Colinjg

Bristol HI Fi Show this Weekend.

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I skipped around the show this year, and as others have said to me, it is a big show and its hard to take everything in on one take, its also a bit dependant on what small sample you get when you go in the room as well. Overall though I thought it was enjoyable once again.

To mention just a few things off the cuff.

Focals and big Naim statement amp or block shall we call it was playing classical low when I was in there so the demo wasn't doing it for me, but those things regardless of what they sound like are unbelievable achievements of hi-fi. And they look killer, and well, if you got the Ferrari and Bugatti in the garage then why not have these in your man cave as well :).

The smaller more affordable Naim (but by no means cheap) with the Titans I was particularly impressed with. This room did hold me for quite a bit, the overall sound of the demos I had there was really impressive. And the weight the speakers were delivering was amazing, but I think the demonstrator said the things weigh 50 kgs a piece. A great system I thought.

All the ProAc sounded good as always, the big boys that were downstairs had a bit of a bloated bass though, but in these shows you're always limited to what you can do with the room. And it would be sacrilege to use an equalizer of course :) However, the price of ProAc just keeps going up and up it, they're good but I think they could price themselves out at some point. Must be a tough game though being a smaller outfit (or medium manufacturer whatever they are exactly) even as good as they are.

Another which have gone nuts with the pricing is Harbeth. Their new little LS3/5A rip-offs are as much as or more than the real LS3s now, which in my opinion are way overpriced anyway for what is such a simple and easily reproducible speaker. To me, the original LS3/5A as Falcon make is still a better speaker for what these small speakers do best, vocals, but I can see the attraction of the Harbeth P3.

On to the Falcons. We were presented with an array of LS3/5As this year, supported 'just very slightly' with some big subs. It was all just a bit of fun really by these guys just to outgun the what the other guys were doing with the bass extension cabinets for the LS3s. And it was ok for a bit of fun but I've heard them sound much better. I preferred a single set on the Sugden amps they had last year. What I did find quite nice though was I found out that every Falcon LS3/5A made is all completely done in the UK, including source components.

The Rel set up was a bit bonkers but again it was fun, and it didn't sound too bad, not that I or anyone would ever want that many subs stacked in a room. And then you'd probably just go for something else. The Kef reference with them sounded particularly nice that they were using with them though, and I'm not usually a Kef fan, some do sound great though.

The isoAcoustics isolations demo on the Focals was interesting. They did a demo where when the light was on we had the speakers on their special leg pods and when it was off they were on just regular spikes. I could hear quite a considerable difference. I think my preference might have been the Iso's pods as well. But what they are asking for them then, nah, not interested. I'll make my own somehow :)

Had a fleeting demo of a Naim lifestyle system in one of the small rooms as well where the demonstrator was insistent how much better the mk2 variant was of one over the other, giving me and another chap a quick A/B demo. There might have been more clarity in the mk2 but overall me and the other guy just agreed the mk1 was an easier listen. But both weren't particularly impressive :)  They were ok though, and they do look very sleek if nothing else if you've got a grand+ to waste.

Anyway, that's enough rambling from me. You've done well if you read that lot :D

Great to see a few familiar Wam'ers there. And great to see Danny as well who we don't see anymore here either and have a quick chat. He did mention he was a part of another forum now, I knew I should have written it down because I've forgotten already. Great to see him though, would like to see back at the Wam, or maybe at least visit us all at the show sometime :^

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Edited by eddie-baby
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Falcon LS3/5a stacked up like line array speakers. 😳 How did that sound?

I got a set of the Isoacoustics Gaia 3, they do make a difference but at a price 😬

Increase of price by Harbeth is pretty steep ... about 25%. Wonder if the XD will replace the standard ones? 

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2 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

Same but just like a big LS3/5A

That’s very interesting. Wonder how they wired it all up? 

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1 minute ago, tIANcI said:

That’s very interesting. Wonder how they wired it all up? 

I did look at that. Straight into the bottom set, then just spurred off that into the next ,then that spurred off that set into the next etc. I guess because of the ohmage (15) its not ever going to issue.

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26 minutes ago, tIANcI said:

I got a set of the Isoacoustics Gaia 3, they do make a difference but at a price 😬

They did make a consdierable difference, but as you say, at a price.

27 minutes ago, tIANcI said:

Increase of price by Harbeth is pretty steep ... about 25%. Wonder if the XD will replace the standard ones? 

There are supposedly a lot of improvements, I still think they are all overpriced, or maybe I'm still stuck in the 80-90s

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7 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

There are supposedly a lot of improvements, I still think they are all overpriced, or maybe I'm still stuck in the 80-90s

Falcons are not far off in price. It’s like 2.3k now.

11 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

I did look at that. Straight into the bottom set, then just spurred off that into the next ,then that spurred off that set into the next etc. I guess because of the ohmage (15) its not ever going to issue.

In series eh? That means just under or around 4ohms.

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Good photos @eddie-baby :^. Better than the few I took so I'll restrict my thoughts to words...

Last things first: I ended the day in the Kef AV room in the basement (7.2.4 Atmos sound) which was the first time I can remember genuinely enjoining a live music recording on such a system. They were playing Hans Zimmer Live in Prague and particularly the sense of scale was great. It was also the only room all day where I thought subwoofers were being used well (more on that later).

Probably the most interesting new find for me was the Fyne Audio room with particularly their F502SP speakers. I also heard the same speakers in a Linn demo later on and on both occasions they impressed me. Well, other than that their drivers somehow just look cheap to me but grills will easily sort that. I was much less impressed with the larger (and more expensive) Fyne Audio F703 model.

At the silly bonkers money end of the scale, the Naim/Focal room just off the bar area was at least also properly impressive. I stayed there a fair while actually.

The Amphion/Hegel room was playing the Yello Live in Berlin blu ray when I popped in, which was good fun. The bass from the little Amphion Argon 1 speakers was surprisingly good. 

The Wilson Benesch room (conservatory) sounded good with what they were playing but as in previous years it wasn't music I really wanted to listen to.

As people here had mentioned the new Harbeth P3ESR XD I did have a listen to these but they're not for me. (On the first track I quite liked the surprisingly full sound they had but after two more tracks I was getting the impression this was actually a rather excessive colouration caused by the speakers. They weren't recordings I was familiar with so I could be wrong but it was enough for me. The sound also wasn't as open as I'd have liked.)

As I have posted here about the benefits of a subwoofer in my system I'll just mention some rooms at the show that used subs but fell well short for me:

  • JL Audio etc (AV Tech Solutions) room: this used the CR-1 analogue crossover but no EQ. I sat pretty centrally but the sub really didn't blend seamlessly with the main speakers for me, and some bass notes were too loose/boomy to be musical to me. It may be that it was just too loud but I found the overall sound too 'hard' and fatiguing as well.
  • REL room with a stack of three subs each side (as in @eddie-baby's photos), in combination with Kef Ref 1 speakers: was the sound better with the subs on? Yes. Did the improvement justify 6 subs? Not anywhere close for me. As far as I'm concerned I do better with one sub, but in combination with a proper crossover and EQ. I'm sure REL would disagree with me though :).
  • Emotiva and SVS room: more of an AV room but with the concert blu-ray they were playing the sound from the SVS main speakers was just so unpleasantly hard sounding (almost painful) that I didn't hang around long enough to really comment on the new SVS SB200 pro subs. I suspect the room might have sounded better (to me) if they'd just turned the volume down a bit.

Overall I was left feeling more convinced of the use of a miniDSP for proper crossover management and EQ. On the bass-EQ front I will finally mention that I did go to a Linn demo which included Space Optimisation, and this did give the sort of bass improvements I've come to expect.

Edited by MartinC

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Fab pics Eddie and the other forum is HiFi rehab and you are most welcome 

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@MartinC Yes, I'm pretty much inline with you Martin, and subs, of course subs, I know you're a sub man as well. I forgot about mentioning the subs apart from commenting on the Rel stacks.

On the Rels again those stacks for me were not worth it. About 2k or near that or more whatever anyway each they did not make a huge impact especially for six!. For that I dont want trouser flapping bass I want it to take my trousers off :D I enquired about them as well. I know a little about the Rels but not everything as I dont really rate them that much. I asked if they were ported and I kind of knew from their older stuff that they were passive radiator. Anyway the main man said 'oh no no' we not interested in ports anymore, ports are just troublesome, they cause all sorts of problems. And in a way he is right, but they do output more and for a show like that and a short dem most ported designs would have probably been more impressive. He then said about the passive radiator and how they use it to take some of the energy out of their high output design that its capable of. But six ten inch drivers were good but not amazing. And it should have been!

To the SVS room :)

Yes it was hard and horrible sounding I agree. The stunning TV screen distracted me enough to keep me in the demo for the duration though, I overlooked the main speakers sound as best I could because I really wanted to see what the new 2000s delivered. Again I think they should have gone ported for maximum impress factor but the sealed is what they brought. And those weren't bad, they were fast and tight and dynamic. For SVS I was expecting more as I thought they were a bit limited. The drive units and drive were just not robust and brutal enough I thought. But overall I was more impressed by those two units than I was with Rels six.

JL Audios new 10 inch sub was playing on its own in their room as well. It was good but again I wasn't blown away. I find the much cheaper e110 sub which was in the room also but not being used that I owned before was a way better pound for pound sub, and maybe not as deep but faster, tighter and more of a quick hard hitter.
33 minutes ago, hifinutt said:

Fab pics Eddie and the other forum is HiFi rehab and you are most welcome 

Thanks, and thanks, it was great to see Danny and have a chat, and as much as I couldn't remember and Google hi-fi forums I could not find any named rehab to refresh my memory :) I will take a look, but I do like it here, most of the time anyway :)   

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6 hours ago, tIANcI said:

Falcons are not far off in price. It’s like 2.3k now.

In series eh? That means just under or around 4ohms.

What is the pricing on the new Harbeth XD's ?

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3 hours ago, Bigwig07 said:

What is the pricing on the new Harbeth XD's ?

MSRP is £2,495

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9 hours ago, eddie-baby said:

On the Rels again those stacks for me were not worth it. About 2k or near that or more whatever anyway each they did not make a huge impact especially for six!. For that I dont want trouser flapping bass I want it to take my trousers off :D I enquired about them as well. I know a little about the Rels but not everything as I dont really rate them that much. I asked if they were ported and I kind of knew from their older stuff that they were passive radiator. Anyway the main man said 'oh no no' we not interested in ports anymore, ports are just troublesome, they cause all sorts of problems. And in a way he is right, but they do output more and for a show like that and a short dem most ported designs would have probably been more impressive. He then said about the passive radiator and how they use it to take some of the energy out of their high output design that its capable of.

As you may be aware, usually passive radiators basically behave like ports. They are chosen to have a low resonant frequency, which extends the low frequency range of the sub. Below this resonance the output falls off more rapidly than a sealed sub, just like with a port (24 dB per octave vs 12 IIRC). REL do though make a slightly different claim about their passive radiator subs, saying they behave more like sealed subs at low volume and ported subs at high volume, which I'll be honest I don't understand. (I hope it's not marketing BS...)

The guy I spoke to in the REL room unfortunately didn't seem too knowledgeable on what they were trying to sell. I checked they weren't applying any crossover filter to the Kefs (they weren't) but when I then asked what the crossover frequency was set to on the sub I wasn't convinced by the answer. What I was told was that this was set differently for each sub, by ear by I think the designer of the subs. Which might be true but in hindsight I wonder if he was actually referring to the phase control. Either way it does point to a potential consideration with six subs like that which is they won't be easy to set up optimally!

Regarding the SVS SB200 Pro this is a model that could potentially be of more interest to people here I think due to the built-in EQ options. Particularly for those with small standmount speakers. It does though rely on a phone app to configure which I worry somewhat may ultimately limit the life of the sub if future phones (or whatever) ultimately end up incompatible with it. 

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