Click images above
Report by Robin Francis
Great to meet with so many passionate individuals
who understand, 'music really does matter!'
Whether your hi-fi journey be hobby, passion,
pleasure, or perhaps just curiosity, the UK Hi-Fi Show Live 2023
surely ticked all the above boxes and more? I have been attending
hi-fi shows in various guises sporadically for over twenty years
and it was refreshing to soak-up such positive energy from eager
patrons and enthusiastic exhibitors during a period of relative
With the stunning Royal Ascot Racecourse as
a backdrop, demonstrators were eager to wax lyrical. On more than
one occasion I was reluctantly forced to say…”I’m
so sorry, I have to go...!”
As I weaved gently along the Ascot walkways,
my journey was punctuated by brief discussions with patrons who
shared their musical journeys. It appeared that everyone was on
some type of mission or another. All patrons I spoke with acknowledged
the ‘high end’ theme and accepted the associated price
tags, however, it was acknowledged that such a theme and any associated
price tags would need to be demonstrated by ‘appropriate’
improvements. The term ‘subjective’ seemed to be avoided
during such conversations at this show.
Without doubt there were a few common favourite
demonstrations that were consistently referred to during my discussions:
The Boyer room, simply blew everyone’s
socks off sonically. One listener advised. “I never
expected streaming to sound so real, I have avoided streaming
most of my life as I prefer the vinyl source just because I found
streaming to sound so cold. This room has opened my ears to a
different world of possibilities!”
Everyone who entered this room clearly looked
amazed at what they heard (and physically felt). Every music genre
covered had an organic ‘in the room presence.’ The
depth, realism and sheer musicality was breath-taking. And surprisingly
to some, the valve amplification driving such a wonderful (yet
powerful) presentation was a pair of 36 watt per channel valve
mono amplifiers. Of course the Lars A class valve amplifiers being
used here are ‘special.’ They carry a £63,500
price tag for the pair. Of course I had to ask the fifty million
dollar question. “What is the cost of the complete set-up?”
Ironically, it was a patron who answered the question before the
demonstrator got a chance. £500K (approximately) was the
Definitive Audio, with a stunning array of top
performers on demonstration, such as the Living Voice R80 Loudspeaker
and the Kuzma XL Air turntable (to name just two). Definitive
Audio drew patrons into their room with ease and grace. As I settled
to absorb the various subtle textures and lyrical wonders of Oliver
Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” from the vinyl source,
I felt the world’s stresses simply drip away. Now this is
the mark of a great system. The fact that I could easily ignore
the components, cables and interconnects in front of me, listen,
reflect and enjoy speaks volumes in respect of all the components
being used. Patron Terry Johnson also reflected my thoughts by
advising. “This is one of the systems I aspire to own.
I can feel the layers of musicians coming through and I just love
the organic signature. If I do get to the point where money is
no object, I will be giving Definitive Audio a call..!”
The Monitor Audio room, this was another powerful
presence at the show with everyone commenting on the controlled
power and overall sweet sound. I visited this room twice just
to make sure I was hearing right. On each occasion I was pleasantly
surprised at just how inviting and non-fatiguing this room was,
especially considering the relative high volume levels that were
demonstrated at various points.
PS Audio demonstration, Personally, I felt privileged
to be able to spend time talking with the ever approachable Mr.
Paul McGowan from PS audio regarding my long and somewhat stressful
amplifier search. The PS Audio BHK300 Signature Monoblocks and
Signature Preamplifier was at the top of my short-list for some
time. Paul has always appeared to be a person you could speak
your mind with (and so I did) and we were able to dig deep into
my requirements and expectations. As he had his newly developed
BH600 Monoblocks on demonstration alongside his Aspen FR30 speakers,
this was a great opportunity to not only get an insight into the
sonic signature of the BHK amplifier family, but to also absorb
advice from an individual who has many years within the industry
under his belt. Though I decided not to pursue the PS Audio BHK300
Monoblock route, it was after this (what I regard as constructive
positive) encounter that led me deeper into my ‘all valve
amplifier’ exploration route.
As I conversed with patrons towards the end
of each day, there was a definite feeling of satisfaction and
completion overall. Many patrons had acquired the information
they came to seek. I suggested further communication with a few
individuals to track their progress. Many advised that whatever
the outcome, they would definitely be back next year!
© Michael Valentine Studio
September - October 2023
Bowers & Wilkins / Classé,
Boyer Audio, Cadence Distribution, Decent Audio, Definitive Audio,
Henley Audio, HI-FI News Vintage Zone, Innuos, MBL, Mellow Acoustics,
Monitor Audio, Node Audio, PMC, PS Audio, Renaissance, Russ Andrews
/ Kimber Cable, SCV Distribution & Symmetry
Important to note that the patrons standing to
the right in the photograph below were not waiting to leave. These
patrons were waiting for a seat to become available. Nobody left
this room during the presentation. In fact, more patrons joined
the demonstration midway and many (including myself and colleague)
did not want to leave after the presentation.
Our clear show winner!
(Click the Definitive Audio product / pricelist below
“This is one of the systems I aspire
to own. I can feel the layers of musicians coming through and
I just love the organic signature. If I do get to the point where
money is no object, I will be giving Definitive Audio a call..!”
(Patron – Terry Johnson).
Hi-FI News Vintage Zone
I am far too young to remember any of this kit!
to the UK Hi-Fi Show Live 2023 page two.
to the UK Hi-Fi Show Live 2023 page three.
back to Hi-Fi Experience Home Page.