Click images above to enlarge. (Hotel
Quality and variety. Just two words that describe my experience
at the 2019 Bristol Hi FI Show. Many of the demonstration rooms
concentrated on streaming / storage components (not surprisingly),
however, there was something for everyone.
Admittedly, many of the streaming / digital small room demonstrations
did leave me feeling cold. Apart from the price tags and verbal
fanfare, I felt I my GPS had incorrectly guided me to the nearest
industrial park, straight passed the delivery shuttered doors
of a Currys PC World and dumped me bang in the middle of the latest
digital flashing products isle.
It was the relative simplicity and easy listening traits of
the Mitchell Engineering room (with Mitchell Orbe ‘SE’
and Sugden amplification) and the Proac room (with Mitchell Orbe
‘SE’ combined with Trilogy amplification) that gently
enticed me to wonder in and ‘stay a while longer’.
Judging by some of the most consistently filled listening chairs
in both rooms, I was not the only true music lover who fell in
love with what they heard ‘and felt’. I am sure the
‘old school’ well engineered Mitchell Orbe turntable
(present and working) in both rooms had a lot to do with the inviting
Thankfully, the Naim / Audio Focal ‘busy time slotted’
larger room demonstration, using Naim’s ND5 XS2, NDX 2 &
ND555 (ranging from 2.5k to just above 7k) did give a deeper insight
into greater possibilities of streaming, ripping… (As well
as sparking multiple questions from me and my colleagues for many
days). Clarity and much improved depth (over the smaller room
demo’s here) but I still question the lack of physicality
and emotion (bearing in mind my ever growing love and appreciation
for good quality vinyl pressings). Perhaps those with less experience
with vinyl would not consider my continuing reservations valid?
Although the Naim rep highlighted he and his colleagues had
done the best they could with the room and time they were given
to set-up, some hardened Naim enthusiasts continued to comment
on various forums stating they were not happy with the room or
Focal speakers used for this demonstration. Some suggested Naim
should have used Naim DBL’s instead of the Focal loudspeaker!
As a long-term Musical Fidelity component owner, I was pleased
to see the musical Fidelity brand at the show (in the Pro-Ject
Audio Systems / Musical Fidelity / Kilpsch room) as well as on
the ground floor on Saturday. I also noticed an absence of the
M8 series amplification. I find this strange considering the M8
series is considered their flagship amplification?
Wilson Benesch offered a powerful and controlled listening experience
on the ground floor open space area featuring their original Wilson
Benesch Turntable (no longer in production). One impressed listener
stated “I don’t usually listen to classical music
at home for various reasons, this is one of the few times I have
actually stopped and listened... clean, detailed, yet still inviting…
this is amazing!”
Due to my current ongoing detailed tests of balanced mains units
(BMU’s) as well other mains conditioners, I was intrigued
to uncover the various ‘power units’ (if in use) behind
the scenes. Iso Tek conditioners and various power-blocks seemed
to be the order of the day (and weekend) at this show, though
it was difficult to see behind all the curtains and banners.
Music and hi-fi enthusiasts praised the variety of exhibitors,
quality of components, cables and various accessories on display
this year. Those who were not able to experience all that was
on offer during a one day visit have vowed to return next year
to make a weekend of it.
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.
23 February 2019
ATC, Avid HI-FI, Canton, Decent Audio, Dynaudio, Falcon Acoustics,
Harmon Luxury Audio Group, Harmon Kardon,
Henley Audio, Keith
Monks, Leema Audio, Malvern Audio Research, Mellow Acoustics,
Mitchell Engineering, Musical Fidelity,
Naim Audio / Focal, Naim
Audio (foyer), Ophidian Audio, Proac, Pro-Ject Audio Systems /
Musical Fidelity / Klipsch, Puritan Audio Laboratories, Rel, Ruark
Audio, Townshend, tri-art audio, Wilson Benesch
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