I spent 48 hours treasure hunting at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show – these are the 11 coolest things I found (VIDEO)

Bristol Hii-Fi? Highlights 2024
(Image credit: WHat Hi-Fi?)

The Bristol Hi-Fi Show always brings with it loads of awesome hi-fi kit, and having walked around the show ardently searching for cool new stuff, I can safely confirm this remains the case in 2024.

And to help those who didn’t make it to the show I’ve created this guide detailing the 11 coolest things I saw at the Bristol H-Fi Show 2024.

1. Wharfedale Super Denton Heritage speakers

Wharfedale Super Denton Heritage speakers at Bristo Hi-Fi on stand

(Image credit: WHat Hi-Fi?)

Wharfedale’s latest Super Denton Heritage speakers made their debut at the show. The fashionable stand mounts were teased before the show, but this was the first time we saw them in the flesh.

While the listening conditions are never great, paired with an Audiolab 9000N network streamer, the 9000A amp and 9000CDT transport they look like an enticing bit of kit and the team and I can’t wait to get them back into our proper listening rooms later this year.

 2. Leak Sandwich speakers 

Myself and the team got our first look at Leak’s new 120 and Sandwich 150 speakers, at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show 2024. Why the sandwich name you ask? There are a couple of reasons. 

First, they feature Leak's trademark Aluminium-Foamcore Sandwich cone driver design. Second, the speaker cabinets are also built with a special glue filling sandwiched between an outer layer of MDF and an inner layer of high-density particle board to scatter and dampen resonances.

 3. Acoustic Energy Corinium 

Unveiled all the way back in October last year, Bristol finally gave us a chance to see Acoustic Energy’s new Corinium floorstanding speakers.

Being pitched as the result of a three-year project by Acoustic Energy's in-house design team the £6000 per pair speakers aim to deliver a new level of performance for high-end speakers. Myself and the team’ll be keen to see if they deliver on this promise when we get them in for review.

4. PMC Twenty5i Active speakers

PMC Twenty5i Active range at Bristol Hi-Fi Show

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

PMC used the Bristol Hi-Fi Show as the launchpad for its nifty new Twenty5i Active series of speakers. These are an active version of the passive twenty5 range PMC launched all the way back in 2016. Featuring built-in amplification the active speakers aim to improve on their predecessor and deliver greater clarity, transparency and a more natural sound overall.

What makes the launch particularly interesting is the inclusion of an optional active upgrade module which slots straight into the back panel of the same two-way speaker models from the passive Twenty5 range and adds all the benefits from the new active line.

5. Chord Ultima Integrated Amplifier   

Chord Ultima at Bristol Hi-Fi Show 2024

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The Chord Ultima Integrated Amplifier made its debut at the Bristol Hi-Fi show. The £8500 Ultima Integrated was on show paired with the firm’s Qutest DAC and the M Scaler upscaler. The reason we’re so excited about the amp is that as well as looking like a proper slice of sci-fi kit, the Ultima features the firm’s proprietary dual-feed-forward error-correction topology, which constantly monitors and corrects signals before the output stage.  

6. Ruark R810 all-in-one system 

Ruark R810 all-in-one system

(Image credit: WHat Hi-Fi?)

The R810 is the long-awaited follow-up to the iconic 2016 Ruark R7, which was first released over 10 years ago.

A "modern-day take on the iconic radiogram the all-in-one system oozes design appeal and adds wireless streaming to the functionality, more powerful 180W of Class A/B amplification and an upgraded 4.1 arrangement – which combines two larger 30mm silk dome tweeters with twin 10cm paper cone woofers, and a 20cm long throw paper cone subwoofer.

7. Neat Acoustics Mystique Classic

Neat Mystique Classic at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

I and the What Hi-Fi? team have never been shy about our desire for smaller, but better sound hi-fi. Enter the Neat Acoustics Mystique Classic, an enticing-looking, dinky floor stander that stands at a modest 78cm tall.

Despite their size, they pack some impressive specifications, featuring using the same 134mm treated paper cone mid/bass driver from Neat's 5-star Motive range. 

This makes them the smallest floorstanders we have seen in quite some time and a very exciting prospect for any hi-fi fan that’s short on space – see what we did there?

8. Focal Aria Evo X 

Focal Aria Evo X at Bristol Hi-Fi Show

(Image credit: What Hi-FI?)

After over a month of waiting we finally got to get a real-world look at the Focal Aria Evo X speakers. On show in Naim/Focal’s swanky executive demo room, the speaker line is the successor to the Aria 900 line which was originally released a decade ago. There are significant hardware upgrades across every entry to the line,

Highlights include the use of Focal’s proprietary ‘M’-shaped inverted dome tweeter which claims to reproduce frequencies up to 30kHz and the use of midrange and bass speaker drivers, constructed using Focal’s signature flax cone – which aims to help them deliver more natural, immersive sound. 

9. Naim 300 series

Naim Nait 300 series at Bristol Hi-Fi Show

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

After being unveiled to celebrate Naim’s 50th anniversary last year, I finally got a chance to see the new 300-series separates at Bristol. These included the NSS 333 high-resolution network streamer, the NAC 332 high-end analogue pre-amplifier and NAP 350 power amp. While I didn’t get to do an in-dpeth listening session with the new 300 series, what little I saw left me and the team hankering to get them into our test rooms.

10. Wilson Benesch Discovery 3zero Standmount Speakers

Wilson Benesch Discovery 3zero Standmount Speakers at Bristol Hi-Fi

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

After showing off its floorstanders last year, WIlson Benesch was back at Bristol this year with its Discovery 3zero standmount Speakers.

These are the third-generation standmounts from the Wilson Benesch and from what I saw they look pretty darned interesting, featuring the firm’s unique driver array – which places the tweeter at the acoustic centre of a midrange drive unit and an isobarically loaded woofer on the bottom. 

I only had a brief listen, in less-than-ideal tradeshow conditions, but the hardware and swish looks left me and the wider team hankering to give them a proper go in our dedicated test rooms.

11. The What Hi-Fi? TV tech demo

What Hi-Fi? tech demo 2024 Bristol Hi-Fi Show

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

As always I’d be remiss if I didn’t list our tech demo as THE key highlight of Bristol Hi-Fi Show.

This year the team continued our home cinema theme pitting the Panasonic MZ1500 and MLA-powered MZ2000 head-to-head to showcase what difference the new award-winning micro lens array tech makes on a flagship OLED. 

And that’s a wrap on this year’s Bristol Hi-Fi Show highlights reel. As ever make sure to get involved in the conversation and let us know if you have any questions about the products mentioned, or think we missed some!

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Alastair Stevenson
Editor in Chief

Alastair is What Hi-Fi?’s editor in chief. He has well over a decade’s experience as a journalist working in both B2C and B2B press. During this time he’s covered everything from the launch of the first Amazon Echo to government cyber security policy. Prior to joining What Hi-Fi? he served as Trusted Reviews’ editor-in-chief. Outside of tech, he has a Masters from King’s College London in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion, is an enthusiastic, but untalented, guitar player and runs a webcomic in his spare time.