The eager crowds at the ticket booth were of similar healthy girth on the three mornings of the show. First thing too. Patiently they waited while the ushering and checking of tickets saw them off into the hotel’s belly. Now, the show report continues on to Part 2...
The Synergy Audio room is always a great example of superb sounding and beautifully designed Hi-Fi. On show this time were delectable items from the ever-expanding stable of McIntosh Laboratory electronics. Signal fed via Aurender and Mo-Fi sources. The end of the chain saw the stunningly attractive Sonus faber Maxima Amator being supported by twin REL S/510 subwoofers. As I’ve often found, the integration between mains and subs was well-executed, once again confirming the efficacy of REL’s preferred connectivity solution. Excellent low-end control, dynamic expression and… umm, synergy was the trademark in this room.
I managed to squeeze-in before the arrival of the crowds which swamped the Pitt & Giblin room. A retro-stylistic delight. With a minimalist aesthetic via beautiful, handcrafted furniture supporting Technics turntable, Bluesound streamer and Condesa Lucia mixer/preamplifier, the Superwax Mini (shown here) and the majestic doppelganger Superwax active speakers systems played with astonishing transient attack and dynamic expression. There was a fluidity to the sound that was most appealing. Stay tuned for more on these very promising designs.
Richter showed a complete range of speakers highlighted by the new Excalibur S6SE large ‘quasi 4-way’ which sounded quite refined and powerfully full in the bass. There was no overloading of the room due to the mitigation of excessive low-end via a simple, yet effective, foam bung system. Of note is the substantial R&D dedicated to the new custom-built drivers Brain Rogers (Richter proprietor) proudly showed me. Indeed, these were quite serious transducers and feature in multiples in the affordable Excalibur (AU$5699).
Audio Influence showed the physics-defying Cabasse iO 3 and EOLE 4 satellite/subwoofer systems in their trademark spherical form. The bass extension of the small satellites is quite surprising but once the subwoofers are engaged…well, just one word: Wow! Also on show was a Pre-Audio turntable with the beautifully engineered ARM-ASP-1501NG linear airbearing tonearm.
Yes, there’s something about that classic LS3/5a sound that is just so beguiling. In the Falcon Acoustics room (from Fundamental Audio) the little BBC-inspired monitor was sounding supremely captivating and expertly balanced driven by Vincent Audio electronics. Also sounding a little bigger in the bass but with a slightly less mesmerising midrange band is a new design yet to be confirmed as a formal product. Oh, and with both designs there are those glorious real wood veneer finishes to choose from…
Finn Bespoke Technology once again displayed a full Audio Note UK system. The AN TT-3 turntable and tonearm pairing provided the analogue tunes while an AN CD player spinning silver discs was one of a rare bunch (maybe only three through the show). In typical Audio Note fashion, the corner-placed speakers provided a coherent and lush tonality while maintaining the soundfield properties normally associated with capable speakers in more traditional placements. In a world-first, on display was a diminutive amplifier sporting the new Takatsuki 2A3 valve. I can only imagine how sweet that amp would sound…
Headed by the legendary Kim Ryrie, Australian digital processing specialist DEQX showed its new Gen4 processor which will offer a number of options in terms of functionality (one model will even feature on-board amplification). The company’s Alan Langford staged an eye-and-ear-opening demonstration which indisputably illustrated the powers of DEQX’s processors. A cheap AU$150 pair of speakers were played with and without DEQX-ing. The processor’s results transformed the no-frills speakers into serious performers launching them, at least, into the $3K to $5k price point. Some box of tricks.
Also Australian but relatively newer is March Audio. Alan March has had a range of Purifi Class-D amplification products for some time which have received high acclaim. At the show, the company launched the new Sointuva WG loudspeakers which feature Purifi technology in its exotic drivers. Available in a variety of beautiful wood veneers, the speakers sounded big, powerful and very expressive (there are two passive radiators on the rear panel). Founder Alan March (pictured) ran through a number of well-chosen tracks and my initial show-based impressions were very positive indeed.
The inimitable Johan Coorg demonstrated the wonders of the new KEF LS60, juxtaposing it with the passive LS50 Meta driven by a Hegel integrated. This exhibit was so popular sessions were organised in order to manage the people flow. Shoulder-to-shoulder room only. A couple of visits gave me a brief overview of the goings on but pathogen anxiety had me staying only briefly. Coorg is a master presenter with countless shows under his belt so, of course, the audience was engaged and felt free to ask questions. Sessions ran way over time which was evidence of the deep attendee involvement.
Yet another Aussie long-time speaker manufacturer Osborne Loudspeakers showed an array of its beautifully finished creations. Electronics were by AM and Consonance, two brands the speaker maker also distributes. As always, the sound here was big and bold, with the speakers’ good efficiency wringing the most from the well-regarded valve amplification.
So that’s about it for the StereoNET Hi-Fi Show Melbourne 2022. I did miss a handful of rooms (number them in one hand) for a variety of reasons mentioned through this report and its intro.
Big kudos must go to the show organisers headed by Marc Rushton. Once again they have delivered a well-promoted and efficiently-staged platform for audio enthusiasts to rekindle relationships and friendships with cohorts while sampling kit from around the globe.
Similarly and on a personal note, the show was a great opportunity to reinforce networks and catch up with audio industry players some of whom have become more than just business acquaintances. So too for the refreshing of connections and catch-ups with many members of the audio community at large.
As a visual wrap-up, below is a small gallery of ancillary exhibits in and around the Record Fair. Enjoy and let’s do it again, this time in Sydney in 2023!
… Edgar Kramer
The beautiful multi-coloured world of Perreaux Audio’s 200iX (review here) and 300iX integrated amplifiers showing the headphone stages’ substantial qualities
TSA Loudspeakers’ 15 inch Open Baffle system (packaged with Seamless subwoofer) by Stephen Price, also the man behind Amp Camp
Phil Wait’s (pictured above) RedRoo SE5 12AT7 and EL34-based 5 watts amplifier with built-in headphone stage
A wall of Krix sound outside the company’s super-busy-by-appointment-only massive cinema system exhibit
A small sampling of Lux Audio’s NOS valve collection available at the show