The 30th annual Sound & Vision Show at the Marriott City Centre Hotel in the heart of Bristol is a unique event. It’s a dealer-run show, organised by Audio T (in association with What Hi-Fi magazine), and every year thousands line up around the block before the show starts, braving some of the nastiest weather Bristol can throw at them to pick up a bargain (the organisers ensure there are some good discounts to be had if products are purchased at the event).
This year, it seems, numbers were up (even if sales were possibly slightly down) on the previous year, and although the hotel itself is looking a little tired – the concrete building stands in stark 1960s contrast to the more modern Cabot Circus shopping development nearby – the show itself is very much in its own groove. Speaking of grooves, this year’s show was marked by a significant shift toward vinyl replay and away from both CD and home cinema/home theatre demonstrations. Although many companies were exhibiting record players, not all of them were making record players, and the few record player makers at the show were having something of a field day.
This year, the number of brand new exhibits was down slightly on last year. Indeed, there were many brands showing the finished version of the project in prototype form last year. That said, there were wholly new products on display. For reasons intimated elsewhere on the site (http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/what-could-possibly-go-wrong/), we are somewhat limited in the images we can provide to support this report, so we have reluctantly had to limit ourselves to the best new products at the show that we had images of. There were many more, and our apologies go out to those who have fallen victim to the diktats of the SD card!
AudioTechnica was showing its range of new headphones and earphones to great effect. It also had a new turntable on display. Perhaps the most exciting of the group is the £465 ATH-SR9 over-ear ‘Sound Realty’ high-resolution headphones, featuring 45mm drivers and bobbin-wound ‘7N’ copper voice coils.
We loved the DigiBit Aria Mini when we tested it a couple of years ago (http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/digibit-aria-mini-media-player/). The DigiBit part of the name might have gone, but the product is better than ever! The latest Aria 2 player includes a built in CD ripper, is fully DSD256 compatible, supports JRiver and its own app, and sports up to 4TB of storage. This complete digital front end starts from around £5,000.
AVM is a name relatively well-known to regular Hi-Fi+ readers, as we are big fans of the company’s CS2.2 all-in-one player. However, the German brand had some difficulty making it big in the UK, until now. The company is often distributed with PMC in other parts of the world, explained AVM's Managing Director Udo Besser, and AVM is now distributed by PMC in the UK, too. PMC also imports Bryston to the UK, and that relationship remains unaffected. At present, only AVM’s three strong range of disc-playing, streaming, integrated amplifier all-in-ones will be available. But expect more to follow.
The 75W Belles Aria integrated amplifier was first seen at CES 2016, but it took until Feburary 2017 for it to make its presence felt in the UK. Armed with a headphone socket, a fine MM phono stage, and the typical Belles giant-killing sound, expect to hear more from this small, but perfectly formed amplifier.
The Chord Company announced its new Sarum T cabling, which offers a marked upgrade over Tuned Aray. The latest design features its proprietary Taylon dielectric, said to be completely phase consistent across the frequency band. Prices start at £2,100 for a 1m pair of interconnects, and existing Sarum can be upgraded.