The first part of our Bristol Show report (here) focused on equipment that HiFi Starters might consider. Kit that was priced appropriately. For part two the brakes are off, feast your eyes on a smorgasbord of expensive equipment that caught our ears and eyes.
Synthesis Taurus A50 integrated amplifier
Italian manufacturer Synthesis is slowly gaining traction in the UK. Its £6,200 Taurus 50 represents the top of its integrated amplifier range in the UK and has the looks to match the price tag. With 4 line and 2 digital inputs (USB and coax) it caters for most needs. Its 50W per channel should be good to drive most average sensitivity speakers.
Chord & Kudos
Chord’s Ultima Pre 3 & 5 Power amp (350W / channel) were fronted by the company’s DAVE DAC & Hugo M Scaler. £17,000 for the amplifier combo, £14,700 for the digital duo. All playing through Kudos 606 floorstanding speakers – £11,400. Very nice it was too.
Proac’s crowning glory
Top of the Proac range, the K10 has a price to match, as you can see. With a Michell turntable playing through Accuphase electronics the sound was lovely. I find Proacs sometimes emphasise the treble region a little for my tastes. Not this system, which was accurate yet silky smooth on top. The speakers looked a million dollars too. Shame about that carpet!
Mr REL – John Hunter – flew in from the states to helm the subwoofer specialist’s room this year. Seen here in deep discussion with Terry Ellis, videographer supreme, publisher of Pursuit Perfect System and all-round good egg.
Musical Fidelity M8xtt turntable
Coming later this year from Musical Fidelity, a new high-end turntable, the M8xtt. Pricing to be finalised but it will be close to five figures when paired with the MF arm that should be available at the same time. At the show the static display paired it with possibly the most beautiful arm I’ve seen, the Graham Phantom II (itself not far off five figures). Oh for pockets that deep….
Manley Snapper valve monoblocks (£11900/pair) pumping out 100W / channel and looking suitably…err..snappy. They’ve been in the Manley catalogue for over 20 years now but still deliver the goods. And the Manley Absolute headphone amplifier. The photo doesn’t do it justice, this thing had me salivating. Particularly when driving the top of the range Meze Elite isodynamic headphones. A shame it’s a smidge over £10,000 for the combination.
A second look at Roy Gandy’s new baby, the NAIA turntable, which was obviously precious given how many layers of acrylic it was behind! Sitting it over a mirror so you could see the underside was a welcome touch, making photography slightly easier.
Clearaudio Jubilee Reference turntable
Looking fabulous was the latest iteration of Clearaudio’s Reference turntable, a key development being the use of Panzerholz (very strong wood) for the plinth. The turntable alone costs £17,500, the arm and cartridge here bringing the total to around £25k.
Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Preamplifier
Musical Fidelity’s shot for the moon, the NuVista Preamplifier was looking respendant on the Henley Audio stand. This is half the device, there’s a similar-sized power supply to accomodate too. Likewise for the matching power amplifiers, which are available in stereo or monoblock form. All devices use the tiny Nu-Vista valve. Prices are over £20k per device. Meaning £60k+ for the top preamplifier plus two monoblocks. And big racks to house them all.
Check out that plinth!
A Garrard 401 turntable in a lovely green marble plinth. Combined age around 100 years, it was sounding lovely in the Fyne room. If only they still made that plinth (not that I have a 401 needing a new plinth or anything).
Proving that not (quite) all room treatment makes your lounge look like a recording studio. The photo canvases are sound absorbent panels – you can even provide your own photo. Or go full ‘Abbey Road’ with the diffuser / absorber in the second photo.
There’s a ‘t’ missing from that name – these were the cutest looking speakers at the show, bar none. Interior design meets technical excellence, the Cue-100 deploys a lot of sophisticated technology to achieve a lovely understated (in the positive sense) sound. Various combinations of speaker, stand and cloth cover are available. Around £20,000 a pair.
The whacky steam punk RA180 integrated amplifier (£5,500) was mirrored on the display of the RS150(B) network streamer (£3,900), which includes a DAC based around the high-end ESS9038Pro chip. Also shown was the RS520 (£3,400) all-in-one streamer, DAC and amplifier with 250W / channel on tap. Don’t you just love the look of that full-width display.
Fyne Vintage 15
The looks of the huge Fyne Vintage 15 (93kg each) divided opinion. To these eyes they were absolutely stunning – the best-looking speaker at the show by some way. The quality of the walnut finish was gorgeous, the detailing exquisite. Sonically you would think they’d overpower the small hotel room but no, they sounded lovely. Price? £30k – start saving. Or maybe consider the small standmount Vintage 5 at circa £3,500 that was also making fyne music.
Pro-ject Signature turntable
Henley was showing a final-prototype of Pro-ject’s forthcoming flagship turntable. No details were available but the current Signature 12 is £8,500 and I’d expect the new one to be more. In the flesh this was one lovely-looking turntable, to these eyes a step up from anything Pro-ject has produced to date (and there are some good-lookers in the range).
And that, bar a few lingering photos, is all for this year. Attendance at the show was good – manic on the Friday morning, not quite so much in the afternoon. Saturday was pleasantly busy all day, and I’m told Sunday was good too. Which bodes well for the other shows coming up this year. Many thanks to Audio T for putting the show on again; here’s looking forward to next year.
Gloss black JBL L100
Vivid Kaya S12
Clearaudio & Audio Note
Technics SB-C600 bookshelf speaker
A closer view of Chord’s electronics
Rega Aphelion 2 MC cartridge
Fyne Vintage Classic
Klipsch The Seven rear panel
Technics SU-G700M2 integrated amp
Rega P1 & Io amplifier
Pro-ject Signature flagship
Ruark MR1 MkII
Helping the neighbours
Caffeine loading at Spicer & Cole
Lilley, my AirBnB companion