Bristol was back after three years away and as usual, it was the frantic noisy fun that you seemingly never tire of. I did remember to head for the headphones when things got too noisy, like the SCV headphone room, for a break. It was lovely and silent in there with Earmen and Meze Audio on display! Save for the tapping feet!
Most of the usual brands were there this year, notably, for me, Naim was there with the new 200 Classic series, it looks more substantial than I expected but no less beautiful. It seemed physically larger than my own Classic stuff. I noted previously there is a power supply (NPX 300), streaming preamplifier (NSC 222) and a power amplifier (NAP 250) in the first releases, similar to my own XPS, 272 and NAP 250 that is still as good as it gets, it will be interesting to see if there is an upgrade in sound with this new collection. It is pricey mind, they are £5,700 each.
Other leading brands were there including Exposure, B&W, JBL, Fyne Audio, Sonus Faber, Acoustic Energy, Cyrus Audio with Spendor (& Auralic) and Dynaudio.
Bristol HiFi Show 2023 Highlights
There was some very interesting equipment and concepts on display, notably the debut of the new Rega NAIA turntable, which is a retail ‘affordable’ NAIAD which was Rega’s ultra high-end turntable.
My favourite room, physically, was the Dynaudio Room on the ground floor which was the coolest by far. It was also not too loud.
I was most impressed by three particular loudspeakers that I had never heard before.
Moor Amps launches the Ascalon 8 loudspeaker
Moor Amps, understated poise and power in electronic form, have launched a new loudspeaker, called Ascalon 8. Ascalon was the legendary Holy Sword forged by the Archangel Ariel to fight Darkness. The Ascalon 8 features Volt drivers, that are local to Moor Amps in Dartmoor, and a high-end Seas tweeter. With a birch ply, these speakers are weighing in at 30kg each!
Serhan Swift mu2 MkII loudspeaker
Leema Electronics usually display at Bristol on the top floor, well away from the interfering noise of other exhibitors. This year, however, they were on the 4th. Their electronics were being showcased by Main Audio Distribution brilliantly with a pair of incredibly good Australian Serhan Swift mu2 mkII loudspeakers. These loudspeakers are designed using the highest-order Scanspeak drivers that are often found in Wilson Audio products. These drivers are housed in a multi-layer cabinet construction for optimal performance.
The Serhan Swift mu2 mkII loudspeakers were startling, the detail was fantastic and the energetic presentation made me linger for ages, I spent the most time in there, apart from the super ‘Zen ‘Dynaudio room! That Haevn album (shown in the picture above) will be on my playlist too, this week.
Another very interesting room was the Kerr Acoustics room where Jes Kerr was showcasing his loudspeakers. Kerr is an Audio Engineer who has developed his own loudspeaker, unfortunately, I neglected to ask him what his speakers were called. I think they must be the K300 loudspeaker, I do know they retail at £5,000 a pair, and they were lovely.
I did enjoy a long chat with the excellent Philip Swift of Spendor who was on hand to discuss his speakers; the very good-looking A7 and the D7.2 were on hand driven by the Cyrus i9-XR with their new PSU-XR off-board power supply that was making its debut. Spendor and Cyrus had teamed up with Auralic who provided the source for this excellent room.
Finally, I was introduced to the wonderful Fraser Kennedy and Tony Cousins, the masters recording engineer, who gave me a copy of one of their Montreaux Years CDs that have been remastered in MQA. The CD I have, Etta James, The Montreaux Years, sounds stunning off my CD transport to the iFi Pro iDSD which handles it with ease.
It was great to have Bristol back.