The Australian Hi-Fi Show 2023 took place in Sydney from 28-30 April. If you came along you’ll have heard some fine-sounding rooms – indeed one of the most impressive things about the Show were how many of the rooms were impressively ‘on song’.
Often a Show will have four or five rooms where the sound is spectacularly impressive: at the Australian Hi-Fi Show this year there were only one or two rooms which weren’t sounding fantastic.
That made the traditional exit poll particularly interesting this year.
As part of the extensive prize giveaways at the Show, the competition card asked showgoers to identify their favourite sounding room of the Show, and to say why.
The votes are counted, and it’s not so much the winners that are surprising as the spread of votes. Generally it’s a contest between two or three rooms… but this year there were 23 rooms that got votes for Best Sound, a clear sign of how many exhibitors had got the music flowing and the movie soundtracks pumping.
So with no more analysis, let’s tot up the numbers, and announce the vote winners…
NUMBER ONE: Kyron & Halcro
It was no huge surprise to find the Show’s Aussie super-system topping the poll – the Kyron and Halcro room on Level 1.
With a choice of streaming services or vinyl spinning courtesy of Mark Döhmann’s Helix One Mk3 turntable, the four Halcro Eclipse amps were able to coax simply unimpeachable performance from Kyron’s remarkable Kronos system, with Kyron’s Mercury subwoofers in support. It's a system that adds up to more than half-a-million dollars.
Kyron is no stranger to winning the vote for Best Sounding Room, but it’s the first time it's been on show in combination with legendary Halcro amplification. Those who sat in the room for an extended session will fully understand why the Best Sound accolade heads to the South Australian combination of superstars representing the world-beating audio performance that Australia has to offer.
NUMBER TWO: March Audio
Another Australian system was voted into second place – and it’s just a tad more affordable than the Kyron/Halcro combo.
Down on the Ground Floor was March Audio from Albany in WA, with the Sound+Image award-winning Sointuva WG standmounts but also the new March Audio Ukkonen floorstanders in a vibrant gloss red, paired with the company’s Purifi-based Eigentakt P421 mono power amplifiers… plus a framed photo of the husband and wife (Alan and Ruth March) team’s Norwegian-breed dogs.
With the new floorstanders just under $9k, and the monobloc amplifiers under $2k each, this room was showing what great Australian hi-fi can do at relatively affordable pricing.
Our congrats to March Audio for a great Show performance.
NUMBER THREE: Masimo Consumer
Masimo Consumer aka Sound United aka Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Marantz, Polk et al used their Level 1 space to great effect, with photo murals of Abbey Road outside for ‘Insta’ opportunities and not one but two active systems on demonstration.
The first system paired Bowers & Wilkins speakers with Marantz electronics; the other ran Denon electronics with Polk speakers.
There was also a separate room on Level 9 with the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series sounding fine indeed, and that space garnered votes of its own. But it was the clever combo delivery of the Level 1 space which took out the number 3 position in the Show's popular vote.
Elementi, Serhan-Swift & Yamaha…
Two more Australian companies are in a group of three more rooms that scored plenty of votes but were just short of the podium.
Firstly Elementi, the extraordinary speaker range which rethinks the audio chain of home cinema sound design, as well as providing perhaps the single biggest sound impact of the Show with its huge home cinema demonstration on the Ground Floor…
Serhan-Swift was one of the few companies to turn their hotel room sideways, and it certainly worked, as votes poured in for the delicious performance of the very latest iteration of the company’s standmount Mµ2 MkII speakers, playing alongside a prototype floorstander and enjoying Welsh power from Leema Acoustics’ Tucana II Anniversary edition. Our own notes for this room say simply “flawless”.
Yamaha was out in force at the Show, including the pre-Munich Aussie debut of a new headphone amplifier, in use during individual demonstrations of the YH-5000SE headphones.
But it was the full Yamaha 5000 Series two-channel demonstration at the other end of the Level 9 corridor which brought in the votes. Fully analogue from end to end, the ‘giant and tremendous’ GT-5000 turntable played into C-5000/M-5000 pre/power amplifiers and the NS-5000 Zylon-loaded loudspeakers.
It was fully ‘on song’, the best 5000 Series demonstration we’ve yet heard.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Richter & Perreaux
Only a few votes separated all these from another pair of excellent rooms, and more Antipodeans too, with both Richter and Perreaux gathering vote numbers that lifted them above the long tail.
Richter was celebrating a Sound+Image Lifetime Achievement Award for designer Martin Gosnell, while its room on Level 9 was making some fine sounds from the new Excalibur S6SE and the Wizard S6SE, both in the new Special Edition Black, with gloss-black cabinets but matte-black baffles.
And we have never heard a pair of Richter Wizards sounding better. A Bluesound Node streamed tunes, with Musical Fidelity’s M6si on amplification duties.
Down in the catacombs of the Lower Ground were two systems running Perreaux power from New Zealand, with the company’s Paul Sammes on hand to roll forth information to supplement the fine-sounding tunes.
A bright yellow award-winning Perreaux 200iX powered Amphion standmounts, while the Finnish speaker brand’s larger reference Krypton3X (with twin papyrus cardioid midrange drivers and hidden 10-incher) got the benefit of the Perreaux 300iX and tunes spinning on Holbo’s Airbearing turntable system, another award-winner. Votes a plenty here.
Until next time...
Many expected the Kyron/Halcro room to be a shoo-in in this vote, yet it ended up with less than 15% of the total, while 23 different rooms spread wide the various votes for Best Sounding Room. Some people chose several; a few said they loved them all. It's surely a sign of exceptional overall performance across the Show.
Allowing people to hear what hi-fi can do, how home cinema can truly immerse – these are the opportunities which introduce new people to high-quality sound, and allow them to realise what a difference it might make in their lives.
Our congratulations, then, not only to the top voted rooms, but to all who made the Australian Hi-Fi Show 2023 in Sydney such a memorable weekend.
Click here for our Show Report. And here’s to next time!