Bristol Show 2017 – I (speakers)

Apart from the Whittlebury show last year this is the first hi-fi show I’ve attended in over twenty years. Some things don’t change – the room acoustics. Attendance on Saturday was up on the Friday crowd – which is technically a trade day. I didn’t attend Sunday so cannot comment on overall numbers. Saturday was busy.

No longer having to make a living at this and with no real need to be professionally even-handed I intend to report on what I managed to hear and what was enjoyable to listen to. Upfront I should say I primary went to listen to DAC, streamers, DAC/preamps and quality floor-standing loudspeakers.

epicon-6-black-finishThe DALI Epicon 6 was being demonstrated at quieter than ‘normal’ show levels and with choral and vocal music (two plus points) when I visited. This certainly revealed the quality of their hybrid tweeters. The Dali system delivered a delicately detailed treble with the material used I was not quite convinced by the overall integration of the sound. This brief encounter would however move the Epicons higher up any listening short list.

I had planned to hear some of the Focal range of speakers but missed tickets for their closed room dems (with Naim Audio) and didn’t manage to get back for their last hour of the day ‘open doors’ – pity.

I wandered past the ProAc room only to be drawn in by the sound of their DB3s. Not exactly the floor-standing speakers I was seeking but they were producing a lovely fully integrated sound from a Naim CD player and integrated.

ls50w-detail-frontandrearSpeaking of compact two-ways, KEF were demming the LS50 Wireless in one of the larger downstairs suites in closed room (queue to get in) dems. I’ve always been intrigued by the LS50s and fascinated by the wireless version. This get round the latency issues of master/slave actives but giving you two fully ‘grown-up’ speakers with equivalent processing and amplification. Massively flexible inputs, dedicated app, and with selectable position EQ, all you need is a source.
The demonstration was ambitious – in a large conference suite room full of fifty or so listeners. I was quite touched to hear Paul Simon’s Homeless still in the KEF demo – its being first used by their much-missed Sales Manager David Inman. The small cabinets and 5-inch drivers filled the room with detailed and dynamic sound; only occasionally were you aware of the smoothly falling treble and the fact an awful lot was being asked dynamically of small drivers in that large room. Very impressive full system for £2,000.

quad-esl-2812-2912I was not anticipating walking into a Quad electrostatic dem at Bristol but that’s what was on show in the IAG Quad room in the shape of the ESL-2812. Surprising bass slam and extension were apparent nearest the room entrance and the speakers retain the signature Quad pin-point stereo, cleanliness and clarity of sound. Source and amplification was from the Quad Artera product range.

DACs, vinyl and more speakers in Part II…



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