For the 4th successive year, the HiFi Wigwam internet hifi & music forum has organised its very own hifi show.  This is hosted in the spacious Scalford Hall Hotel in the heart of rural Leicestershire UK, just outside the town of Melton Mowbray, which is otherwise famous for its pork pies!  Hifi Pigs beware …

For the first 2 years the Show was held in collaboration with Chester Group, who are experienced with organising hifi shows worldwide.  For 2011 and 2012, though, the Hifi Wigwam forum has been solely responsible.

Other than in the main reception area, hifi dealers and manufacturers are not allowed in!  Instead the show’s focus is on the real life hifi systems belonging to forum members.

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!

Show attendance was excellent, with initial estimates of 500 folk passing thru the door.  To be honest, rooms were crowded at times, and I think the Show was nearing the limits of its comfortable capacity.

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 Rob (hoops-on-toast) with his Keesonic Kolts fed by a Sony amp and Philips CD player.

These diminutive vintage speakers showed excellent midrange clarity and openness, and the extended top end showed no sign of harshness from the fabric dome tweeter.

Next up was a rather more unconventional system.  Ian (alphatoner) was demonstrating his Duevell Bella Luna Diamante omni-directional speakers.  These were fed by his gorgeous Accuphase electronics.  The drawer mechanism on the CD player


was stunningly smooth – a joy in itself.  The sound quality was very, very fine with excellent resolution, natural tonality and deep taut bass.  One of the best systems at the Show, in my opinion.

From the sublime to the … well, astonishing might be the best word!

Speedysteve was showing his DIY 5-way horn system in a suitably huge room, ably supported by valve and horn guru, Pete (i-should -coco).  Simply amazing – even more so when you learn that the horns wouldn’t fit thru the door, so Steve sawed them up to get them in! You just can’t argue with that sort of dedication.  The sound was very fast and dynamic, and easily filled the large room with just a few watts from the available valve amps.

Another DIY speaker of impressive performance were Adam’s (amdismal) Lampizator open baffle speakers.

It was a small room, but the natural vocal reproduction on offer was very impressive indeed, no doubt ably abetted by Jim’s (JVS) Jeff Rowland electronics and Oracle turntable.

Going back to the world of mainstream manufacturers, ATC 50 active speakers were a bit of an ear-opener for me.  I don’t usually like ATC speakers at all, generally finding them too forwardly balanced, but this system was gorgeous!  Naturally warm in balance and very clear and quite dynamic, fed by a digital streamer source.  Another of my fave systems!

Without doubt, of the many excellent components to be seen and heard at this year’s Show, my favourite was the re-plinthed Garrard 401 turntable, beautifully designed and constructed by Paul (paul2007).

Photos don’t do this deck justice, it looked and sounded stunning.  I was deeply jealous! The tonearm is from a Chinese company, and bears a surprising resemblance to arms from Wilson Benesch!  Different materials (no carbon fibre for one thing) and Paul told me that rather a lot of TLC was needed to get it up and running, including a complete rewire. Cartridge is an SAE moving coil.

Doubtless the sound was shown off to excellent effect by the rest of the system on show – Kharma speakers and class D power amps. The EMM CD player was by no means a slouch, but Paul’s vinyl front end simply stole the Show for me!

Mention must also be made of Nick’s (myrman) system, with its Halcro CD player, Emille valve integrated amp and Zingali Overture .3 speakers.  I’d fancied a prolonged listen to Zingalis for ages, so I cannily offered my services to Nick to look after his system for an hour to allow him a lunch break and the chance to scoot round the Show himself.

I liked this system a lot.  Fast, punchy, detailed, deep taut bass.  Very nice.

Also definitely worth a mention was the ‘Cheap As Chips’ room, the brainstorm of Art Of Sound forum member Alex UK.  Several systems were demonstrated but no system cost was allowed to exceed £100!  Some surprisingly fine sounds were to be heard, which makes you think a bit …!

And so ends my quick look at this year’s HiFi Wigwam Show.  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.

Congratulations to HiFi Wigwam on a superb event.  I am looking forward to next year’s Show already!

Author – Jerry


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