It was not without a little trepidation that I was attending this Hifi show…I had heard stories about UK shows, and not all good.
‘You’ll be the only woman there’ some said…. ‘They’ll look at you like you’re from another planet!!’ said others!
Hmmmm, I thought, do I want to go to a UK show? Despite being involved in Hifi Pig for the last couple of years I have only attended shows and audiophile events in France and Germany. Having looked at the UK hifi forums and found them to be places dominated by blokes, I was kind of wary about the shows there.
However, I needn’t have worried; Cranage Hall Audio Show was actually a lot different to what I was expecting.
So where to start? The venue itself was stunning. This was no grotty, identikit chain hotel with dingy rooms and chipped furniture. It was high class, beautifully laid out in gorgeous grounds and easily accessible from all over the UK. Unsurprisingly, it’s a popular wedding venue, tastefully furnished and finished with a sumptuous and elegant feel….things were looking up!
Food and facilities such as the bar were also excellent, with plenty of places to take a break during the day.
The hotel is also a conference venue with most of the show in the more modern part of the hotel. The rooms, even the small ones, were a good size and not stifling hot and it was a pleasure to wander room to room during the show.
What also should be noted about the hotel’s suitability for a hifi show was the excellent sound isolation in the rooms, none of the noise wars between rooms that I have sometimes experienced at other shows, all in all a perfect show venue.
As for the people attending, it was great to see a mixture of people there. Groups from young couples to whole families had come out, perhaps prompted by Fathers’ Day, but great to see a younger generation enjoying the show, hopefully a few were hooked and will attend more shows.
We met up with my brother’s young family and in particular it was great to put my youngest niece in the sweet spot of a few rooms in her push chair and just watch her reaction to the music, she was jigging around and loving it and we could actually see her looking around for the instruments as she picked them out in the soundstage…a priceless reaction to music played on great hifi.
There also seemed to be a lot of hotel guests that decided to take advantage of the free entry to the show…I think the fact that it was free was much more inclusive, rather than just diehard audiophiles visiting on their own it was much more family orientated bringing in people from near and far just to see and hear what it was all about.
It being a Sunday show also lent an air of chilled enjoyment to the show, no racing about with things to do, just a relaxing day listening to music and meeting people.
The Hifi Pig Teen Correspondent was also in his element and actually bought his first vinyl….Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (nice choice, son). He even got to give it a spin in one of the rooms (cheers Kris! (Kris is pictured above right)) and is now scouting around for his first turntable after Mr Hifi Pig pointed out that he didn’t actually have his own!
Indeed Diverse Vinyl’s stall was very popular and packed with people flicking through and buying discs every time I passed.
I have to say, I did not hear a bad sounding room at the show….that has got to be an achievement! Everyone had worked extremely hard to get the sound right and everything really seemed to click into place nicely.
Coming as it does a month after High End Munich, it was well timed to revisit Munich regulars such as Brodmann and Soundkaos, but also to meet UK based dealers and distributers and hear their chosen systems.
Like I said I didn’t hear a bad room. A great variety of music was played and the rooms that were particularly engaging were those that gave visitors a choice of what they wanted to listen to…a sure sign of confidence in a systems performance.
Notably for me, I really liked the HiFi Network room featuring Elac active floorstanders with Electrocompaniet, they were doing some clever streaming stuff and playing London Grammar … a very engaging room that sounded great and was a simple almost plug and play system that I could easily live with.
G Point Audio’s room was another great one, I do have a soft spot for the hORNS loudspeakers…a hell of a lot of speaker for your money (we have the Mummy at home) and the system was sounding top notch with Lampizator and Van de Leur electronics…something a bit different from the norm.
Purité North had definitely picked the most beautiful room, just off the main reception this was in the old part of the building complete with chandeliers and oil paintings. They were worried about their smaller Acoustic Energy speakers coping with the high ceilinged room but it sounded excellent when we were in there. I think the opulent surroundings really brought home the fact that hifi is now a lifestyle purchase; it has to look great as well as sound great and is not something that non traditional audiophiles need to be scared of.
So, I went to a UK Hifi show….and it was really, really great.
The Audio Show at Cranage Hall has really set the benchmark for other UK shows.
Great location, top notch systems, super friendly people and accessible to a wide audience….if this is the future of UK Hifi shows then I for one am really impressed, expecting excellent things from the show in June 2015.
Hope to see you all there!
From my perspective there’s not really a great deal to add to what Linette has already written. Kris did a fabulous job of getting the show off the ground and credit must surely go to all the exhibitors who put a great deal of effort in to ensure there were interesting things to listen to.
Everyone I spoke to who attended Cranage Hall Audio Show said how much they had enjoyed the day and that they would definitely be back next year. It was also good to see a good number of families and younger people at Cranage Hall.
What is particularly pleasing for me is to see a hi-fi show that is outside the South of England and, despite there being some naysayers on social media (isn’t there always), I believe that there is life beyond Watford Gap and that the Cranage Hall Audio Show is not only viable but will thrive and grow in the coming years.
What is also pleasing is that the show is FREE to visitors and I sincerely hope that it stays this way in coming years!
I know plans are in place for next years show already and that Hifi Pig will once again be exclusive media partners for the event…and personally I can’t wait! As soon as the date is confirmed (it will definitely be in June) we will of course let you know.
We decided that instead of putting together the traditional kind of show report where we critique each of the rooms we’d put together a series of photographs taken in each of the exhibitors’ rooms along with the kit they were using.
AT3500 CD player, Concord DAC, AT 2000 amplifier, their own brand cables throughout and Tannoy standmounters.
Full Audio Note system with DAC 4 balanced, CDT One balanced, M2 Line Preamplifier, Conquerer Power amps and Type E loudspeakers.
Brian and Trevors
brianandtrevors presented their House of Linn system:
Klimax Exakt DSM and Linn LP12 with Linn Aktiv Akubarik Exakt loudspeakers. All powered by PS Audio power regeneration products.
Magnepan Magneplanar MG1.7 loudspeakers with Exposure MCX electronics and Music Works racks.
Funk Firm Turntable, Naim NDS, Harbeth Super HL5 Super speakers, Sonneteer amps, Renaissance Rap 02 pre amps and RA02 monoblocs. Also in the room were Brodmann loudspeakers
A wide range of Van den Hul products on display as well as Tsakiridis valve elctronics.
G Point Audio
Lampizator Level 7 DAC, Van de Leur Preamplifier, Tektron Italia TK reference monoblocs and hORNS FP15 speakers. Cables were by Albedo and KBL.
The whole range of Graham Slee headphone amps, DACS and phonostages were on display but the main system used the Reflex M phonostage, Majestic DAC and Proprius Monoblocs. Cables were Graham Slee Lautus interconnects and Spatia loudspeaker cables. Loudspeakers on the day were the Sterling LS35as.
Roksan M2 amplifier, Pro-Ject 6 perspex turntable, Pro-Ject CD Box DS, Pro-Ject Phono Box RS and Acoustic Energy AE Reference 1 loudspeakers.
Hi Fi Network
Electrocompaniet ECM2 streamer, ELAC FS407 active loudspeakers and In-akustik cables.
High End Cable
Raidho X-1 speakers, Bel Canto CD2 Player, Norma Audio IPA 140 integrated amp, Atacama Equinox rack, Audience Conductor and Power ‘e’ cables, Audience aR4 power conditioner,
Cable Lift and Panda Feet supports, Nordost Sort Kones and QRT Qv2 and Qk1 AC Mains enhancers from Nordost.
Audio Music RT2 Silver pre, 835 Silver monoblocs, Horning Aristoteles loudspeakers, PS Audio Perfectwave DSD DAC and transport.Wow Audio Lab L1 and M1 pre and power amps were also used.
Clear Audio turntable, Longdog valve phonostage, Canor amplifiers, Isotek mains conditioners, Longdog Audio DAC, Music First Audio pre, MCRU Loudspeakers. Also showing a wide range of cables and accessories plus new and secondhand vinyl.
Music First and Howes Acoustics
AMR CD Player and Voxativ power supplies for the field coil drivers in the floor horns. Amps were a pair of modded Quad IIs or Sun Audio SUT25 (1.5W/channel) with a Music First Baby reference preamplifier. Track Audio spikes and a Nagra T reel to reel tape deck were also used.
NuNu Distribution TAD
A full TAD system including DA1000 DAC with a C2000 preamplifier, M2500 power amplifier powering CR-1 loudspeakers with a bespoke music server and mains conditioning and cabling Tony at NuNu and all complemented by the Creativ’s reference audio racks. Also in this room were the Scherer loudspeakers and Track Audio speaker stands and “spikes”.
NuNu Distribution 2
Brodmann Acoustics JB 155’s with Belles amplification including the new VT-01 V2 and the TAD D600 player. All on an Audiophile Base support system, with isolation platforms.
NuNu Distribution 3
Sonneteer Orton Mk IV amplifier along with some of Quadral’s Platinum and Chromium range speakers. Rack by Creaktiv. There was also a Oracle Paris turntable being used.
STST Motus II direct drive turntable with Vertex 10” tonearm, Aurorasound Vida LCR stage, Aurorasound’s Preda line stage, Tune Audio Prime loudspeakers, puresound M845 mono amplifiers and puresound A8500 CD player.
Pro-Ject Experience turntable, Ortofon cartridge, Hush Platforms, Puresound L500 pre, Puresound M845 monoblocs, AE Reference Series loudspeakers Supra and Van Damme cables accessories. Also M2Tech, Superspikes, Box-Design by Pro-Ject and Acoustifeet.
Full range of plinths and sound isolation platforms.
Sonido Aion single driver speakers, Abyssound ASX 1000 amp and PAB support platforms.
Wave 40 loudspeakers and their new D12 The Subwave subwoofer. Pictured is Martin Gately the CEO of SoundKaos.
Systemdek/Art Loudspeakers/Viero cables
Systemdek Precision turntable with a 12” Audio Origami and Funk FXR tone arm, McIntosh MA8000 amplifier, McIntosh MCD 550 CD player, Art Alnico 8 loudspeakers and Viero cables from Italy. Isol 8 Integra substation along with Audio Suspension tables.
Some general shots of the Cranage Hall Audio Show towards the end of the day. There will be more photographs and coverage of Cranage Hall Audio Show 2014 in the Free Hifi Pig Magazine which will be published on July 2nd.