Bath Audiofest was launched just four years ago and in that time has grown to become one of the highlights of the high-end audio industry’s calendar. The show is staged annually in October and is organized by high-end audio specialist Cool Gales, as an opportunity for customers to meet the select group of manufacturers they represents.
Below we see a quite rightly proud Ivan Kursar the owner of Cool Gales who organised the Bath Audiofest.
Bath Audiofest is held across two venues just 100 metres apart and plays host to around 20 manufacturers. The demonstration rooms are bright and airy with excellent acoustics which is a welcome change from the usual. Tea and very decent coffee together with a selection of cakes, pastries and sandwiches are provided to hungry audiophiles satisfied, so they can lavish their attention to the audio fare on offer.
The first of the two venues is The Bath & County Club and this had four rooms:
First up was The York Room that played host to Peter Dawson of Ambergreen Records and Paul Morris of Hannl, who gave people the opportunity to choose from a wide selection of vinyl, and then get them cleaned on the Hannl record cleaning machines – a great idea of matching sensible companies together in one room.
In the Dining Room, Leema Acoustics’ founders Lee Taylor and Mallory Nicholls showed off their Libra digital-to-analogue converter. The Libra, launched in early 2013, has recently been upgraded to include native DSD playback up to DSD 128, as well as PCM playback up to 24/384. Also in the Leema room was a Brinkmann turntable fitted with Triplanar arm and Soundsmith cartridge feeding a Leema Elements Ultra Phonostage.
Next up The Norfolk Room which put on one of the best sounds of the show, Ulla Scheu and Thomas Mayer were on hand to demonstrate their impressive ranges including two Scheu turntables which were on static display with a third turntable, the Cello Classic Line Timbre, positioned on a Tabula Rasa Basis 600 stand playing into an amplifier system which showcased Thomas Mayer’s e valve amps. The new Octal Phono and Octal Line preamplifiers were feeding the 6CB5A SE amplifier.
The largest room in the Bath & County Club, the Lounge, played host to a truly impressive system fronted by the Clearaudio Master Innovation turntable, with Universal 12” tonearm and daVinci v2 MC cartridge. Amplification was by Californian brand Aesthetix, the two-box 24-valve Io Eclipse phonostage extracting an incredible amount of detail in the most musical manner imaginable and feeding the new Atlas Signature stereo amplifier. Digital playback was courtesy of the Aesthetix Romulus CD player and the loudspeakers were Sonus Faber’s Amati Futura which sounded as good as they looked! The ancillaries in this system were also particularly worthy of note.
Also in this room was a beautiful piece of Tabula Rasa hi-fi furniture: the Lowboard 06. In total, three of the rooms at the show used Tabula Rasa supports and this room showed why… Nice!
I ventured over to the second venue, the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution which was just 100 metres away and facing onto a beautiful green square, this venue contained another four large demonstration rooms.
In the Duncan Room, Audio Reference’s Martin Brewster demonstrated a GamuT system, including the M250i mono power amplifiers and their RS3 stand mounters. Turntable in use here was an Amazon Audio’s Amazon 1, fitted with the Mørch DP-8 tonearm and Transfiguration Proteus cartridge. Phonostage was Amazon’s Audio’s B-Lab.
Two more rooms, the Murch and Lonsdale rooms both used the unusual Eclipse TD loudspeakers – a Japanese single drive stand mount speaker which looks highly futuristic and I found it almost impossible not to get entirely drawn into the music emanating from these speakers.
In one room, Eclipse’s Hideto Watanabe and Paul Burnip were demonstrating an Esoteric all-in-one system. The second Eclipse-based room featured Computer Audio Design’s (CAD) 1543 digital-to-analogue converter, GamuT amps and The Chord Company’s Sarum Tuned Array cables.
The final room, The Elwin Room was a very large space shared by Chord Electronics, German Physiks and Alan Sircom, Editor of Hi-Fi+ magazine, who gave a very informative, understandable and interesting talk on room acoustics and how to make the best of them. Chord kit was Blu CD transport, DSX 1000 streamer, CPA 5000 pre amplifier and the SPM 1200 Mk2 amplifier whilst German Physiks displayed their Unlimited MkII which we reviewed earlier in the year.
By this time, I was about ready to head to a nearby bar for some liquid refreshment and to reflect on the day.
The first thing that struck me was what an analogue-friendly operation the show’s organizer, Cool Gales, is. More than half of the systems featured used vinyl sources. Add to that a vinyl LP store and a record cleaning service, and this really was analogue heaven!
So, all in all a great day out. Bath is a wonderfully cultured and extremely beautiful city with many showgoers staying for the whole weekend and the show itself was entirely charming and incredibly enjoyable with entry being just £3, including free refreshments, and all proceeds in aid of The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund charity.