THE HI-FI SHOW 2016: Windsor Suites
Windsor Suite 2 - Focal Loudspeakers
In Windsor 2, Focal will be demonstrating its flagship floorstanding loudspeaker from its premium Sopra range, which combines the company’s superb in-house drive unit technology with cabinet construction as innovative as the striking design. Although the star of the room will undoubtedly be its Sopra No.3 floorstander [HFN Sept ‘16], the French company may also have its Sopra No.2 model and the standmount No.1 on show.
All three use a combination of Focal’s own W-cone mid and bass units, with a sandwich construction combining layers of glass fibre either side of a foam core, and the beryllium-dome tweeter made in clean-room conditions at the Saint-Etienne factory. The mid and bass drivers use the company’s Tuned Mass Damper technology and a Neutral Inductance Circuit to reduce distortion, while the tweeter is mounted in an Infinite Horn Loading assembly in the ‘collar’ of the speakers, giving gradual absorption of unwanted rearward radiation for a more precise sound.
Finally, the striking lacquered cabinets, made in Focal’s own plant in Burgundy, ensure the speakers make a strong visual statement – whether you choose them in Walnut veneer, or high-gloss Black Lacquer, Carrara White, Imperial Red or Electric Orange.
At the Hi-Fi Show Live, the Sopra speakers will be driven by a complete Naim system comprising the NDS/555PS, NAC 552 and NAP 500 DR all on Naim Fraim supports with a full loom of Super Lumina interconnects and speaker cable.
Windsor Suite 3 - Sound Fowndations
For 2016, the fabulous new Zodiac loudspeaker from Danish brand GamuT will make its very first European appearance. Described as a ‘cost-no-object masterpiece’, only 12 pairs of the Zodiac will be hand-built each year, using a cabinet made from no fewer than 27 layers of wood of varying thicknesses, and all-new drive units.
The new neodymium tweeter, made in Denmark, extends the frequency response all the way out to 60kHz, while the bass drivers take things down to 16Hz, and yet the speaker is designed to have the agility and speed of a standmount design, and comes complete with a massive spike plinth adjustable to suit the listening distance. This massive system will also include the GamuT D3i preamplifier and M250i mono power amplifiers, with Genesis One power conditioning from IsoTek, DeMag-Alpha and SKFilter accessories from Furutech and equipment support from Blue Horizon’s Pro Rack and Sanctum.
Clearaudio’s towering Statement v2 turntable will provide the sounds from vinyl with DS Audio’s cutting edge DS Master 1 optical cartridge, which uses an LED to detect stylus vibration, also on demonstration. You can discover more about this pick-up’s radical technology at the Hi-Fi Show Live thanks to DS Audio CEO, Tetsuaki Aoyagi, who is joining us from Japan to answer your questions.
A second reference system also includes debuts from Swedish Larsen Loudspeakers, Clearaudio’s Master Innovation and Innovation Basic decks. You can also hear first hand from Clearaudio’s Robert and Veronika Suchy on their no-compromise approach to turntable design.
Windsor Suite 6 - Symmetry
Representing a wealth of established high-end audio brands from across the globe, including Audio Alchemy, Ayre, Brinkmann, Lyra, Stax, Stereolab, Sumiko, Tri-Planar and Trilogy, Symmetry’s space promises to have something to entice every audiophile. Audio Alchemy, the company long-famed for its 1980s DDS CD transport and DAC-In-The- Box, which have since passed into audio legend as affordable high-quality upgrades for first-generation CD players, is back at the Hi-Fi Show Live in its latest incarnation for a third year. Fronted by the irrepressible Peter Madnick (who will be present during the Show), it will have new products on display including the final version of its much-anticipated Roon-ready DMP-1 music player, along with the full range of Audio Alchemy separates.
The Symmetry room will also see the first UK showing of Ayre’s QX-5 digital hub – a Roon-ready DAC able to connect to any digital source. And thanks to its network capability, it’s also able to access Tidal and other streaming service, giving the audiophile a way of investigating streaming without needing a separate player or computer.
Vinyl lovers will be treated to the new Trilogy 913 phono preamplifier and Lyra ETNA SL moving-coil pick-up with a Brinkmann Spyder turntable. Brinkmann’s Nyquist DAC, which is compatible with MQA and also Roon-ready will be on show, featuring a fully modular construction that offers owners the flexibility of future upgrades. The Nyquist also offers seamless integration with Tidal and other music streaming services.
And the magic doesn’t stop there as audiophile record company, Chasing the Dragon (the world’s leading producer of Direct Cut Vinyl albums) joins Symmetry in Windsor 6. Chasing the Dragon creator Mike Valentine will be talking about the recording techniques he uses at Air Studios in London, where he produces his cutting edge recordings. The talk will include the opportunity of listening to tracks, allowing the audience to compare the sound of a normal analogue LP and one produced as a 45rpm album and then from his Big Band Jazz double album, the opportunity to hear the differences between a conventional recording and a direct cut recording. Mike will also be playing tracks from his latest production, which is a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, performed by Clare Teal and the Syd Lawrence orchestra.
Windsor Suite 7 - Absolute Sounds Ltd
Windsor 7 Absolute Sounds will showcase many of the latest creations from some of high-end audio’s most distinguished brands, including Audio Research, EAT, PrimaLuna, MartinLogan, Sonus faber and Wadia. There will be various systems on rolling demonstration, including one teaming Sonus faber’s sumptuous Italian-built Il Cremonese loudspeakers with Audio Research’s equally fabulous GSi75 integrated valve amp, which comes complete with built-in DAC and phono stage.
Another system in this room is tailor-made for lovers of vinyl and valves, combining EAT’s new C-Major turntable and E-Glo phonostage with PrimaLuna’s DiaLogue HP integrated amplifier. On the end of the amplifier will be the latest hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker from MartinLogan, the Expression ESL 13A, which combines 112x33cm XStat CLS panels with twin 35cm bass drivers, each powered by its own 300W amplifier. Naturally, Absolute Sounds’ crack squad of high-end audio experts will be on hand to answer your questions and provide advice.
Windsor Suite 8 - Absolute Sounds Ltd
Absolute Sounds’ second room hosts the Alexx – the extraordinary new £105,000 loudspeaker from Wilson Audio. The Alexx draws on the design of the Alexia and the Sabrina, but with extensive development work based on laser micrometer measurement of cabinet resonances. It uses a new version of the company’s MTM (Midrange/Tweeter/Midrange) geometry, and has been developed alongside the forthcoming WAMM, said to be Wilson’s ‘magnum opus’. An incredible performance is guaranteed, especially as the Wilsons are driven by Dan D’Agostino’s magnificent Momentum M400 monoblocks, with a front end featuring the flagship Vivaldi 2.0 digital playback system from dCS.
As if that weren’t enough, this room is endowed with a second sensational system combining Audio Research electronics – the Reference CD9 feeding a Reference 6 preamp and Reference 150 SE power amp – driving Wilson Audio’s latest loudspeaker, the Yvette. Renowned recording engineer and Wilson Audio ambassador Peter McGrath will conduct demonstrations, alongside Raveen Bawa from dCS and Antoine Furbur from Audio Research. With systems on this scale you’re promised a musical feast to satisfy the heartiest audiophile appetite. Obtain free tickets for the dems from the desk outside the entrance to Windsor 7.
Windsor Lounge - Absolute Sounds Ltd
Don’t miss a very special opportunity to hear one of the finest CD playback systems money can buy – Metronome Technologie’s Kalista Reference disc transport and new Kalista DAC – together with Metronome’s long-awaited all-in-one system solution, the Music Centre 1. Like all of the company’s products, the new all-in-one is both developed and built in-house by the French company. Amplification is provided by another high-end dream team courtesy of Australia’s Constellation Audio, with the Virgo III preamp and mighty Centaur II monoblock power amps, capable of delivering 800W into 2ohms.
The Constellations will be driving another feat of exemplary science and engineering from Magico, the awesome S5 MkII loudspeakers, with their combination of diamond-coated beryllium tweeter and mid and bass drivers using both carbon fibre and micrographene. Transparent Audio supplies the cables, with equipment supports from Artesania Audio.
Constellation’s Irv Gross and Magico’s Peter Mackay are set to fly in from the US to conduct demonstrations and answer any questions you may have. Tickets are available from the desk outside the room, free of charge, at the time of your choosing.