Bristol S&V - My Views.....
Right, so I went to the Bristol Sound and Vision show today and here is some feedback!
First of all, I think the whole show was excellent. Each manufacturer with their own rooms (where needed) and on the whole some friendly Reps.
So, better start with What HiFi! I went in and watched the demo which I believe Joe presented?? It started off by demonstrating the difference between a 128kbps file sent to a Meridian preamp via the laptop analogue output and then onto some Meridian DSP7200 loudspeakers. (Don’t these have DACS in them?? Are they bypassed for the demo??) It sounded very good. Next the same song was played but this time it was a lossless version via the digital output on the laptop to a £2K Bryston DAC and then onto the preamp etc. Did I notice a big improvement. An improvement worth £2K…..No!! It sounded better but not that much better. Maybe a longer demo would have brought about a different result??
Next we were treated to a surround and picture fest courtesy of a 103 inch plasma and a Meridian surround package fed by the new high end Sony Blu-Ray. Results here were more encouraging as the picture and sound were very impressive.
Cyrus – being a fan of Cyrus I was really looking forward to this suite but was left a bit disappointed! As expected though there was a great deal about the SE CD players and new XP(d) Amps. I tried to talk to one of the reps (who needed to ask someone else about the price) about the new amps and to be honest he did not seem to be interested in answering my questions. Hmmmm…
There were a lot of items on display too but not many actually set up. Just a CD8SE, New 8XPd and (I think) 2 PSX-Rs and a Power connected to a pair of PMC FB1i. I did expect a range of setups to be ready to demo but sadly not. There was no-one really ready to demo the kit and both times I went into the room there was just 1 person listening to it.
What a shame! Still it all looked nice….
Meridian – a company I have always been an admirer of since hearing their products 15 years ago I certainly had to see/hear their demo. I was expecting to see the £100k projector system but the Rep told us this was published by mistake and it was just going to be an audio demo. Oh well……that would be ok. So, we were treated to a demo using their top of the range CD player and Sooloos music server connected to a pair of £45,000 DSP8000s. Now I was in the first group to listen to the demo and the Rep told us that this was unfortunate. Unfortunate because we would not hear a better sound all day! And you know what? He was right! The Meridian gear sounded stunning and nothing else I heard all day came close to it!!
Russ Andrews – I went to watch the Russ Andrews demo as I was very interested in hearing the difference a mains product could make. The first part of the demo was showing us the difference that twisted speaker cable made on the sound. (Russ also said that complaints had been made about some of the claims he made surrounding his products. So he had recently paid for and got some scientific proof to back up his claims which are available to view on his website). For the demo Russ had some Arcam electronics with Focal speakers and bog standard wires all round. A track was played and then the cables switched round for the better quality ones. Guess what…..there was a difference and the sound was much improved. However, we know better cables can do this so I was confused about the claims against twisted cables. Maybe it should have been the same cable used but in straight and twisted formats.
Next up a £2000 balanced mains block was connected and the same track played again. Guess what………..my friends and me noticed no difference at all!!! Hmmm
Next up some cones were used under the speakers and the equipment and the same track played again. And again we could tell no difference!!! Oh well………..
As for the rest of the show, and I visited a lot of rooms, I was impressed with the audio on display but was not blown away with it, nor did I find it significantly better than my current kit and I am talking about listening to Chord Electronics, Bryston, Naim, Quad etc, etc.
Now maybe this is down to all the kit being of a similar calibre and the differences at these price points are just subtle compared to what I have??? Maybe longer demo periods are needed to really appreciate the difference?? I am not sure. All I can say is it was good but not great…..(Although did not see the KEF demo )
Another area I was quite surprised with was with headphones. I listened to the top of the range cans from Grado, Denon and Sennheiser and was not blown away here either. Sennheiser were the only ones using a dedicated headphone amp etc but I was still under whelmed with the performance compared to my Grado SR60s. Again, maybe improvements are just subtle. Maybe more time is needed??????
So, my overall conclusions are:
1 – Great Show
2 – Great Demo’s
3 – Be happy with my equipment because…….
4 – To get a truly stunning sound I need £45,000 for some Meridian speakers!