Now in its fourth year at Cranage (North West Audio Show) has gone from strength to strength. The decision to keep it at one venue and over a full weekend was a wise one. The beauty of the show is that it is free to enter for the public and is set in a great country location near Jodrell Bank.

I’ll talk through my highlights as there is no point doing a room by room report and repeating stuff Stuart has already done here. Besides I want to concentrate on what excited me. The first room to catch my eye and ear was the Tune Audio room where these rather majestic wooden horns were situated. Not for the compact and bijou home these beautifully made horns looked rather nice. Horns were dotted around the show and seem to be proving popular now whichever show you attend.

Sound Kaos from Switzerland were sounding very nice and it was the first time I had seen their speakers in the flesh. Interesting concept and the look reminded me of the original Quad ESL57 with their bronze metal mesh grilles, though they are of course open baffle speakers.

Amphion were in the Auden Distribution room and sounded excellent, particularly the large floor standers. G Point had their large red coloured horns again which never fail to raise eyebrows and certainly are a good talking point.

Near to the G Point room was Metaxas and Sins where the amazing design flair of Kostas could be witnessed with innovative headphone amps in the shape of a skull, integrated amps and small monitor speakers.

There was plethora of cables and accessories from the likes of Russ Andrews and Supra and vinyl galore throughout the show.

Tannoy had their new range of speakers on dem in the Audio Emotion room, designed in that classic stately home style of beautiful wood cabinets that won’t upset the Lady of the manor. Audio Emotion do a large range of quality brands and are well worth a web site visit.

Brian and Trevor’s had their Booplinth on show and Quadraspire’s range of elegant racks.

3 Square Audio were showing off their new stand mounted version of their popular Translator floorstander I reviewed last year. It sounds like the translator but works in rooms that the larger floorstander wont. It comes on a matching stand and is the same price £2500. They also do a nice range of stands made from birch ply that are worth exploring.

Mark Audio were sounding great and the little Tozzi really caught my eye. Scott Lindgren one of the designers talked at length to me about the range and I hope to try some of their other models soon.

Next door was KJF speaker designers and kit manufacturers. Stefan make a fabulous range of kits if you want to get your hands dirty. The Frugel Horn is a particularly exciting design with just one full range Mark Audio SOTA driver per cabinet. Sound was amazing for their size and cost. The Pencil kit has already been reviewed for Hifi Pig and it was highly recommended.

Music First Audio showed their range of superb passive pre-amps and as always Jonathan Billington was using his much loved Nagra reel to reel to dem the equipment.

Icon Audio had their usual extensive range of valve amps and I never cease to be amazed by the choice and value for money they offer. If you fancy trying a valve amp look at their range as there is something for everyone.

David Brook had his full range of MCRU electrical accessories and cables, again offering a bewildering choice of products and price ranges to suit.

Karma AV were showing my favourite American brand off – Mark Levinson through JBL speakers. Both are iconic brands which still strut their stuff superbly. Mark Levinson even make a turntable now, can’t wait to hear it.

Pylon Audio were being demoed by Hi Fi Hangar, the speakers are a Polish brand new to me. They looked excellent value and sounded good, a trait I have noticed a lot of lately from Polish companies. I’m attending the Warsaw AV show later this year so that should be fun.

Iota Audio Designs were showing two exciting turntable designs that were very different from the norm. The designer wanted to make a statement and not just produce another me too product. Also on show were their very nice range of electronics which I’d like to explore further including phono stages, pre and power amps etc.

Fanthorpe’s had PMC speakers with Luxman electronics including a rather nice phono stage at £6500.

Kralk Audio were showing their new models on the Sunday only due to a family wedding commitment on the Saturday. The KA2’s along with the Elites were showing what fantastic value and sound you can get on your doorstep. Electronics were the excellent EAR Yoshino pre and power amps. Also, being demoed was Alan Clarke’s brothers CTC Garrard 301 made from solid Bronze in a fabulous plinth which looked sublime, £25000 in total mind you. Missing Link were also sounding great using Kralk’s Elites with various electronics and turntables.

Quadral speakers were on dem with the Oracle Paris turntable and Sonneteer electronics amongst other brands.

Elac were showing their new turntable, the Miracord which has been well received already. Don’t forget Elac are an old brand and made turntables in the 50’s and 60’s to great acclaim.

Malvern Audio were showing the Ming Da integrated valve amp with hornS speakers and it was in that room that I was introduced to Porcupine Tree for the first time. What a refreshing change to hear great music instead of the usual diet of Blues, Jazz and female vocal. Sorry guy’s but I get fed up of hearing the same music at each show.

So, there we have it, another very successful show. I look forward to next years.


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