A thoroughly excellent day at the UK Audio Show this weekend in Staverton, near Coventry.
The show at the Staverton Park Hotel was excellent and well laid out with an excellent park-and-ride arrangement to manage traffic. Where Bristol is always frenetic and way too noisy, this was a relaxed affair with many ‘smaller’ exhibitors taking centre stage in the absence of the likes of Naim, B&W, Rega and the other big boys.
Notwithstanding this, there were several very impressive rooms and some significant product launches from Acoustic Energy and, a friend of HF&MS, Moor Amps. There was also a new entrant into HiFi, with Ultrafide. You’ll find an interview with Mark Bailey of Ultrafide on our Show video on YouTube at around 11 minutes, here.
In my view, there were quite a few noisy rooms at the show. Since I rarely listen to music this loudly, I felt several of the rooms were slightly overcompensating their lack of confidence with some shouty presentations. Whilst I understand there were several conversations going on in the rooms, a little quieter time is always appreciated.
The best sounding room of the day for me was the Tannoy Room which were using Zeiler pre and power amplifiers (£30k ea.) with a Naim NDX2 streamer (I think; it was Naim anyway). Ralf Zeiler introduced himself and his wonderful tube-based amplifiers. He professed his love of Tannoy which was reflected in a stunning room, with Tannoy’s 10-inch driver Stirling loudspeakers. Aside from the familiar ‘aux de hi-fi show’ smell, the room was a real stand-out on the day.
Other really impressive rooms included Audio Note, of whom I was unfamiliar. It seems Audio Note produce just about everything from cartridge to loudspeaker and it was their second room with the AX Two standmounted loudspeakers that really stood out with their own CD as the source. Indeed the AX One was the bookshelf that caught my attention in another room. I was then introduced in another Audio Note room to the only belt-driven CD in the world by Micky, what a brilliant audio company.
As HF&MS were leaving the building after a long afternoon, we were diverted to the Emilen Audio room that featured a thirty thousand pounds Lumley Stratosphere MK3 Turntable with Emilen’s ES-1 ‘no-compromise’ loudspeakers. What a sound, indeed I ducked at that beginning bit of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Tin Pan Alley with the vinyl introduction going on a lot longer than the streamed version I’m used to!
Other notable mentions must go to the Goldenear room (which was thankfully a bit quieter volume-wise) and had a very understated presentation. Nonetheless, the BRX bookshelves had a huge presence supported by their matching subwoofer that was similarly tuned down; it was a very impressive room.
There were a few significant product launches, or debuts, at the Show, notably from Ultrafide, Acoustic Energy, Henley Audio and Moor Amps.
Born from the MC2 (MC squared) studio-based company, Ultrafide comes as a result of years of development in the studio and the demands of customers wanting studio-based audio technology in their homes. Ultrafide was born and their new pre and power amplifier is the result, boasting 250W/channel of Class A power amplification into 8 Ohms, Ultrafide are sure to create a stir. The preamplifier features XLR inputs as well as a switchable phono stage for both MM/MC cartridges.
There was a very impressive debut of the new Corinium loudspeakers by Acoustic Energy at the UK Audio Show. Driven by the new Naim 200 Series there was an excellent sound in the busy but well-presented room.
Henley Audio (Musical Fidelity)
Henley Audio was showing the new incarnation of the Musical Fidelity A1 amplifier. This design classical is all Class A under the bonnet and it even has an MM/MC phono stage built in. At fifteen hundred pounds this is going to pose a real problem for some amplifiers at this price point, but do not leave your chocolate digestives on the top, it is running hot.
Moor Amps is now offering their Escalon 8 loudspeakers, in just about any colour. The three-way design features drivers from local company Volt in Dorset. Volt supplies drivers to many companies including the likes of PMC and ProAc and new entrant Kerr Acoustic. The Moor Amps Escalon 8 features a SEAS tweeter in there as well.