We may be rivals on the newsstand, but credit where it’s due: Hi-Fi News does 'put on a good spread' when it comes to an audio show. Now in its third year at the Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor across the third weekend of October, the show can be a little bewildering in terms of layout (there are five distinct areas across the hotel complex) but is settling into the spaces nicely.
The Hi-Fi Show is a comparative rarity in modern shows in that it concentrates almost solely on traditional two-channel audio. There was not a home theatre system in sight, and only a handful of brands (such as Oppo and Chord) demonstrating in the headphone space. But it didn’t seem to matter, because companies that don’t currently exhibit elsewhere in the UK (Absolute Sounds, Kog Audio, Symmetry) pitch up in Old Windsor.
We decided this year to concentrate on a dozen or so key sounds and new products from some of the best rooms, but there were many others showing good audio.
Audio Alchemy was part of an excellent sounding display using Ayre amplification and Magneplanar loudspeakers in the Symmetry room. The new DDP-1 DAC and PS-5 power supply are keenly priced too.
Computer Audio Design showed its new Mk II version of its popular 1543 DAC, teamed up with Bakoon’s AMP-51 amplifiers and the Swiss Sound Kaos loudspeaker brand, with its Wave 40 loudspeakers and active Subwave D12 bass speaker.
Now that’s not something you see everyday: the Clearaudio Statement turntable, complete with parallel tracking Statement TT1 arm, and Goldfinger Statement cartridge, in an GamuT and IsoTek system in Sound Fowndations large room.
Icon Audio makes find valve amplifiers, but it has turned its hand to something more specialised – making its own tubes. This one is genuinely new; the EL34D, a pure triode power tube designed to drop into any circuit where the popular pentode EL34 normally resides. Expect to pay 300B prices for this innovative design.