Bristol Show - My Feedback....
Right, went to the Bristol Show with my mate today and managed to get a lot more time with most of the kit than the last time I went. I took the advise I should have listened to last time and started at the top, well sort of.
(Please note that in my following comments I understand that the set up of the kit is restricted by the room layout etc and a proper demo may yield different results to those I will list.)
What HiFi demo
So we actually decided to see this first as the queue was just starting to build. Following an introduction from Mr Lucas it was on with a Pixar short from the ‘Up’ BD. The picture and sound were both excellent!
Next we got to watch a selection of clips in 3D and as much as it pains me to say it, it was actually very impressive!
Finally we got to watch a clip from 2012 in Dolby Pro Logic IIz which adds front height speakers. Not sure how much these added to the experience but it did sound very good indeed.
So overall, very impressed with all parts of the demo!
EDIT - Also tried out the Samsung 3D TV as this uses a different technology but (as Mr Parsons pointed out) without the same material available for both it is hard to do a direct comparison. They looked the same to me. Both Good!
Up to the Fifth floor (decided not to go up to the tenth to see the Leema kit straight away) which was very empty and first up was the Unitiqute and Uniti. I was impressed with the Uniti last time and it was the same with the Unitiqute. These were connected to some standmounts and a sub. (Not sure what models and this trend will continue with others dems, sorry). I’m no good at describing the sound so lets just say that it was good. They also had the matching ripper on show which is the same size as the Unitiqute.
In the second of the 3 rooms was the full XS range connected to some Naim floorstanders. This sounded very good, something you could listen to for hours. They demoed the setup first of all without using the DAC and then again with it. To be honest I did not notice much difference. The bass may have been a bit better controlled with the DAC but there was little in it.
Into the third room and another set up. I cannot remember the set up exactly but it used the same speakers as the XS demo and I think sounded very similar.
So down to the Fourth floor and in to Spendor. The first room had some of the speakers on display like the A5 and A6 but in to the second room and we listened to the A9s connected to a Linn DS and Majik Pre-Power combo. This sounded a bit punchier and livelier than the Naim kit. Not to say it was better, just different. I preferred this. My mate preferred the Naim.
The first room was more for display and had various items such as Audio Technica headphones and some Fatman valve items. What I like the look of most was the Project gear. Tiny and modular. There were various combinations in various size housings and it looked very neat.
Into the next room and there was a Roksan Kandy K2 amp and speakers being fed by a turntable. (Not sure which). This sounded very nice. Not sure if it was because of the turntable or the music that was playing but it was a very relaxed sound that was really enjoyable.
Canton / Xiva
We were both very impressed with this set up. The guys from Canton were eager to point out that there was no CD player in use. They had the music ripped onto the Xiva and this was accessed via a Sonus set up and fed to some Naim electronics (quite a trend at the show I must say, could almost have been a Naim show). I think it was the Canton reference 3.2 we listened to. We listened to a variety of music and the combination sounded excellent. This was my favourite so far. The Xiva looked a nifty ripper, ripping 2 copies at once. One in FLAC and another in mp3 at a bitrate of your choosing, ready for the iPod.
Rega / Kudos
Listened to the ISIS CD player and OSIRIS amp connected to some Kudos C32 (I think).
This combination also sounded very good.
Now up to this point I had listened to various systems and they all sounded very good. Fairly similar I would say with minor differences to set them apart. But now we are talking a different league. Listened to the Gammas from the Tensor range and they sounded stunning. Don’t get me wrong, I think they cost in the region of £12,500 but they were probably the best speakers I heard today. Probably not practical for the average household but that’s a minor issue…..
So Third floor now and we listened to a pair (yes a pair!) of the new G1s in conjunction with an Audio Research / Kudos combination. As expected, the bass is prodigious! It sounded excellent but not sure how practical these would be. Dedicated listening rooms detached from any other buildings only I think.
Quite disappointing this one. Listened to the standmounts from the CM range and was not impressed. Where was the bass??? They were connected to some Rotel electronics. I believe it was the 1520 CD and Amp combo.
PMC / Bryston
Down to the second floor now and the rooms were starting get more crowded so listening time was becoming limited. Listened to the FACT 3s and my mate thought there was a sub tucked away somewhere. (I don’t think there was) The combination sounded pretty good. Grabbed some mints and moved on…..
Listened to the new RX8s. I am quite a fan of the Monitor Audio silver series speakers that these have replaced and whilst I would say they are not a huge improvement (if that could have been expected) they are better.
Listened to the ‘Apex’ range in the next room. Nice looking kit as always.
Listened to the Arros which are probably the smallest floorstanders ever in terms of width and depth and they sounded very good. It is surprising that a speaker of that size can produce such a sound! They were connected up to the beCocolate all-in-one.
Probably the best standmount I heard all day! Listened to the Reference 1 with a variety of tracks and they never failed to impress. They looked good too, as did the Reference 2 but did not get to hear those.
So back to Naim again and this time the new Ovator S-600 speakers. Very impressive but I found them a bit harsh in places. Not sure if this is really the speakers or the material that was played. Heard a few people making similar comments when they were leaving the room too……
Listened to the 2000 5.1 set up in conjunction with a NAD receiver and these speakers really are impressive! Quite small and they look really nice. Rivals would have to go a long way to beat these.
Onkyo / Monitor Audio Platinum
Now I can tell you that I spent a fair bit of time in here watching Star Trek. It looked excellent and it sounded…….(in 9.2 THX)…....ok. I think Dave (Frank Harvey) was right in another post in saying that this was probably not the best pairing. Sure it sounded very dynamic but I think it was a bit too much. There was no subtlety or refinement. I much preferred the sound in the WHF demo. The balance in that system was much better.
Listened to the concept ‘Blade’ speakers. They were much bigger than I expected. We were given a little talk first of all about the ‘technology’ involved. I say this loosely as some of the stuff described did not seem like a technological breakthrough, such as the opposing Woofers. Meridian have used this arrangement for some time now.
Anyway, back to the sound. We were played 3 separate tracks, first up was one from Faithless. Given that it was faithless and that each speaker has 4 Woofers, I was expecting more bass. Don’t get me wrong, it was good but I was expecting, well more.
Next was an classical/orchestral track. The vocals sounded very good although I preferred a similar track I heard on the Canton system. Finally there was an acoustic track and this is where the speakers sounded at their best. This track was very impressive.
So all in all a good speaker but I was not blown away.
So there you have it. I am yet to hear a speaker/system that can beat the Meridian DSP8000s and Sooloos that I heard last time but I was much more impressed with a lot of the systems this time around.
I have also noted that quite a few of the demos involved some form of streaming device. This is certainly taking centre stage and I am not surprised!