz

WAV 1.5 mbit/s* Undefined 24 Bit / 48kHz, AAC 320 kbit/s* 8 kbit/s 320 kbit/s**, MP3 320 kbit/s 8 kbit/s 320 kbit/s**,WMA 320 kbit/s*,4 kbit/s 384 kbit/s***,Real Audio 64 kbit/s 8 kbit/s 96 kbit/s, * – This is the maximum bit-rate tested. Higher bit-rates may work but are not

currently tested.** – This is the MP3 ISO standard maximum although some decoders can generate much higher data rates which we do not support.*** – The maximum offered by most encoders is 320 kbit/s (WMP limits it to 192)

Specifications:Operating Voltage: AC 220/240V ~ 50 Hz,Max. Power Consumption: 12W,Harmonic Distortion: <0.2% at 1kHz, 1W,Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz, ± 3dB

Signal-to-Noise Ratio: > 83dB (A)Wi-Fi:802.11 b/g, WEP, TKIP, WPA, WPA2, WPS Security, Display: 128 x 64 Graphic LCD Display,DAB: Band 3,DAB+: With Additional AAC+ Codec,Audio Playback from USB: Yes, Port Is Not Apple Compatible,Protocol: UPnP,App: Yes, search Libretto, Frequency Range:FM 87.5 – 108 MHZ, DAB 174.928 – 239.200 MHz

Connections:Tuner Antenna Connection,RJ-45 Ethernet Jack,Wi-Fi 2.4 G Connection,USB Port

Outputs: Analog Stereo Output Via RCA, Digital Stereo Output Via Optical TOSLINK’

All these specs suggest excellent, flexible products but I would have liked to have heard them playing. The few times I was in the room they were silent.

Around the room there were products from Tivoli, Project, Ortofon, Audio Technica, Van Den Hul, Roksan, Olive, Audio Vector, Lehmann Audio and many others, all on static display. The Henley Designs room really was a feast for the eyes.

As always a delight in terms of this room being well set up, everything labelled, great point of information material but sadly just way too much to write about in the context of this report. If I covered every part of this room I would end up with a multi-part report on Henley alone.

http://www.henleydesigns.co.uk/home-c1

528 – LW Audio

It was nice to see Iain Borthwick of LW Audio and Stephen Pitt of Anthony Gallo once again and enjoy the delights of the Gallo Reference 5 speakers that were sounding very good despite the small room, that initially upon entering I thought that the Reference 5’s would not work in.

The system was pretty much the same as it had been at last years NAS with the exception that MIT cables were being demonstrated as part of the system.

I visited the room a few times and the wonderful Anthony Gallo 3.5s were only on static display but in fairness it would have been hard to move the Reference 5s to make way for them and then back again.

Some Cary mono block amplifiers were also on static display in the room.

http://www.lwaudio.co.uk/

524 – Fidelity Art


A new name to me and within this room a huge surprise – one is tempted to say lurked but the speakers in question by Bodnar Audio of Poland – the Sandglass Fantasy – make far too big a visual and sonic statement to be accused of hiding their light under a bushel. However what they do is shock in terms of their price which considering all the factors is somewhat of a bargain at only £3500

In recent years a somewhat shocking to me at least thing has started to become more common that I am hearing horn speakers that are lacking the cuppy colouration that so afflicted the breed at one time – by saying that I am not saying that these types don’t still exist – but it is less common these days – or so it seems – for me to walk into a room and want to walk out again. Being honest that colouration is something I can neither accept or forgive in any speaker regardless of whether it is a horn speakers or not and while I fully appreciate why many horn lovers love horns they just are not for me.

The Sandglass Fantasy speakers are fast, open, detailed, have an effortless rightness, with weight scale and dynamics aplenty. There is excellent bass and a wide deep realistic soundstage with excellent clarity and focus. If you think I was quite taken with these speakers you would be right and my favourable impressions took a massive leap when I learnt the price – in fact I could not believe it as I fully expected these speakers to be much more expensive.

This is what Bodnar Audio say about their speakers….

‘Breathtaking dynamic range, enormous three-dimensional soundstage, natural timbre and deep bass extension all come together to deliver an exceptional sense of authenticity. The richly textured presentation of music provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience in all respects. The unique cabinet design strengthens and improves wave dispersion while boosting bass response, and the single speaker with no crossover reproduces the full sound spectrum. Sandglass speaker systems are an ideal match for triode amplifiers with a relatively low power output.’

I agree and it is not often I agree with what either manufacturers or distributors say about their products in their sales literature. Bodnar Audio are a husband and wife team – something else rare in audio – and this is what they say about their products.

Paweł Bodnar

“We are driven by the desire to keep searching for the best ways to enjoy music at the highest possible quality. This is why we are constantly seeking and implementing superior solutions that our customers have grown to appreciate.”

Mariola Bodnar

“As our passion for music and high-quality sound grows, we try to infuse our customers with this passion every day, and we share their love of music and of the way they listen to it.”

Sandglass Fantasy Speaker Specifications:

Speaker: 8 in (200 mm), full range, Impedance: 8 ohm, Sensitivity: 95 dB, Recommended amplifier power: 5 W to 25 W, Height: 63 in (160 cm), Width: 14.6 in (37 cm), Depth: 17.7 in (45 cm)

Also on display in the room were stands and isolation products from PAB.

The system being used for the room comprised of the aforementioned Sandglass Fantasy speakers, a PAB rack £1395, N Audio 6C33 integrated amplifier (not available in the UK) an Oppo as a transport/player and a Project valve phono stage.

This room was a real surprise and a delight though I did have to ask for the sound to be turned down a bit, as excessive volume was impacting badly on the sound – i.e the relatively small room was being over-driven and this was causing some bass issues.

http://www.bodnaraudio.com/

http://www.fidelityart.co.uk/

http://www.proaudiobono.pl/

525 – Hart Audio

I will say this for David Hart he has a thick skin, as frankly the abuse he has been getting online recently for his latest speakers in my view is quite unfair. Yes they are expensive, Yes they are only for a select group of audio enthusiasts, maybe not even, and Yes maybe better sound can be got for less money. However the thing these keyboard warriors seem to have failed to take into account is that these designs are as much a work of art – in my view – as they are audio designs and when talking about art it becomes much harder to ascribe value as bespoke, very limited edition items such as the 105 or so pairs of D&W Aural Pleasure ear shaped speakers are very much works of art.

The ear shaped solid cast Phosphor Bronze, silver or gold plated speakers are on first viewing surprisingly small and the matching hydraulically air damped speaker stands are also very short. The normal rule of thumb is that treble drive units should be at ear height and these stands do not raise the Aura Pleasures of the floor that much, so on first seeing them in the flesh I was left somewhat perplexed.

Furthermore on the first day I didn’t think much of them sonically, something was a miss and I was left very underwhelmed by the sound. Hotel room based demos are notoriously bad places to evaluate audio kit and while some rooms can be tamed not all can so I left the room disappointed as I have to date not heard a bad Hart speaker design. Therefore I resolved to come back on the Sunday for another listen and a chat with David – if he was about.

The system being used comprised of a pair of Balanced Audio Technology VK150Se mono block amplifiers, an Audio Research Ref 5 pre-amplifier, MDL 1611 DAC and laptop.

On the Sunday the sound was much, much better and while I was listening David popped into the room and we had a chat about the speakers. He explained that they were a labour of love and perhaps not the most commercial of his designs but something he wanted to do and explore regardless of the flac he might get about them.

We listened for awhile and the total lack of cabinet colouration was immediately obvious in much the way Anthony Gallos Reference 3.5s sound or don’t sound. The soundstage was wide pretty deep for the room, imaging was pin point and there was great clarity. However there was a slight lack of musicality and while music was not bright or forward as such I did find music via this speaker just a tad lacking in heart. There were a few issues with bass as well but these were in my opinion down to the room and not a failing in the speaker its self.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and frankly the chrome stands clash massively with thebronze speaker. Black would be much better as a contrast to the cabinet and would tie in with the black drive units.

Re the question of value £40,000 is a lot of money and the silver and gold versions take the prices even further up the scale, but as in all art what one will and won’t pay to get a slice of the unique is up to the individual purchaser. My gut feeling is that these are not for the audio enthusiasts of the world as such but more for the well heeled art lover who wants the unusual as a source of music.

The Aural Pleasures use a Tannoy dual concentric 6.5″ main driver & dual radiator Supertweeter with main spec as following…

  • Sensitivity 97db 1w@1mtr
  • Impedance 5 Ohms
  • Frequency range 47Hz- 37Khz +\-4db & 39Hz-47Khz +\- 10db
  • .

    I very much admire those who follow their heart or are true to their personal convictions and I wish David Hart the very best with these new limited edition speakers.

    http://www.hartaudio.com/

    526 – Alacrity Audio

    Having read about these but not heard them before I was very keen to listen to them and despite a few room issues I was amazed at how good these speakers sounded especially on the end of a very budget amplifier – TL Audio Fatman I Tube £200 and computer.

    I can’t help but wonder how much better these speakers would sound on the end of a better system – maybe some day I will get to hear then in just such a system.

    The Alacrity Caterthun speakers retail for £2000 and their specification is as follows…

    Alacrity Audio have quite a lot to say about their speaker so I will quote from their site….

    ‘Alacrity Audio’s patented Acoustic Induction cabinet loading technology (effectively, a wide-band Helmholtz resonator) enables the production of a standing wave, not at what would normally be regarded as the natural resonant frequency of the loudspeaker system (actually, it doesn’t have one), but at every frequency at which it is driven, in a range starting with single-figure cycles and reaching to over 10 kHz.

    This means you get stable, clear output, just as the artist intended, without the usual distortions; interference, false resonance, cabinet noise or anything else that usually interrupts the delivery of pure sound of the highest quality.

    The complete system has a full power envelope that runs from 20kHz down to below 15 Hertz. This is most of the full power envelope, although the lower -3dB point cannot be determined as it is evidently infra-sonic. As a home audio solution, the Caterthuns (Brown or White) deliver an extra 2 or 3 bass octaves compared to any loudspeaker in the same size class, and at least a full octave more than ANY other “domestically acceptable” loudspeaker system……

    Alacrity Audio’s patented Acoustic Induction bass-loading system produces incredibly useful side-effects. One of these is that the excursion of the bass unit is retarded linearly at all operating frequencies without harming output efficiency. This flattens the impedance curve and allows it to be fed with more and more power. Even at high levels (over 103 dB), the bass unit does not exceed this linear excursion range, meaning you can be confident that driving up the decibels will not affect quality, richness or clarity.

    Alacrity Audio’s Acoustic Induction cabinet loading technology also corrects the phase-shift distortion produced by the cross-over electronics, allowing the output signal phase to be matched perfectly to the tweeter at crossover frequencies. This eliminates the phase-cancellations that produce the usual effect of ‘nasality’ or shrillness present in many other loudspeakers, which can be especially noticeable at high output levels.

    In combination, the Acoustic Induction cabinet loading technology just releases the music. No longer will the bass frequencies disappear when playing music quietly, or the upper ranges become harsh when loud.

    The volume control becomes exactly that. It just varies the size of the music, not the performance of it.’

    Caterthun Classic Technical Specification:

    Power Handling: 200 W (110 RMS) Sensitivity: 88 dB Minimum Impedance: 8 Ohms. W x H x D: 205 x 415 x 250 mm Weight: 10kg per cabinet Frequency Response: sub-sonic to 20,000 Hz +/-3dB Crossover Frequency: 2.25 khz Bi-wireable: Yes Connections: 4mm Gold Bass Port: Front Reflex Drivers: LF 17cm Bass Mid / HF 20mm Soft Dome Finish: English Oak, Pure Brilliant White or Piano Black Optional Extras: Flight Case Recommended Placement: 10 – 15 cm from rear wall Recommended Stand Height: 50 – 60 cm

    http://alacrityaudio.co.uk/

    527 – Henely Designs

    Henley always take two rooms with the first being the everything bar the kitchen sink room – featuring much of what Henley distribute – and the second being the high-end audio only demonstration room and this room like most years was manned by Ralph Ward a true gentleman and someone who I have know for many years.

    In this room the two new items from Roksan the Oxygene CD player and integrated amplifier were on also on display but sadly not playing while I was visiting this room.

    The system comprised an Olive 06HD £5000, Project Xtension 10 turntable £2000, Roksan Reference phono stage £1529, Roksan M2 integrated amplifier £1695 and M2 CD player £1695 and Audiovecter speakers.

    Sound quality was very good and I enjoyed the very brief listen I had, sadly as this was a busy show for me I did not get back to listen again.

    http://www.henleydesigns.co.uk/home-c1

    Neil

    Part Three of Adventures in High Fidelity Audio’s coverage of the National Audio Show 2012 will continue very soon.

    © Text and Photos Copyright 2012 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.

    NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without prior written permission. Failure to comply may result in legal action.

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