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Old 23rd October 2011, 02:50 PM   #1
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Default Manchester Audio/Video Show 2011 (pictures)

Here is my very subjective, partial and probably mostly unfair report from this year's Manchester Show

First of all, I pretty much ignored all the "Video" exhibitons. I also skipped most of the mainstream consumer brands (Samsung, Philips etc.).

Before I leave you to enjoying the pictures, I just want to say that I left the show with a few rather surprising conclusions:

- Firstly, every single system on the show had LOTS of bass, mostly of the warm and not terribly well-controlled variety. I don't know why this surprised me really. Bass sells stuff, end of story.

- Secondly, there was literally no one that I could talk to about the technical details. Only salesmen. Again, I don't know why that surprised me.

- Lastly, there was not a single system on the show that I would rather have, than my humble homemade Hi-Fi. And don't take that as boasting, my system is pretty good, but it has A LOT of room for improvement. What I mean is most exhibitions were apparently set up by people who have serious hearing problems - and that included the ultra-expensive KEF and B&W systems.

Enjoy the pictures!

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A pretty interesting tube/SS hybrid system from Mistral. Very decent sound, considering its low price.

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One of the very few tube amps on the show. Might have been the only one, actually (not sure).

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A very pretty speaker, also from Mistral.

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I think this handsome floorstander was in the Cyrus showroom.

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The new, very much hyped about speaker from Kef - Blade. The sound was certainly nothing short of majestic, but I was expecting better resolution. There were very obvious shoutiness problems too. This did not discourage people from flocking into Kef showroom and trying very hard to make themselves believe that this is realistic sound reproduction.

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A single word - sybilance. Lots of it. I honestly don't understand how you can put together such an expensive system (cables alone look like they cost a few grand) and still get it so badly wrong.

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A reasonable effort at high fidelity from ProAc.

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A rather mediocre Monitor Audio setup.

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These modernistic Dali speakers did seem to have potential, but the source... an iPad.

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A surprisingly pleasant performance from this understated analogue system (Neat Acoustics).

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Naim had a very strong presence in the show, this is one of their showrooms. Good sound, if somewhat lacking finesse.

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PMC showroom. I recall I quite liked their setup.

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A very competent Quadral system. One of my favourite systems of the show actually. The red speakers were playing. It impressed me despite using an unsophisticated Blu-Ray player as a source.

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This solid performance from Quadral deserves an extra shot.

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Gyro-something turntable... Pretty cool looking, but was only for display during the show.

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A TEAC system. Slightly dissapointing treble performance, and otherwise unremarkable sound.

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This was a very well put-together system. I actually sat there for a while enjoying it. Well done Audiolab.

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Another photo of this pleasant system. It well deserves its awards.

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Not everywhere was glamorous lol

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A reasonably-priced Tannoy setup. Despite being far from Hi-End it was well set-up and remarkably free of any major flaws.

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Rel subwoofers.

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Rel were probably the most anti-social of the entire show... Their setup was playing very loudly, and was easily heard over music in the neighbouring showrooms.

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A nice Focal system. Unfortunately was playing from a laptop because...

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...their hi-end Wadia CD player refused to open the tray

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A classic-looking AudioNote setup. Unfortunately it seemed to have some sibilance problems.

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Probably my favourite systems of the show, put together by... a cable manufacturer Clearer Audio. It kind of makes sense, I guess, as cables are all about the subtleties.

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I can't comment on their cable performance, but Clearer Audio sure know how to set up a showroom.

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Yours truly (shot in the lift of the hotel hosting the show)


Please feel free to comment!
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Last edited by uncle_leon; 23rd October 2011 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 24th October 2011, 03:09 AM   #2
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nice coverage! thanks!
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Old 24th October 2011, 03:33 AM   #3
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Thanx for the coverage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_leon View Post
These modernistic Dali speakers did seem to have potential, but the source... an iPad.
As long as the digital data is lossless (AIFF preferred) and you are bypassing the interenal DAC into a good external DAC nothing wrong with an iPod as source.

dave
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Old 24th October 2011, 05:52 AM   #4
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Thumbs up Thanks

Good coverage. Overall it appears nothing "earthshaking" is happening in the community....
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Old 24th October 2011, 06:36 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone

@planet10 - I respectfully disagree. A good CD transport will beat an iPad (I have never compared, but I think this is a fairly safe assumption). So if you are exhibitioning a 2.5K speaker set, why would you put it at a disadvantage by using an inferior source? I'm not trying to start an argument by the way... I just fail to see the logic in doing that...

@gopib - Well, the new KEF speakers DID look and sound impressive... They were probably let down by poor component choice and set-up - although I have no way of knowing that, obviously (all the components were strict hi-end after all). I just find it hard to believe that a respected company would be asking 20K for a pair of speakers with obvious sonic faults.

The general trend seems to be the shift from the traditional media (CD/vinyl) to digital, often wirelessly streamed, and/or integration with portable devices. I don't recall a single company exhibiting a radio tuner.
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Old 24th October 2011, 06:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_leon View Post
@planet10 - I respectfully disagree. A good CD transport will beat an iPad (I have never compared, but I think this is a fairly safe assumption). So if you are exhibitioning a 2.5K speaker set, why would you put it at a disadvantage by using an inferior source? I'm not trying to start an argument by the way... I just fail to see the logic in doing that...
A properly done computer source will outdo a good CD transport (this is have tried -- my good CD-trnsport is collecting dust). And an iPad is a good computer. Having solid state memory it may well have an edge on an HD based computer (i haven't tried that yet). iPad likely most limited by the smaller choice of devices to extract digital output from the iPad (limit not technical, but the need to buy a licence from Apple)

dave
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Old 24th October 2011, 07:19 PM   #7
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Ah, so it looks like we will have to agree to disagree here Nothing ever came close sonically to my CD transport (which is essentially a highly-developed Shigaclone, built with a mixture of wood-modded Black Gates and my own hand-made capacitors and resistors). But then again, compared to other devices on the show, my Shiga clearly belongs in the hi-end sector - so comparing it to an iPad is probably unfair on the latter. So who knows, maybe iPad is indeed a competent enough source (although I hope you will forgive me if I remain doubtful about that).

In any case, there is also the fact I already mentioned above - the trend for digitalisation and integration. So it could be a way of Dali saying "You can buy yourself a thoroughbred audiophile setup from us, and it will still cooperate nicely with your iWhatever"
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