There were over 180 exhibitors covering eight levels of the hotel, giving you the chance to see, hear and touch all the latest kit and talk to the people behind them.
Alongside plenty of new product launches, there were award-winners from previous years, plus the odd bit of retro tech (and we don't just mean turntables, of which there were plenty). Read on for our news highlights and video round-ups.
Bristol Show highlights
Bristol Show 2016 preview
The British brand has been quiet of late, but Bristol 2016 marks the public launch of the Aego 3 system. It comes in two configurations: two satellite speakers with a subwoofer, or a soundbar with a subwoofer. Both have aptX Bluetooth connectivity. Acoustic Energy will be by the reception on the ground floor.
More and more AV receivers are getting the Atmos treatment, and Arcam has joined the fray. This will be the company’s first public showing of the flagship Arcam AVR850. Find it in the Empire 2 Suite on the ground floor.
Arcam will also be showing off its Solo Music system, featuring a SACD/CD drive, FM/DAB/DAB+ tuner and 160W of amplification in a stylish, low-resonance enclosure. Audio can be streamed to the Solo Music either wirelessly via Bluetooth or wired via a UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) network.
Astell & Kern
Astell & Kern will be demonstrating it's portable hi-res audio players and in-ear headphones, including the AK380 Copper edition and Rosie earphones. There will also be a whole room dedicated to the entire AK500 system, comprising the AK500N network player, AK500A power amp and AK500P power supply unit, it will be the first time the whole system has been shown in the UK.
Astin Trew is launching a new range of competitively priced audio electronics components at Bristol, starting with the AT2-2100 integrated amplifier shown here.
The new AT2 range will finally supersede the current AT range, with a CD/USB/Ethernet DAC combination to follow, plus a "half box size" MM/MC phono amp and headphone/preamp. Have a look and listen in the Astin Trew room 306.
Visitors to the show will be the first to see and hear Audeze's EL-8 Titanium headphones, the world's first fully integrated Apple Lightning headphones. Apple is rumoured to be dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack from the next iPhone, so a pair of headphones that connect through the lightning port could be a glimpse at the future.
The company is also bringing its Sine headphones, the world's first on-ear planar magnetic headphones, to the show.
Early 2016 will see the next generation of DACs arrive from AudioQuest. The Bristol Show will be the first public showing of the new Beetle, a multi-function DAC that can connect over USB, Toslink and even asynchronous Bluetooth. It's designed to get the best sound from devices with optical digital outputs - think Smart TVs, streaming audio players, set top boxes, games consoles, DAB radios, even old CD players.
The Bluetooth functionality also means it's easy to locally stream apps like Spotify or internet radio to your hi fi from your phone, tablet or PC.
The DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red, first seen at CES in January, will also be on demonstration. Like the Beetle these new DACs feature AudioQuest's new electronic architecture, which is based around new low power consumption processors.
Audio Technica will be showing off its latest turntables, which we first saw at CES 2016 and IFA 2015. These are the AT-LP5 direct-drive turntable, the AT-LP60BT Bluetooth turntable. Also expect new headphones: the updated ART Monitor Series, the ATH-MSR7NC (noise-cancelling) and ATH-SR5 (Bluetooth).
Bowers & Wilkins
B&W will be showing off its new 800 Series Diamond speakers. The range comprises three floorstanding designs, a standmounter and a pair of centre-channel speakers for home cinema applications. Look out for the 805 D3, equipped with a diamond tweeter. You’ll find the range in the Wallace Suite on the lower ground floor.
DSD fans rejoice. Bristol 2016 will see the launch of the Bryston BA-3, a digital-to-analogue converter that can decode up to 384 kHz/32-bit PCM music and up to DSDx4 natively.
It will be on display in the SS Great Britain 2 and 3 Suites on the ground floor.
The Chord Company will be demonstrating a new line-up of digital cables at the Bristol Show. You can hear the new entry-level C-digital, as well as the new Clearway, Shawline and Epic digital cables. There's also a new Signature Tuned ARAY digital, the Sarum Super ARAY digital and the ChordMusic digital. A digital cable disbeliever? You should head over to Room 112.
DAVE stands for ‘Digital to Analogue Veritas in Extremis’ - Chord Electronics’ flagship DAC, digital preamp and headphone amp. It will be partnered with Chord's SPM 1200MKII power amp and PMC’s PM26 speakers.
More after the break
Three new products will be unveiled in rooms 220 and 222: the Essence MC cartridge, the Innovation Basic turntable and the Performance DC turntable. The Innovation Basic is an attempt to address the affordable end of the turntable market - unlike the £90,000 Clearaudio Statement, which may also make an appearance.
For the first time in the UK, Creek Audio will be showing off the Evolution 100CD, a DAC/CD player combo. You’ll find it in room 226 along with the new Epos K5 speakers.
Star of the Cyrus stand in the Cabot Suite will be the company's new £1200 Phono Signature phono stage and preamp. It's been designed to allow up to four turntables to be connected simultaneously because, says Cyrus, some vinyl enthusiasts like to be able to use multiple turntables, arms or cartridges for different records.
Each of the four inputs can be accurately matched to the exact specification of the cartridge and the acoustic preference of the user. Adjustment is provided for MC (Moving Coil) cartridges in gain, resitance and capacitance. There's also a switchable warp filter to maximise amplifier performance.
Expect to see ELAC’s latest speakers, the Debut B5 and Debut F5, running off a high-end system from Moon by Simaudio. A surprise move sees ELAC also putting out the DS-101 Discovery, a Tidal-integrated music server with multi-room capabilty. ELAC will be in room 228.
The French company has a new range of seven turntables. Their party trick? They have Bluetooth, so you can stream your vinyl to portable speakers. See them in action in room 412.
Focal's new Sopra speakers, available in standmount or floorstanding options, will both make their first UK appearance at Bristol.
Leicestershire-based AV furniture manufacturer, Hi-Fi Racks Ltd, will unveil its new Duo speaker stands to consumers and trade customers at the show.
Prices start at just £99 for a standard sized product in solid oak, with six other colours and finishes also available. Two of the finishes (Natural Solid Oak Satin and Satin Black) in the standard 60cm height will be kept in stock for immediate delivery, while custom sizes and Walnut, Mahogany, Cherry, White and High Gloss Black speaker stands will be available to order.
During the show JVC will be demonstrating 4K content on its DLA-X5000R and DLA-X7000R (above) Ultra HD projectors, giving visitors a taste of the ultimate in home entertainment.
Join KEF in the Concorde Suite as it demonstrates an impressive R Series speaker set-up with a high-end streaming system. The striking R700 floorstanding speakers (above) will be partnered with the brand-new Moon Neo ACE all-in-one system (one of What Hi-Fi?'s Stars of CES 2016).
There will be a new range of on-ear KH-KR900, in-ear KH-CR500 and KH-SR800 sports headphones on display on Kenwood's stand.
The sports headphones are waterproof are designed to stay put and maintain a comfortable fit while undertaking any sporting activity. All models include a built-in mic and call answer button.
Leema Acoustics, the Wales-based hi-fi specialist, is to unveil the new Quasar streaming amp and DAC at Sound and Vision.
Key technical specifications include a 200W output, Bluetooth receiver, a seven-input 24-bit/192kHz DAC section with USB, plus DLNA/UPNP streaming. Apple and Android app control is also available.
The amp is based on the company's acclaimed Elements topology, but enjoys the same high-performance form factor and solid aluminium faceplate as seen in the flagship Constellation series.
We saw Monitor Audio at CES in Las Vegas, and it had a new family of flagship speakers called the Platinum II. Bristol 2016 is the global public premiere and you won’t want to miss it. There are seven speakers in the range: a standmounter, three floorstanders, two centre speakers and a subwoofer. You can’t miss the PL 500 II towers in room 1008. They’re bigger than you. But you will need a ticket to get into the demo: click here to reserve your place.
Moon by Simaudio
The new Moon Neo ACE combines an integrated amplifier with a hi-res streamer and DAC. ‘ACE’, in case you were wondering, stands for A Complete Experience.
It won one of our Stars of CES Awards in Las Vegas, and makes its UK debut in room 326. One not to miss.
The Naim Mu-so Qb will get its first public showing at Bristol. It's the smaller brother of the Award-winning Mu-so and unsurprisingly won one of our Stars of CES Awards in Las Vegas.
In the Executive Lounge you will be able to experience Naim’s revitalised range of power amplifiers which have recently been updated to feature flagship Statement amplifier transistors and DR (Discrete Regulator) technology. These will be partnered with a range of high-end streaming solutions and Focal Sopra loudspeakers for the "ultimate listening experience".
Tickets for the demonstrations will be available from the Naim stand on the Terrace Level.
Bristol 2016 will be the first public showing of Pioneer’s new two-channel amps, the A-50DA and flagship A-70DA. The company will also be showing off its XDP-100R hi-res portable music player and demonstrating the new MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) format.
At 12 noon on Saturday 27th February, PMC will bring the studio experience alive by introducing Mick O’Gorman, producer for Eleanor McEvoy and long term PMC user, who will provide an insight into the production of Eleanor’s latest album, Naked Music.
Mick will reveal how the digital and stunning vinyl versions were created, unearthing the myths and secrets of the art of mastering and the vinyl process. Providing the playback will be the PMC BB5 SE loudspeakers, the renowned Bryston BDP-2 digital player and the UK debut of the Bryston BDA-3 DAC. The vinyl will be played on the the Vertere RG-1 record player.
PMC will also be bringing two new centre speakers as part of its Fact series to the show.
Expect a brand new standmount design from ProAc: the Response DB1. They’re a mini monitor type, but ProAc believes they have the sound to rival bigger speakers. Find out in room 216 on the second floor.
If you’re a fan of the Pro-Ject 2 Xperience SB but always felt it needed a fancy tonearm, you’re in luck. The new Pro-Ject 2 Xperience SB S-Shape has an S-shaped tonearm, supposedly to give vinyl enthusiasts a more versatile high-end record player. There’s also a new option at the lower end: the Pro-Ject RPM 5 Carbon.
Also new from Pro-Ject will be its first dedicated vinyl record cleaner. The £299 VC-S uses a specially developed cleaning solution and high-powered vacuum technology to breathe new life into old record collections.
You can check out the VC-S record cleaner in action on YouTube.
Expect a new home cinema package from Q Acoustics: the Media 7000i 2.1 Audio System. It is made up of the company's 7000iLR speakers, the 7000iS subwoofer, plus a new Q-AVA stereo amplifier.
It’s been a long time since we last saw a turntable from these guys, so we can’t wait to get rocking with the Roksan Oxygene 30. It features a multi-layered, four-piece plinth design and comes complete with a new high-mass mounting block to house the motor. Also new is the Radius 7, the latest in the company's famous Radius turntable range.
Danish audio brand Scansonic - owned by the same company as Raidho - will be bringing its more affordable speakers to Bristol, with prices ranging from £399 up to £1199.
Designed by Michael Borresen, creator of the Raidho range, the Scansonic models "have much of the Raidho family pedigree and DNA, but at a fraction of the cost," says Borresen.
The HD M-series comprises a a compact standmounter (M-5), two floorstanders (M-6 and M-9) and a 100W active subwoofer (M-8).
Sennheiser has been absent from Bristol for two years but now it’s back. The company will have its latest ranges including the Momentum 2.0 and Urbanite family, as well as the new high-end HD 800 S. Head to stand Bristol 10b on the ground floor to have a listen.
You can expect two new floorstanders: the Spendor D9 is a three-way design with four drivers, while the Spendor SP200 is a three-way design with two 30cm woofers.
The Scottish company is 90 years old this year, and to celebrate this milestone it is launching two new speaker lines: the entry-level Eclipse series and the revamped Mercury 7 series. See them in room 310 or on the ground floor in the Bristol Suite.
If you fancy getting a closer look at the new Grand Class SL-1200G turntable, this is your chance. The company will also be bringing the OTTAVA C-500 all-in-one system, Grand Class SU-G30 network amplifier and the entire Premium Class C700 series of components.
New for 2016 will be the CD Due, the successor to the CDE and part of the company's Unico range. Not only can the CD Due spin your CD collection, it can be used as an external DAC and also features Bluetooth streaming. It’ll be on show in room 422.
ViVac claims its Cleaning Systems are simple, quiet and easy to use whether you are cleaning 7in, 10in or 12in records.
They are available in a range of colour choices and supplied with everything you need to get your vinyl pristine.
Once again the What Hi-Fi? team will be out in full force. We will be manning our stand all weekend, ready to answer your questions on hi-fi, home cinema and anything else we cover. Got a problem you need fixing? Wondering what to get? Just fancy a chat? We’ll be in our usual spot in the Bristol Suite on the ground floor. Come along and say hello.
In our main demo room we will be explaining the benefits of HDR (High Dynamic Range) with two state-of-the-art 4K OLED TVs. And in room 332 we will have a special hi-res audio demo run in conjunction with Onkyo.
Plus we’ll have £10,000 worth of Award-winning hi-fi and home cinema kit up for grabs in our legendary show competition!
Wilson Benesch ACT One Evolution
There will be two demonstrations in the Conservatory: the ACT One Evolution loudspeakers (where ACT stands for Advanced Composite Technology) and the Discovery II standmounter, the latest addition to the brand’s reference Geometry series.
If you've not yet seen MusicCast, Yamaha's app-controlled network audio system, this is your chance. You'll also be able to check out the YSP5600, the world's first soundbar to handle Dolby Atmos. Find Yamaha in the SS Great Britain 1 Suite on the ground floor.
Marriott City Centre Hotel, Lower Castle Street, Bristol BS1 3AD.
Friday 26th February to Sunday 28th February 2016. Open from 10am-5pm each day.
Buy online now and save 15% www.bristolshow.co.uk
One-day ticket £10 (£12 on the door)
Two-day ticket £18 (£20 on the door)
Students and seniors (over 65)
One-day ticket £8 (£10 on the door)
Two-day ticket £14 (£16 on the door)