The 29th annual Sound & Vision Show at the Bristol Marriott City Centre hotel was surprising. It was surprising because having spent almost 30 years in the same venue, it was busier than ever on the Friday and Saturday, and even the Sunday attendance was better than expected. Rooms were filled to capacity most days and, because it’s a show where the public can buy products with a 15% show discount, many companies do a brisk trade in audio electronics.
Moreover, because it is such an important show in the UK audio calendar, many big name brands choose Bristol as the first place to showcase new devices for the year. And, in 2016 a significant number of those new product launches are in the analogue domain, with turntables, phono stages, and record cleaners dominating the new products. That being said, digital streaming devices and especially all-in-one player/streamer/amplifiers were some of the stars of the show.
It’s great to come away from a show with a sense of renewed optimism about the audio world. And that we could barely scratch the surface of what was on offer.. Here are just some of the best new products we found at the show.
The show organisers take security VERY seriously. One of Atacama Audio’s team dressed as a Star Wars Stormtrooper for charity
Audio Note has reworked its top TT3 turntable. The three-motor deck now starts from around £5,000
Peter Madnick of Audio Alchemy flew in especially for the Bristol Show, and demonstrated the new £1,395 PPA-1 phono preamplifier in the Wilson-benesch room
In all the excitement about the new Bryston power amps and DAC at CES, the matching £1,149 BOT-1 optical transport was perhaps understandably overlooked
In a packed, dimly lit room, Cabasse presented the £3,499 Murano loudspeaker, with Parasound electronics, and GiK Acoustics room treatment
The Chord Company was demonstrating its headphone cables in a cheap yet innovative way. It also showed its Shawline and Epic cable ranges, and the new top ChordMusic cable in timed demonstrations
Launched at the end of 2015, the £1,200 Signature phono stage is gaining a reputation as being one of the finest RIAA-only stages on the market at any price!
Dynaudio showed both Emit and Contour ranges. The Emit £595 M20 two way standmount (centre) was launched late last year and was one of the true value-driven stars of the show
Better known for its distinctive spherical speakers, the French Elipson brand announced a range of low-cost turntables, including the £499 Omega 100 with built in phono stage and Bluetooth transmitter!
With the Plato still hot off the presses, Entotem announced a forthcoming version with a Class A amplifier in place of the Class D design. Name, price, and availability are still to be confirmed
Industry association The Clarity Alliance awarded Eric Kingdon of Sony a lifetime achievement award for decades of audio excellence
Do you remember the old Audio Technica ultrasonic stylus brush? Well, the idea is back, but this time in the guise of the £120 Flux Hi-Fi
Bespoke Audio and Harbeth joined forces for the show, the transformer-based passive preamp a perfect match for the intrinsically honest sounding Super HL5 Plus
Icon’s large range of amplifiers is joined by the new £1,799 Stereo 30SE single-ended integrated, which uses the new KT150 valve to deliver 18 watts of triode loveliness
The first product in the Pro line, from the ever-expanding iFi brand, the iCAN is a fully configurable headphone amp/preamp with the option of valve or solid-state operation
The £1,299 Zen music server by Anglo-Portuguese brand Innuos is excellent as it stands, but can be upgraded to the £2,499 three linear PSU, 2TB SSD wielding Zenith
KEF was demonstrating with Moon audio, and the £2,000 KEF R700 tower speakers with the new £2,500 Moon ACE one-stop audio shop performed extraordinarily well
The new £499 Core by newcomer Mass Fidelity is a battery-powered audio powerhouse, especially when used with the optional small subwoofer
Melco’s digital front ends (often with Chord DAVE DACs) were in many rooms at the show, and the new N1ZH brings 6TB of HDD to the top-line N1Z platform, for £3,500. This is also the first N1Z model available to US enthusiasts, the SSD versions being caught in legal wrangling.
In a move to relaunch the Mission brand, the company announced the new LX series, with the £200 LX-2 standmount and £400 LX-3 floorstander. There will be more to follow
Dean Hartley, Technical Director of Monitor Audio gives some sense of scale to the company’s £15,000 PL500II pinnacle of the new Platinum II range
The £3,999 Encore 225 from Musical Fidelity really does everything, from playing and ripping discs to streaming music, and adds the integrated amplifier might of the popular M6 too.
New headphones were relatively thin on the ground, but the new open backed £320 A800 and closed-back £230 H900M were the exceptions. Two in-ear models were also on show
The Polish brand PreAudio is a new name on the audio block, making a range of relatively low-cost turntables with parallel-tracking tonearms, like this ASP-1501 model
ProAc’s Response One design has been perpetually popular. The latest version – the £1,900 Response DB1, with its new acrylic pole piece on the mid-bass unit – suggests that will continue
Pro-Ject’s £299 VC-S record cleaning machine is a semi-automatic design that is gaining friends because it’s quiet, and sticks to Pro-Ject’s values of offering thorough, good value performance
Harking back some 30 years, the Planar 3 was the core product in Rega’s early days. Although everything about the turntable is actually brand new, the £550 Planar 3 is back for 2016!
Roksan’s evergreen lower-cost turntable returns in its £1,900 Radius 7 guise, now with decoupled motor, glass-effect dual layer acrylic plinth, and Nima arm supplied as standard
Spendor showed its two latest models; the new £6,000 D9 is a slimline standmount building on the strengths of the D range, while the £15,000 SP200 is a three way floorstanding design – a first for its Classic line
Vertere’s latest venture is a support system for the company’s range of turntables. Designed to entirely float the turntable (and act as a lid) this will form a whole stand system, and may cost £18,000!
Zellaton’s £19,000 Legacy standmount loudspeaker is the ideal size for UK homes… and Marriott hotel rooms. The speaker played on a Beyond Frontiers Audio amplifier was in the Flamingo Audio room
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