Heading to the Bristol Sound And Vision Hi-Fi show of 2017 was an exciting prospect knowing I would be able to see some of the latest and greatest of the hi-fi in the world and I was not left disappointed. Busier than last year and with a slew of new two channel products, it was an enjoyable way to spend a day and an exciting snippet of the products to come over 2017, many of which we’ve started to add into our new hi-fi section.
As always, the show organisers had gone the extra mile and this showed in every respect with clear signposting and helpful staff located in and around the show. It was clear also that while everyone took similar positions to last year, many suppliers and brands had upped their game with their displays as well.
As I entered the show I was greeted by the guys at the Chord Company who were more than willing to take me through the new Sarum-T cable, which features a new type of insulation “Taylon” that Chord say is far more neutral and less affecting to the sound quality of a cable then teflon (PTFE). I managed to get a quick photo (on hotel carpet!) of the new cable, but we’ll have these on demo very soon.
In a listening session for Sarum T in Chord’s upstairs demo room, I was blown away by the detail that it showed on a reference system I’m quite familiar with. We have Sarum in store and I was knocked back to hear such an improvement over the original cable. The best part with the new cable is the fact that Chord are offering a very generous upgrade scheme for for anyone who owns Sarum cable, allowing them to send this cable back and Chord will upgrade it for only 40% of what a new cable would cost – contact us to arrange this.
After my Chord demo, I headed to Q Acoustics’ room to hear the new Concept 500 speakers, which have been a source of great excitement since they were announced as it’s the brands first foray into true high end. Q Acoustics have always been a mainstay of our demo room with the 3000 range but this new model has to be heard
They were showcasing these speakers with the new QED Supremos Speaker Cable. This cable is an evolution of the Genesis Cable you may be already familiar with. Taking influence from a lot of different aspects: The Rhodium coating for example I think really helps deliver a performance which blew me away at the price point. This cable comes in at £150 per meter and needs to be a real consideration for anyone looking at new speaker cable, it is worth stretching the budget for!
I needed a break from it all after 2 speaker demonstrations so I took a look at the new GS2000e from Grado. These headphones are the latest from one of the most trusted headphone manufactures in the world. If you have an opinion of the “Grado” sound or feel like they aren’t for you than you need to hear these headphones. In my opinion they redefine what Grado is all about. The two types of wood used marry together to deliver a performance that captured every detail and relayed it to my ears with stunning detail. The frequency response is where they astounded me with a 4-51,000 HZ level – A real audiophile performance and response making them a clear step above the GS1000e – but also importantly a clear alternative to PS1000e if you prefer the sound signature of their wooden earcup models.
The Apollo Cyclone stands caught my eye as a well, a budget option for larger bookshelf speakers, as well as the new Apollo Storm hi-fi rack (out of shot) that offers real oak wood shelves for only £119.95 per level, which in contrast to other real wood stands is an absolute bargain.
Moving upstairs, Ruark were showing off their new MR1 MKII active bluetooth speakers with a stunning new vintage inspired pattern on the grills. They sound even better than their predecessor and with the addition of an optical input, they’re as useful for legacy digital equipment as they are for Bluetooth sources or indeed for turntables as they were demonstrating here (but bear in mind they dont have a built in phonio stage, so you’d need to use them with a turntable that includes an in built phono stage).
It was also a treat to see was the Ruark Audio R7 High Fidelity Radiogram custom finish in concrete they had! We understand this isn’t going to be available as an option for retailers to sell, purely a statement piece for display, but it emphasises how beautifully made the R7 really is (and given the choice, I think I’d rather have the walnut finish!)
I headed to our friends at Pro-Ject next to to take a look at their room. They were showing off The Classic turntable and a dazzling range of their Box Design units. For such a low profile system you would be surprised at the sound. Everyone in this room was memorised by this system and compared to more expensive option in the show you would be shocked had how well these are priced. This rack also featured a new range of “DS” Pro-Ject box components in silver with wooden side cheeks that will be available very soon.
In their other room they were showing off some of their other turntables, including the latest Essential range turntable models which offer incredible value for money – pictured immediately below is the “Essential III A” which for £279 includes all the features of the already awesome “Essential III” for £239, but also includes an acrylic platter – which looks stunning, but has a noticeable positive impact on sound quality as well.
Another Henley Designs brand Unision Research was just next door so I popped in to take a look at an absolute stunning system. The Italians are known for their style and cars but I must say they should be better known for the beautiful design and sound quality of their hi-fi equipment. If you are interested in hearing something out of the ordinary you need to audition something from the range – we have their valve amps avaialble alongside other models from Icon Audio (see below), all of which offer something different.
Icon Audio also had a very impressive room and for me, blew the doors down at this show. I heard a lot of amazing things that day but what I heard in that room was just mind blowing. This speakers haven’t’ even been announced as of yet so it is all a bit hush hush but keep a ear on our newsletter for the time being!
A trip to Bristol Sound and Vision show wouldn’t be a right without a visit to our good friends at Naim. They were show casing the new Uniti range and Focal speakers. We’ve received stocks of the “Core” music server and NAS drive (out of shot) but the all-in-one hi-fi models are due very soon and its one of the most anticipated products of the year, so we’re really looking forward to these arriving. The new range combines all of the design elements that Naim are known for with their new products, but most importantly for us, with improvements to design that should make them class leading one box systems for sound quality. Watch this space.
Quad have a strong legacy, which they continues with the Quad VA-One valve amplifier. Made in the same size as the PA-One headphone amp, it features upto date modern features (likle bluetooth) while preserving Quad’s outstanding work with valve equipment – I can imagine this sitting my desk at home a bit too easily. Quad also featured their new Artera One all-in-one system and Artera Link streamer, on which pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we’ll let you know as soon as more info is announced and we have them available.
Cyrus had a big focus on the One amplifier this year – one of our best sellers over the last few months, an update on a classic that offers class leading sound quality from a compact unit. I also had a listen to a Signature Phonostage while I had a chance and while Cyrus may be well known for their digital products (CDT, etc) and amps, this new phono stage is a real game changer. I also really enjoyed looking at their older units and seeing the evolution of the Cyrus range, including a brief chat with the Cyrus guys about what’s coming. For now though, we’re increasing our stocks of Cyrus equipment and if you have any interest in the brand, invite you to contact us to arrange a proper listen in our showroom.
A whirlwind tour of Audio Technica‘s booth was breathtaking, especially seeing the whole new range of cartridges they are bringing to the table. I think if you are a fan of Mono records also you have got to look at the new range as the lengths they have gone to bring true Mono is outstanding. But as a fan of all esoteric options out there in the Hi Fi world I had to marvel at their flagship headphone amplifier (see below)
I couldn’t even make up words to describe this amp – It is in a class of it’s own – we’re not selling this yet, but do you think we should?
I also had to just marvel at the detail they have gone on their LP-5 Turntable. There’s audiophile features on this deck you won’t even see on something double the price. The vibration control on this deck is really impressive. We also just added the lower priced LP-3 Turntable to our range which will be available soon.
I had heard that Elipson had developed a new turntable based around a carbon fiber design which I had to check out. We all have our opinions of Bluetooth but this turntable breaks every expectation I had of a Bluetooth enabled turntables. It really surprised me and I’m looking forward to getting this turntable in the store for you to listen to.
After all these turntables I had to take a break from record spinners and check out the Sennheiser stand. They have a whole new range of headphones coming out which really just hit the spot. Amazing performance and a great price, which amazed me as being on a show floor is never the best place to try out headphones like this.
So I had to try the new PXC-550 Travel wireless headphones were such a treat as they had Active Noise Cancelling which meant some peace after a busy day of listening to loudspeakers. Connecting via NFC was a treat on a busy show floor and falling into that inky blackness of quiet was a real treat. Of course, Sennheiser also had other “Orpheus” models on display, including the hugely popular HD800S headphones and matching HDVD800 amplifier. We were also delighted to hear from Sennheiser that we’ve sold more HD800S headphones than any other UK hi-fi retailer, so if you’re in the market for a pair, contact us first and they’re available to demo or ship now.
At this point of the show I was ready to sit down take 5 (no pun intended) and enjoy one of my favourite rooms so popping up to the ProAc room to was a treat. To me, this brand IS purist hi-fi Hi-Fi and I can’t stress enough that if you are looking to listen to vinyl – You need to consider this set up (or similar.) The Trichord Diablo matched with the Sugden A21SE was just a celebration of Vinyl. Finally having the D20R reproduce all that voltage was sheer aural pleasure. This is the reason why I got into Hi Fi and hearing a set up like this an absolute pleasure – indeed as we sell all of these components separately but havent had this specific system on demo instore, we’ll be looking at getting this onto demo soon.
My final stop was the Creek Room which was one of the most informative rooms at the show. Learning about the manufacturing process of their units has given me a whole new appreciation for an incredible range of equipment. The detail achieved by their CD player has got to be heard to believed.
To wrap it up, Bristol hi-fi show was even more impressive this year than last with a good range of exhibitors, from some of the biggest names in audio to some of the smaller manufacturers and each one reaffirmed my love for great sounding music and hi-fi.
Although the show isn’t the place to really review equipment it is a great place to get first impressions, say hello to each brand and get a teaser for what you can listen to properly in our showroom . I haven’t even really scratched the surface on other new products that were on demo, especially with some rooms having long waiting lists to sit down for a demo and I was only in Bristol for a day – for example, I would really have liked to listen to the new Arcam AVR860 but I know we’ll have one on demo soon with our JVC/Epson/Grandview/Oppo home cinema, so I’m looking forward to a good demo in store!
In addition to the main Bristol show itself, Tannoy had also set themselves up around the corner to relaunch their Legacy range as well as give us a sneak peek at what’s coming and I have to say from what I’ve seen and heard, there are big things coming from the brand that we are looking forward to.
We’re interested to hear what you thought of the show though – so leave us a comment or like our Facebook page to keep upto date and express your opinions on everything hi-fi. For now though, whether you managed to make it to the show or not, make sure you visit our showroom soon (3 Gibb St, B9 4BF) or head to our website www.audioaffair.co.uk where we will always endeavour to have new models available first, at the best possible prices.