This weekend the sales team was delegated to visit the annual Bristol Hi-Fi Show. It is always worthwhile attending trade shows to get a feel for the market and to connect with colleagues (and competitors!).
This year’s show was a lively event with several trends apparent. It seemed that nearly every room had a turntable, either playing discs or spinning silently whilst music was streamed from a nearby laptop.
We thought the best analogue sound was provided by Music First Audio – their UK-made valve phono preamp and transformer preamp were true reference quality and provided superb sound. They also ran music from open reel tape, provided by a lovely little Nagra 4SJ. Perhaps open reel is due to make a comeback?
Music servers and streaming devices were the other big trend with a lot of high quality material coming from innocuous-looking netbooks. The stream of choice was usually the Tidal Music service with occasional sightings of Qubuz.
There were a few CD players evident. One room featured a very good demonstration CD from the Netherlands recording company STS-Digital. The sound quality – recorded live on Nagra open reel – was excellent. This audiophile label is not well known in the UK but worth seeking out via their home website.
The latest home theatre audio format (for now) is Dolby Atmos which takes a new approach to surround sound to provide a genuinely immersive sound field. The demonstrations were certainly very impressive and we’ll be following the format’s development with interest.
Finally, it was a pleasure to catch up with Paul Messenger and Martin Colloms on the HiFi Critic stand. Martin’s inspiration for his High Performance Loudspeakers book was Ted’s own Loudspeakers book. The two volumes between them have been industry bibles for several decades now. It was very interesting to hear some of Martin’s thinking on current trends in the industry.
HiFi Critic is an innovative venture; a high quality magazine funded entirely by sales, with no advertising. Highly recommended if you wish to keep up with the latest in hi-fi.