This is the 5th year of The Hifi Show at Scalford. The Hifi Show is hosted in the spacious Scalford Hall Hotel in the heart of rural Leicestershire UK, just outside the town of Melton Mowbray.
Other than in the main reception area and a couple of the demonstration rooms, the show’s focus is on the real life hifi systems belonging to audiophiles and hifi enthusiasts.
Some 50 systems were presented this year, each in their own room, ranging from the small and low cost end of the spectrum to no holds barred super systems, and with components from well known established manufacturers to vintage hifi, and DIY constructions of amazing appearance and performance! I think it is fair to say that price wasn’t too strong a guide, with truly excellent sounds to be heard from quite humble systems.
The Show was nicely crowded with rooms verging on the packed at times.
I’ve chosen to focus on a small proportion of the systems, trying to give a flavour of the wide spread of systems to be heard at the Show.
My first stop-off was to see a lovely system put together by Bob which included standmounted Heco Celan 300 speakers, powered by lovely Audio Silver Knight 300B valve amps, sourced by a Gyrodek turntable and Consonance CD player.
I was impressed not only by the musicality, but also the bold dynamics, natural tonality and clarity. A good start to the Show for me but a hard act to follow!
Ah, perhaps not that hard after all. Next up is a room that I was involved with myself. Not only did Paul have speakers that I’ve owned and enjoyed myself – Kharma Ceramique 3 – but I had also supplied some alternative amplification in the form of a Viva 300p amd and Restek Consens pre-amp. For the most part, Paul’s own massive Tube Technology integrated amp supplied the juice, fed by the star of the room, Paul’s Palmer 3 turntable with Origin Live Conqueror arm and, best of all, his Audionote Io Gold cartridge! Wow – what a line up. I’m biased, I think it sounded great – but so did lots of visitors, too!
Just down the corridor was a very fine sounding system with very unusual components. Dave was demonstrating his Vaughn Cabernet speakers, fed by Coinicident Dragon valve monoblocks and a AcousticPlan Vardi CD player. I’ve not come across any of that kit before! – but it certainly sounded good with excellent transparency and detail, and the Bash 300wpc bass amps were definitely making their presence felt.
Oooo – I really, really liked the next system. If I wasn’t already settled with my own choice, a pair of Danish Raidho Acoustics ribbon hybrid speakers would certainly be on my “Want List”, they are just so transparent and musical. Yum! Raidho C1 standmounts were here sounding as sublime and musically right as ever.
Richard had a small/big surprise on offer. A pair of diminutive Q Acoustic speakers, that cost him not much more than a couple of rounds of drinks, were creating an enormously dynamic and involving sound driven by ES series Sony electronics and his beloved Pioneer PL-71 turntable. Just stupidly good!
And then on to some bigger rooms …. Stu had his horn hybrid speakers on display. Impressive to look at, impressive to hear. Very nice, I’d heard these before but not sounding this good. Despite the large bass cabinet size, they do lack a little low frequency weight – this issue neatly solved by Stu’s use of a small subwoofer! Spot on, Stu – very nice indeed!
No visit to the Scalford Show is complete without a visit to OB’s room – always powerful, always loud! That’s the way OB likes his music. And this year we have some large 2-part Gershman Acoustics Black Swan speakers. The mid and treble drivers are sited in an arch structure which sits over the bass cabinet – unusual and very eye-catching. Here driven by large MSB cylindrical and heavily heatsinked solid state power amps. Not just loud, but musically impressive as well.
Keith was showing his DIY-ish speakers – Castle Stirlings used for mid/treble and custom made R50 transmission line bass speakers. The sound from James Blake’s “Limit to your Love” track was nicely open and detailed and then that bass line slammed in. My god – I felt that I had to warn Keith it was in contravention of the Geneva Convention!
Going from the awesome to the … well … the even more awesome! A half dozen horn speaker fanatics led by Adam had got together to create a monster horn speaker array. Probably the only speaker to be delivered in 6 separate car/van loads! Difficult to take a picture of with the bright window behind, but I hope you get a flavour of the beast.
Even the large black rectangular block in the middle is a horn array!
The sound? – well, expectations were not high – this was done more as a fun project than anything else – but actually, it was damn good. Way better than it had a right to be – it really rocked, presence was awe-inspiring but it also had clarity and detail. One of my demo CD tracks was played – a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Who By Fire”, by Susanna Wallumrod on the ECM label. The delicacy and sheer emotional power were very well captured indeed – quite a few folk asked for details of the CD!
Then on to a big room, with big speakers and a great sound. Dom’s Snell A speakers driven by a big Modwright solid state amp. I usually think that Snell As are best with valve amps – but this sounded superb!
The next room was rather daunting. Quite dimly lit, you walk in only to find a large and massive pair of active Harbeth 40 speakers literally looming over you!
These are mounted on Harbeth’s own stands designed to be used in studio conditions where they are raised so as to be heard above the engineer’s console. Pluto, the owner, uses them like this at home, and I have to say that it works very well. The massive opening bars of Mahler’s 3rd symphony were impressively caught. Nice!
My last room of the day was in some ways the most interesting. Jim has new speakers and a new turntable to show. The speakers are Tune Audio’s Marvel speakers – a rather immodest name, I thought. But the sound was very clear and dynamic. For some reason, the mids and treble reminded me a little of the classic Lowther sound so much loved by many.
The Kronos turntable is even more impressive – it has contra-rotating twin platters and had the definite air of just having landed from Mars! The sound was just fabulous.
And so ends my quick look at The Hifi Show, for this year. There were many other excellent sounding systems to be seen and heard. The atmosphere was friendly and enthusiastic – there was a very positive vibe to it all. I am certain that the event was enjoyed hugely by both exhibitors and visitors alike.
I am looking forward to next year’s Show already!
Author – Jerry