Where it's at
Made a trip to Audioworld 2013 today and heard some interesting kit. It was a smaller show than the old Manchester shows in the City Centre but better for me in the sense that it was all 2 channel, and there was more time to sit and appreciate each individual system. The range of kit was also very interesting, pretty much all high-end stuff and not a Naim, KEF, Roksan etc. in sight.
So where is it at?
For me, on the evidence of today, you need to go off the beaten track to get the nicest sounds. Albarry Music's pre amplification and mono block powers impressed hugely with an Accuphase CD player and some Tannoy Definition DC8s - a supremely controlled, natural and involving presentation and a system I could happily have put into the back of the car and set up at home if I had the money. I could also say the same about the Belles amplification driving the Dali Fazon floorstanders. Inspire Hi-Fi's turntables stood out as well with some really cohesive and entertaining sounds, and the valve amplification and 'made for valve' speakers of Icon Audio were fantastic. I also enjoyed hearing some Art speakers driven by the McIntosh 275 valve amplification - extremely dynamic but also a well integrated sound. A Luxmann CD/amp combo also sounded excellent, though could have done with some better music playing through them.
Doug Brady were there with some interesting Renaissance amplification powering Harbeth Super HL5s - the first time I've heard Harbeth speakers but they certainly sounded very cogent. Slightly more in the mainstream, Rega's RP8 and forthcoming new amp sounded beautiful through some PMC Fact speakers.
Worst sound at the show? Probably the Musical Fidelity AMS set-up playing through B&W PM1s. Harsh, edgy and uncomfortable to listen to unfortunately. I was also under-whelmed by the Linn set-up. Brodmann made a big thing about how they build pianos as well as speakers but then spoilt it all by playing some piano music through their speakers which sounded awful. Sorry, but pianos don't have that hollow, boxy sound at the bass end unless they are extremely cheap and nasty! Big reservations too about the Burmester room. It was all very precise sounding but volume levels were pumped up high and it wasn't the sort of sound you could live with for long sessions.
It was a very enjoyable and stimulating day. Anybody else go? Any further thoughts?