In the third of Stuart’s reports from this year’s National Audio Show in Whittlebury he visits Kerr and Smith, Music First Audio, Woof Audio, Graham Audio, Audio Note, Hifi Hangar and The Right Note and Vertex AQ
Kerr and Smith
These are a new brand run by two young chaps recently graduated from university. My first thought was that the appearance of the speakers was familiar. Nice sound, if a bit much for the small and packed room. They were using interesting kit too including a Pink Triangle turntable, and a humungous Mark Levinson amplifier.
Music First Audio
Jonathan Billington of Music First Audio had both a room and a static stand at National Audio Show. In the room he was using an Audio Note turntable and his Classic QSE amplifier output to a Quad 405 on top of which the preamplifier is designed to sit perfectly. Regular readers will know I’m a bit of a fan of Music First Audio’s Baby reference preamp. Speakers in the room were a pair of Graham LS5/9s.
Woof are a new name to me but had some very interesting gear in their room. Particularly interesting were the Rethm Maarga loudspeakers. These have a full range driver and are Indian made, using a 6” paper cone driver with a whizzer that back loads into a horn labyrinth some 6’8” long. They’re 97dB sensitive and have a sealed isobaric chamber that is 14.75 litres in volumes with a 6.5” driver. Amplification is provided by an onboard monobloc for each enclosure. They retail at £7095.
Driving the speakers were Glen Croft pre and power amplifiers and a Pear Audio turntable designed by Tom Fletcher and made in Slovenia. The valve amps you see are TriodeLab.
The little ls3/5s were playing in the room when we went in and they sounded really nice and tight in this space. Also on show were the LS5/8s, the LS5/9s and the 3XD system. All the speakers follow BBC designs and are hand-built in the UK
I have to confess that given the price of Audio Note gear I’m often left underwhelmed at shows and so it was a pleasant surprise to really enjoy this room at National Audio Show. The music was natural and fluid. The system was all Audio Note UK with Transport and then DAC feeding into the 18w a channel Tomei amplifier which in turn powered the Type E speakers.
Due to time constraints on the Saturday we just didn’t get to see the final two rooms but early on the Sunday Hifi Hangar’s room was our first port of call and what a great room this was. The Eminent Technology LFT 8b speakers are really wonderful. They’re ribbon speakers with conventional bass, stand pretty high and driven by a pair of Astah 500 Class D poweramps sounded massively open with a bass that was perfect for the size of room they were in. The speakers are £2800 and the amps are £1500 which seems very good value!
The guys from Hifi Hangar also went to a good deal of trouble to create a space that was very much like a living room space with plants and funky lighting. We’ll have more news about Hifi Hangar in our next instalment from the National Audio Show.
The Right Note and Vertex AQ
The final room proper from this year’s National Audio Show made a great first impression as they were playing Shpongle. System was a CEC CD palyer, Vertex AQ Aletheia DA, VTL TL 6.5 preamplifier, Vertex AQ Aletheia AP60 amplifier which was a new product and the Vertex Aletheia FRS8 loudspeakers.
This is the smallest in the range of their speakers and again new to the UK. It uses the well loved Audio Nirvana alnico drivers in a sealed box and has lots of Vertex AQ tweakery going on inside.