Stuart Smith rounds up the North West Audio Show 2016 with his final article from the show. 

Peak Hifi were up next. They’re based in Hoylandswaine in South Yorkshire not far from where I grew up and they seem to be doing very nicely thank you. Amp in use was the Sugden SPA – 4 and the same company’s LA4 pre and PA4 phonostage. Their own turntable was being used when I was in the room and speakers were by PMC. Again, a nice room making very nice sounds.



Stonegate Acoustics had a very interesting system playing that consisted of Sugden electronics playing into a pair of LS3/5a loudspeakers from Falcon. I’m fairly familiar with the 5A sound and have always found it to be a bit lacking in the lower registers…naturally as it’s a mini monitor. However, the clever chaps here have added a dedicated bass unit/stand which fleshes the sound out very nicely. You still get that great 5A sound on spoken word as the guys in the room demonstrated but on more demanding musical source there is just a whole lot more than you would expect. I’d pretty much suggest that if you are looking at 5As, or have them already, then you should look into this bass module and get an audition of it.



Simon Shilton is the chap behind SJS Electroacoustics and whilst this is not a new company the current line up is pretty new. The system had Arcadia preamplifiers, the Arcadia Model 3 phonostage and some lovely looking tube amps from the company. The whole lot looked incredibly well put together and sounded not too shabby at all!arc_nwas_2016_1s


My fellow contributors have all commented on the Kralk Audio room and I too found it a great pleasure to hear this system. Likewise the SoundKaos room has proved to be hugely popular with the rest of the team.KRALK_north_west_audio_show_2016_1_small


The Eclipse and Computer Audio Design room sounded pretty amazing too and the system looked very nice and contemporary too. There is something about the CAD gear that just seems to make anything they are partnered with sing…it was the same at Munich for the last couple of years. Scott who runs CAD is an exceptionally knowledgeable person and it was great to be able to sit and have a natter with him and his partner. All the electronics in this room were sat on a rather splendid looking rack from the guys at Quadraspire…expect a review of this in the near future on Hifi Pig.eclipse_cadçnwas_2016

Last year Jack of BD Audio had the Tune Audio Marvels in this rather lovely and well proportioned room and it won the Hifi Pig Loves You award. This year he chose the Primes from the same company and the Rokna Wavedream DAC and Wavedream NET server, along with an amp from Italian manufacturer Grandinote. Once again Jack managed to pull off a room that sounded great, looked great and there were certainly a good few folk making the right noises in there. BD_nwas_2016_1s


Karma AV really did pull out all the stops at this year’s North West Audio Show and it sounded pretty good too, but then how could it not given the gear they had brought to the party. Mark Levinson electronics and JBL loudspeakers are a pairing we’ve heard lots of times in the past, with both brands coming out of the Harman stable, and they rarely fail to delight.KARMA_av_nw_audio_3016_small


Midland Audio Exchange were another company that brought along a whole load of exotica for the show, so much so they got their van stuck in the mud there was so much weight in it. The sound in the room through the Magico speakers and Constellation electronics was really high end but the star of the show in this room was the Tech Das turntable. This turntable borrows a lot of the technology from the uber Tech Das Airforce 1 but comes in at a much more manageable £13 000. Ok, so that’s still an expensive way to spin your black discs but if you have the money and are looking for a statement turntable then you really should get this on your short list. I love the photograph with the Hifi Pig Loves You beermats we had made especially for the show. The Metronome CD player with its two power supplies was also rather impressive. The guys in the room were super friendly and not at all “you can’t afford that, son!” and gladly allowed us to bring a young couple we met in the bar into the room the night before the show and play them some tunes…needless to say the couple, music lovers but not audiophiles in any way, shape or form, were blown away with the sound in this room.






Mains Cables R Us’ room was a great sounding room with a main rig made up of Luxman, ClearAudio and Quadral Chromium 8 loudspeakers. Mains conditioning and mains cables were by Isotek. There was a good deal of static displays and gear for sale in the MCRU room from Tellurium Q, Furutech and many more.





Divine Audio had a great set up consisting of Eggleston Works loudspeakers in an absolutely fabulous orange, Rogue Audio amps and Analogue Works turntable.divine_nwas_st3s



And so we hopped on the coach over to the second venue of Whychwood Park. This venue was a little more corporate in feel than Cranage Hall and had many less rooms for us to enjoy. However, there was a good few people about and I managed to home in on the guys selling records in the foyer like a laser guided missile. A few pounds lighter it was time to take a look around the rooms and the first one we happened across was the Muisc First Audio room manned by the company’s owner Jonathan Billington. I make no secret of my love for Music First Audio products and recently bought one of their Baby Reference V2 preamplifiers. As well as having kit in the Gekko room, Jonathan Billington and Music First Audio had their own room at Wychwood Park and very nice it was too. On show was a specially produced TVA preamplifier called the Classic QSE. This is the Classic preamplifier from Music First Audio in a case that is specifically sized to be the same as Quad amplifiers. Also on show was the Classic Headphone Amplifier being fed with a rather splendid Nagra reel to reel player.




Mark Audio Sota are a company based in Hong Kong that make a great range of fab looking loudspeakers and so it was great to see them at this year’s event. The little Tozzi speakers on their tripods really caught our attention and sounded really good too. Expect to hear much more about this company in the coming months including a review on Hifi Pig.mark_sota_nwas_1s




Epic HC, UK Partner of XTZ unveiled their new flagship 3 way speaker at the North West Audio Show, the Divine Alpha. This large loudspeaker is around €6000 a pair and for that price you certainly seem to be getting a whole lot for your money. Fit and finish also looked to be exemplary. The company also had their M2 standmounter from their Master series playing and again, for €2000 you certainly are getting good bang per buck!



Acton Gate Audio had quite a small room at Wychwood Park but that didn’t stop them from filling it with a whole array of gear from the likes of Leema Acoustics, Elipson, KEF, Quad, ProJect and more. The new turntable from ProJect, the Classic, was on show and this promises to be a huge seller if the interest it raised when Hifi Pig carried news about its launch is anything to go by.act_nwas_2016-sds_1s





Emerald Physics was a new name to me and so great to see them at North West Audio Show where they had their KC-11 open baffle loudspeakers on demonstration. The speakers use a2 eight inch coaxial driver with a titanium tweeter sing a waveguide and two ten inch drivers for bass. The company also make a whole lot of other gear including amplifiers, digital processors and DACs.emerald_physics_nwas_2016s

Auden Distribution had gone to a lot of effort at Whychwood Park to make their room as close to a home environment as possible. Two systems were set up with the first having amps provided by CAAS audio which is a new name to me but that are based in North Yorkshire. Also in this system was the Aria streamer/ripper which is available in a number of configurations, including one with a built in DAC. The second system made use of the Aria Piccolo. Speakers were from Amphion and cables from Audiomica Labs.






Karma AV had a nice little system highlighting Primare electronics including the A34.2 power amplifier that delivers a healthy 150 watts a channel. The preamplifier in use was also Primare and the I32 integrated amplifier was also on show at the top of the rack. Power conditioning came in the form of the Torus Power TOT series box, the most affordable in the company’s range.





Ophidian were highlighting a wide range of their loudspeakers in their room but playing were the diminutive Minimos in white. These absolutely tiny speakers gave a surprisingly room filling performance and gained a Hifi Pig Recommended award when we reviewed them.

ophidian_nwas_2016_1s* ophidian_nwas_2016_2s

CODE are a brand new company from the UK and had on dem their new active three way loudspeaker system. Costing £5495 the speakers use a ScanSpeak Illuminator mid and Volt bass drivers. The off board electronics module contains the DSP module, preamplifier and six channel power amplifier so that all you need add is the source of your choice. Expect a Hifi Pig review shortly.code_nwas_2016_1s


Hifi Hangar had the Eminent Technlogy loudspeakers on their room being powered by Acoustic Imagery Atsah class D amplifiers.HifiHangar_nwas_2016_1s

G-Point Audio had taken a second room at Wychwood where they had the lovely little Mezz Audio valve amplifier powering hORNS loudspeakers.gpoint_whyscwood_nwas_1s


IQ Speakers had a great set up and used very well priced Hypex moduled amplification that were doing a great job of driving the IPL floorstanding loudspeakers. Other electronics included Abrahamsen. Look out for a review of the Hypex amplifiers very soon.ip_loudspeakers_nwas_2016s


Superfi had three rooms at Whychwood but, by the time we managed to get to them, only one was left open. The relatively compact system consisted of Arcam electronics powering KEF loudspeakers. Despite the simple and uncomplicated set up, this room sounded very pleasant indeed and is the kind of system most folk will think of when they picture a hifi.Superfi_nwas_2016s

The final room we went into at Whychwood was the ifi room. Here they had their Stereo 50 system on dem and we were pretty impressed by this compact and great looking system. You can play loads of different formats through the vintage looking and tube driven Stereo 50. The Retro Stereo 50 is an all-in-one tube stereo system: from Bluetooth aptx (phone/pad) to High-res digital (computer) to vinyl (turntable). This is the kind of system that will appeal to music lovers looking for a simple and great looking means of playing their tunes.ifi_stereo_50_nwas_2016s

Sadly we had to jump on the coach back to Cranage Hall before we had a chance to see and hear Scott Wainwright but those that did manage to catch his set said he was excellent.

And so that’s it for another year. Next year’s North West Audio Show will take place at Cranage Hall over the two days of 24th and 25th of July. See you there!

More North West Audio Show Coverage here

Stuart Smith





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