Apr 192010

In this the penultimate part of the London Hi-Fidelity Show report we will visit the exhibitors who occupied the Business Centre part of the Park Inn hotel.

LE CLERQUE ROOM company exhibiting ABC Audio/David Weiner Collection.

The electronics in this room getting their UK premier were from a new company which is a collaboration between David Weiner (visual designer) and Robin Sibucao (electronics designer and formerly of Bose). Between these two gentlemen they have produced a system while not aimed at the audiophile market or offering audiophile sound quality does bring something new to the high end lifestyle market which B&O and to a lesser extent Bose dominate.

The Art Studio system was derived from the limited edition Art Engine system (only 1000 made) which was  ” one of the most exclusive products ever to bear the Ferrari name, Art.Engine is a tribute to Ferrari’s standards, performance and style.” taken from DWC website more details here…..  http://www.dwcollection.com/artengine/

The system comprises two speakers (other speaker options exist within the range), in this case The Art Studio which can be hooked up to a legacy Cd player as well as the following items in the range, which allow expansion of what the Art Studio system can do. These additions are the: Art Solista wireless transmitter, Art Suono Doc and or Art Station I pod Doc.

Hook up is achieved using “DWC•Wireless™ Technology
DW Collection continues to advance the art of audio reproduction with 2-way wireless technology that provides the highest level of audio quality wireless performance with no dropouts. Art.Studio’s optional wireless transmission technology allows users to transmit any audio source to the Art.Studio, including iPod, computer, CD player, MP3 player or satellite radio.”

Taken from the website “A Complete Music System. Two Towers. No Installation Required.
Art.Studio combines twin speaker towers, built-in digital amplifiers, DSP and optional DWC•Wireless music reception, along with the recording industry’s most effective audio enhancement technology – DWC•Aphex™ – in an elegant and architecturally inspired design that creates instant excitement and envy in all who are lucky enough to experience the advanced musical performance that is DWC.

Art Studio creates a room-filling sound field of high-definition stereo entertainment from its matching towers. Taking DWC innovation and engineering to new heights, Art.Studio’s performance is outstanding. “The music comes back to life,” “clear” and “spacious” and “extremely even sound from the front to the back of the room” are some of the words listeners use to describe the Art.Studio. ”

System Type: Active Tri-Amplified Stereo Loudspeaker System with DWC•Aphex audio enhancement circuitry, DSP signal management and optional DWC•Wireless transmission system. The complete Art.Studio stereo system consists of two matching powered, floor-standing speaker towers. Art.Studio is an ideal system for home and office use to replace a conventional HiFi system.
Primary signal input is via RCA inputs and optional wireless streaming of music via optional DWC•Wireless transmission dock system. Dock allows wireless transmission of iPod, computer, CD, radio and all audio signal sources. Solid aluminum construction.

Enclosure:Sealed speaker section. Machined aluminum 6061 T6 billet.
Enclosure Finish:Anodized plating.Fasteners:Stainless Steel.

Driver Compliment:
Tweeter: 1 X 25mm (1″) damped soft dome.Midrange: 2 X 89mm (3.5″) underhung radially charged neodymium magnet assemblies.Woofer: 8 X 89mm (3.5″) underhung radially charged neodymium magnet assemblies.
Amplifier Compliment:Tweeter Amplifier: 25 Watt RMS into 8 Ohms. Discrete digital amplifier.Midrange Amplifier: 50 Watt RMS into 8 Ohms. Discrete digital amplifier.Woofer Amplifier: 250 Watt RMS into 2 Ohms. Discrete digital amplifier.Amplifier Operating Class:Enhanced performance PWM Class D.Input Impedance:30k Ohm.Crossover frequencies:200Hz, 2kHz.Frequency Response:30 Hz – 22 kHz (38 – 19kH +/- 2.5dB).

Input Signal Connections:
Master Tower: Two stereo unbalanced line in (RCA).
Slave Tower: Three channel balanced in from Master. Signal input controlled with rotary volume attenuator.Outputs:Stereo line out for subwoofer or second room (RCA).Input Power Connection:Grounded IEC Style. Front mounted master power switch.Input Power Requirement:
Selectable 100-130 Volts & 200-240 Volts 50/60 Hk

Status Indicators:
2X Front panel mounted LED master power indicator and DWC•Aphex indicator.Regulatory:CE compliant.

DIMENSIONS (PER TOWER) Height: 124.4 cm (49″) Width: 25.4 cm (10″)
Depth: 8.25 cm (6.375″) Plinth: 1.9 cm H x 35.6 W x 28.6 D (0.75 x 14 x 11.25 in.) WEIGHT (PER TOWER) 29.54 kg (65#)

The gentleman (Kent Scott Dimon) doing the presentation of the Art Studio system spent quite a bit of time pointing out the various strengths of the system and from a technical point of view, these were impressive as was the fit and finish of the various items that made up the system. The Art Studio system is available in black or silver and both finishes were on show. I must say that I have rarely seen better in any other audio product.

However I hear you ask,” how did it sound ? ”

Well it was transparent enough to show up the different sources used. Firstly a signal from a Dvd player spinning a Cd produced a musically engaging sound that was pleasant and allowed the Art Studio to easily be the equal and perhaps better similarly priced offerings I have heard from B&O. When he switched to a live concert taken from an internet radio source I felt that the sound took somewhat of a nose dive until he switched in the DWC•Aphex™ sound processing which improved things. However to my ears the sound was better when taken directly from the Cd playing in the DVD player. The Art Suono I pod doc was also used during this presentation and the music selection taken from it sounded quite good, though again the non compressed Cd sounded better to my ears.

All in all an interesting set of products aimed at a different market to that of the traditional show attendees. However in some ways the room this system was set up in did it more favours than many of the other more high-end purist systems on show. The rooms they were set up in made them sound in some cases poorer than this lifestyle system did. I don’t write this to damn the Art studio system with faint praise but simply to point out that the room a system is in will always have the last say, in making or breaking how it will sound and in the case of the room the Art Studio was set up in it helped it quite a lot.

BADER ROOM company exhibiting Angelsound Audio.

Keith Cheal of Angelsound Audio had some very interesting equipment on static display and as part of his room system.

The system making music in this room was made up of a Dr Friedker Woodpecker £3195 turntable with Audiomods £695 tone arm, Zyx Airy 3 cartridge, this feeding an Emmille Allure phonostage £2495, which in turn was hooked up to an Emmille Chaam £8450 integrated amplifier. A Raysonic Cd168 £2350 Cd player was also in use, it’s signal being feed through a BursonAB-160 buffer and the speakers were Acoustic Preference Gracioso £8300 speakers and stands £1150. Keith was also using a pair of Marten Miles 3 speakers and a Moscode 402 Au amplifier to drive them.

The Acoustic Preference Gracioso speakers Keith was using are among the most striking speakers I have seen in quite a long time. The different layers of wood gave it a similar appearance to that of a wooden butchers block. The Acoustic Preference Gracioso cabinet and stand is made up of laminations of walnut. I think at this point its worth quoting here from their website.

“The basis for every top-level loudspeaker is uncompromising cabinet design. We planned our cabinet to be as stiff as it can get, reducing unwanted vibrations and negative influences on the loudspeaker’s sound.

From all the available materials, we’ve decided to use solid wood for our housings. This is the best choice on account of its superior visual and sound qualities.

We use the most prestigious and high-quality wood of the European and American walnut for the housings of our speakers; this gives our products a mark of eternity. The client must only select, which of the both wood types he would prefer. American walnut is of more even and dense growth, as well as darker color. On the other hand, the wood of the European walnut is more lively and reddish-brown color (it’s brighter than the American walnut).

Walnut wood is suitable for exact modeling also, as it is a very beautiful and durable natural material, which is important to us as we strive for superior design and the highest product quality.

For achieving an acoustical basement that will produce high-quality sound, we have been steered mostly by anti-resonant technical know-how. For this reason, Gracioso loudspeaker housings are made by assembling multiple solid-wood horizontal segments that are preliminarily controlled, measured and assembled for optimal self-cancellation of resonances.

The Gracioso loudspeaker has the appearance of a droplet; no parallel planes are inside the cabinet. The inside of the upper and lower surfaces of the cabinet are modeled with special relief treatment. All these factors used in the cabinet design ensure 100% non-resonant and acoustically ideal housing for the speakers.

The Gracioso loudspeaker is completely hand-made; every segment, every detail is modeled and checked. The final product must be examined and approved by Acoustic Preference technical managers. ”

The speakers use Morel drive units and the spec is 88db, 8ohm and 150 watts power handling. Acoustic Preferences are based in Maribor Slovenija.

To the side of the system on top of a long table against the left wall, various items were on static display, including a Mod Wright Transporter; which is a valve version of a Slim Devices Transporter £2500. Also sitting there was a Audiomods arm which looked very nice indeed. This tone arm is based on a Rega 251 arm tube but after that the similarity to the original ends.

The sound in this room was very good, even though I was only in it during the first day of the show. It was open, detailed and had very good presence even thought the room was quite big.

Like the sound in many other large rooms at this show it lacked a wee bit of the magic I am sure it could achieve in a smaller room but unlike many others using larger rooms the sound did not seem to suffer as much as others did.

ARMSTRONG ROOM company exhibiting Absolute Sounds.

Absolute Sounds room this year was a more modest affair than it has been in the past and I think it benefited from this in my opinion.

The system was made up of an Audio Research Cd 5 £5106, Audio Research VS 160 £3370 integrated amplifier and Sonus Faber Liuto Tower £ 3271 speakers.

Sound in the room was very nice, though sounding a little bit thin; again I feel this was due to the room size and perhaps the electronics needed more warm up time. However in saying that, the sound was much better than I have heard in an Absolute Sounds rooms in the past. Simplicity was the key here, I think.

Around the room various Sonus Faber speakers, Micomega electronics were on static display as was a selection from Pistol Music (a spin off from Absolute Sounds).

The Pistol music items included Prima Luna valve amplifiers and a beautiful Mystere IA21 Kt88 which caught my eye. This 50 watt integrated costs a very reasonable £2442 and looks gorgeous.

JOHNSON ROOM company exhibiting Musicology.

I found Simon Mantel to be a happy man when we chatted in his room. Having tried being a distributor to the trade in general, he has now abandoned that business model in favour of a fairly unique one in the UK. He now only supplies his retail outlet with those unique brands he imports and this allows him to offer similar pricing to that found in their countries of origin.

Simon has a very strong portfolio of brands, which encompass cutting edge digital in the form of Ed Meitner’s wonderful EMM Labs Cd/Sacd players. OTL(a valve amplifier with no output transformers) valve amplification from Atmasphere, Zu speakers and Symposium tables and isolation products.

Simon’s system was made up of Zu Essence speakers, Atmosphere pre-amplifier and power amplifier and EMM Labs Cd/Sacd player.

Sound quality within the room was not the best, something Simon was only to willing to admit. The simple fact is the room was far too big. Simon had accepted this room at the last minute, as another exhibitor had pulled out.

On the second day the system did sound a bit better but the Zu Essence’s still seemed to be struggling to fill the room. The overall sound had a slight edge to it and there was a lack of weight and scale. In saying that, I could still hear what the components were trying to do and in a smaller room this system would have been very good indeed.

During the first visit to this room Simon was playing Jeff Beck Live at Ronnie Scott’s and the track playing was Beyond the Veil, originally from Jeff Beck’s Guitar Workshop. I happened to comment about having seen Jeff Beck on that tour and Simon expressed his disappointment in not having been able to see him.

It was nice seeing Simon again and I enjoyed my visit to his room.


The final part of the London Hi-Fidelity show coming soon….

© Copyright 2010 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.

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

 Posted by at 9:02 pm

  One Response to “LONDON HI-FIDELITY 2010 Show Report….Part Five.”

  1. Thanks for your review. For the record, the DWC FERRARI Art.Engine audio system was the first entry for Ferrari into the world of audio and home audio. Art.Engine was a limiited edition product (1000 pieces) we created in partnership with Ferrari and it is the single most exclusive Ferrari branded product ever offered by Maranello. As you mentioned, the audio system you are reviewing here is called Art.Studio – a completely different system that evolved from the Art.Engine. Art.Studio advances all of our technical, performance and execution levels in order to provide a unique listening experience for music lovers everywhere.

    Happy to share info with anyone interested. Thanks again.

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