Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is the well-established event in October. However, it’s not the only event and there’s another Audio Fest on the other side of the Atlantic, in Bath. Run by analogue expert Cool Gales, the Bath Audio Fest 2013 moved from the middle to the end of the year, but stayed in the same place - the Bath and Country Club, smack in the heart of the 18th Century-built centre of the Roman spa town.
It’s a small, friendly event; just eight rooms covering a good spread of mostly high-end audio equipment with a distinct UK spin. Generally that means ‘not as high-end as other places’, but it also means the show gives a chance for legitimate UK high-end audio brands like Chord Electronics a chance to show their products in a friendly environment to an audience of enthusiasts.
Chord Electronics was showing its new Chord Streamer/DAC, complete with Blu CD transport, CPA 8100 preamp and the latest version of its classic SPM 1200 Mk II power amplifier, housed using the side bars of the electronics as an integrated equipment stand. This was connected using Chord Company (no relation) Sarum TA cables to a pair of German Physiks Unlimited II loudspeakers. This omnidirectional design was sounding good even in a large room.
Eclipse loudspeakers were on display in two rooms. The first - naturally - was the Eclipse TD room. However in this, the smaller of the two rooms, Eclipse TD was content with playing its TD510zMkII speakers through an Esoteric RZ-1 all in one player through Chord Epic Reference speaker cable, and the system was as elegant sounding as it was simple. It gave its larger TD712zMkII speakers over to the Computer Audio Design room, where this popular high-end USB converter, fed through a GamuT integrated amp and using Chord Sarum TA cables and occasionally GiK Acoustics room treatment was making a good sound for a large room.
Leema is always a popular choice with the Bath audience, and the Welsh company took this year’s show to launch the company’s new Libra DAC/preamp - part of the brand’s top Constellation Series. First shown at Bristol Sound & Vision at the beginning of the year, the £5,995 DAC has been re-modelled to support 384kHz, DSD64 and DSD128. At the other end of the price scale, Leema’s upcoming revision to the Elements USB will sport 384kHz sampling and is expected to cost under £700. Leema has not forgotten its vinyl roots, and its new £1,195 Elements Ultra phono stage supports a surprisingly large array of MM and MC loadings, including the rare but handy 100k MM loading.
High-end distributor Audio Reference was showing a combination Amazon/Mørch/GamuT system, starting from the back with the GamuT £12,000 R3 standmount speakers, connected to M250i amps D3i line pre and a CD3 player. The analogue front end comprised an Amazon Reference turntable with the excellent Mørch DP-8 tonearm and a top Transfiguration Proteus cartridge into the new Amazon B-Lab phono amp. The company was playing a listener’s choice of some jazz I hardly know (or, in truth, would want to know again… but it had a lot of mileage for the listener) so I couldn’t really judge the system but it sounded pretty fine.
Edit: An anonymous reader sent me a shot taken of this system (used with his permission)...