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The HiFi show 2015 UK
The HiFi show 2015 UK
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Old 29th October 2015, 01:49 PM   #1
KenTajalli is offline KenTajalli  United Kingdom
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: London
Default The HiFi show 2015 UK

I am posting here, simply because I don't know where else!
Oct 24-25 saw the UK's high-end show at old Windsor just outside London, I was lucky enough to be there.
There were some well known high-end brands such as Wilson, Sonus Faber, Audio Alchemy (reborn!) and others - too many to mention.
There were also some not so well known exotic brands such as Metronome, Magico, DS Audio, Gamut, Kronos and the like.
Since the list is huge, I shall narrow my post to those that I heard and liked!
- Elac
They were showing their bottom-of-the-range, from Debut range The 'B5' - a small reflex box with 5.25" bass driver retailing for £250 (probably $250 in US), that sounded as though it was £2000 ! They sounded much bigger than they should have, something to keep your eyes on when they are launched. Needless to say they were fed with £4000 new Audio Alchemy amplifiers, mounted on proper stands - for such little money they had unbelievable wow factor.
- Ming Da
The only tube amp manufacturer that was actually on show and the total sound was good!
On show was Duet 300+ , an 8W class A 300B based poweramp with analogue front and Polish built hORNS speakers. Overall sound was beautiful - I only heard them with classical music. The whole package worked very well.
- Magnepan
They are well known as manufacturers of panel speakers with a difference!
Those familiar with the brand know that Magnepan (as the name implies) uses high power magnets spread around the cabinet in close vicinity of a panel (the diaphragm) to reproduce sound.
They were showing their smallest panels MG.7 (at £1700) which sounded very good indeed. Problem with panels is that, they need proper positioning and installation - having said that, they were sounding open, detailed with enough bass (shortcoming of all panels) to do pop music justice, I was very impressed! £1700 is very affordable.
- Dali
Dali has been going on for years, they make high-end speakers. On show was Epicon 8, a 5 way floorstander (£11500 @2013). They looked good enough for such a hefty price tag, sounded good (albeit not good enough at the asking price). Music was detailed and relaxed - I liked them but found them way-too-expensive.
- Kudos
Kudos audio were showing their top-of-the-range Titan 808 speakers with Linn Exakt amplification and an LP12 turntable as front end. The Titans are of Isobarik design (similar to Linn's own stuff?) - they sounded very good indeed and uncannily very similar to Linn's audio signature.
This system, however, is very expensive - exactly how much I couldn't find out, but in £35K+ range. So if you have more money than . . . - short list them.
- PS Audio
PS Audio were showing their power P10 Power Plant and their 300 Monoblocks together with their Directstream DAC through Vandersteen Treo CT speakers.
The combination sounded very good indeed - how much each component were to blame, I don't know - over all the sound was right and powerful on pop music, detailed and lush on classical - but then again expensive, speakers at £8K , amplification and frontend add a few more £10's K to the price.
- Quad
They were showing off their new Artera range electronics and their bigger Electrostatics ESL-2912 which sounded superb (on Classical music) - I could sit there for hours and enjoy. The electronics (amp player) cost no more than £4K and speakers at £8k - now having heard the rest of the show, I would say Quad had the best value-for-money system on show.
- Absolute Sounds
OK Absolute Sounds are not a manufacturer, but a dealership - The premiere high-end dealership in UK. They sell big names Constellation Amps, Sonus Faber, Dan D'Agostino , Prima Luna, Metronome, Krell, Magico to name a few.
Their high light of the show, was a Metronome CD player and DAC (£20k ?), into Constellation monoblocks (£30k) to Magico S7 speakers (£50k).
Total cost was gargantuas, with a quality to match! Here was a system in the 'price no object' category, and the sound matched!
Do not take that lightly, I heard many expensive pieces of equipment with a sound not equating to the price (to put it politely) - so when I say a sound that matched it's £100k+ price tag, it is one hell of an achievement.
The sound was so punchy and powerful, it would put many Rock concerts to shame, indeed I had never heard this kind of quality at any live event, yet on Classical orchestral music they sounded as lush as the best electrostatics (or better) - they remained clean at deafening levels - so if you have listening room the size of a football pitch, they are for you!
I think someone should use them (or two pairs of them) in small venues or theatres, they would be at home. Clearly the best sound I heard all day.
- Name & Shame
There were many brands out there, some favourites of mine, that failed to produce the sound on the day I had expected of them, here are a few.
- Sonus faber sounded cheap and cheerful
- Dynaudio sounded like high street stereo systems
- Kef despite launching their new range of speakers and all the hype, the sound quality failed on the day.
- Leema one of my own favourites showing some pricy tiny speakers that didn't sound good at all.
- Chord again they failed to produce the right sound, bright cheap sounding.
- Clearaudio - DSaudio - Gamut DSaudio were showing off their optical cartridge (still using a stylus, but optics instead of magnets) playing through gigantic Gamut speakers. total sound was similar to a cheap car stereo! I could not sit there and listen to explanations about the cartridge!

Last edited by KenTajalli; 29th October 2015 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 4th November 2015, 04:42 PM   #2
Minx is offline Minx  United Kingdom
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Thanks Ken Kajalii, for your interesting and comprehensive review. It's been some years aince I went to a hi fi show (the last one being held at a Heathrow hotel).
I experienced exactly what you found; some eye-watering prices and equipment that simply did not justify price tags. I also first heard a Quad system playing orchestral musical at realistic levels through electrostatic speakers and being blown away. If i am ever in a position to spend about £12,000 on hifi, i would opt for a Quad sysyem.
Disappointing there was only one valve maufacturer present though i gave heatd a MingDa amp and was very impressed. I would have thought that sellers such as Icon Audio or Hi and Audio would have been there showing their products which are excellent valve gear offering superb sound at realistic prices (I have no connection with either supplier).
It's good to know what is about but the reason I stopped going to such shows is the "relative deprivation" syndrome; you're happy with your gear (relatively) until you hear equipment that costs more than a new sports Mercedes!
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Old 4th November 2015, 05:13 PM   #3
MrCurwen is offline MrCurwen  Finland
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Are the KEF speakers the ones with the transmission line bass?

I was recently at a "high end" show in Hyvinkää here in Finland and my friend was excited about these KEFs going in, but we were both kind of nonplussed coming out.
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Old 5th November 2015, 02:52 PM   #4
KenTajalli is offline KenTajalli  United Kingdom
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: London
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minx View Post
Thanks Ken Kajalii, for your interesting and comprehensive review. It's been some years aince I went to a hi fi show (the last one being held at a Heathrow hotel).
I experienced exactly what you found; some eye-watering prices and equipment that simply did not justify price tags. I also first heard a Quad system playing orchestral musical at realistic levels through electrostatic speakers and being blown away. If i am ever in a position to spend about £12,000 on hifi, i would opt for a Quad sysyem.
Disappointing there was only one valve maufacturer present though i gave heatd a MingDa amp and was very impressed. I would have thought that sellers such as Icon Audio or Hi and Audio would have been there showing their products which are excellent valve gear offering superb sound at realistic prices (I have no connection with either supplier).
It's good to know what is about but the reason I stopped going to such shows is the "relative deprivation" syndrome; you're happy with your gear (relatively) until you hear equipment that costs more than a new sports Mercedes!
I said: The only tube amp manufacturer that was actually on show (meaning playing music) and the total sound was good!
There were plenty other tube amp manufacturers present. They either were not playing anything, or if they did, the 'total sound' was not good.
I used to go to shows when they were in Harrogate (early 80's) those were the days!
I was just talking to Lee Taylor of Leema Acoustics, which incidentally I own the 'Elements DAC' from (after trying out six other 'best-buy' DAC's and settling for theirs) about the show.
Lee is a very nice guy, ex BBC engineer, has toured with ELO on their EU tour years ago, with honest enthusiasm about sound reproduction, they design and build many award winning equipments.
Lee agreed that at the show, many eye-watering ! pricy equipments failed to produce the desired sound.
HiFi shows, I believe, is only as good as the guy who sets up the system on the day! come to think of it, same can be said about HiFi dealers too.
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Old 5th November 2015, 02:55 PM   #5
KenTajalli is offline KenTajalli  United Kingdom
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: London
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCurwen View Post
Are the KEF speakers the ones with the transmission line bass?

I was recently at a "high end" show in Hyvinkää here in Finland and my friend was excited about these KEFs going in, but we were both kind of nonplussed coming out.
On show was the new 'Blade' speakers, which after all the hype, did not sound anything special.
at least on the day!
Flagship Hi-Fi Speakers - BLADE - Overview - KEF United Kingdom
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