Australian Hi-Fi Show 2024 report: all-Aussie supersystem, Avantgarde world debut, and more

Australian supersystem
(Image credit: Future)

Not many things would have descended on Sydney in greater numbers than millimetres of rainfall on the weekend (150mm over 24 hours!), but hi-fi brands were indeed one of them. After a successful inaugural event last April, the Australian Hi-Fi Show 2024 returned to the Novotel Sydney Central Hotel to give Sydneysider audiophiles the opportunity to see and hear some of the best audio and AV products from Australia and all around the world.

Brought to you by Australian Hi-Fi, What Hi-Fi? and Sound+Image magazines by Future Publishing, the three-day celebration of the hi-fi and home cinema industries featured nearly 30 rooms of kit, which included an all-Aussie system costing the equivalent of five Teslas, AlsyVox ribbon speakers from Italy that delivered mind-blowing sound and got everyone talking, and even the latest Avantgarde Acoustics horn loudspeaker system ahead of its official unveiling at the renowned High End Munich show next month.

show banner

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If you couldn’t weather the storm to get there, don’t fret – the showfloor highlights can be found below, so you can at least see what sonic heaven looked like and get an idea of which demos to chase your local retailer for as the winter months draw close. And hey, there’ll always be next year!

Finally, don't forget to call back to see which room won our show awards for 'Best Sounding Room', as voted for by show attendees. Watch this space.

Lower Ground Floor

Bowers & Wilkins, Classe, Denon & more (Masimo Consumer)

Bowers & Wilkins 801 D4

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Polk speakers

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A natural next stop following the Bowers & Wilkins 700 Series speaker demo in Masimo’s room on floor nine was its two rooms on the lower ground, one of which housed the 801 D4 representative of the all-singing-all-dancing 800 Diamond Signature Series. Alongside high-end Classe Delta pre and power amplification, naturally, fed by the Marantz 30n player (a Denon turntable was there to tag-team) and connected by AudioQuest, the new 800 did what they do best – highly insightful, dynamically expressive, tonally-straight-down-the-middle renditions. You wouldn’t have heard Leonard Cohen’s vocal in You Want It Darker quite like that through another system had you held up every other room demonstrator at knifepoint to play it. 

Across the corridor was another B&W speaker series with 800 Diamond-levels of fame: the affordable – and ever-brilliant in its eighth generation – 600 Series, paired with Marantz’s PM7000N streaming amplifier. And ensuring no visitor was left short of demonstrations to choose from in Masimo’s lower ground floor representation, Polk speakers and Denon electronics formed a likely, also accessible pairing.

Wilson Audio, ADG Productions & Grimm Audio (Indie Hi-Fi)

Wilson Audio SabrinaX

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HoloAudio headphone amplifier

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If ever a queue needed to be formed over the weekend it was for Indie Hi-Fi’s single-seat (!) demo of the Wilson Audio SabrinaX speakers, Grimm Audio MU1 streamer (and Roon server) and AGD Productions’ Andante DAC/preamp and Audion mono amps. Indeed, this system deserves to be heard in that central, up-close sweet spot, and sweet it did sound. 

It would’ve been pretty bold of you to occupy that room for more than 15 minutes, but you could’ve far from reasonably spent hours in Indie Hi-Fi’s other room, which thankfully catered for a few more bodies – specifically head-fi fans, who had before them a veritable selection of person listening gear, including Raal Requisite ribbon, Meze Audio and Dan Clark Audio headphones and complementary components from the likes of HoloAudio and Ferrum. Exquisite! 

Ground Floor

Sonus Faber, McIntosh, Aurender & more (Synergy)

Sonus Faber Stradivari

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Sonus Faber’s Stradivari sequel, which saw the iconic Italian speaker make a comeback last year to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary, made a thrilling – and lasting – impression at the Australian Hi-Fi Show, aptly paired with McIntosh’s MC1.25KW monos, 1200 Series digital components and MT5 turntable, as Aurender’s N20 streamer brought the sweet streams and REL’s No.32 subs jacked up the lowest end. An enthralling rendition of Meute’s You & Me, particularly as the techno brass brand’s chorus horns come in, while the Stradivari’s imaging and sub integration were touted using Gojira’s Drum Solo.

The Synergy room’s more accessible, ‘real-world’ system saw Advance Paris – fresh from its glowing A12 Classic integrated amplifier review in Australian Hi-Fi magazine – and the ever-reliable ELAC join forces, while an all-Rega system fronted by the British brand’s new Aya speakers gave visitors good reason to revisit on their way out!

March Audio

March Audio Ukkonen

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We were more than happy to be reacquainted with the Ukkonen AWG floorstanders by March Audio, who drove (!) their homegrown wares and themselves down to Sydney from Albany, WA to show visitors why it won second place for ‘Best Sounding  Room’ at last year’s event. With the floorstanders and its Sointuve WG standmounters driven this time by its new Pre1 preamp and flagship P801 power amp, March Audio once again demonstrated how spectacular sound doesn’t have to cost the earth. And if you made the most of the 10 per cent discount the company offered at the show, then congratulations on your latest bargain!

Vivid Audio, Jeff Rowland, PS Audio & more (Avation)

Vivid Audio speakers

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The phrase ‘blue and green should never be seen unless there’s a colour in between’ simply does not apply to Vivid Audio’s side-side-by-side positioning of its Kaya S12 (green) and Giya G2, which looked gorgeous next to one another in Avation’s room. The former, hooked up to a Lumin P1 streamer, the didi Jeff Rowland Capri preamp and PS Audio BHK M600 monos, sounded just as sonically pleasing as it was visually, despite its large environment. Read Sound+Image’s Vivid Audio Kaya S12 review for all the superlatives.

First Floor

Duntech, Dohmann & Halcro (Nirvana Sound)

Duntech Princess speakers

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Dohmann Helix One

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Ever wondered how your music collection would sound through a system costing the equivalent of five Teslas? The Three Aus-keteers in Duntech, Dohmann and Halcro treated show attendees to a demo of a near-million-dollar supersystem that sounded like, well, a million dollars. Duntech’s two-metre-tall Princess loudspeakers took the helm, flying the flag for the company’s "Prime Directives" design ethos, and were driven by Halcro’s new stereo version of its legendary Eclipse amplifier, which Audio Esoterica magazine recently heralded as one of the best-sounding amplifiers in the world. 

These talents were fed by another in Dohmann’s equally renowned Helix One turntable, featuring a new Supatrac Blackbird tonearm whose revolutionary patented 'Sideways Uni-Pivot Arm' bearing is, if you ask us, worth further reading. Mavis Staple’s 2019 Live in London LP was the highlight of one particular demonstration, with the system utterly nailing the recording’s wonderful Union Chapel, London sonics.

Elementi, BenQ & Meridian (Wavetrain Cinema)

Elementi speakers

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Meridian speakers

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Home cinema design company Wavetrain Cinema, who last year became the first outside Europe and North America to win ‘Best Global Home Cinema’ at the CEDIA Awards, offered nothing short of a spectacle at the Australian Hi-Fi Show 2024. 

The AU$100,000 set-up comprised surround speakers (Firebird, Firefly), subwoofers (Obsidian) and amplification (Tungsten, Magnesium – located close to the speakers in vertical enclosures to reduce cable lengths and consequent interference) from the company’s own brand Elementi, plus a Severston Impression Series screen, Lumagen Radiance Pro video processor and BenQ’s brand-new W5800 laser projector (which was placed too high to photograph!). And boy, was it a showstopper! Barbie showed off the BenQ’s rich colour palette, No Time To Die reassured that it could ‘do natural’ while being a glossy double-page advert for Elementi sound, and the final The Greatest Showman demo clip would’ve sealed the deal for anyone umming and ahhing over turning their nest-flown teenager’s room into a dream home cinema. Fantastic!

Avantgarde Acoustics, Piega, Innuos & more (Maxmedia)

Avantgarde Mezzo G3

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Leica L1

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Avantgarde Audio’s all-new Mezzo G3 active loudspeaker system (powered by its own iTRON power amplifier) arrived Down Under in time for the show ahead of its official launch at the High End Munich show next month, dazzling not only with its orange horns but its equally beguiling performance, not least its pin-point-precise stereo imaging when fed trip-hop electronica by the connected COS D10 streaming DAC/preamp. 

Less orange but no less impressive was another Maxmedia brand showcase in the Innuous Pulse player, Fezz Audio’s tube Equinox DAC and Titania stereo amp driving Piega loudspeakers, their rendition of Annie Lennox’s Put A Spell On You an early show highlight! And lest we forget the brightest corner of the room – Leica's Cine 1 Cinema TV, a glossy advert for the increasingly popular big-screen TV-style projection market.


Beyerdynamic stand at the Australian Hi-fi Show

(Image credit: Beyerdynamic/Future)

The Beyerdynamic headphones stand from Australian distributor Synchronised Technology was visitors' first post-show-registration stop, loaded with award-winning and best-in-class cans from the German brand's diverse, budget-spanning catalogue – including the brand-new (but numbers-limited) DT 770 Pro X Limited Edition, bringing tech from the company's higher price points down to a $349 headphone. Not a bad way to start your audio show experience! Celebrating its 100th year in the business, Beyerdynamic isn't short of reputable pairs (as our 9 best Beyerdynamic headphones list goes some way to prove!), and show attendees would have discovered the reason why professionals consistently choose the company's headphones for Broadcast, Film and Stage applications, and seen how their technologies transfer into stunning consumer headphones for home and away.

Boomerang Records

Crates of vinyl records on sale at the Australian Hi-fi Show 2023

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If Beyerdynamic was a first stop for visitors, the adjacent vinyl racks from Boomerang Records were everyone's essential last stop, to load up on "just a couple" of takeaways from the Sydney-based store's trove of the black stuff and exchange collection stories with Boomerang's endlessly knowledgeable team (though we had to have a word about Led Zeppelin being filed under 'Metal'). Our Sound+Image editor Jez Ford betrayed his love of prog by leaving with a rare Fish/Tony Banks 12-incher under his arm, though also a more respectable (especially for a Brit) Masters Apprentices compilation.    

Floor 9

Secret Chord Analogue

Secret Chord Analogue

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Secret Chord Analogue’s often-packed room 901 included demonstrations of the “world’s finest vinyl record cleaning method”, Record Restore, while music was flowing from 15-inch open-baffle Confluence Decor-series speakers driven, on our visit, by neat little red-fronted RedRoo electronics, the SE5 tube amplifier and PR5 Tube Phono Preamp. Designed by Phil Wait, former staff engineer at Electronics Today International magazine, the RedRoos are available in kit form at a couple of levels, including completed circuit boards that require “little more than a screwdriver” to construct, Phil told us.   

Revival Audio, Musical Fidelity & more (Audio Marketing)

Revival Audio Atalante 4

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Musical Fidelity M8xTT

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Audio Marketing brought the latest release in the successful Revival Audio Atalante loudspeaker range from France to Room 902, the new Atalante 4 sounding super-clean in a more conventional tower-like design rather than the wonderful width of the first two giant standmounts, yet with the same Atalante engineering and French-built design details. The speakers were generously powered by the 550W Musical Fidelity M8xi super-integrated amplifier, while the source topping the stack was MF’s acrylic aesthetic wonder, the $18k M8xTT turntable which was playing, among others, the LP collection issued by Inakustic, whose giant cables linked all components.

Microphase Audio Design 

Microphase Audio Design speaker family

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M.A.D. speakers are renowned for their extraordinary clean midrange, certainly demonstrated up in Room 903 but newly supplemented by the more significant bass performance of the latest Tower 4 design (left of picture), now the highest level of the brand’s iteratively expanded speakers. This is the first to introduce an MTM arranged pair of 13cm midrange drivers flanking the tweeter, while below are twin active 10-inch bass drivers in a push-pull arrangement, each powered by a 150W MosFet amplifier. From an eclectic collection of electronics on hand, MAD’s Jean-Marie Liere was using a classic Quad 606 amplifier to drive the Tower 4s, which were most definitely on song, our favourite being a thrilling delivery of London Grammar’s Hey Now.

Yamaha Music Australia

Yamaha 5000 Series system

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Yamaha had two rooms up on the 9th floor, the first pairing the company’s 2000 Series hi-fi with the NS-2000A floorstanding speakers in their Yamaha true piano-black gloss, and everything on Les Davis Entropic Isolators. We suffered through a visitor’s choice of Simply Red, the system ruthlessly revealing its 80s’ appallingness, before the demonstrator took mercy and switched to two gorgeous slices of Lana Del Rey in The Grants and A&W, thus reassuring us as to the enveloping True Sound abilities of the 2000 Series.

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Next door Yamaha had the 5000 Series hi-fi system, and no such reassurance was required there, even though the Giant & Tremendous turntable wasn’t initially being used in this usually all-analogue system (it arrived late), so that we instead enjoyed (greatly) the 5000 Series pre-power and speakers’ abilities when fed from a Tidal stream. We also enjoyed the Yamaha team's all-new 70th-anniversary (of hi-fi products) t-shirt, almost as much as we did the deck's performance when it did arrive for the Saturday showing.

Yamaha also brought the biggest prize of the show: a pair of the YH-5000SE orthodynamic headphones, valued at $7499, so the room held a regular flow of competition entrants getting their cards initialled and their entries assured. Winners will soon be revealed!

Bowers & Wilkins, Marantz & more (Masimo Consumer)

B&W 700 Series speakers

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Masimo Consumer’s many brands were spread liberally across the Show, with the ninth floor hosting a dynamite demo of the latest Signature edition from Bowers & Wilkins, the 702 S3 Signature with luxurious Datuk Gloss finish, internal upgrades and just a little gold bling trim. Driving the system was the Marantz Model 50 amplifier, with the newly award-winning CD 50n spinning CDs and streaming, plus the calming influence of a Furman power conditioner. Top tunes during our visit included Joshua Bell’s Slavonic Fantasy in B minor and Beats Antiques Surges.

Kudos Audio, Copland, VPI & more (Audio Magic/Krispy Audio)

Kudos Audio Titan 808 speakers

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Audio Magic and Krispy Audio shared Room 907, and delivered one of our very favourite-sounding rooms (though the coveted 'Best Sound of Show' is chosen by public vote). The cunningly chamfered Kudos Audio Titan 808 speakers were effortlessly rolling out the tunes under the command of Copland’s CTA407 integrated tube amplifier, almost invisible in black at the top of one rack, while a VPI Scout turntable topped the other, above the very new Manley Oasis phono stage from California, which replaces the highly regarded Chinook. Digital tunes came from the versatile Lumin P1 streamer, DAC and pre-amplifier. Glorious.

Harbeth, Ayre Acoustics, Bergmann Audio & more (Audio Magic/Space Hi-Fi)

Harbeth speakers

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Audio Magic teamed with Space Hi-Fi for its second show room. It’s always a pleasure to relax in front of a pair of Harbeth speakers, here the Super HL5 Plus XD model with their Harbeth-made 200mm RADIAL2 bass/mid driver, and connected with Ultra Black II Tellurium cables (which Space Hi-Fi is currently including for free with the speakers). Johnnie Bergmann’s very black air-bearing turntable from Denmark wasn’t playing when we visited, but we greatly enjoyed digital tunes served from Aqua’s LinQ network interface Formula xHD DAC, playing through an Ayre pre-power combo of KX-5 Twenty preamp and VX-5 Twenty fully-discrete, fully-balanced, zero-feedback power amp.

Auralic, Rogue Audio, Devore (Mcleans Smarter Home Entertainment)

Devore Fidelity Orangutan O/96

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Mcleans Smarter Home Entertainment always provides a darkened listening haven, this year equipped with Devore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 speakers – designed especially for compatibility with lower-powered valve amps, though Mcleans brought something rather higher in the wattage department, with 90 watts of pure valve power from the four matched KT88s in the Rogue Audio Stereo 100 power amplifier, taking its lead from the Rogue RP-7 preamp. An excellent choice of tunes – including Diana Krall’s take on Desperado, and Nick Cave’s Into My Arms – made this a room hard to leave.

MartinLogan, Anthem, Bluesound (Audio Active)

MartinLogan Motion XT

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Audio Active switched out its planned Sony/Theory demonstration for a wall of MartinLogan’s surprisingly affordable Motion XT loudspeakers with their Gen2 Obsidian folded-motion (aka Oskar Heil) tweeters: the black floorstanders are the Motion XT F200, the white ones the F100s, along with the B100 standmounts. Powering the set were Anthem stereo amplifiers: the STR Preamplifier with its (excellent, in our experience) ARC room correction, and the STR stereo power amplifier capable of 400W into 8 ohms, 800W into 2 ohms, all playing tunes sucked from the ether by a streamer from fellow Canadians Bluesound.

Serhan Swift

Serhan Swift mµ3F

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Serhan Swift brought the brand-new mµ3F floorstander, as well as the award-winning mµ2 MkII standmount. The floorstander is a 2.5-way incorporating two differently-tuned cabinets in an arrangement which presents a friendly impedance curve, making them easy for amplifiers to drive accurately. Both Brad Serhan and Morris Swift were on hand to explain the speakers and argue over music selections; they went for 2.5 over 3-way in this design, they said, to avoid a second crossover at critical listening frequencies.

A late bonus in this room came from the inclusion of the latest wonderbox from fellow Australians DEQX, also on hand to explain their boffin-brained latest creation. Years in the design, and still in beta software (for this period thereby available direct from DEQX at significant discount), DEQX’s new Gen4 LS200 is the first DEQX processor to come with amplification in the same chassis. It performs first speaker correction and only secondly room correction, and it can do so not only for passive speakers but for up to 4-way active speakers, and now using cloud computing instead of requiring a PC to run the software. So this was another room thrillingly showcasing the skills of Australia’s homespun hi-fi industry.

Sennheiser Hearing

Sennheiser headphones lineup

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Sennheiser HD headphones

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Sennheiser Hearing (the consumer division) brought its award-winning Accentum Plus wireless noise-cancellers and its very latest Momentum Sport wireless earbuds, which integrate both heart rate and body temperature sensors and are compatible with popular fitness apps including Apple Health, Garmin Connect, Peloton, and Polar. 

With the new owners of Sennheiser Consumer being a Swiss medical company, we were also interested to discover the Conversation Clear Plus earbuds, designed as hearing supplements to cut out room noise and focus on the speaker in front – just the thing for all those restaurants with horrible hard acoustics.

Plenty of full-sized cans were there for the auditioning, while also in attendance was the latest junior member of Sennheiser’s Ambeo soundbars, the Ambeo Mini.

AudioSolutions, Vitus Audio, Silent Angel & more (Hi End Audio/Absolute Hi End)

Audio Solutions Figaro M2

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Hi End Audio and distributor Absolute Hi End brought the brand-new (just reviewed!) AudioSolutions Figaro M loudspeakers in a very fetching shade of electric blue, these floorstanders being driven by the all-dancing and definitely all-singing Vitus Audio RI-101Mk2 amplifier/streamer/DAC, along with Silent Angel’s dinky switches and streamers, the new $34k SoulNote A3 SE amplifier, and Vyda Orion cabling throughout. During our stay we particularly enjoyed a powerful dose of Yello, the Swiss electronica pumping forth alive and real from these stylish speakers and high-end components.


Richter Wizard S6Plus

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Richter had perhaps the most unexpected demo of the whole show. We were (again) fully impressed with the performance of the latest Wizard S6 Plus floorstanders, just perfect, tight yet bouncy, beautiful vocals, and yet at AU$2899, among the least expensive speakers at the show. They ran from a Bluesound streamer with Musical Fidelity amplification. 

But then Richter’s Brian Rodgers played the same tune (Jane Monheit’s version of Honeysuckle Rose) through a wider-situated pair of Richter’s new Unicorn LCR ‘centre’ speakers. And then again with the Unicorns standing up vertically. Rear switches on the Unicorn allow adjustment for horizontal or vertical use, as well as tuning for left or right positioning, and with a 1-1.5dB lift over 3-10kHz available to improve dialogue as an optimal centre speaker. So one Unicorn could operate as a centre, two as a stereo pair, or three for LCR in a home cinema set-up. And the sound is a perfect match for Richter’s other S6plus speakers, lacking only the lowest substance that a sub would bring to a full system. The Unicorn is, therefore, Richter’s most versatile speaker ever, and made for an odd but certainly sensational demo. 

Dellichord (Stereotech)

Dellichord FR2035 active speaker system

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Dellichord’s Australian creators were on hand in Room 920 to introduce – and explain – both their newly-award-winning isobaric four-driver FR6 standmount speakers, and the brand-new FR2035 IsoActive System (outside speakers in the picture above), which combines an FR35 bookshelf monitor atop the FR20 IsoActive Bass Module, both powered by internal amplifiers which deliver 250W into their 4 ohms. 

For the passive speakers there were Exposure amps to do the driving, while an Aurender streamer was sourcing the tunes. 

A cutaway of the FR6 usefully demonstrated its hidden additional isobaric midrange driver, and the space which drives its rear passive radiator; “otherwise hardly anyone realises that isobaric means there is another identical drive unit inside the box,” they told us. 

AlsyVox, Aries Cerat, Pink Faun & more (PuraSound)

AlsyVox, Aries Cerat and Pink Faun system

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PuraSound delivered definitely one of our favourite sounds of the show (the coveted 'Best Sound of Show' is chosen by public vote) in Room 922, largely thanks to the bewitching AlsyVox full-range ribbon loudspeakers from Italy, these actually one of the brand’s smaller models despite weighing 85kg each, using two panels 58cm wide and 1.44 metres high, and with 93dB reference sensitivity, making them easy to drive. 

Doing so here was the $75k Aries Cerat Aperio integrated amplifier with its innovative TriodeFet technology, while on the floor in front were two simply massive Ithaka ladder DACs, each channel using 24 parallel switched resistor ladder converters. Pink Faun's 2.16 Ultra digital server/streamer brought the tunes, with the system completed by cables from Luna and Skogrand. PuraSound's Robert Campbell predicted to us that this system would be an addictive listen; he was not wrong.

PSB Speakers (Amber Technology)

PSB Speakers

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Amber Technology brought PSB Speakers to Room 923, running the latest Imagine T65 floorstanders from the 50-year-old Canadian company founded by the great Paul Barton, with source streaming and power from sister Canadian company NAD. 

Amber cleverly built in a second demonstration, bringing two pairs of Imagine T65 towers. The black pair sat straight on the hotel carpet, while the white pair perched atop a set of IsoAcoustics isolating feet. A switch box (supplied by IsoAcoustics) then allowed seamless comparison between the isolated and unisolated speakers. The difference was clear; this is the second time we’ve heard this IsoAcoustics demo, and the second time the difference has been more than we’d expect, so much so that we (again) headed round the back to check for cabling furfies. Finding nothing (other than being unable to assess the switching box itself), we suspect the effect must be real. 

Of course, Amber Technology understandably couldn't resist bringing along the fantastic flagship Synchrony T800 too, even if they really belong in a larger room!

Our thanks to everyone who visited and/or exhibited at the Show this year – one day of tropical rain and two days of sunshine, three days of fine music and AV entertainment across four floors of the Sydney Central Hotel. 

Let's do it again next year!

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.