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HIFICRITIC at the
Sound and Vision Bristol Show: February 2013
Early morning queues at the Bristol Marriott for a fast entry to the show
HIFICRITIC attended in force with the editorial team, and had a successful three days
meeting readers and subscribers. We enjoyed a busy trade in back numbers, many
subscribers eager to fill in gaps in their treasured collection of HIFICRITIC.
We also were busy answering readers queries as best we could on computer audio
systems, servers versus computers and various DACS of varying connectivities.
PMC were exhibiting in some force with the huge BB5 ATL three-way which
impressed greatly using comparisons using studio masters. Coincidentally that edition
of the Sunday Times featured PMC founder Pete Thomas in the Business Pages,
interviewed on his success story with PMC.
We had a copy so he stopped by to have a look.
Pete Thomas (left) reading his Sunday Times feature at the HIFICRITIC stand, seen
here with Editor Paul Messenger and co-publisher Marianne Colloms
We had looked forward to hearing the new IB2i SE, the previous non SE model has
been highly rated by the editorial team, but there was insufficient space to exhibit the
model. Conversely the Bristol Audio T branch had a spot available and it could be
found there during the show, and an impressive looking beast it was, no longer hiding
its charms under a dour cladding but freely expressed in luxury veneer with a
matching furniture grade timber stand, This design has been comprehensively
reworked borrowing low noise and transparency technologies developed for the
PMC, The new IB2i se with revised mid and treble phase plates amongst many
improvements. About £13,000 with the audiophile stand inclusive.
PMC also showed the 12inch bass powered monitor the latest BB5 featuring an
impressive sound level headroom.
CAD Computer Audio Design enjoyed their Bristol Show win, achieving the top
Clarity Alliance award for ‘best of show’ sound quality.
“ Clarity News Release
"Best Sounding Hi-fi Room”
- Computer Audio Design”
computer audio driven USB only DAC
Wilson Benesch had a magnificent display featuring their new Cardinal tower
speakers finished in an imposing black texture and carbon fibre, complete with
massive machined alloy floor fixtures. They could easily fill the large exhibition
space with powerful sounds and were partnered by DCS with a full line of their
digital audio components spanning their massive price range. The speakers are
scheduled to sell for some £60,000, so the UK can take on the international
Amphion founder Anssi Hyvonen has been working hard in studios
with professional recordists to try and add greater precision to the often imperfect
loop between the original acoustic event and the reproduction of the resulting sound
field from the monitoring loudspeaker. The soundstage from his new monitor was
notably vivid with very good discrimination between the central soloist and the
backing orchestration, this clearly a fine design. The low crossover frequency offers
very good phase integration and thus it may be used vertically or horizontally
Anssi Hyvonen explaining the Two-15 (black)
Two-15 monitor rear view
He took no chances with the set up and used Transparent XL speaker cable. Sources
included the fine sounding Antelope Zodiac 384Khz /64 bit sampling DAC.
Antelope’s Zodiac DAC at Amphion
Devialet: This super capable, primarily digitally interfaced and powerful
integrated amplifier was used ambitiously in bi-amplified form with hi res programme
to show off the latest Spendor design, the £4,000 D7 floor stander with the new
tweeter configuration. Initially there was a fault with the Firewire interface cable
which annoyingly half worked and unfortunately I could not make it back to the room
after the cable had been replaced, thus restoring the intended sound quality.
Spendor D7 with a brace of bi amped Devialets
Leema ran three rooms on the tenth floor, two with KEF speakers, the LS 50
with the new Leema Elements streamer, the latter many months in gestation.
Leema also fielded the KEF Blade no less, with the latest Elements
amplification. Having heard the Blade in more cluttered locations, and despite the
small room, it gave a good account of itself with deep, even bass, nicely powered by
the Leema pre-power units
A late winter morning at Bristol, not a bad view from our 8th floor bedroom
with involvement from Jes Mosgaard, the former CEO of Lyngdorf
Audio and former CTO of Steinway-Lyngdorf, Libratone bounced into the show with
a range of wirelessly connected full range portable and moveable one piece
reproducers. Their intendedly controversial slogans read:
YOUR HIFI JUST DIED
YOU DON’T NEED A MUSIC STORE
YOU DON’T NEED A CD PLAYER
YOU DON’T NEED A WIRE
YOU DON’T NEED AN AMPLIFIER
YOU DON’T NEED A RADIO
YOU DON’T NEED YESTERDAY
Is this where home audio is going for many newcomers to the audio scene?
The Libratone Zipp is £369 looking like a cloth covered Thermos flask and has
dipole ribbon tweeters.
Live (pictured), is £459, while Lounge is a massive high power semi-portable sound
bar with significantly good stereo at £1099. It has two sets of 8inch bass, 4 inch
ceramic mid, and 1inch ribbon tweeters and is a metre wide. A variety of décor
matching covers are available.
A Libratone Live showing the substantial engineering involved for this open-back
dipole, WiFi connected design.
HIFI WORLD/ Rohde&Schwarz
Editor Noel Keywood seemed omnipresent the show, but in particular teamed up with
premium test equipment maker Rohde&Schwarz to show off the resolution and
precision of the digital/analogue ‘UPV’ audio and jitter analyser. Costing a pretty
penny Noel uses it for advanced testing of review gear while his enthusiasm for this
design knows no bounds. Rohde&Schwarz fielded a large team and also demonstrated
related units. The UPV is normally used with a larger monitor on which the many
control and data windows may be displayed.
Alternative Audio ran their usual highly civilised demonstrations, the
Analysis ribbon panel speakers and NAT valve electronics
The NAT Triode Monoblock
VPI made an appearance in the Leema room with Denon cartridge and Rega RB
NAIM electronics featured in many rooms, a dominant force it may be said,
while in the NAIM room Ovator 400 speakers illustrated the differences in a line of
streamer and digital sources at various prices and upgrade levels, culminating in the
top of the line NDS.
Naim Ovator 400
Audio Suspension’s neat wall bracket
Audionote missed the beauty prize but won almost universal praise from listeners
for a highly engaging and musically natural sound. The layout maybe unorthodox but
they do know how to do it on the day! Most components used were from their budget
AVID: The new Ingenium turntable was on demonstration, here in plan view with an
SME 12inch arm
More of the Ingenium construction. Avid used KEF LS50 speakers in its effective
demonstrated their latest in the Epicon series, the Epicon-2 stand mount at
about £5,000, with a big hearted musical sound
DynamiKKs , an unusual high quality concentric driver TL
Focal’s Stella played audiophile PA for a series of sets by The Luck,
a classy live music system powered by McIntosh!
Focal’s new 7000 Chorus Series were introduced , with revised tweeters
A memorial to designer Richard Hay shown with his heed audio components
heed’s new DAC
Martin Colloms: HIFICRITIC TECH ED, just before the show opened
Revel launched their new lower priced Performa3 series to the UK, a stand mount
M106 and a floor stander M206 both with excellent detailing and finish, and at first
try, a pleasing, balanced sound. All diaphragms are aluminium despite the
have followed the LS50 passive compact monitor with a derivative design ,
fully active, electronic crossovers, and with digital audio interfacing, sounding like a
winning combination , the X300A
high end DAC Preamp with integrated atomic oscillator
Pretty lighting for the expanding yet compact NuForce range including the new
IA-18 integrated amplifier. These were driving those DynamiKKs concentric driver
flew in from Taiwan to introduce their range of attractive in-ear
and related headphone products
A crisp involving sound for the new Kudos Cardea Super 20 proved the case for
making an effort under difficult show conditions
really liked these electronics separates when we reviewed them
and here was a tidy sound with Audiovector floor standers
Guru fielded a pretty little stand mount called the Junior, available in veneer and
colours which sounded very tidy in the TomTom room, £700 about
This picture does not do justice to a promising new speaker from Kawero, a
prismatic form right out of the Conran Shop. Steve Elford of Vertex AQ was using it
to demonstrate some interesting broad band acoustic absorber panels
LeadingEdge, music sourced from the noted VertexAQ Aletheia DAC
Precison 6.4, ably driven by an Antelope Zodiac DAC , computer audio,
and Lavardin amplification. A promising sound here.
T&A made an impression with their tidy system of upmarket components
and a seriously large banner!
Ming Da MC300-A one of a surprising variety of valve amplifiers, this one an SE
this time the MC34-A SE, with distinctive blue glass EL34L. There
were many more desings piled high in the dem room including a valve 5 channel
home theatre unit!
new gen stand makers, put up a good fight with a well tuned show system
using their rack and speaker stands.
TERRA MK3 from Everything But The Box
£1880 a pair Response D2 gave a good account of itself with Naim
electronics and once again the Proac team were seen to defy the adverse acoustics
found in these rooms
REGA celebrates the phonograph and REGA’s 40th anniversary, hard to
advanced, skeletal new P8 turntable with precision coupling between
main bearing and arm mount.
MC February 2013