As far as the UK Audio Visuals shows go Bristol is the biggest – some might say it lacks some of the glamour of CES, perhaps the super high end esotericism of Munich however what Bristol does well it does really well, connects us UK based audio and videophiles with a whole plethora of new and existing kit to take us ever closer to the holy grail of reproduction, welcome to Audio Affair Bristol Show Report 2019.
I managed to get there early on Sunday morning, avoiding the queues and bustle of the previous days, Saturday I am told was one of the busiest days in memory, this will be my first visit in three years so I am keen to catch up with familiar faces and get a listen to some of the new exciting kit I have been hearing about, the new Focal Stellia/Arche combo and the Audiolab 6000N to name just two on my list!
Firstly and as is always the way we have Chord Cables on the entry level, they are literally the first of everyone – an much coveted spot I imagine – always a pleasure to chat to the guys there and see the constant innovation they strive for! As you move around the show you see Chord cables attached to many system in various applications.
My second visit was to the folks over at Henley Audio, they’re pretty close to our main Birmingham store so we see them quite often – they were showing a cracking portfolio of products this year, Klipsch Loudspeakers and headphones – horn driven goodness from the USA. Pro-Ject turntables and Musical Fidelity.
While Pro-Ject do offer a vertical TT the “VTE” this were just for show!
New pro-ject decks:
When released the X1 will replace the Xpression, the X2 the Xperience SBDC and the Classic Evo the Classic.
Klipsch headamp and phones, also an display and on upstairs demo the Klipsch Loudspeaker range.
We have recently got a pair of the orange grilled wonder the JBL L100 for our store, it was nice to the see these guys had their own mini living room set up with Arcam electronics and Atlas cables also new is the 4306 and 4312G very much monitor inspired retro goodness!
The L100 reissue, on permanent demo in our Birmingham store if you want to grab a listen.
4306 horn-loaded passive bookshelf.
4321G Control Monitor – here the Who how the Who heard the Who!
Next and something very exciting as I have never seen these guys at Bristol in prior years – Linn, we have been selling Linn products for some years now and the LP12 is one of our personal favourites, super pleased to see if given its rightful place up there with the likes of Michell, SME and Avid (Even if I cannot enter the prize draw :(). Linn were also showing the new Selekt there integrated powerhouse with modular options to suit all needs and tastes.
Open top Selekt DSM.
We would have liked to enter : )
Those of you who have been to Bristol may also recall that furniture and racks and feature down one corridor, including HiFi Racks, Atacama and SolidSteel
The build on this SolidSteel is super high-end, pictures could not do it justice!
Brand new from Atacama are their range of mains cables and so to follow interconnect and speaker cables.
Moving on to the first floor from here take us past the always enviable Wilson Benesch – their room always sounds top notch (pic below), then through past the magazine stands, MCRU and Townshend who’s level of technical understanding always blows my mind – trust me if there is any seismic incidents under your speakers this will prevent it affecting the performance, they had an isolated KEF blade which when I saw someone rocking I get out the way quick!
Through the bar and onto the mezzanine overlooking the trade entrance we have Ruark who always have this spot – this year showing the R5 an R4 for the streaming generation you could say, sounding fantastic and the finishes are the most on point of those I have seen, especially the grey.
Ruark’s finishes are the most on point of any of their competitors (IOHO!)
In the opposing corner Naim Audio and SCV, it was here I got have a proper sit down and play with the new Focal Stellia and Arche, there were other headphones in this room but this is what I had come for, managed to get good ten minutes with these and no interruptions (difficult @ a show!) and they did not disappoint. Excellent soundstage with passive noise cancelling properties seamlessly got rid of any distractions around me and I could enjoy their performance. While the MAC book was reasonable and correct for the show it would have been nice (and I will do when are B’ham store demo units arrive!) get a proper source like the Naim NDX2 into these but aside form that no complaints
Focal Stellia and Arche pairing
Clear, effective and simple display.
Close-up of the new Stellia from Focal
Naim electronics with Focal Loudspeakers
It is important to mention at this point the previous items mentioned were all down stairs in the halls and corridors and the first floor , wide open spaces where it is great to show kit and interact with people but difficult (due to lack of walls!) to offer demonstrations, there is a basement level but as I went there last (Saved best to last, we will come to that at the end.) This is why most manufacturers or distributors will also have room in the upstairs of the hotel dedicated for this, what follows below is a selection of the various rooms we visited and our comments.
Cyrus showcasing their new QXR deck in to Dali Rubicon 6 loudspeakers.
Cyrus’s new QXR DAC offering 24bit 192 decoding over USB.ATC SCM 40 loudspeaker with there new integrated and and CD player, giving the 40’s adequate power makes them sing soulfully – this pairing is one to watch – if you have a pair of 40’s and looking for an amplifier this make perfect sense.
While Linn were offering booked demo shots I managed to be cheeky and jump the queue for a picture and quick listen, nice to see Linn at the Bristol show – personally would have love have seen an LP12 in this room also!
The Chord demo room made for some interesting lighting!
They were showing their new development in cable design “XLPE” testament to Chord’s ever evolving strive to improve performance.
The price defying Oberon’s, they created quite a stir! ProAc’S new D2R ribbon version of the D2 and totally redesigned.
Close up of new the D2R, ProAc’s first ribbon stand mount loudspeaker.
We were blown away by the Creek room, looks simple but sounding AMAZING!
The all new Voyage i20.
Primare and Harbeth – not pairing I have heard before but well worth some further investigation.
Had to check out the IsoAcoustics room – they are redefining audiophile isolation but including those on a more controlled budget . Their products start at excellent value for money.
The all new reference AE500’s from Acoustic Energy.
Keep seeing vintage inspired and reissue speakers, JBL, LS35A, Klipsch heritage – here we have the Falcon BBC monitor.
Klipsch, Musical Fidelity and Pro-Ject and unusual pair some might say however worked for us!
Having already heard the new 8000 I knew what to expect – personally would have preferred a floor sander but still an appealing room.
One of the last “bedrooms” rooms I went in due to the fact the first time I tried there was queue outside and I had to go back! Big thing happening with Elac, watch this space.
The final of our Audio Affair Bristol Show Report 2019 comes from the basement area of the show, comprising of some of the big boys in the industry, Naim, B&W and KEF to name (naim?) three…..
KEF were showcasing the beautiful new LSX which for it size is stunning and the R11 which sounded sublime even from through the door!
Someone ensuring the LSX is up to standard!
Gloss black may just be one of the most difficult finishes to photograph!
The linegae of LS50 from the LS3/5A to Passive and then finally active!
The all new and not yet released Elysian from Wharfedale
Ample space to sit down and have a listen!
The new 6000N was high on my list to hear, please to say this Wharfedale/Audiolab pairing not only represented excellent value for money it also did the job sonically.
The triumphant B&W, big room, small speakers but filled it no fear!
And finally my most favourite room – Creek without question – well done to the team over @ Creek, I also spotted this new finish from ProAc which blew my mind and budget!
I do not recall seeing a speaking with as beautiful cabinet as this!
Thank you all for reading, I hope this inspires you to visit the Bristol Hi-Fi show in 2020!