Regular Hifi Pig contributor Ian Ringstead picks out a few of his highlights from this year’s North West Audio Show. 

It doesn’t seem a year since the last show, and it is now in its third year. The success of the show had meant that this year it was being staged at two hotels, Cranage Hall again and the new venue Wychwood Park near Crewe. Cranage was busy as usual because it is a popular venue and near to the famous Jodrell Bank Observatory. Wychwood Park was new to me but a very nice modern hotel being part of the De Vere group of hotels.

On arrival I was pleased to see that Cranage Hall was bustling with keen enthusiasts and their wives/partners and a lot of families as well, which is great. I also got a chance to catch up with old friends, new contributors to the magazine and make new contacts. As I like to talk a lot, networking meant I couldn’t see every room in detail so I concentrated on my favourite brands and what caught my attention.

NU NU Distribution had TAD on demonstration again and I can’t help but drool over the build quality and work that has gone into this brand, although it’s prices aren’t for the faint hearted. Quadral from Germany were sounding good as well and an old acquaintance was Oracle. I had the pleasure of selling one of their illustrious turntables to a customer of mine in the 80’s. On show was the newer Paris turntable looking and sounding good. TAD_north_west_audio_show_2016-1_small


Entotem were again showing off their very successful AV unit the Plato and are about to launch the new class A amp version. Also they announced their archiving service where they will for a fee archive your music collection digitally if you don’t want to spend the long process of doing this yourself. A neat idea I think, and I reckon could be popular with folk who don’t have the time or inclination to archive themselves. ENTOTEM_1_north_west_audio_show_small

Decent Audio had the big Magneplanar 3.7 loudspeakers on demonstration. I’ve heard the smaller Maggies and been very impressed, and my wife liked the uncomplicated clean lines of the design. You’d need a big room for these monsters so investigate the smaller models if you like what they do. Maggies as they are affectionately called offer great value for money and well worth trying out. maggies_northwest_audio_show_2016_small

Brian and Trevors room was full of interesting brands from the likes of Linn, MF, Graham Audio, PS Audio, Rel and their Booplinth for inveterate Linn owners keen to upgrade their LP12. BRYAN_and_trevors_north_west_audio_show_small


3 Square Audio were certainly busy and happily demonstrating their new floorstander the Translator which I recently reviewed and liked so much. They also had new speaker and equipment stands on show, made from laminated birch ply that looked very smart. They deserve to do well. 3_square_north_west_audio_show_1_small


Divine Audio were certainly making a statement with their room sporting a pair of bright orange EgglestonWorks speakers being fed by Rogue Audio valve electronics and the critically acclaimed Analogue Works turntable. Cables were from Anti-Cables and the cartridge was from Soundsmith, so a strong American force was on show. DIVINE_north_west_audio_show_21016_small


Malvern Audio Research were demonstrating some hORNS FP15 speakers that sounded really good and I have seen before at shows. Ming Da UK were also demonstrating their valve amps of which they do a wide variety and models to suit most budgets.



Midland Audio X-Change had a large room showing off to great effect some of Absolute Sounds’ portfolio of rather tasty products. A pair of Magico S-7’s were sounding fab at the far end of the large and long room with a superb deep sound stage being portrayed that hung in the room. Constellation amps were being used along with Audio Research, ReQuest Audio, Transparent cables, Emm Labs, Metronome and the awesome Tech Das turntable. If you need to ask the price you probably can’t afford it, but superb kit all the same and one can dream. MAX_north_west_audio_show_2016_1_small


Next door was one of my favourite all time brands Mark Levinson who were showcasing both the 585 integrated and a pre amp with the sublime No.53 mono blocks which have taken over from the legendary No. 33H mono blocks. The speakers being used were from JBL another classic American brand that knows a thing or two about sound. The S4700 with a 15” bass driver were superb and although not small sound sublime even at low levels as well as high. Can I take this system home please?



Flamingo Audio from Birmingham were demonstrating Tsakirdis valve amps with Zellaton Legacy loudspeakers from Germany, a brand I had seen and heard in Munich recently. They sounded great and I would like to try them at home. I listened on headphones to the new Tsakirdis Theseus amp which has just been released and is another very interesting versatile amp I’d like to try out which at £1480 seems great value. Flamingo_north_west_audio_show_2016_1_small


Upstairs at Cranage, Kralk Audio were drawing a lot of attention demonstrating the superb BC-30 with the PAW stands and valve amps from Yaquin of China along with their CD player and the Classic Turntable Company providing the vinyl source. Many people commented how fab the BC-30’s sounded, so as one of only two people to have reviewed them and absolutely loving them, it boosted my confidence in my hearing and taste. Well done Alan. Kralk Audio have more products in development so keep an eye on their website and Facebook pages. KRALK_north_west_audio_show_2016_1_small

As time was getting on we had to travel to Wychwood Park near Crewe to finish the show off. Although a much more modern hotel, Wychwood was smaller and there were fewer exhibitors there. In the limited time I had here I concentrated on the Ophidian Audio room where Gareth James the designer and owner was showing his new P series range, a more upmarket series from the popular M series I liked so much and reviewed last year. The Prophet P1 and P2 are a stand mount and floorstanding design aimed at the more discerning listener with even better build quality and drive units in them. The P2 floorstander in particular sounded really nice, so wait for a review later in the year. Ophidian_north_west_Audio_show_2016_small

Apologies to all the other companies I couldn’t get around to see and chat to but time ran out very quickly.

I managed to hear Scott Wainwright playing live near the end of the show, a very talented musician from Barnsley. If you get a chance to see him, please make the effort. Follow Scott on Facebook where you’ll get updates on where he will be playing. I love to hear live music and is one of the reasons I love hifi so I can recreate some of the magic in my own living room.

So all in all a very good show that seemed well attended. With increasing exhibitors I’d like to see the show being over a weekend, as one day is difficult to get around all you want to see. Also, if one hotel could be used again to better effect people would be under less pressure to see everything. I appreciate having enough suitable rooms is not always easy, but one venue would make it easier for everyone in my opinion.

There will be more news and views from the North West Audio Show over the next couple of days culminating in a special e-magazine with loads of extra photos from the show. 

Ian Ringstead

More North West Audio Show Coverage here



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