I attended only my second ever Hifi show today at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel, which is just a few hundred yards from Junction 12 off the M53 at Chester. This event, held over two days was hosted and organised by Geoff from Acoustica, a Hifi shop in Chester I visited recently for a speaker demonstration.
This show is a smaller intimate one with about 20 rooms, supported by Acoustica’s Naim amplification and accompanied by Chord cables in most rooms, which limits your choices in some respect but it also shows you how each of the other manufacturer’s equipment sounds on an even keel, a little like a blind listening test. This allows you to concentrate on one item in the Hifi chain, a possible nightmare for the manufacturers as some flexibility is taken away, although I’m not 100% how much the manufacturers have a say in what they can use.
In the larger rooms were some of the big guns in the Hifi speaker game. Bowers and Wilkins 800 series, Focal Sopra and Kudos Titan 808s sang out their wares. The latter showing how big bass should be produced and held in check. Surprising to me is that all these were running from a Tablet or Laptop. Maybe that is down to ease of use of the Naim Unity streamers and the ease of not having to set up Turntables etc. It also portrays how popular streaming music has become. On the downside to all the streaming, is the inability to play your own CD’s, thus removing the ability to listen and judge the sound on the recordings you know personally.
The mid-sized and priced speakers where covered by Dynaudio Emit M20, Spendor (the D7 which I heard) and Russell K, who made my day by letting me subject the attendees to his listening room to my little bag of CD’s brought from home. Russell Kauffman was demonstrating his new 150 floorstanding speakers, and also rigged up the Red 100 standmount speaker as quite a few were eager for a demonstration.
Other rooms had the Focal Sopra No.1, Dynaudio Focus 200XD and the Opera Callas where supported by a Roksan Xerxes Turntable and Unison Research amplification.
For the home cinema enthusiasts Arcam and B&W had a small room set up to show how the new ATMOS encoded films sounded. The electronic jiggery pokery making me turn around several times as the carefully set up system had the sound of birds, water and rain coming at me at all angles! REL had a room demonstrating their subwoofer prowess too.
Stax where showing three of their electrostatic headphones from the bottom of the range to the top of the range, fuelled by their valve headphone amplifier. What I enjoyed about this demonstration was that all the headphones where running from the same source, so you could evaluate each pair with the same piece of music or one of your own choice if you so wished.
During the show, while listening in the Spendor room to a pair of D7’s (among others) attended by Phillip Swift, it transpired that Mr Swift was an early pioneer for Audiolab. This was an early Holy Grail in hifi for me, and we spoke at some length, not only about the ideas and ethics of Spendor, but also my old hero Audiolab.
One of the great things about this smaller show was that all those I spoke to took the time to chat, and explain their equipment. Definitely no pushy, hard sell, just passionate about what they do. This included a great demonstration by Chord, taking their time to have a long experiment to show how their ARAY technology affects their products, using their own “old” cables and showing the public the audible benefits the new tech has brought to the sound of their cables.
Overall I really enjoyed this show put on by Acoustica, I thought I would only spend a couple of hours, this turned into at least six! I recommend trying out these smaller shows and I will be definitely attending more.
Big shout out to Simon Hill (Audiophiles UK. Hi-fi and Music) for the use of his Photographs taken at the show. Thanks.