Well the change from the Hi-Fidelity Show to the Audio World 2011 show has resulted in part of the older show being left lost on the highway somewhere, as this new show (old one with a new name if truth be told) was half the size of last March’s event.
I knew this would be the case several months ago but I still decided to attend and while this event was much smaller and truth be told the absence of Alium Audio, Coherent Systems, ABC Audio, Absolute Sounds and all the others who decided not to attend (for whatever reason) made for a poorer show overall in my opinion (I for one missed these exhibitors presence) there were however still moments of brilliance and a number of interesting new products (new to the UK as well as a few premiers) which made the show worth me visiting.
The main change between this show and the previous one was the loss of the Blue Conference centre which meant that the entrance to the show was moved to the back of the hotel and I noticed that quite a few visitors to the show seemed to not know where to go, as they tried to enter the show through the hotels main entrance.
The new show reception area was, in my opinion (compared to the old shows entrance via the Blue Conference Centre), a very cramped affair and frankly not terribly welcoming compared to the old show reception.
Also gone from this show was the lovely large market area that the Blue Conference Centre had provided to be replaced by a glorified wide corridor area, in which Audio Itallia, Diverse Vinyl, Stamford Audio, Track Audio and Supra had to exhibit. To say this felt very squeezed, especially with large numbers of show visitors (on the Saturday anyway, not the Sunday) would be understating things a little. Frankly the exhibitors in this area resembled sardines in a tin. However this lack of space did not appear to be hurting the business they were doing, as all of these stands were very busy over the duration of the show.
One of my main pet hates at shows, sadly raised its head again at this show in the fact that many exhibitors felt it was acceptable to provide no information on the products in the room or details of the system on show. Frankly it is at times very difficult to get to talk to exhibitors as they can be engaged in very long conversations and for someone like myself (never mind the civilian show goers) were my time is both short and valuable, as I seek to cover all the rooms in as much detail as I can; in a relatively short space of time. So having system details readily to hand (including prices please) helps me to, at the very least, know what I have been listening to and thus enable me to seek out more information later on as I compile my show reports; especially if I can’t get a chance to chat with the exhibitors, which sadly is sometimes the case.
To the far left of the entrance area Jeremy Baldwin of the Right Note had his room and it will be from there I will start this show report. This is one exhibitor who always has plenty of information in his room and around the systems he is using at any of the shows I have attended, where he is exhibiting…..
Wright Room – The Right Note
I was fairly impressed with The Right Note’s room at the Whittlebury Show last September and while I don’t feel they had quite as good a sound at this show, they still set a very high standard for sound quality.
The system they were using included a Vetex AQ Aletheia DAC £11,500, Accoustic Arts Drive2 CD transport £7200, Storm V55 integrated amplifier, Kaiser Acoustic Kawero Vivace speakers £23000 and Vertex AQ interconnects and Hirez Moncayo speaker cables at £9000 for the lengths being used.
The VetexAQ Aletheia DAC shown in protype form at the aforementioned show was now a final production unit and looking and sounding very good too. Combining many elements of Vertex resonant control and RFIdesign, including Hi Rez Roraima, Jaya, illimani and Solfonn. These elements have been used on the power input, audio in and out, mains transformer and DAC module itself. The DAC is a TDA 1543 with no oversampling. I must confess to particularly liking multi-bit DACs and particularly vintage Philips ones.
The speakers in use in the room are the new Kaiser Acoustic Kawero Vivace speakers (£22 to 32 depending on finishes and the presence of Vertex AQ upgrades) which are a very slim but deep speaker which can be upgraded to include a Vertex AQ treated crossover. Steve Elford of Vetex AQ told me it was a simple procedure to remove the standard crossover and install the upgraded one.
Rainer Weber of Kaiser was also in the room and took great pride in showing his speakers to me and the Vetex AQ modified crossover.
I had a good listen on both the first and second day of the show and the sound was much better on the second day, however even from relatively cold the system was open detailed, dynamic and powerful with nicely articulate bass. I heard a Patricia Barber track and Hotel California by the Eagles. There was a very slight hardness to the sound on the first day but by day two the music was more organic in quality, though I would have to say that there was also a slight element of spotlighting to the sound but not enough in my opinion to say it was a HiFi sound; using that term as a negative rather than a positive.
You can read more about the Aletheia DAC here http://www.vertexaq.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49&Itemid=61
You can read more about Vetex’s involvement with the Kaiser Acoustic Vivace speakers here http://www.vertexaq.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=67&Itemid=72 and more here about Kaiser http://kaiser-acoustics.com/
Trade Area – HiFi World
Had a table at the show just to the right of the registration desk and Noel Keywood was in attendance there as was David Price and Adam Smith who could be seen wandering round the show on the Saturday and Sunday.
Trade Area – Sound HiFi
Dave Cawley of Sound HiFi/Timestep and Alex Nitikin of ANT Audio had a stand beside the HiFi World one and upon it they were displaying the ANT Audio headphone amplifier and a heavily modified Technics 1200 turntable, which is sold under the Timestep marque.
Garros Room – LW Audio
The LW Audio system comprised of the aforementioned Anthony Gallo 3.5 speakers, Anthony Gallo Strada + TR3 subwoofer and electronics from Atoll (IN 400 integrated amplifier £4500 and CD 200se CD player £1899) Bitperfect server, Calyx 24/192 DAC £1800, Stereo Knight M100 mono power-amplifiers £5300 and Stereo Knight Enigma Ultimate two box pre-amplifier £5600. The cabling being used was by Trusoundz cables (review coming soon hopefully).
On static display at the back of the room were some pre-amplifiers from Stereo Knight namely a Magnetic Enigma 1.0 £2300 and a Silverstone B&R £2300 (you can read more here http://www.lwaudio.co.uk/page4/index.html) These pre-amplifiers looked very interesting with excellent build quality and very high quality parts and clever internal layout. I hope in the near future to be reviewing these pre-amplifiers – as they say watch this space.
As regular readers of Adventures in High Fidelity Audio know the Gallo 3.1 speakers are my personal reference speakers and it was very interesting (even in less than ideal surroundings) to hear their replacements the 3.5’s and overall I could hear the improvements over my own speakers in the areas of coherence, clarity and bass.
The overall sound in the LW Audio room was good but the sparse acoustics did at times lead to a slightly lose bass and forward sound. However despite that I did very much enjoy listening to Kate Bush’s album Hounds of Love via the Bitperfect server and Calyx DAC.
You can read more about LW Audio here http://www.lwaudio.co.uk/
Trade Area – AudioItalia
Also at last years whittlebury Hall Show, this relatively new company was able to tell me of their growing success in the Linn and Naim market since launching last year and now with them offering full width shelving I am sure this attractive range of Hifi furniture will be just as popular among other audio enthusiasts too.
Trade Area – Diverse vinyl
Regular show favourites Diverse Vinyl were plying their wares at this show as they do most audio shows on the UK mainland and recent Northern Ireland show. I like many others had a good look through the racks of records and I bought four interesting albums.
Trade Area – Supra
This well known Swedish manufacturer of cabling had a stall at this show as they had last year.
Trade Area – Track Audio
Track Audio had a small area to display their various wares but had certainly maximised the space by having a very interesting selection of their products on display including a modified (one of) Track Audio JBE Slatedeck series 3 turntable (vintage British direct drive turntable from the early 80’s).
Track Audio had removed the originally supplied Micro Seki (now well past their sell by date) rubber and plastic feet for four Track Audio Isolator feet and on top of one they had also installed a spirit level. I thought that this was a really nice touch, something which is very typical of the care and attention this company puts into everything they do.
I had a good chat with Mike and he showed me some new spikes which can be used on other companies speakers and equipment tables. As with other Track Audio products these are beautifully made and finished and the design is drawn from the spikes used in Track Audio’s Isolators. Also on display were the new four column speaker stands for heavier weight speakers.
Track Audio had also fitted a set of their Isolator feet into a pair of speakers showing and thus illustrating that even those who use floor standing speakers can benefit from Track Audio engineering.
You really will be hard pressed to find better made and finished stands than those Track Audio design and manufacturer. In my opinion the engineering and design solutions found in these products will also lead to raising the performance of your stand and floor standing speakers performance as well. That statement is based on my findings from my recent review of the Track Audio 700 speaker stands.
You can read more about Track Audio here http://www.trackaudio.co.uk/
Trade Area – Stamford Audio
Like Diverse Vinyl Stanford Audio can be found selling vinyl and CDs at most audio shows and despite me looking hard this time I was unable to find anything to purchase from them. In saying that their stock was good just not containing anything of interest to me. Many show goers were however buying lots from them.
Earhart Room – Sound Fowndations
While Keith Miller was off doing a seminar elsewhere in the hotel (Syndicate 6) I was given a personal demonstration of the effects of several Furutech products by one of his colleagues.
The system they were using was similar to the one used at the recent Northern Ireland HiFi Show but with two Super Titans rather than just one and a different turntable.
I was treated to hearing the effects of using a Furutech Demag £1800 and DeStat £395 on both CD and vinyl. Both times the effect was similar with one complementing the other. Using the Destat on Daft Punk’s Discovery album on vinyl resulted in a more open sound with greater clarity across the frequencies and a sense of ease. The addition of treating the same album with the Demag resulted in an even more increased sense of ease and openness. Using these products on a CD resulted in a very similar result. Frankly the differences at each step of treatment were instantly audible and I must confess to being quite surprised by what I heard. These treatment products are well worth checking out yourself.
There were numerous other items on static display round the room from other companies that Sound Fowndation’s distribute including Blue Horizon,, Furutech mains plugs, interconnect and speaker terminations.
You can find Sound Fowndations here http://www.soundfowndations.co.uk/
Johson Room – JoSound
JoSound were a new name to me having (or so it seems) appeared out of nowhere; with this being their first UK show (to my knowledge). The company is based in Grouville Jersey and produce very striking speakers made from bamboo.
The JoSound 45/1 £3995 and 45/3 £5995 were on static display and in use in the room on the end of a Musical Fidelity system, which comprised of an A5 integrated amplifier, X DAC V8 DAC, X RAY V8 CD player, Triplex PSU and a Sony laptop computer source.
I really liked the look of these speakers made from bamboo but alas something, either the room or a mismatch with the electronics, was creating a harsh in your-face, bass boomy sound. On the plus side there was excellent imaging (very pinpoint), good soundstage width and depth.
I would however not judge these new designs based on the sound at this show alone, so I suggest you check them out for yourself in your own system as I feel these are an interesting design.
More info can be found here http://www.josound.net/
Armstrong Room – High End Cables/Raidho
High End cables UK distributors of the Raidho speakers had the room and Lars Kristensen (seen in the photo above) from Riadho was in attendance and a very animated exhibitor he was conducting interesting demonstrations at the show.
The system comprised of Bel-Canto electronics (CD.2 CD player, C5.1 integrated amplifier) Nordost cables and a QX4 and QB8 mains filtration and distribution system. Speakers in use were the Raidho C3.o £22,275
Other speakers from the range were on display in the room namely the C2 £14.565, C1 £7695, X monitor £3395 and their stands £1695. Dave Jackson of High-End Cables tells me that all of the Riadho speakers on display were used at some point during the duration of the show; though I only ever heard the C3.0 speakers during my visits to the room.
Being honest I came back to this room several times during the duration of the show and I always left their room feeling the sound just was not for me. Last year MV Audio were using the small X monitors on the end of a TAC CD player and integrated amplifier and I enjoyed the sound more. I think it is a well known fact that you should not judge sound quality at a show so I suspect a room/system mismatch, though to be fair and honest I don’t much like the sound of Nordost cabling so this could be the element that was not allowing me to enjoy the sound in this room.
I should point out though that I could hear what the speakers were trying to do but the system and or room was holding them back in my opinion.
High End Cables also had other items they distribute on static display at the back of their room such as the Adept Response mains conditioners from American company Audience.
Bader Room – Angel Sound Audio
At last years Hi-Fidelity March show Hart Audio had been exhibiting in their own room and I had been very impressed with the sound quality they had been able to achieve with their Evo One speaker design in what was a very compact room. In fact I went as far as to say, in my report of that show, that I thought this was one of the best sounding rooms at that particular show.
These new speakers use a large single driver speaker handling all the frequencies. Sound quality was open and detailed with great width and scale and despite the size of the drive unit and box, imaging was very precise. As a comparison a pair of Marten speakers were also used, the sound of which were more open and detailed but to my ears the sound was more spotlit and HiFi sounding, whereas the Hart speakers were more musical to my ears. I can see that some will prefer one more to the other and in their case may well prefer the Marten speakers to the Hart’s; such is audio life.
Here is some information on the Hart Audio Passive speakers ‘The Hart’s Passive Loudspeaker (with floor angle stand) £2495 is a purist monitor with all but no standing waves making it incredibly clear. A real pussycat with sweet and smooth high detail imagery.
The 12″ Silver alloy dual voice coil Co-Axial drivers with rare earth magnets are crossed over at 1.4Khz. The same crossover as used in the EVO1 Dual and Tri-Monitor. Silver plated internal wiring. The cabinets have WBT binding posts on the rear. The internal walls of the cabinets have 14 coats of bitumen. The 12″ co-axial drivers have a high power compression tweeter in the central throat of the 12″ cone with the overall power rating at 400w-RMS (800W peak)
Smooth, beautifully clear and warm when valve powered. A sensitivity of 94db firstname.lastname@example.orgHz – 28Khz’ more info here http://www.hartaudio.com/
The system they were using comprised of an AMR PH-77 phonostage, AMR CD-777 CD player, Dr Fleickert turntable, VTL 6.5 pre-amplifier, VTL 125 Mono power-amplifiers, Almarro A340A mono power-amplifiers, Wheast phono stage and AMR LS77 speakers (not playing when I was in the room either time I visited)
Overall sound in the room was very good but for my money in the context of this room and system I much preferred the sound of the Hart Audio speakers.
Le Clerque Room – Schimmel Pianos/Voxativ speakers.
Being honest, at this point, before going any further with this room report, I feel I should say that I am not known for really liking single driver horn speakers; as I usually cant get passed the cuppy colourations many of the breed seem to suffer from (please note I said many not all) so as I entered the Voxativ room my first thoughts were “oh dear I am not going to like these”, however after a few minutes of listening I was pleasantly surprised as any colourations were mostly absent. In fact it took me a good 7 minutes to finally be able to hear any at all and after a prolonged listen on the Sunday I could no longer hear any. I guess if the speakers were new (never a good idea in my opinion to bring un-run-in kit to a show. Frankly it should sound as good at a show as it will in an end users house after however long it needs for running in) and in running in this slight colouration had gone from the sound.
As I sat listening I really enjoyed the sound this system was making. There was a nice open quality with excellent imaging and instrument separation and a weight and scale that horn speakers don’t in my experience so far (note I say so far) have.
The system comprised of a Cayin CD player and a Trafomatic Experience Two valve amplifier and a pair of Voxativ Ampeggio speakers 19000 Euros (approx price).
The Voxativ website has this to say about the Ampeggio model ‘ A breakthrough you simply have to hear to appreciate. VOXATIV Ampeggio means there is at last a backloaded horn that sounds every bit as wonderful as it looks.
It is powered by our biggest neodymium driver: The AC-3X. The enclosure is a collaboration between us and the famous German piano factory Schimmel Pianos. They optimize all the resonant issues and use special tone wood for the backloaded horn cabinet that very deliberately uses no circular arcs but facetted turns to have optimal amplification while eliminating unwanted reflections and resonances.
The cabinet surface is covered in real piano lacquer, i.e. 1mm deep polyurethane paint polished about 10 times. The Voxativ by Schimmel Piano logo is made from brass and integrated into the paint.
Inside we use solid-core copper cable and Mundorf solid copper binding posts. No crossover components of any sort are employed. The sound is optimized purely by the mechanical excellence of the driver and cabinet.
The efficiency is 100dB to pose no problems for small luxury and excellent sounding amps like Trafomatic.’
Spec:Frequency response :38 – 20,000 Hz, Driver System :VOXATIV AC-3X, Efficiency :100 dB/1W/1 m, Capacity :50 W sine wave, Dimensions: 40 x 110 x 35 cm, Weight: 55kg.
I was very impressed with my all to brief exposure to these very interesting speakers and I for one would love to hear them again; so I look forward to hopefully doing that at another show in the not to distant future.
You can read more about Voxativ here http://www.voxativ.com/eng/
and the parent company http://www.schimmelpianos.co.uk/
Part Two of the Audio World 2011 Show report will look at the first group of Syndicate rooms.
© Text/Photos Copyright 2011 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.
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