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Event  Report National Audio Show 2011


I visited the Whittlebury Hall show on the trade day, held on the Monday following the public weekend, and as anticipated a lot of people had packed up and gone home (who can blame them), leaving just a few rooms to visit, but there were still a few interesting things left to cover:

 

Loricraft had their new Triton turntable on display, there was no one about when I was at their stand, but a peek between the plinth layers showed a lot of donor Garrard parts, so I assume this will fall as a half way house between a standard refurbished Garrard and one of their more modern creations, the 601 and 501 (pictured below).


Henley Designs had, as ever, bought along an impressive range of items, a tiny percentage of which are shown above. Of particular interest to analogue fanatics were a new Ortofon spirit level with target like degree markings (below left) and a strobe disc and light (below right) for setting turntable speed accurately.

       


In their other Henley designs room was the new vdH ‘The Grail’ phono stage (cue lots of Monty Python impersonations). This sounds like a rather interesting design, which is battery powered (not pictured is the smaller power supply box), and the RIAA EQ network uses inductors rather than capacitors (although I don’t believe the signal path is entirely capacitor free). A price in the region of £6,000 was mentioned.


Sounding the best I’d ever heard them, the Acappella speakers were being used with Einstein electronics. In the past I have felt the Ionic tweeter have sounded less integrated than I’d prefer, but in this room they seemed to gel in a most appealing way.


In the Symmetry room they had the diminutive Teac UD-H01 DAC on static display. This beautifully turned out box was priced at just £300 and features USB 2.0, optical and coaxial inputs and balanced and unbalanced outputs with an integral headphone stage.   


In the Just The Music room were some rather substantial prototype Euclio open baffle speakers. The cabinets were just an example of what could be used, and despite their imposing dimensions I rather liked them. Drivers used included Coral for mid, B&C for bass and Fostex for high frequencies. These were a very nice alternative to some of the brasher or more boring speakers being used at the show (which funnily enough are absent from this write up!).


Ensemble showed a complete system (literally the only thing they hadn’t made was the vinyl front end- a Voyd turntable). My photographs really don’t do justice to the quality of the finish on the electronics, and chatting with the owner of the company made me realise that the attention to detail inside was of a similar level - I may have reservations about their seemingly substantial use elastomers for ‘decoupling’ and damping, but cannot deny that they have been very focused on what they were trying to achieve (an attitude often missing from a lot of manufacturers).


Canor had almost their whole range on display in the Sound Fowndations room, including this very compact TP206+ valve phono stage. Priced at £1,600 this design featured Lundahl step up transformers for the MC input and interestingly had lots of small slots cuts on the PCB between components and tracks to minimise coupling/capacitance.


Also on display was their valve burn in device (pictured below) and valve tester (not shown) which they subject all of their tubes to prior to use in their amplifiers.


For me perhaps the most exciting thing at the show was seeing Axhorn make a return to the industry. I remember seeing theses speakers (apparently the actual ones pictured above) at one of the Heathrow hifi shows in the early 1990’s, when they were stuck in the foyer as they were too large to fit through the tiny bedroom doors. After a few years out of the industry (including time spent devising the pedal powered sound system used at Glastonbury) Axhorn are now back.


The speaker now has an additional front horn assembly, called the After Burner (visible in front of the Lowther driver in the picture below), which should bring a lot of benefits to this front and back horn loaded design (whose rear horn snakes through the cabinet before exiting at the front) again my photos let this design down, which looks a lot more interesting in the flesh.

Another pair were also present (pictured below) using an alternative driver (Audio Nirvana) which I didn’t get to hear, these were a new pair and were awaiting their backs to finish them off. The cabinets are made from GRP and are available in almost any colour desired. To the left is one of the massive packing crates they are shipped in, which could either be reduced in size and easily stored or returned to the manufacturer for a credit.


The speakers will be available with a matching DPA amplifier using their extended feedback loop, but I’ll admit I’d really like to hear them with one of my favourite feedback free single ended triode amplifiers.


Other goods news was that they are also producing their Blacktak again, an almost industrial strength alternative to blutak and great for use between speakers and stands.


Above: An attractive line up of Tsakiridis push pull power amplifiers in the Ikon Audio room.


JoSound had bought along a new wider design with what looked like it might be a Voxativ driver (I didn’t get the chance to hang around too long to find out unfortunately). On a very brief listen they were producing an interesting and dynamic sound albeit with just a little characteristic shout from the full range driver.


Advanced Acoustics had bought along the new ‘Symphonic’ taper shaped panels, which are available in either wall or corner fitments.



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