A great festival of technology that showcased many great British Hifi Brands including modern favourites such as Naim, Cyrus, Michell and Tannoy, and also the big boys including Pioneer and Yamaha with Sony’s 84 inch 4k TV attracting huge amounts of interest, the 4k is the resolution, not the price tag, which is more like 25k!
I was able to wander with relative comfort around the slightly sprawling hotel layout that had demo rooms spread over several floors.  It was interesting how well sound proofed the bedrooms were compared to how they normally are when you want to sleep in them.
Highlights of the show for me included a great demo by a dude from  AudioVector who had pure passion for music, showing off the Roksan M2 series with their Si3 range (I think) to Metallica’s Sandman followed by Paul Hardcastle, it was crazy but sounded awesome.  Other highlights included the Isotek Canor room who had a new valve integrated amp and CD player that was very well presented and sounded at the top end of the listening scale to me.  Other highlights might have included McIntiosh’s new D100 digital preamp, except I couldn’t get in the room; I went back twice, it must have been good.
My show highlight however was listening to a man built of pure passion for music and just listening to it.  At these shows it is usually companies showing off their wares with loud music, PRs and eye candy but there was one outstanding product with its designer right at the front.  He was Peter Barlett putting his heart not on his sleeve but in his packed out demo room with the Cyrus 30th Anniversary system, presented with the Vienna Acoustics The Kiss loudspeakers.  At £17,000 a go (including stand and interconnects, excluding The Kiss!) and with only 30 available this was very high end  but the technology on show will surely trickle down to the hifi dealers in the coming years so we can expect good things from Cyrus in the coming few years.
There were no notable low lights, crowds in the various rooms are the fun part of these shows,  a few rooms did end up looking a bit like jumble sales towards the middle of the afternoon but hopefully they will know who they are and smarten up for next year, no names here.
Emergent themes from all I enquired with were that times are tough but manageable and exports seem to driving hifi growth with those who have the capability.  Other significant themes included the prevalence of new DACs and network streamers that are emerging as part of our life, as well as wireless speakers putting in a descent display. So, let’s hear it for modern British Rega then and their new RP8, and Michell Engineering with their beautiful Orbe SE presented with ProAcs D18s, we’ll all be listening to our Vinyl in the end!
Simon Wilce, @simonwilce, swilce.blogspot.co.uk
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