So, continuing on around the National Audio Show at Whittlebury Hall, this gold-plated “Garrard 301” turntable made by The Classic Turntable Company managed to catch my eye with no problems at all in the Kralk Audio room! It looked stunning in it’s beautiful wooden plinth. Shame they hadn’t got one of the gold SME arms to go with it!
Once again Bristol UK dealer The Right Note had a fine sounding system. The Kaiser Acoustics Chiara standmount speakers from Germany are distinctive looking to say the least. Fed by VTL electronics the sound was excellent.
I’d seen many photos of the transparently cabineted Waterfall loudspeakers, but had never heard them. I have to confess that I had assumed it was just a gimmick and the speakers were not really to be taken seriously. Wrong! A very dynamic sound was to be had, bold and purposeful in Xclusive Audio Visual’s room. Nice! I hope a review pair will be winging its way to my humble abode in the not too distant future.
One of the favourite rooms at this year’s show was put together by Mike Valentine Studios / ZenSati. A totally gorgeous Studer open real tape deck was doing the honours feeding Focal speakers. Very open, fast and present, I have to admit that I am in a minority who found it rather more hifi than musical. I rarely get on with Focal speakers! Others love them, of course. I rapidly left the room, but the 2 guys I was touring the show with stayed much longer to enjoy the presentation. We’re all different.
Music First Audio were making very fine music with their passive pre-amps. Quite a humble system with, yet again, an open reel tape deck feeding a Quad 306 power amp into small AudioNote standmount speakers was simply very musically enjoyable. One of the best sounds at the show, I reckon.
In the Sound Fowndations room, a £40,000 Clearaudio turntable was making superb sounds into £2,500 Magnaplanar 1.7 ribbon speakers. Despite the seemingly ludicrous price mis-match, the system worked very well, those Maggies are able to punch well above their price point. Very transparent and detailed with genuinely 3D imaging. Yummy!
Once again AudioNote provided a haven of un-hyped music making …. they reliably produce one of the most naturally relaxing and purely enjoyable sounds.
Zingali seemed to be struggling a bit with one of the acoustically worst rooms at the show. I recall a different exhibitor last year having similar problems in that room. The exhibitor had given up entirely with the larger of the speakers they had brought, but with some judicious shuffling to locate the sweetest spot, the smaller Zingalis were really very enjoyable.
Nick Gorham’s Longdog Audio (LDA) were highlighting the new valved VDt1 DAC. Excellent sound was to be heard through this high end system with Sonus Faber speakers. I hope to be reviewing the DAC in the very near future.
And last, but certainly not least, I thought I’d end my report presenting a small selection of the goodies on display at this year’s National Audio Show with some fab looking turntables presented by Henley Designs. What’s not to like, eh! …..
So once again, Chester group have put on a very fine hifi show with excellent sound being the rule rather than the exception, and with great sounds available at a very wide range of prices. Many thanks are due to the organisers and the exhibitors!