Bristol Sound & Vision Show 2017
- Alan Sircom
- Mar 2017
The 30th annual Sound & Vision Show at the Marriott City Centre Hotel in the heart of Bristol is a unique event. It’s a dealer-run show, organised by Audio T (in association with What Hi-Fi magazine), and every year thousands line up around the block before the show starts, braving some of the nastiest weather Bristol can throw at them to pick up a bargain (the organisers ensure there are some good discounts to be had if products are purchased at the event).
This year, it seems, numbers were up (even if sales were possibly slightly down) on the previous year, and although the hotel itself is looking a little tired – the concrete building stands in stark 1960s contrast to the more modern Cabot Circus shopping development nearby – the show itself is very much in its own groove. Speaking of grooves, this year’s show was marked by a significant shift toward vinyl replay and away from both CD and home cinema/home theatre demonstrations. Although many companies were exhibiting record players, not all of them were making record players, and the few record player makers at the show were having something of a field day.
This year, the number of brand new exhibits was down slightly on last year. Indeed, there were many brands showing the finished version of the project in prototype form last year. That said, there were wholly new products on display. For reasons intimated elsewhere on the site (https://hifiplus.com/articles/what-could-possibly-go-wrong/), we are somewhat limited in the images we can provide to support this report, so we have reluctantly had to limit ourselves to the best new products at the show that we had images of. There were many more, and our apologies go out to those who have fallen victim to the diktats of the SD card!
AudioTechnica was showing its range of new headphones and earphones to great effect. It also had a new turntable on display. Perhaps the most exciting of the group is the £465 ATH-SR9 over-ear ‘Sound Realty’ high-resolution headphones, featuring 45mm drivers and bobbin-wound ‘7N’ copper voice coils.
We loved the DigiBit Aria Mini when we tested it a couple of years ago (https://hifiplus.com/articles/digibit-aria-mini-media-player/). The DigiBit part of the name might have gone, but the product is better than ever! The latest Aria 2 player includes a built in CD ripper, is fully DSD256 compatible, supports JRiver and its own app, and sports up to 4TB of storage. This complete digital front end starts from around £5,000.
AVM is a name relatively well-known to regular Hi-Fi+ readers, as we are big fans of the company’s CS2.2 all-in-one player. However, the German brand had some difficulty making it big in the UK, until now. The company is often distributed with PMC in other parts of the world, explained AVM’s Managing Director Udo Besser, and AVM is now distributed by PMC in the UK, too. PMC also imports Bryston to the UK, and that relationship remains unaffected. At present, only AVM’s three strong range of disc-playing, streaming, integrated amplifier all-in-ones will be available. But expect more to follow.
The 75W Belles Aria integrated amplifier was first seen at CES 2016, but it took until Feburary 2017 for it to make its presence felt in the UK. Armed with a headphone socket, a fine MM phono stage, and the typical Belles giant-killing sound, expect to hear more from this small, but perfectly formed amplifier.
The Chord Company announced its new Sarum T cabling, which offers a marked upgrade over Tuned Aray. The latest design features its proprietary Taylon dielectric, said to be completely phase consistent across the frequency band. Prices start at £2,100 for a 1m pair of interconnects, and existing Sarum can be upgraded.
Dynaudio’s excellent, award-winning display showed the excellent Contour loudspeakers in an elegant space featuring a large picture of a Heroes-era David Bowie, but the new models in the group were the revised Focus line, including the £9,500 Focus 60 XD tower models.
Elipson was one of several brands showing new turntables at the show. This new Omega 100 RIAA BT Carbon is a complete £699 carbon-fibre turntable, complete with built in phono stage, Bluetooth transmitter, and an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge.
UK needle experts Goldring announced three new moving magnet cartridges in its new E-Series; the £60 E1 with a carbon-reinforced cantilever, the £80 E2 with an aluminium cantilever, and the £100 E3, which replaces the spherical diamond tips of the E1 and E2 with an elliptical stylus.
Kudos has another Titan in its range, with the £13,000 707. Taking the mighty 808 project as a foundation, this one box floorstanders retains the isobaric bass loading, distinctive cabinet shape, closely matched drive units, and low order crossover. It is designed to run in active and passive mode, too. Rumours of a still cheaper Titan 606 abound, too!
IsoTek was running regular demonstrations on the importance of good power, using its Reference grade power cords, the new EVO3 Corvus noise rejecting power block, and up to the improvements that can be had from the EVO3 Genesis One regenerator and EVO3 Titan One filter.
Alan Ainsley of Melco is seen here modelling the latest version of the N1Z music server. Both N1A and N1Z are now upgraded to mk II versions, with Ravenna music software support, improved connectivity, a new operating system, better power supply and (where available) larger SSD drives.
Quadraspire makes stands and gets frustrated when it sees people putting quality audio on sideboards and less-than-ideal furniture. To counter this trend, it has developed the Soundstage, a bamboo platform with bronze and bamboo feet that offers an easily-demonstrable boost in performance, for £99 per platform.
Rega has been very busy of late. The company recently revised the ever-popular Brio amplifier and announced two new lower cost turntables, the P2 and P3. At Bristol, the brand announced the new £248 Fono MC phono stage and a £198 TT PSU in the new Brio livery, its cheapest ever moving coil cartridge in the £498 Ania, a very smart £175 Atlas stylus gauge, and the Record Store day turntable for this year, which will include a limited number of custom unbraced RP3 turntables alongside the normal RP1.
Sennheiser has moved with the changes in the earphone world, announcing its latest set of £170 Momentum in-ear headphones now come with a Bluetooth 4.1/aptX chummy powered neck-band, to accommodate jack-free iPhones.
Spendor has introduced a trio of new models in its A-Series; the £1,200 A1 standmount, the small £1,600 A2 and slightly larger £2,200 A4 floorstander. Pictured is the largest of the three, being ably driven by a modest system comprising the new Rega Brio amplifier and an AURALiC ARIES mini streamer.
Technics has been bowled over by the success of the reborn SL-1200 turntable, but in its latest guise, it’s not cheap. The new SL-1210GR brings the classic design down to a more affordable £1,299, and looks extremely cool in its new matt black livery.
We are hoping that even more images come through the extraction and recovery process. If and when they do, we will include a Part II version of the show report which will (hopefully) include new products from Epos, Exposure, iFi, Leema, ProAc, QED, Quad, REL, Ruark, Scansonic, Townshend, Wilson-Benesch and more!
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