Just back from the National Audio Show. I’ve not reported on a hi-fi show professionally for many years – I was far from thorough in visiting every room. Here are my highlights…my choice couldn’t have been less digital!
Chasing the Dragon vinyl recordings – direct-cut records of fantastic quality reproduced through Tron amplification and DeVore Fidelity Orangutan 0/93 two-way speakers. A lively, dynamic and thoroughly engaging sound.
I had an interesting if brief chat with the Norwegian manufacturer of the new Arendal loudspeakers. The company was demonstrating its smaller two-way monitor in one of Whittlebury’s compact hotel rooms yet producing a good sound by not being overambitious or trying to ignore the room acoustics.
The 1723 Monitor has an unusual soft-dome tweeter behind a waveguide that produced a bright, transparent yet sweet treble very much to my liking. Arendal makes all its own drive units.
Surprisingly, the speakers are sold direct to the public from Norway at a reasonable €1600 delivered. A matching mass-loaded stand is available as is an interesting sub-woofer.
Code Acoustics have adopted a similar direct-to-customer distribution model and were producing some very good sounds from their three-way active system with its off-board controller with DSP crossover, preamp and six power amps.
Sound Fowndations was another room producing an exceptional sound from vinyl – Roy Orbison’s In Dreams when I visited. A good deal of this was down to the DS Audio DS-W1 light sensing cartridge that uses optical sensing of the stylus vibrations rather than an attached magnetic or coil system. Solid, stable imagery with a lovely clean treble. Sadly the same could not be said of the David Bowie Vinyl frontier three-albums dem in the Vale suite. Presenter Jeff Lloyd was sadly incapacitated but the flat, lifeless sound and hail of surface noise had three-quarters of the room leaving before the end of the first track of Ziggy Stardust. I believe the system was sorted later in the day.
I finally got to audition the Oppo PM-3 headphones and hear why mastering engineer Bob Katz recommended them. The PM-3s have a buttery smooth sound with fantastic detail plus a controlled and extended bass.
They are also physically comfortable for over-ear phones featuring a fully padded headband and soft leatherette ear cups.
Wished I’d heard the Teddy Pardo and Audio Note systems but there’ll be another time…