Stuart Smith takes int he sights and sounds of this year’s North West Audio Show …part 1 

The North West Audio Show is a hike for us and the round journey, not including ferries, was an exhausting 1002 miles, but it’s a show that we love to attend and are very proud to be exclusive media partners with. This year the show was over two venues and, if truth be known, I was a little unsure of how this would pan out; the second venue, Whychwood Park was a good twenty minutes drive away from the main venue of Cranage Hall and I was a little apprehensive as to whether folk would make the journey. However, I needn’t have feared as Kris, the organiser of the show had put on hourly shuttle coaches between the venues to ensure no one need miss out on any of the exhibitors.

A big well done and thanks should go to Kris who works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the event is the success it has become and also to the many exhibitors who go to make the North West Audio Show the triumph it is…and long may it continue!

As you walked into the marvellous surroundings of Cranage Hall the first room you happened across was G-point Audio who always exhibit interesting gear. The hORNS Universum loudspeaker we see here in a lovely red and black finish was specially made for the show and certainly created a solid sonic and visual foundation for the rest of the system on show.universum_cranage_2016_stu_s

You’re then into a gorgeous lounge area where Mark at Electromod had some great headfi gear on dem’ from Schiit, Mr Speakers and others. And then more headfi in the guise of Oppo, Vincent and team ifi and Audioquest.

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Supra cables were the first people in the corridor and are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. They had a wide range of cables on display and for people to buy.supra_nwas_012_1_small

Also in the corridor were the wonderful people from Townshend Audio who had not only their Seismic platforms and podiums on show (Hifi Pig review imminent) but also their supertweeters which, having heard them in action they add a good deal of “air” to proceedings…why I have no idea, though I’m sure Max will only be too happy to shed light n this if you ask him!towns_nwas_2106_s

Sound Damped Steel had a nice display of their laminated steel platter mats and Iso Feet. The dem’ was pretty conclusive with a coin being tapped on a normal sheet of steel making it ring whilst tapping on the SDS product gave nothing but a dull thud. Hifi Pig review of these is imminent and I’m personally keen to give them a try in the near future.

Wire On Wire were drawing a good deal of attention to themselves with their new Experience 680 tuneable cable. It’s an interesting concept whereby users can change the geometry of the cables make up on the fly.wire_on_wire_cranage_2016s

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The guys at Diverse Vinyl were doing a roaring trade and once again managed to relieve me of a few pounds as I bought yet another copy of Hawkwind’s Space Ritual album.

And so into the first of the rooms proper; this being Malvern Audio Research, who also had Mark and Jan from Vinyl Passion/The Missing Link demoing in their room. The big Ming Da Cantabile-Grande  amps are a sight to behold and massive and seemed to work very well with the hORNS SEOS FP loudspeakers. Vinyl Passion’s VP 12 turntable sounded rather splendid too.VP_nwas_2016_1s

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NuNu Distribution put a lot of effort into the North West Audio Show and bring along some great kit for folk to listen to. The TAD gear in one room sounded better than I’ve heard before…even better than the TAD room at Munich High-End and so credit to Tony and Anne. But NuNu also had a more real world system on the go in the form of an Oracle Paris turntable, Sonetteer electronics and the Quadral speakers that really pack a great punch in the bangs for bucks department.nunu_swas_q_1s

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Doug Brady are a retailers in Warrington who’ve been around for years and they always put on a good show at North West Audio Show. The turntable they had playing here was a Funk Firm Little Super Deck (I think) along with a Devialet amp and ProJect Stream Box DS.

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The guys at Entotem were up next with their Plato and new Class A amplifier.ent_nwas_2016_ss_1s

Audio Counsel had a full Audio Note UK rig up and running which sounded rather sweet and I know there are a lot of fans of this brands products.an_nwas_2016_1s

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High End Cable, despite their name, don’t just sell high end audio cables and at this years show had a lovely main rig made up of Norma Audio Electronics, Raidho loudspeakers, Bel Canto and rather splendid looking cables of course. However, the thing that caught my attention the most in this room was the little desk top system. I spend a lot of time tied to my desk and as such need a good system for listening to tunes in this setting. The little Audience 1 +1 loudspeaker system took up very little desk space and sounded much bigger than their diminutive proportions would suggest.hec_nwas_1s

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3 Square Audio had their Translator loudspeaker on dem. I sat with a good while with Robert Kelly of German Physik fame in this room and we both commented on how unforced and natural sounding the speakers were. Our man Ian Ringstead reviewed them recently for Hifi Pig and thoroughly enjoyed them too. Proof I suppose that you don’t have to spend a King’s ransom to achieve great results in the audio world.3s_nwas_2016s

Brian and Trevors always put on a great show and their room is always busy and invariably quite loud…just the way we like it. The Graham Audio Votu speakers and the sub they were using really shifted the air in the room and there seemed to be a lot of smiling faces in the room. Needless to say their Booplinth for the Linn LP 12 was on show and they say that they are getting great feedback from people who have bought it. Also in evidence in Brian and Trevors was Linn electronics and a humongous Musical Fidelity preamplifer, a Melco unit, Entreq grounding and power solutions and PS Audio Power Plant.bat_nwas_2016_ss_1s

Yannis Poutous at Flamingo Audio is a lovely guy and he certainly knows a thing or two about how to put a great sounding system together. He had the Zellaton speakers firing diagonally across the room which seemed to work very well indeed. Yes this system was high end in price but Flamingo also do the Tsakiridis Devices valve gear that appears to offer really excellent value for money.flam_nwas_2016_1_ss_s

LW Audio brought the huge Horning Hybrid loudspeakers to the North West show along with some rather tasty looking valve amplifiers and three box preamplifier from Audio Music. I’m also pretty sure I spotted an EAR 912 in evidence being used as a phonostage. GIK room treatment was being used in this room. lw_nws_ss_1s

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The Gekko Cables room at Cranage was being manned by my mate Grant and he was doing a great job of showing of the company’s wares through Music First’s Baby Classic preamplifier and phonostage. Amps in use were a pair of classic Quad IIs feeding a pair of (I believe) Snell Ks. The Gekko cables  look well made and competitively priced and we love that box!  Turntable was again a Funk affair.mlfa_nwas_ss_1s

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And so up a flight of stairs where I found Puresound sounding rather pleasant indeed. The M845 monobloc amplifiers were handling the Heco speakers very nicely indeed. The STST Motus II turntable was also in action in this system and being fed through an Aurorasound Vida phonostage. This proved to be one of my personal favourite sounds of the show being unforced, relaxed and smooth.pure_nwas_ss_1_spure_nwas_ss_2s

 

More North West Audio Show Coverage here

Stuart Smith

 

 

 

 

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