This year’s Bristol Show was fantastic.  Apart from having an injured husband (back attacked by a very heavy valve amplifier) it was absolutely brilliant.  There was a real buzz about the show, with, it seemed, a younger audience and lots of couples….and generally very busy Friday and Saturday.  I only popped in on Sunday when it was a little quieter but that was quite early on. Although it does come over as a very ‘Hifi Industry’ Show there were loads of public in attendance, queuing round the block to get in.

The standard of rooms was very high and it was interesting to see some brands that had occupied the same room for years were trying a different position. We will be bringing you more coverage of the show, but, as usual, I like to pick out just a few of the rooms that particularly stood out and give you my Bird’s Eye View of the show.

After attending quite a few Hifi Shows, we have come to the conclusion that the ‘top down’ way of covering them is best.  Start on the top floor of the show and work your way down…most of the public will start at the bottom and it will be really, really crowded. So we took the, mercifully working, lift up in the Bristol Marriott Hotel to begin.  With the injured Mr Hifi Pig in tow, the first room that caught my eyes and ears were a brand I had never encountered before… Von Gaylord Audio. This Californian company had some very elegant looking and sounding gear, their own valve amps and speakers, in fact the whole system was their own brand.  They said that they had been going in the USA for 25 years but this was their first time in the UK. They are also the people to invent the worlds first liquid cooled valve amp.  Rather nice!

Lively young loudspeaker brand Ophidian were next door. They had a packed room with quite a lot of disbelief going on that their teeny, tiny Minimo speakers could create such a room filling sound. This young team deserve to do really well.

Also on floor four, both of the Henley Audio rooms were impressive. The first featured a pretty high end system (around £20k) With the new Klipsch  Forte III loudspeakers, Pro-Ject 6 Perspex turntable and Lehmannaudio phono stage with a Unison Research amp.  Lovely looking and sounding equipment.

Next door they had an (unbelievably) £1200 system featuring the new Pro-ject Debut III S Audiophile turntable and Jamo S805 speakers. A great example of a budget system that really delivered.

The Karma AV music room on the third floor was also a stunner, featuring new Primare electronics from the Prisma range and a pair of JBL monitors.  The sound was very precise and energetic and thoroughly enjoyable…nice looking too.

The third floor also treated us to some very lovely Italian Hifi from Gold Note, we are very familiar with the brand but this was their UK show debut.  Tommasso from Gold Note was really impressed with the reaction that they were getting from the British crowd…they were playing rock music which was toe-tappingly good when we were in there using one of their Mediterraneo turntables.

Astin Trew and Air Audio always have a lovely room featuring Reel to Reel tapes and the new Astin Trew AT2-1100/AT2-5100 pre and power amplifiers.  This year we ran into friend of Hifi Pig singer Lyn Stanley, who was charming the visitors to the room.

Fyne Audio is an interesting new brand from Scotland.  The team behind these loudspeakers are all previously from Tannoy and have their design and manufacturing base in Scotland. They were showcasing their high end F1-10 loudspeaker as well as their more budget F300 and F500 ranges.

Down onto the second floor which had a smorgasbord of rooms. By this point on the Saturday the show was getting seriously rammed making it tricky to get into some of the rooms.  Harbeth Audio was particularly popular.

The British brand were carrying on their 2017 40th Anniversary celebrations with the small but powerful P3ESR in Olive veneer in one room and their larger SHL5plus in walnut in the other.  Unusually they were playing the famous ‘Marvin the robot’ scene from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy just in audio, to demonstrate the versatility of the speakers and their ability to cope with the human voice…genius and very entertaining.

At the other end of floor two Kog Audio had new MK2 Melco N1, T+A Electronics and Tellurium Q Interconnects, speaker cable and power cords.

These were paired with Russell-K Red 150 loudspeakers to excellent effect, it was a great sounding room.

Another favourite was to be found next door in Kudos…I find myself liking their speakers every time that I hear them and, every time I passed their room, they seemed to be playing music that was a bit different and pumping out electronic tunes. They were using a prototype of their new Titan 505 standmount loudspeakers with an all in one Naim Unity Nova in a simple, well lit room.  It was great sounding and fun.

Also a cracking sound was the Exposure room.  They were featuring their new XM HP Headphone amp but my favourite was the main system where they had paired their electronics with concrete Audio Vector floorstanders.

The Sound Fowndations more affordable high end room was very nice indeed.  As usual Chris was playing an eclectic mix of music.  He was using the (more pocket friendly than most Clearaudio turntables) Concept Black edition and lovely Larsen speakers which are nice and compact.

Next door the Auden distribution room got extra brownie points for having a very stylish room in red, white and black, that matched my outfit for the day.  It also sounded very nice indeed with small Amphion desktop speakers driven by Hegel and using Audiomica labs cables and MusicWorks power and isolation products.

ATC had a great little room on the first floor. This was their first Bristol Show and they brought their SCM40A Active floorstanders, paired with the new CDA2 Mk2 CD/pre/DAC to show how simple a system can be…and the way a lot of Hifi is going now. The passive SCM 11 standmounts were playing when I was in the room and doing a great job.

Spendor and Auralic in partnership are a particular favourite of ours and they did not disappoint this year. The first room was stylish and chilled with the Auralic G2 series and Spendor D9s.

The second featured the Polaris streaming amp with the new Spendor A7 floorstanders. It was obvious that a lot of care had gone into the set up of the room and the sound was detailed and enjoyable.

Quadraspire, who make racks, showed no racks…but instead their very new QPLUS range of equipment supports, which they say are perfect for people who don’t want a specialist rack but want to use their own normal furniture.  We, and a room full of sceptical show-goers, got a dem from Quadraspire’s Al, which showed the difference they do make.

Neat Acoustics were demonstrating their new and distinctive Iota Xplorer which retails at £3495.  Though small they filled the room and sounded excellent. Neat have also brought more colour to their speakers with a new range of grills that give a cool retro look and feel to them.

Dali had a very funky and young feeling room on the first floor.  They were showing their new Dali Callisto active loudspeakers. The speakers connect wirelessly to the Dali sound hub….making for a great sounding and simple modern system.

Wilson Benesch were featuring a high end set up in the 1st Floor conservatory including their own £35,500 Resolution carbon fibre floorstanders and Circle turntable along with CH Precision electronics, Clearer Audio cables, Melco and DS Audio Optical cartridge. It is a really big room, sounded exceptionally good when I was in there and had a constant stream of visitors.

Townshend Audio were showing their Allegri+ Passive pre amp that we reviewed here plus their new Fractal Interconnect cables.

They have also now started making their Loudspeaker Isolation Platforms to custom fit well known speakers, such as the KEF Blades that were on the stand.

So there it is, my Bird’s Eye View of Bristol Sound And Vision 2018…there is still loads of coverage to come, if you haven’t seen your favourite room yet, you will soon!

Check Out Further Coverage Here

Linette Smith

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