"What a refreshingly honest blog about listening to music through hi-fi. So happy to see views based upon the enjoyment of music rather than so-called sound 'quality'." - Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Mission / Wharfedale

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Preparing for The Hifi Show at Scalford on 2nd March

I've been successful in the allocations of rooms at the Scalford Hifi Show again this year, so planning is underway.  This show is for enthusiasts' systems - its not commercial, its just for the sake of listening to lots of different systems (about 50 again this year) and lots of different music all in one place on the same day.  Some of it will be very esoteric, some prosaic, some weird and some DIY.  Variety is the spice of this particular show.

Having played the main system last year I'm doing something different this year, going for a 2.1 AV setup.  My intention is to play the "Touch Yello" DVD on repeat all day - each run takes about 45 minutes.  Yello tends to be popular at this type of event, but I don't think Scalford has seen an AV solution before, so it will be interesting to see how popular the room is.  Originally I was thinking of being very amitious and going with a 5.1 system.  But the Yello soundtrack is only in 2.0, so there's no point really.  Maybe another year.

The proposed kit is much more prosaic than the main Linn system and consists of:

Sony S480 blu-ray player
Linn Akurate Kontrol/0/D (mainly being used for its excellent internal DAC)
NAD 2155 or Rotel RB970BX power amp
Optional Q Acoustics 2070Si subwoofer
DELL M410HD projector and screen

As part of the planning I set up the various components in the kid's playroom (lots of space, but unfortunately 3 walls of windows) to decide on NAD vs Rotel power amps and to check the subwoofer's integration with the Missions.

Testing Time
 So with lots of power, HDMI and audio cables strewn across the room, Yello was spooled up on the Sony (its the extremely slim box bottom right of the picture).  The NAD amp was OK, but a bit sluggish and lightweight.  The Rotel beefed things up nicely and moved along at a better pace with somewhat smoother and more detailed treble.  So that decision was quick and easy.  The system still sounds pretty bright (but not harsh) and I'm hoping that's down to the nature of the room - all that glass is very reflective of high frequencies.
Next the subwoofer was unpacked and plugged in (not shown in the picture above).  It took a while to get it all working smoothly together, but, in this room, it worked well.  Using the "music" setting rather than "movies" and with the crossover point at around 70Hz a good amount of non-flappy weight was added to the sound, and the brightness was balanced somewhat too (but still not enough for my taste).
So we'll see how well the sub integrates in the room at Scalford, but its definitely coming along as I'd prefer to use it if I can.   Hopefully the lack of glass at Scalford will help somewhat too.

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