In last year’s National Audio show report I commented on the confusing layout of the Whittelbury show compared to the Audio World show, held at the Park Inn Heathrow, and despite what I felt was better use of signs at this year’s show I still found navigating my way round the show a challenge. By day three I was still taking wrong turns tying to find the exits to the stairwells and missing entire corridors when trying to go back to a particular room. The first floor layout was particularly challenging but the ground floor, while a bit easier, it was still I feel too easy to miss a room out. I would site the Triangle room here as being a good example of this problem, as being situated round a bend with no other exhibitors with it and with no additional signage to point out to the show visitor that there was an exhibitor there; one could have missed the room quite easily. I know the show exhibitors will mention the maps in the show guide but let’s be honest and realistic here few people refer to the guide; so in my opinion the signage in the corridors needs to be as good as it can and while it was better; it could still do with being better still.
Anyway on with Part Two of the show report. The ground floor rooms had some new to Whittelbury exhibitors such as Voxativ and many regulars and among these rooms there were some very interesting products being displayed, such as the new speakers from Origin Live, world premier of the new speakers Kteme from Franco Serbalin ex of Sonus Faber
I will start with the corridor leading from the Brooklands Suite and move from room to room as a show visitor would, rather than follow the show guide exactly.
S32 – Audio Momentum
The world famous Sonus Faber high end speaker brand recently changed hands with former designer and company owner Franco Serbilin leaving to pursue new speaker design challenges and not surprisingly the result in the form of the Kteme looks a bit like a Sonus Faber. I suppose it may well be in the future a case of ‘will the real Sonus Faber please stand up’, and for my money I would be sticking with Franco’s designs as he is the originator of Sonus Faber.
In saying that I am not knocking whatever Sonus Faber the company may well produce in the future but in my opinion those designs will not be true Sonus Faber’s as only the artist Franco can truly be at the heart of any such design and if he isn’t then despite the brand name it’s not a Sonus Faber (in my opinion) but another worthy design carrying a brand name only. Such is also the case with Mark Levinson designs as Mr Levinson is no longer associated with the brand having moved on many, many years ago. That does not stop Mark Levinson products being very good in their own right, it’s just they are not true Mark Levinson’s.
The Kteme is a new design and its main features are as follows….
– Geometry: four-way topology, five units. The two low-frequency radiators are compression-loaded and room-interfaced at the lower part of the rear of the enclosure. Above the “fusion” frequency, the mid-high cardioid radiators reproduce the significant part of the spectrum, at the top section of the front of the cabinet.
– The cabinet is a rigid, triple arch-shaped structure. The two lateral front cheeks are concave, while the woofer compressor is convex.
– The tweeter is a well-established and time-proven 28mm soft-dome unit, created by Ragnar Lian, one of the greatest Danish masters of transducer design.
– The midrange array consists of two custom-made 4in units in a step-compensated baffle, in a cardioid acoustic-resistance configuration, for the most accurate reproduction of the musical perspective.
– The woofers are custom-made 9in metal cone, piston performance-optimised units, in a compression-controlled and room-interfaced configuration.
– The crossover is a mutational variable slope, coherent spatial radiation design.
– Yter pure Silver-Palladium mono-wiring used throughout.
Frequency Response: 26Hz – 33Khz, in room
Nominal Impedance: 4 ohm (minimum 3, 2 ohm at 70 Hz)
Sensitivity: 92 dB/W/m
Minimum power amplifier: 20W per channel
Dimensions: 42,5 cm × 46 cm × 111 cm (unpacked)
52 cm × 57 cm × 110,5 cm (packed)
Weight: 110 kg/pair (unpacked) – 127 kg/pair (packed)
The Kteme is available in high gloss piano black, hand-polished aluminium top & bottom
Satin Sycamore and hand-polished aluminium top & bottom
I look forward to hearing more of these interesting speakers at another show, when I can spend longer listening; my exposure to them at NAS 2011 was too short.
The Kteme is part of a two speaker collection which also includes the stand mount Accordo. This stand mount speaker also has a fair hint of the Sonus Faber about it too.
Audio Momentum were using an Audio Research CD player, pre-amplifier and Krell power-amplifier plus a ModWright modified ‘Truth’ Transporter.
You can see and read a bit more about these designs here http://www.francoserblin.it/home.php?lang=e
S31 – Ikon Audio Consultants
I first came across Ikon Audio Consultants for the first time at last year’s Whittelbury show and in doing so was introduced also for the first time to the unique brands they distribute in the UK. Firstly they had gone for a less is more approach in the room, rather than last year’s ‘everything bar the kitchen sink’ approach and congratulations it worked; the room looked better for it and I suspect sounded better too.
They were exhibiting new products in the form of the Audioplan Kantana, CML Audio Etude speakers and the ISEM Audio USB DAC/Integrated amplifier, the Elixis and older ones already seen at last years NAS Show.
I was only in this room fairly briefly on the Sunday late on and was thus unable to sit and listen for long but I thought like last year that Ikon Audio had managed to get a pretty good sound in a less than ideal room.
S30 – The Audio Works/Music Works
On show in this room was a system made up from Tannoy Definition speakers, DCS CD player and a welcome return to shows of Albarry Music electronics in the form of a distinctive red tinged boxed pre-power from said company.
Melbourne – Henley Designs
Henley always have a beautifully organised and set out room and indeed Lawrence Armstrong CEO of Henley designs had every reason to be pleased with his company’s room this year, which was a veritable feast for the eyes. I would say ears too except when I was there no system was playing.
There were a number of displays dotted round the room, with products from Olive, Project, Ortofon, Roksan, Audio Technica, Van Den Hul and Vector on show and there is way too many for me to list individually; so I will let the photos do the talking, this time.
Along the left wall just inside the entrance to the room there was a display or ex demo and end of line bargains.
S28 – AudioSmile
I got talking to Simon Ashton of Audiosmile a couple of times during the course of the show, including the set up day and even though on that occasion the system was just plopped down, speakers not set up it still sounded very musical.
I popped into the room several times during the course of the show and they had set it up to resemble a living room, even down to a nice comfy sofa.
The Audiosmile Kensai mini monitor speaker, Advantage plus ST (super tweeter Simon’s first original product) have been on a pretty constant period of revision as Simon hones the design as finely as he can and this current version is frankly the best yet in my opinion.
The Advantage which is a speaker stand and active bass unit all in one acts as a linch pin to turn the Kensai and ST into a single active speaker design thus providing the Kensai owner with an upgrade path or a one stop high quality active speaker system.
Music was reproduced in an open, detailed and coherent way with pin point imaging and a just to the warmer side of neutral tonal blance. Audiosmile were using a Mac frontend with Naim electronics.
S27 – Henley Designs
Within this room Ralph Ward of Henley was demonstrating Vector Avantgarde S3 speakers, Roksan Caspian pre-amplifier and mono power-amplifiers, Olive 6HD and Project Xtension front ends.
I enjoyed chatting with Ralph for awhile but as with so much of my time at the show it was a case of move on and see and listen to more, as the clock was ticking and very much against me.
S26 – Origin Live
Mark Baker of Origin live was exhibiting his new Astute speaker designs which he had mentioned in passing to me last year (sworn to secrecy so I could say nothing). Frankly I was not prepared for the unusual and unique design solutions that Mark has adopted for these speakers, though in no small way the stands are what makes the drum speaker look so stunningly different in my opinion.
This is what Mark says about his new speaker designs on his website….
‘We all want fantastic sound quality from an unobtrusive source that blends in with our home. However there is a secret here that very few sales people and glossy advertising will ever mention. In fact most of them will deny that the problem even exists. You will be told that a speaker has great sound quality and that by some miracle this can be condensed into a minature cabinet with maybe a larger sub-woofer thrown in to beef up the bass. This approach ticks all the boxes for those of us who don’t have the time to investigate more deeply and are not familiar with the fact that this approach is deeply flawed in terms of achieving high quality sound.
SOUND QUALITY FRONTIERS: If you want to hear your favorite music reproduced with complete freedom from the usual haze and distortion, then it is vital to compare systems to know what can be achieved. The equipment offered in most high street shops is a bit like going to buy a car and being told you can only buy from a selection of 2 door family hatchbacks. Thankfully a world of exciting alternatives actually exist – nothing wrong with family hatchbacks of course. The difference between HD, 3D Film and standard picture quality is generaly acknowledged as a significant advance. A great sound system is likewise, vastly superior to a mediocre one. Find access to audition a high end sound system so that you can appreciate the difference it makes. There are specialist dealers who carry more than just low budget equipment.
IDEAL SIZE CABINETS ARE IMPORTANT: The laws of physics are absolutely crystal clear about why non minature speakers deliver the best sound, Independent Hi Fi reviewers and designers have also always said (and still do) about speakers that ” a good big un will always beat a good little one!” The reason is that larger speakers are ranked much higher than minature cabinets for dynamics, low distortion, bass depth and an entire catalogue of other benefits. We are not talking here of monstrous PA size cabinets. You do not have to increase the size much to massively improve performance. There is an ideal size to suit your particular room which can successfully deliver real sound quality and look good at the same time.
A NEW COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION: The Astute Loudspeaker range is utterly extraordinary – It embodies a unique approach to complex technical aspects of sound reproduction along with a “form follows function” styling. Most importantly it has the supreme qualities that turn listening to music, video or television into a very special experience.
Because the Astute is designed for best possible sound quality on the basis of “form follows function”, the resulting style is interesting and one that you can be proud of. A range of eye catching stand designs and cabinet finishes have been developed to enhance the look and feel of your home to your own individual taste.
There are 2 cabinet sizes tailored to suit small and large rooms, with styles and finishes to fit a variety of budgets.
WHY A “HANGING” DESIGN?
Origin Live have a great deal of experience in speaker and speaker stand design. For example our speakers have in the past won group comparison tests and our speaker stands came top in a comprehensive review of exactly 20 different stands. This is said so that the following explanation is not just thought to be some wild theory – it is born out of rock solid experience and experimentation.
Hanging a speaker is counter intuitive to the school of thought that imagines high rigidity and high mass is the way to go. When designing stands it became obvious that smaller speakers with 5 inch cones needed a completely different stand to larger cabinets. The rule for smaller cabinets is – “the heavier the stand the better it is”. For larger boxes the opposite is true. Once this is discovered it is easy to see how sweeping generalizations are misleading.
Around 1993, we were testing between 2 slightly different stand designs using a larger cabinet. I was holding lifting the speaker between the 2 stands while someone else listened to the difference. On asking which sounded better the listener surprised me by stating that the best sound was not on the stands at all, but when I was lifting the cabinet in my hands. Years later it dawned on me to do what the PA industry had been doing for years at concerts and hang the speakers.
The best ideas are often desperately simple – how long did it take for the kite board to be invented? Hanging speakers is THE way to go for larger cabinets. No one would blame someone for thinking that you need a substantial solid base to produce a “stable” platform for sound. The logic is that if you fire a bullet from a gun you need weight for accuracy, the same argument applies to cameras of course. The truth is that sound does not quite work like this. For example some machine guns have no recoil because they do clever things with the gas from each firing explosion. Also do you see bass drums seated in cast iron weights?
Top designs are always a matter of knowing the heirarchy of influences in any particular situation. In this case the reflected vibrations from a solid speaker base are far more disruptive to the speaker than natural resonant decay inside a well damped cabinet.
POINT SOURCE & OTHER ASPECTS
The speakers use high grade co-axial drivers selected for their brilliant off axis response and the avoidance of phase issues that can plague conventional approaches. Other highlights include
A very special compression tweeter driver with an incredible 110dB efficiency
Large diameter voice coils to eliminate temperature compression effects
Rigid paper cone woofer (still considered the most natural sounding material by experts)
Low 980Hz cross-over point to minimize cone break of the woofer
|Astute 8 – all versions||Astute 10 – all versions|
|Standard Finish||Acrylic front and leather finish cabinet||Acrylic front and leather finish cabinet|
|Cabinet Size||300mm diameter x 300mm deep||400mm diameter x 460mm deep|
|Drivers||8” woofer and co-axial compression driver tweeter Crossover 1.1KHz||10” woofer and co-axial compression driver tweeter
|Frequency Response||+/- 3dB 49Hz to 20kHz||+/- 3dB 41Hz to 20kHz|
|Sensitivity passive (2.83V/1m)
Sensitivity Active (2.83V/1m)
HF: 110dB LF: 93dB
HF: 110dB LF: 94dB
|Nominal impedance||8 Ohms||8 Ohms|
|Power handling||190 Watts RMS||190 Watts RMS|
The Origin live speakers are available with a range of different speaker stand options to fit most decors and the looks of most rooms.
Sound quality within the room was pretty good but with a lack of time I did not get much time to listen and form any real opinion, other than to say like the Anthony Gallo Ref 3 design this speaker looks like it may well transend the normal colourations that having a conventional cabinet usually entail.
I look forward to hearing these properly at a future date.
S25 – Audiobility
On entering the room I was greeted with a ‘We did as you suggested in your show reports “ I must have looked a bit puzzled as this was followed by an explanation. Audiobility had a sign up with the exact components they were using for their demonstration system and also the other items on display in the room. Well done guys the number of exhibitors who still don’t do this is way too large in my opinion.
Frankly I just don’t understand why all the time, effort and great cost in exhibiting at a show is undermined by lack of basic information in these rooms; as to what is being exhibited/demoed and how much it is. This is so basic but fundamental as every potential opportunity must not be missed at such shows and the busy room, or shy show visitor who wants to know what’s being used but won’t ask or can’t as the exhibitor is too busy; is a wasted opportunity and frankly its plain lazy and it shows a lack of organisation and is unprofessional.
I must confess that walking the corridors of shows, is at times, a somewhat lonely past time, as time is way too precious to waste in much socialising and it does at times feel a bit like pissing in the wind writing these extensive reports up with limited feedback or feedback from unhappy exhibitors who feel I missed the point re the sound quality in their rooms or the general apathy displayed by some exhibitors to putting on a good room. Anyway it put a smile on my face that at least one exhibitor had read and taken onboard my comments.
However, he was quick to point out it was not just for my benefit but the benefit of all who visit their room. Just right too as these shows are not just for the trade and audio press but are in fact for the audio enthusiasts and the general public. Anyway Audiobility had done a good job here re sound quality, room layout and appropriate literature. Well done guys.
This company were exhibiting components from Jolidia, Chapman Audio and MIT cables.
S24 – Einstein and Acapella Audio
Previously in the past at the UK shows I have attended Einstein electronics have usually been matched up with Totem speakers and whether this is a god match up or not I can’t really say as I have not had either brand for review nor have I been able to try out a mix and ,matching of Totem or Einstein but what I can say is that from a purely visual point of view that Totem speakers as good as they may be pail visually into insignificance next to the amazing looking horns from Acapella Audio.
This had to be in many ways, to my eyes anyway, one of the sexist systems at the show, the gloss black, silver and glow of valves combining to produce a sensuous feast for the eyes and what about the ears I hear you cry. Well while the room acoustics were not great, it has to be said that this system was as aurally beguiling as it was visually so.
Catalunya – Jordan Acostics
Jordan Acoustics were using a mixture of Marantz and Wilson Benesch electronics and speakers. The WB Full Circle turntable was also in use
To the left side of the room there was a static display of Wilson Benesch speakers on the right side a number of Marantz items.
Magny Cours – Cyrus
Cyrus had opted for an off centre position for their main demo system and despite that it sounded very good but was being played at a relatively low level. However the Deadmouse track I heard on the system sounded very good with plenty of detail and punch but was lacking a bit of weight and scale I suspect due to the low sound level and the room being too big for the Vienna Acoustics speakers.
The system was made up from a Cyrus CD transport £750, 6XPP DAC £1250, Stream X £1400 and Vienna Acoustics Mozart SE £2900 speakers.
Other pieces of Cyrus equipment were placed round the room.
Along the back wall of the room a display of Vienna Acoustics speakers.
Suzuka – Analogue Alchemy
I was delighted to see Mark Proskourine of Analogue Alchemy again after the Audio World show debut of his company and even more delighted to see that Alex Nitikin of ANT Audio has joined forces with Mark to develop a new range of electronics to match the beautiful turntables he makes.
The electronics in the form of a phonostage, pre-amplifier and DAC were all in early prototype form and as yet no model numbers or prices have been given them but the sound quality, even in a massive room was very good, especially as a modified and serviced ANT Audio cassette deck was the source.
I have to wonder how many in the room realised this fact. I left the room chuckling in mischievous delight as the quality of sound from this humble, designed for dictation originally, source was making better music than many multi thousand pound digital sources elsewhere in the show.
Monza – Burmeister
It was great seeing and hearing German brand Burmeister again after last year’s long awaited return to the UK mainland.
Around the room various Burmeister systems were on static display.
Once again the main system in use was a stunning looking one, made up from Burmeister’s top of the range components: The source was an Avid Acutus, SME5, Benz Lp and a 069 CD player. The systems power requirements were fed through a 948 power conditioner and the speakers were B80mk2.
While I was visiting the room OMD was playing and while the sound was very good, I did feel that the room this time round (compared to last years Burmeister room) was just a tad too big for the system to fill convincingly. However within that understanding it was still musical and involving but just lacking a wee hint of weight and scale.
Hokenheim – Nordost/Simaudio/Reidyo
While in this room no music was playing so I can’t really make any comments about it other than to say that they were using Moon electronics and Reidyo speakers.
S2 – Angelsound Audio
I visited the Angel Sound room a couple of times during the course of the show and I must say that despite a few room issues Keith was still managing to produce very pleasant music with a First Watt, AMR, WLM system.
The system comprised of an AMR CD777, AMR DAC 777, First Watt Pre-amplifier, First watt power-amplifier, CSE hybrid isolation regulator, WLM Diva speakers and Diva control, Track Audio speaker stands and isolation devices from HXA and cabling was by Okutsu.
S3 – Renaissance Audio
The system in this room, one of two that Scottish distributor of Sim Audio electronics Renaissance Audio were using comprised of Moon 750D CD player, 850 two box pre-amplifier, ATM mono amplifier and Abby Road cables. The speakers were Totem Element Metal £12000
This show the UK launch of the brand new Totem Element Series speaker The Metal….
‘The new Element woofers used in this series are not only built in-house but deviate substantially from any usual woofer manufacturing. Firstly, they have an extreme precision-machined chassis, rather than a molded or stamped one. Each driver actually requires 3 hours of machining and 4-hours plus of assembly and testing. This allows for precision usually associated with watch making, not standard woofer manufacturing.
Besides this, other major technical innovations were developed internally at Totem. The stainless steel and thick aluminum-based voice coils are not only under-hung within the magnets but also fully immersed in a super strong yet completely localized magnetic field. This specialized enclosure, like a cradle, retains multiple claw-shaped magnetic segments, allowing for a full one-inch throw of the driver. The 7-inch cone is fully rear-damped yet light and stiff. All Element drivers have free air resonances in the 16-17 Hz area.
The tweeter is an incredibly musical on- and off-axis performer. Already utilized in the Tribe V, this stunning tweeter features a 3/8’’ inch thick aluminum faceplate, and a finned aluminum alloy body for cooling and durability. Its great attributes are outstanding clarity, openness and true linearity at any volume setting, allowing it to match form and contribute fully and musically to the woofer’s magical pace.
Magnetic grills are standard issue. The floor-standing models Earth and Metal also feature a variably adjustable “center front claw”. In addition, rear cabinet decoupling is provided on the columns via their individual “skid plates”.
- Unique architectural design and geometric conception
- Stunning multi-angled chassis
- Available in gleaming, luxurious, 4-coat polyester finishes
- Custom designed & machined aluminum terminal back plates
- Variably adjustable “center front claw”
- 7-inch Torrent™ hand-assembled drivers
- Fabulous platinum W.B.T. connectors (bi-wireable)
- Revolutionary magnetic field technology
- No active or passive cross-over parts in the woofer section
- Fully rear-damped 7-inch cone’
S4 – Renaissance Audio
In room two the system was more pared down and featured a pair of 30th Anniversary items in the shape of a bright red 750D CD player and 600I integrated amplifier, with Proac Response K6 £6000 speakers. There was also a Mac laptop being fed into the DAC section of the 750D CD player.
Elbow was playing and the sound was punchy, open and detailed, with very good bass.
S5 – Voxativ
I know Ennis of Voxativ was quite unhappy with the room she had at Whittelbury and despite her colleague and her best efforts the room did hold the sound back of the Schimmel Pianos Ampeggio speakers (they use Voxativ AC-3X drivers) that they had previously demonstrated at the Audio world show to great effect. A room can make or break a system’s sound quality and this one was not helping at all. However in saying that there was still enough of the Ampeggio’s magic qualities showing, as I heard at the aforementioned Audio world show, to give the Whittelbury visitor a pretty good idea how special these speakers are.
The system was made up of a Lector CD player, Music First Audio pre-amplifier, Cayin pre-amplifier and Cayin 9084D power-amplifiers.
Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows I can’t usually listen to single driver horn loaded speakers for long without being put off by the colourations such speaker designs usually seem to have. The Voxativ drive unit using speaker (that I have heard to date) designs go on a very short list of such speakers I could happily live with.
S6 – Audio Sanctum
Were showing a system made up from the: Cayin 500MK £3950 Integrated Valve Amp with 75 watts, using 829B Valves weighing in at a massive 37kgs, Cayin CDT-17a £1990, Cayin’s Flagship CD Player using vacuum tube driven balanced outputs, XTZ’s flagship 100.49 £4200 Divine Loudspeaker and Dynamique Audio Cables and Advanced Acoustic’s Room Treatment.
There was also some new pre-production items from Cayin in the form of a new CD player CD50T (possibly £4000) and integrated amplifier M52T (possibly about 10000 euros) that look incredible, particularly the amplifier. I look forward to hearing those in the future.
S7 – Icon Audio
As usual Icon Audio’s room was bunged each and every time I tried to visit it. On the Sunday I got a chance to take photos but not sit down to listen so I can offer no comment about sound quality.
Monaco – Howes Acoustics
Having helped Howes Acoustics set up this room on the Friday I was keenly aware of a few of the set up issues which a last minute suggestion by Ennis of Voxativ mostly cured.
The system was made up of a Music First pre-amplifier, Howes Acoustics PX4 3 watt power-amplifier, SME Model 20/SME 5 tonearm, Koetsu cartridge, Music First Step up transformer, Lector phonostage, Marantz SACD player, Revox B99 reel to reel recorder player, cabling by Jena Labs, HiFi Racks equipment table and a Track Audio oak isolation platform.
This show was the World Premier of the Howes Acoustics Voigt ‘Memory’ Domestic Corner Horn speaker and having had the opportunity to get up close and personnel with these on the set up day I can tell that to appreciate these speakers physicality you have to see them in the flesh.
The bottom of the speaker contains a number of chambers into one of these (which is sealed after the driver is installed) a Voxativ AX-3 field coil full range driver is placed. At the top of the Art Deco styled cabinet, behind the large rectangular aperture, a flared horn sits, which narrows down to vanish into the bowls of the speaker; this is made from plaster which is carefully built up in a mould over a period of time layer by layer.
At the heart of the speaker is the AX-3 Voxativ full range Field Coil driver (which is battery or mains powered by an outboard power supply) driver (Howes Acoustics distribute these drivers in the UK)
‘The AC-X is driven by a large field coil instead of permanent magnet. With this magnetic force, the driver reaches the physical maximum dynamic performance. The housing of the AC-X is made from carbon-free steel and additional Permendur plates. The AC-X has a Qts between 0.25 and 0.6 contingent on the supply voltage which can be set from 6 to 18 volts.
It enables the user to adjust the driver to all installation conditions and playback requirements.The optimal value in our experience is 12V. Delivery includes a standard power supply. A high-end battery power supply may be delivered upon request.
Different to the designs of the 1940s or current DIY projects, the field coil of our AC-X is completely shielded to avoid a radiated field and improve its performance. The reduction in supply voltage of approximately 100V in vintage designs to now 12V and a maximum of 18V has the AC-X conform to all modern security and energy conservation issues to perform without concerns in your living room.
- full-range mode in a back-loaded horn for bass radiation down to 25Hz
- ‘open baffle’ (plans are delivered with the driver)
- as a 2-way freely radiating driver with dipole woofers and/or loaded into a front horn.’
|20 Hz – 20.000 Hz|
|Efficiency:||max. 108 dB|
|Capacity:||50 W nom.|
|Impedance [R]:||10,7 Ohm|
|Complex impedance [Z]:||16,0 Ohm|
|Resonance frequency:||29,12 Hz|
|Mech. Q-factor [Qms]:||3,1 / 12V|
|Electr. Q-factor [Qes]:||0,4 / 12V|
|Q-factor [Qts]:||0,354 / 12V|
|Equivalent volume [VAS]:||148,0 Ltr.|
|Installed diameter:||190 mm|
While the room was less than ideal, being too live and having a bass room node, which ultimately mean’t the speakers were not placed directly in the corners of the room, to avoid bass boom, the overall sound was very good indeed. The sheer weight and scale of reproduction was breathtaking, with an open and detailed sound and a real sense of natural scale to any of the music I heard played on them. The bass was amazing with a depth and articulation rarely heard, and when the room was not messing things up (which was not that often) it was also very fast and clean.
The one thing these speakers don’t do is precise imaging, however in saying that they still had soundstage width, height and depth but images were slightly broader and less well defined as they would be on a small mini monitor speaker. However with your eyes closed it was very much like listening at a concert as real live music usually sounds like that, with the image broader and less sharp.
I was very impressed with these speakers and I am sure that Paul Voight would be very proud and pleased at the way that John Howes has brought a 1934 single speaker design into the stereo age, with passion and commitment to quality and a strong belief that not everything old need be abandoned. The Howes Acoustics Memory Corner Horn speakers are a vindication of that belief, being as relevant today as they were back in the 1930s.
Imolia – Triangle
Triangle Industries of France were exhibiting speakers from their new ‘color’ range of speakers and the 30th Anniversary edition of the Magellan.
The system Triangle were using comprised of Electrocompaniet CD player, pre-amplifier and mono power-amplifiers.
S12 – Astintrew/Air Audio
Were exhibiting a new Astintrew phonstage with plenty of adjustability residing behind a glass flap, this phonostage is part of the new Concord range of Astintrew products, also on demo and static display was the lovely Acoustic Signature range of turntables from Germany.
S10 – Hart Audio
I always love seeing/hearing what James Hart is up to either via a quick chat in the corridors to catch up or a more prolonged one if he is exhibiting himself. This time round he was exhibiting on his own and with his brand new D&W Sonix speakers £9500 per pair.
On first look I thought these speakers were made from some kind of stone but in fact James was using a wood veneer that just looked like stone. Like most of James previous designs the Sonix are a two box speaker, with a large 12 inch Tannoy dual concentric drive unit in the top section and nine passive bass drivers in the bottom section. In past designs this bottom section was active but not in this latest design.
Here is the spec of the speaker….
Sensitivity of 94db for 1 watt at 1 m, impedence 4 ohm, 20 drive units per speaker, 19 passive full range drivers per speaker crossed over at the compression tweeter horn.
The system James was using was unusual but very effective: Art Audio Maestro, Rose pre-amplifier, Fidelity Audio phono stage and a Technics 1210 turntable, Origin Live Conqueror arm and Koetsu Urushi cartridge.
James played Mike Oldfields Incantations album and Fools Gold by the Stone Roses, both on vinyl and the quality of sound was very good indeed, nice big, detailed soundstage with very good bass. One room visitor commented on the Technics turntable and how well and un Technics it was sounding and I have to concur, it sounded sublime.
S9 – Symmetry/Electromod
Symmetry were showing their usual choices from their product portfolios including items from Esoteric, Brinkman, Ayre and Stax but it was the products from Electromod (whom Symmetry were sharing their room with) that were lined up along the right wall that caught my eye and attention, as it featured a range of headphones and headphone amplifiers (HiFi Man also had headphone amplifiers on display) I had not come across before (or at least I don’t recall doing so before) and as new headphone manufacturers are not that common I was somewhat pleasantly surprised and interested in them.
The brand in question is HiFi Man and from a purely visual aspect both the headphones and the Schiit Audio headphone amplifiers (also an American company, designed by Jason Stoddard, formerly of Sumo, and Mike Moffat, formerly of Theta) looked beautifully finished and designed. How they sound is another matter as each time I made an attempt to hear them I was always unable to do so as they were being listened to by show visitors and sadly as my time was short I could not devote more time than I did in trying to hear them; so I can’t comment on how they sound.
Electromod also distribute the beautiful headphone stands from Sieveking Sound called Omega, which are available in a fairly comprehensive range of different real woods.
S8 – Elac Loudspeakers
Having tried a pair of Elac speakers once I can say that I liked the sound of the pair I listened to then and I also liked the pait that were being used in this exhibition room.
Elac were using a system comprising of a Primare CD22 and 122 integrated amplifier with B244 £1400 speakers and a QX2 mains unit.
Sound quality was open detailed and musical.
Thus ends part two…..
Part Three of the National Audio Show 2011, which will focus on the upstairs exhibition rooms.
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