"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

Monday 23 January 2023

The UK Audio Show October 2022 Part Two at Staverton Park, Daventry

 Please find PART ONE of the report here.  And here we go for part two of this very extensive show...

WILLOW TREE AUDIO - Technics, Audio Music, Horning

At the time I dropped into the Willow Tree room, Technics SP10 Mk2 / Audiomods System 6 tonearm / Hana Umami Red card and Aurorasound Vida Mk2 Phono Stage were playing the tunes.
The Horning Aristotle Ultimate is said, by its designer, to particularly suit smaller rooms.  They feature a front facing tweeter and mid-range with twin bass drivers on the rear.  They're described as having a "horn principle" cabinet, but its not clear to me which driver(s) is / are horn loaded - mid or bass or both. 
Here the system sounded bright, shouty but some how not room filling - although it is possible that the exihibiting room was larger than the ideal for these speakers.  I wanted to call back again later to hear the digital front end to see if what we were hearing was very much down to the analogue front end, or not.  Alas, due to the size of the show, even over 2 days attending it was impossible to make it back.

RMB Loudspeakers

A curious mix of technologies in this system, with CD, passive pre-amp and Nord Class D power amps driving rmb's 40/4 loudspeakers.  On sheer size and driver count, the £3,600 40/4 look like decent value for money and this pair with their veneer look a step up in quality compared to the more familiar multi-layer ply finishes.  This was also the best I've heard these speakers, so the partnering kit must have been doing a suitably complementary job.  The imaging is still very vague though, letting the side down a little.  A more positive experience this time.


Playing their high end Voyager offering into the heavily disguised prototype speakers hiding in large "tents" the OL system was enjoyable and engaging.  Will be interesting to see if the speakers will ever break cover as a product.

Around the edge of the room OL were able to demonstrate the sheer volume / breadth of products they now produce - it doesn't seem that long ago that they were making DC motor kits for the LP12 and other turntables as a fledgling company.  Their progress has been swift and impressive.


Below are some photos of various "static" displays at the show

Musical Fidelity's interestingly compact components

And by contrast the somewhat more chunky power amp

Musical Fidelity's interesting modular approach to multi-channel amplification

Funky looking rose hardware (and tulips)

Carts on display - with their guards on to stop you seeing what they look like

Nice finish on this contemporary compact space friendly system from Pro-Ject

Henley Audio - Rose, Synthesis, Klipsch

I keep trying, but keep failing to understand any system that has Klipsch speakers.  I don't get any emotional involvement from them at all.  Underwhelming.


Electronics from Audio Exklusiv in Germany - looking very well built and luxurious.  Unusual to see a CD player in action at this year's show. They fed signals down chunky cables to the tiny but beautifully crafted Diapson standmounts

The music playing here on our visit was standard hifi show stuff from Miles Davis.  Beautifully resolved, fluid, tuneful, of course not so big sounding, but in a smaller room I think this could be something very interesting indeed.


I really enjoyed the Pro-Ac room at Staverton.  They were displaying a retrospective of their origins, early products, expanding range, people and facilities progression.  The sheer volume of products, materials, press cuttings, photos etc. was a lot to take in.  I spent 30 minutes or so browsing through and picking out products, press releases, reviews or pictures that stood out for me.  It made for a different and engaging room, standing out not only at Staverton 2022, but a hifi shows generally.

In the room a compact system was playing the K1 Standmount was, I feel, a little overwhelmed by the size of the space, sounding a little thing.  I remember older Pro-Acs, and the in particular the earlier Reference Series, a detailed but at the same time having warmth that drew you in to the music.  K Series seems to have gone more analytical, less forgiving.



As is often case at these shows, Audio Note were occupying 2 seperate rooms again at Daventry.  The first contained a prototype speaker that features field coil drivers, something unusual in the hifi world.  In a "conventional" loudspeaker driver there is a fixed permanent magnet in which sits a coil which is fixed to the cone (or dome) of the driver - the electrical signal running through the coil represents the music and creates a magnetic field that fluctuates, interacting with the field of the magnet, creating movement of the cone.

A field coil driver substitutes the fixed magnet with a second coil.  This is powered by a fixed current, therefore replicating the magnet but creating a different type of field pattern.  A permanent magnet's electrons spin in the same direction but stay still, an electromagnet's electrons spin randomly but the field is created by the electrons as the move in the same direction.  This means the speakers need a power supply to drive the field coil.

The remainder of the system is standard fare from the extensive Audio Note portfolio, headed by the turntable during my visit.  For me Audio Note systems are always fast and sound good with simpler music. Yet louder passages or complex pieces get cluttered and harsh.  But here there's a very different sound - smoother, flowing, sophisticated.  A convincing performance for prototypes. They won't be bargain basement though! I'm writing this 4 months after the show and the speakers don't yet appear on the AN website.

Field coil power supplies
In Audio Note's second room it was business as usual. Their signature positioning of the AN-E and the enthusiasm for eschewing any kind of fancy racks, cables etc.  Some people revere the result, but for me, just not good on complex stuff and far too easily driven to shoutiness.




Whilst writing up this report, it occured to me that many of the systems that I enjoyed - including 3 "Highly Commended" systems featured valve DACs from individualist company Lampizator.  There must be something in that, so here's the first ever Audiophile Musings "Component of the Show" award dedicated to Lampizator for their DACs in many of the systems they featured.

Talks / Presentations

The show featured a number of presentations during both days, covering topics such as record cleaning, speaker positioning, the revival of reel to reel and a featured album discussion amongst others.

Being particularly practical, of use to every single owner of a stereo system in a room and with simple to follow advise, Russell of Russell K speakers took the audience through how to position speakers.  Using 3 simple steps demonstrated with very obvious and clearly audible differences, the audience was both appreciative of the advice and engaged with questions and discussion.


"And Finally". Just for Fun

A few pictures of cables and cable lifters, some of which are doing less lifting than perhaps they should👀

Mere cable lifting is no longer good enough, you need to be in to multi-storey lifting! More seriously though, if you're going to be claiming cable lifters make a difference, don't go putting loops in those cables!

"Missing" the point?
Exhausted lifter has a rest
And even more finally... Exhibitors - those of you eating crisps in your room when the music is playing to potential customers, what ARE you thinking???


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