In hindsight, attempting to cover an audio show while recovering from (albeit mild) pneumonia was possibly not my best move. As a result, what should have been a complete report of a whole event quickly turned into a morning of gasping for air. Nevertheless, in spite of the occasional paroxysm of coughing, the inability to walk more than 10 paces without having to grab hold of something, and ruining a few demonstrations by making a sound not dissimilar to throwing a bull walrus through a jet engine, the exercise was more than worth it, because there were several rooms that made a fantastic sound, and some outstanding new products.
Naturally, because of my limited capacity at the time, this is a somewhat truncated report, and because of the need to actually recover properly, this report arrives ‘somewhat’ after the event, but this in no way undermines what is proving to be an outstanding show and the only true high-end event on the UK calendar now. That this show is organised by one of our rivals – Hi-Fi News & Record Review – is immaterial, and credit where credit is due; this fine show is a result of the dedication and tireless energy of the magazine’s Editor, Paul Miller. If I had more lung function at the time, this report would be three times as long, and still full of exciting new products. My apologies to those who I should have seen, but for whom I just (literally) ran out of puff.
Decent Audio showed that a big system doesn’t need to be big all over. With the epic Kronos front-end (complete with Transfiguration cartridge) and a pair of awesome Raidho D-2.1 floorstanders, you might expect something very high-end in-between. In fact the company used the latest £7,000 Anniversary edition of the Audio Analogue Maestro integrated amplifier, complete with the £1,600 AA Phono from the same brand to keep it company.
The KEF LS50 Wireless was demonstrated, in part to show off its new Roon capabilities, part to showcase the new ‘Nocturne’ finish by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. Given a musical notation theme, the design is finished in elements that glow under UV blue light. Depending on your viewpoint, this looks elegant and refined, or it had “a face like a painter’s radio!” as one wag was heard to utter. At least, I think he was talking about the LS50 Wireless Nocturne… The Nocturne commands a £300 premium over the standard model.
The S3 Mk II is perhaps the ultimate Magico loudspeaker for most European houses. Large enough to deliver the goods, but not so large as to make them impossible to install in all bar the largest houses. Couple this three-way design with Constellation’s Centaur Stereo 500 from the Performance series, with the Andromeda line preamp and Pictor Phono stage from the Revelation series, and both a Kalista digital and TecDAS analogue front ends, and this was a system with grace, space, and pace… and a lot of power.