…where Linette gives a very female perspective on the show….
Great to be back in Paris again, doesn’t seem a year since the last one!
Mr HiFi Pig of course is doing a much more detailed report, but you know me, I like to have my say too so here are my top stand out rooms and thoughts from the show.
After the beast that is Munich, Paris feels a lot more intimate and is doable in a day. (I think if I had a solid week at High End Munich there would still be something I didn’t see!)
We saw old friends and met new ones and it was fantastic to catch up with some people that we just didn’t get chance to speak to at Munich.
The Novotel Tour Eiffel is a great venue with exhibitors, visitors and press well catered for, the only problem being that some of the rooms were a little on the small side, but in a hotel show that problem will always be encountered.
There seemed to be a lot (for me a little too much) of AV kit. I don’t really get excited about this stuff. ‘Hey look, a humungous TV…look another humungous TV’ but I know some people love it and it was a salon for HiFi AND Home Cinema….but I will stick to the HiFi, thank you very much!
There were also a few brands that I would have expected to see that were not really in evidence.
One friend we caught up with was Mr. Sound himself, Joe from JoSound who was giving his incredible new Ra speakers their French debut, we did not get as long as we would have liked in the room (sorry we didn’t make it back Joe!) but as the Ra’s will be making their way to HiFi Pig Towers very soon we know we have much more listening time to come.
JoSound were paired up again with Voxativ and when we visited the room, the Ra’s were running from some of Ines’s beautiful sounding and stunning looking valve amps and pre amp, some of the best looking and sounding tubes I’ve heard recently. Very tactile and very desirable.
The Devialet room was packed like in Munich but much smaller and more personal and the guys were very enthusiastic about HiFi Pig, they even asked us to spend some time listening to our own music to get a feel of the system.
Gorgeous in every aspect of sound and aesthetics, we were really impressed by Devialet who are a young brand that are taking the market by storm with their beautifully crafted kit. They also have the contender for perhaps the best remote ever….I can just see it sitting on my coffee table!
They partnered their kit with LEEDH (Laboratoire d’Etudes et Développements Holophoniques) loudspeakers, which we were very, very impressed with at last years show.
These tiny, insect-like speakers really pack a punch and were evident in a few rooms this year…I’m hoping we can get hold of some too as they need to be heard to be believed.
Another stand-out room (again strangely featuring the LEEDH speakers…is this a sign or something?) was the Neodio room featuring their Origine CD player (€35 000).
We had high expectations and were not disappointed, every note and breath could be heard, it was almost haunting to listen to such an intimate rendition of the music, incredible…. but I was itching to slap on some proper ‘tunes’.
The star of the show for me I have to say was the Avantgarde Zero1 system.
Débuted at Munich this year where a close listen was impossible, it was wonderful to get the chance to sit down and appreciate these new offerings from the German Hornlautsprecher masters.
What strikes you at an Avantgarde demonstration is just how passionate the whole team are about their products. Armin Krauss gave a very polished and informative demo of the Zero1 (in French) managing to do what a lot of people don’t, and strike the right balance between giving the audience the info that you need and actually getting to listen to product being demonstrated!
(Take note people who just want to talk at the audience, we want to hear your kit not just you, so play the music!!)
A good selection of music was used including a hauntingly beautiful (and not my usual cup of tea) José Carreras piece that had been recorded in an old church.
I’ve rattled on about this before but one does not just listen to music from Avantgardes, one truly feels it.
The warmth and detail of the pure sound is still there with Zero1, close your eyes and you are sat in an ancient church listening to José and the choir, incredible.
The other incredible thing is that all you need to do with the Zero1 system is plug it in and feed it music, it has the amplifiers onboard, it has the DAC onboard…it is wireless…almost!
Zero1 makes it possible to have a world beating HiFi in your house by getting rid of loads of boxes.
We had a good chat to Armin afterwards (lovely chap), Zero1 is selling like the proverbial hot cakes (unsurprisingly). We are looking forward to getting our trotters on the Zero1 and some more from Avantgarde in the near future…watch this space!
I think the reason that the Zero1 has been so well received is the trend that is becoming apparent at the moment of (for want of a better word) ‘Lifestyle HiFi’.
In Munich this year the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was much in evidence with a lot of white and colourful loudspeakers and much ‘prettier’ looking pieces of kit.
The emerging ‘lifestyle’ trend is for both established (and new) HiFi brands to produce audiophile grade HiFi (rather than the mass market electronic tat that is often masquerades as ‘lifestyle’) that is user friendly, stunningly designed and beautiful to look at but that downscales the need for a hundred and one boxes to take over your living space.
Brands like Avantgarde, Roksan, Cyrus and Devialet have seen that there is a gap in the market…those people that want the quality and the amazing sound but don’t want to compromise on the ‘liveability’ of their HiFi.
They want their HiFi to be a piece of design that looks stylish and delivers the sound, not homogenised, one-size-fits-all, ifad-type or gimmicky products, but proper HiFi without the hassle. I would say that the 5 main rules of this new trend are:
- Incredible build quality.
- Amazing sound, without compromise.
- Ease of set up and pleasure of use.
- Beautiful to look at.
- Luxurious branding and packaging.
WAF and Lifestyle are brewing up at the same time in the audiophile world and becoming very much a ‘perfect storm’ that is starting to, and will continue, to throw out top notch, very exciting products…I for one am really looking forward to seeing what those products are!
I know that there are people that will gnash their teeth and rage against it.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the traditional Audiophile set up of tinkering with lots of different separates to build the perfect system, in fact I love that, but there are people out there who have the money to be an Audiophile, but not the time or the inclination.
If brands don’t cater to this market then they will miss out. Big time.
The time is coming when Audiophillia will cease to be a closed ‘Boys’ club only available to a chosen few in the know, Audiophile HiFi is starting to be available to all who want it.