Bristol Hi-Fi Show 2019 Preview

A rose by any other name….

by Andy Bassett Feb 21, 2019 at 6:07 AM


  • Now entering its 32nd year, The Bristol Hi-Fi Show is recognised as the UK’s largest and longest running Hi-Fi expo. To reflect the noticeable and increasing influence of 2 channel audio on the show, it officially moved away from its Bristol Sound and Vision name this year to better reflect the greater emphasis on Hi-Fi audio.
    That’s the only thing that’s changed though. It’s still taking place Bristol’s Marriott City Centre Hotel in February (22nd - 24th) and will likely be the biggest yet, featuring 188 well-known brands on display.

    Many of these companies will be hosting demos of their products, with staff on hand to answer your specific queries, so get down if you can. Here are some potential highlights worth looking out for.


    Acoustic Energy

    After launching the 300 series in Bristol last year, Acoustic Energy is back to unleash the flagship 500 series which includes the AE500 standmount amd AE509 floorstanding speakers. Both feature newly developed Carbon Fibre tweeters and mid/bass drivers, engineered to match the ceramic aluminium drivers and featuring improved self-damping for a smoother, more transparent sound.

    Acoustic Energy will be in Room 316 on the 3rd Floor.

    ATC

    ATC recently announce that their new CD2 CD player and matching SIA2-100 amp/DAC would be officially launched in Bristol.

    Proving that CD still has plenty of life in it, the CD2 features a proven TEAC 5020A-AT transport and AKM DAC, while the SIA2-100 supports an array of analogue inputs in the form of RCA phonos and a 3.5mm jack socket plus optical, coaxial and USB-B digital inputs. The USB is capable of handling PCM 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 files.

    ATC will be in Room 102 on the 1st Floor.

    Bowers & Wilkins

    The sixth generation of Bowers & Wilkins award winning 600 Series will be showcased in Bristol for the first time and will be demonstrated alongside Rotel’s 15 Series electronics.

    Priced from £399 to £1249, the new 600 series introduces technologies first used in the B&W flagship 800 Series Diamond range of speakers and features the company’s new silver Continuum midrange driver that has replaced the once iconic yellow Kevlar cone. A full B&W 600 7.2 package demo will take place in the Bristol Suite


    Also on show will be the Philips 55OLED903 TV with B&W sound, which was recently awarded the AVForums’ Editor Choice Best TV Picture Processing Award for 2018.

    Bowers & Wilkins will be in the Wallace Suite on the Lower Ground floor.

    Chord Electronics

    Back again after last year, Chord will be presenting both their recent and established wares. As part of a larger demonstration, the Hugo M Scaler, an FPGA-based upscaler that can upscale CD-quality files (44.1kHz) up to 705.6kHz (16x CD’s resolution) will be feeding a TToby power amp and Hugo TT2 preamp/DAC connected to Bowers & Wilkins 805D3 speakers. This will be a demo you don’t want to miss.

    Portable technology in the form of the Mojo headphone amp/DAC and Poly wireless streaming module we will also be on show and the Chord factory team will be available to answers questions and demo the new Poly 2.0 Firmware update.

    Chord Electronics' main demo is in the SS Great Britain 1 Suite on the Ground Floor and the portable devices will be at stand 6 on the Ground Floor.

    DS-Audio

    Optical cartridge pioneer DS Audio launches its brand new entry-level DS-E1 model which brings this optical technology within the reach of more audiophiles. DS-Audio’s design still uses a conventional stylus and cantilever but instead of relying on electromagnetic induction, it uses an LED to detect stylus vibration and so removes the electromagnetic frictional force that is a ‘fact of life’ in all MM and MC cartridge designs.

    DS Audio will be partnering with a Clearaudio Innovation Basic turntable and a Larsen 8 loudspeaker to show off the DS-E1’s capabilities in Room 209 on the 2nd Floor.

    Dynaudio

    Danish company, Dynaudio, will be unveiling their flagship Confidence speakers, which feature brand new Esotar 3 drivers, an optimised crossover and the latest version of Dynaudio’s DDC sound-beaming technology which includes the new DDC Lens waveguide system to get the sound to where you’ll most appreciate it - your ears. If the speakers have Confidence, then the £11K - £35K price might knock yours a bit.

    Also on show will be the company’s Evoke range of speakers. The five-strong range (two standmounters, two floorstanders and a dedicated centre-channel) use technology directly from Dynaudio's top of the range speakers and are positioned right in the sweet-spot for consumers wishing to upgrade from an entry-level Hi-Fi system - a much more affordable £1100 - £3900.

    Dynaudio will be on the ground floor at Foyer 2a and Bristol 15.

    Eclipse

    The Japanese company have a notably different take on speaker design and the Eclipse team will be showing off its proprietary accurate waveform reproduction technology with a setup comprising of their TD510ZMk2 loudspeakers and a TDSW520 subwoofer, fed by an Ayre’s EX-8 integrated ‘hub’ amplifier system.

    Eclipse will be Rooms 318, 320 and 322 on the 3rd Floor.

    Falcon Acoustics

    Visiting Falcon Acoustics will be an exciting opportunity to see and experience the Kingswood Warren Limited Edition model LS3/5a at its first public audition. This is a version of the venerable speaker that the BBC designed but never built and it was crafted using handwritten notes from the BBC and Kef archives. There are only 50 pairs available, so it’s a rare opportunity to see a slice of audio history.

    Falcon will also be showing the streaming version of the LS3/5a speaker, which we assume will not be quite as limited in availability.

    Falcon Acoustics will be Room 430 on the 4th Floor.

    Focal

    The French loudspeaker company will be bringing its expanded Kanta speaker range, pairing the No1 Bookshelf speakers with a Naim system.


    They will also be showing off their recently announced Stellia closed-back headphones along with their established Utopia open-backed headphones. Both of these will be used with the new Arche headphone amp/DAC which uses firmware updates to add optimal settings that are specific for each and every one of Focal’s headphone range.

    Focal will be in The Matthew Suite Suite on the Lower Ground floor, and the Brunel Suite and Executive Lounge on the Terrace/Conservatory Floor.

    Fyne Audio

    Fyne Audio will be bringing its full range of award-winning speakers and the F300, F500 and F1 series will be on prominent display in the Bristol Suite. However, more interestingly they will be officially launching two new speakers: the F702 (£6k) and the new flagship, the F1-12 (£26K).

    The F702’s 20cm Fyne Audio IsoFlare drive unit is joined by a matching 20cm bass driver and the crossover uses engineering passed down from Fyne’s high-end F1 series speakers.

    The F1-12, meanwhile, represents the very zenith of the company’s line-up with a larger cabinet and a brand-new 12in version of the IsoFlare point source driver which is built around a rigid aluminium chassis. It also features Fyne’s largest BassTrax Tactrix Diffuser system to date, for improved bass performance and flexible room placement.

    Fyne Audio will be in Room 304 on the 3rd Floor.

    Klipsch

    Distributors, Henley Audio will be demonstrating Klipsch Reference loudspeakers in conjunction with other products in its stable, such as the Pro-Ject Audio Systems' turntable and S2 electronic ranges, plus the Musical Fidelity M2 electronics series. Of particular interest will be the Klipsch Reference Premiere speakers, making their UK debut.

    Klipsch can be found in Rooms 416, 418 and 420 on the 4th Floor and at Stand 10a and 10b on the Ground Floor.

    Leema Acoustics

    Wales-based Leema will be proudly showing off their Stream IV streaming CD player as it makes its production debut at the weekend event. This 4th incarnation of the CD player adds high-resolution streaming into the mix as it expands access to legacy CD’s, USB storage devices, NAS drives, networked DLNA devices and streaming services.

    Leema has recently launched a new compact streamer (Elements Streamer), integrated amp (Pulse IV) and power amp (Hydra II AE), plus streaming music server (Sirius) and is one of few manufacturers who produce everything needed in the audio chain, including speakers, interconnects and speaker cables, to provide a total audio ecosystem.

    Leema Acoustics will be in Room 412 on the 4th Floor.

    Mitchell & Johnson

    Last September, Mitchell & Johnson announced the expansion of its 800 series with the addition of the S800 CD player. This will be making its debut at Bristol this year, in partnership with the existing S800 pre and S815 power amp.

    Mitchell & Johnson will be in Room 415 on the 4th Floor.

    Monitor Audio

    Monitor Audio have released the 5th generation update to their 2015 launched Gold Series of speakers which incorporates technology found in their flagship Platinum, models. We reviewed the Gold 100 bookshelf member of the range and these will be on display along with the Gold 300 floor standing speakers.


    They will also be using the show to launch the second iteration of their 5.1 surround sound MASS speaker system.

    Monitor Audio will be in the Empire Suite 1.

    Pro-Ject

    The company are planning quite a display of products both as part of their own demos and as elements in other manufacturers’ setups.

    Pro-Ject will be marking over half a million sales of their Phono Box phono stages and the latest S2 Ultra (£200) and Ultra 500 (£500) versions will be on show with distributor, Henley Audio. The Ultra 500 is a limited edition model supplied with a wooden box and chrome finished chassis.

    The company will also be presenting with Klipsch and their newest Reference Premiere range of speakers, plus Musical Fidelity and their M2 electronics range.

    Their own demonstrations will include closed-door Ortofon demonstrations, charting the journey through the range from introductory MM to high-end MC cartridges.

    Pro-Ject can be found in Rooms 416, 418, 420 on the 4th Floor and in Bristol Suite 10a and 10b.

    Rega

    British manufacturer Rega is best known for their tonearms and turntables but also make other Hi-Fi products including amplifiers, DAC’s, cartridges, speakers and a wide range of accessories.

    The company will be demonstrating a full Rega system headed up by the award-winning Rega Planar 8 turntable and have also promised that some prototype innovations will be showcased over the weekend. The Rega staff will be on hand for a chat, too.

    Rega will be in Room 223 and 224 on the 2nd Floor.

    REL Acoustics

    The team from REL will be demoing the HT/1508 Predator subwoofer as part of their ‘How to build your system” demo. Despite their reputation as a subwoofer company, REL will be impressing that it’s not necessarily how much bass you have but rather how you use it that will get the best out of your setup.

    An HT/1003 is also up for grabs as part of a REL Acoustics promotional event.

    REL Acoustics will be in Rooms 308 and 309 on the 3rd Floor.

    Ruark Audio

    Ruark will be introducing its new R5 High Fidelity Music System at Bristol. A scaled down version of its flagship R7 system, the R5 is equipped with Wi-Fi streaming, aptX HD Bluetooth, a CD player, DAB/FM and Internet radio, and analogue and digital connections that include USB and phono inputs.

    The 2.1-channel, A/B Class-driven system can also work in a multi-room environment with Ruark's existing MRx, R2Mk3 and R7Mk3 models.
    Ruark Audio will be in the Community Street Suite and on Stand Terrace 2 on the Terrace/Conservatory Floor.

    Sony

    Sony will be showing their budget Sony PS-LX310BT turntable with Bluetooth streaming, first announced back in January at CES 2019 and presented for the first time in the UK. There will also be an opportunity to see the company’s IER-Z1R in-ear headphones, which deliver high-resolution sound quality and the £8000 DMP-Z1 portable music player from the brand’s Signature Series.

    Providing some visual counter programming to all the audio equipment will be Sony’s AF9 MASTER Series OLED TV, which was launched in 2018. Like previous Sony OLEDs, the TV uses the Acoustic Surface system whereby sound actuators create the audio by vibrating the screen from directly where the action is happening. The AF9 can also be used as the centre speaker in an existing surround sound setup. This innovative approach led to the AF9 being awarded the AVForums Editor’s Choice Best TV Sound for 2018.

    Sony will be in Room 314 (AF9 OLED TV) on the 3rd Floor and Stand Bristol 13b.

    Technics

    After revealing the SL-1200MK7 and SL-1210MK7 turntables at CES, Technics come to Bristol with two other new products: the Ottava C50 wireless speaker, and the forthcoming SL-1500C direct-drive turntable that's based on the legendary SL-1200.

    Technics will be in the Cabot Suite on the Lower Ground Floor.

    Melco Audio

    The Japanese company will be showcasing their full range of digital music libraries at Bristol. Their expert UK team will be offering advice and answering questions, including how to achieve the best possible quality when importing into the digital domain; perfect for music lovers looking to preserve a lifetime of carefully curated music. Plus, there will be advice on the benefits of migrating to Melco from Linn, Naim and other hardware providers.

    A wide range of high-performance digital music libraries will be available to discover, including the new space-saving N100 and N10 models.

    Melco Audio will be in Room 204 on the 2nd Floor and at Bay 1 on the Ground Floor.

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