The sun really did shine over Staverton Park Hotel this weekend for the UK Audio Show.
Now in its 26th year, this show always promises a unique blend of established hifi names and less familiar brands, with fascinating gear that you’d struggle to find anywhere else in the country under one roof.
And it wasn’t just hifi demo rooms on offer, with a series of talks, live music and cutting edge car audio which made this a show with a difference.
The first system to great our eager ears came from Emilen Audio with its Equinox line preamp and MC Phono stage, fed by Lumley’s towering Stratosphere MKIII turntable which sounded out of this world spinning Stevie Ray Vaughan. Speakers are the ES-1 Reference which sound as good as they look.
Acoustic Energy proudly presented its new Corinium flagship floorstander in gorgeous British Racing Green.
Being this speaker’s global premier, designer James Luce talked us through their three-way topology and cabinet construction with varying thicknesses, which are then lacquered to perfection.
The much missed Max Townshend left more than a respected mark on the audio industry and seeing his products on demo was a real delight. Our camera doesn’t do justice to this Rock turntable – simply stunning.
Every good turntable deserves a phono stage of equal merit, and for those lucky enough Musical Fidelity’s Nu-Vista Vinyl 2 is without compromise.
Presented by Henley Audio, MF’s rejuvenated range was further underlined with a pair of its reimagined LS3/5A speakers on show and updated A1 amp taking its rightful place at the heart of the main demo system, driving Klipsch loudspeakers.
Another brand brought bang up to date, David Knowles son of Alphason Audio Founder Mike who was also at the show presents its new HR-200S reference tonearm.
Following in the footsteps of the original HR-100S Reference, it’s only matter of time before this model also achieves similar cult status.
Up close with the HR-200S reveals its one piece tonearm and upper headshell plus damping layer separating it from the lower headshell. Alongside this we were also treated to a demo of its VTA Optimiser, allowing for precise electronic adjustment while you’re listening.
Hailing from Poland, OSV‘s hybrid amps in GPoint Audio‘s suite stood out from the crowd. The top model is the HT 50W model with the HT 150W model nestled below, driving Diptyque planar magnetic loudspeakers.
And now for something a little more traditional thanks to Cultured Audio who presented Tannoy’s Kensington loudspeakers driven by Naim electronics for a combination which sounded sublime.
Kestrel Audio‘s KT-200 showed that vinyl need not be complex to make a statement. Also on demo was its new KMM-1 moving-magnet phono stage and K-Speed-1 controller, working with an Edwards Audio TT6 flagship record player.
Falcon‘s range topping M40 loudspeakers with exclusively made B200 bass drivers were so new and exclusive that they needed two bodyguards to keep them safe. Fed from MoFi’s award winning StudioDeck and new MasterPhono preamp fresh from the Hi-Fi Show Live, this room was not short of fixated listeners all weekend.
Another show exclusive, this time from Devon’s Ultrafide Audio, presented by parent company MC2. These are the Sigma U4 preamp and U500DC power amp. The former features an adjustable MM/MC phono stage plus single ended and balanced inputs/outputs alongside a digitally controlled analogue circuit volume control. The latter offers 250W into 8 ohms, a DC coupled input-output and passive cooling system.
Keeping your vinyl tip-top is vital to hearing it at its best. Charles Kirmuss (left) and Kevin Jackson (right) of Kirmuss Audio were giving insightful talks across the weekend on their scientific knowhow brought to restoring our treasured black stuff beyond factory fresh condition, with while-you-wait demos.
This system was certainly a bridge over audio water [I’ll get my coat 🙄 ] in Super Natural Audio‘s room. The tall white tower speakers are Etude’s High Sensitivity Bipole (EHSB) models that are just 150mm thick and sport 16 full range drive units (8 front and back), alongside a tweeter and transmission line vents, driven by a Super Natural Audio 2.3W amp.
The vinyl front end was equally attention grabbing, thanks to Clipaudio’s Dolomite.
Continuing the hi-end valve amp approach, Icon Audio‘s David Shaw drops the needle for his PS3 MKII class leading phono stage. On speaker duties were the brand’s MFV3 Super MKIII, which improves on the standard model with improved high-frequency driver, crossover and cabinets.
We first saw these speakers in prototype form back in Bristol earlier this year from Moor Amps alongside its award-winning amps. Named the Ascalon-8, this was their official release. A three-way design employing Volt bass/mid drivers and 24mm birch ply cabinets, they look pure quality.
There’s always a real hifi community vibe at this show, made all the more so thanks to familiar faces like David Brook of MCRU, with a range of accessories to improve and enhance our systems.
And if you were in search of cables, then industry expert Graham Nalty of Black Rhodium was on hand to assist with a range of offerings to suit all budgets.
What the hex? The HEX3 to be precise, an open baffle speaker design from Solid Sounds featuring a massive 15″ woofer, 7″ magnesium midrange and horn loaded ribbon tweeter set into individual baffles supported via a frame made from 10mm solid steel open frame.
Audio Note‘s room was a packed destination across the weekend, and it’s easy to see why with the system the team had on demo, including the TT3 Reference turntable driven by a triple motor system.
HiFi Lounge offered a large suite full of decadent audio hardware from the likes of dCS, Western Electric and Transparent Cables. Speakers were courtesy of DeVore Fidelity with its Orangutan O/96 playing in the main system and these beauties waiting in the wings.
It really was Christmas in Longdog Audio‘s demo suite. Alongside its amplification and analogue hardware where these one-off speakers built by multi-talented Company Founder Nick Gorham.
One of the most elegant looking and sounding systems on demo at the show from Connecting Music Distribution, with valve amplification from Mastersound driving Blumenhofer Acoustics loudspeakers.
Not only did The Audio Consultants have a system to die for on demo from the likes of Origin Live, DS Audio, Hegel, Luxman, Ophidian and Luxman, the team also ran a fascinating live vs recorded shoot out with pro musicians Mim Grey and Alan West, with both approaches in the finest of voice.
From Tesla to a vintage Porsche with a Hyundai in between, the friendly folks at Driving Sounds Magazine presented car audio at its coolest, with sit in demos and bespoke customisation options revealing quality audio can be had on the move as well as at home.
The man that makes it all possible. A big thanks to Roy Bird and his fantastic team for delivering a show with so much on offer. We’re already counting down to the London Audio Show in six month’s time!