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Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show 2018 Report By Greg Borrowman
Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show 2018
Australian Hi-Fi show surprises!
Show Report By Greg Borrowman

 

HeadZones
One of the busiest stands at the show was the headphone corner, 'HeadZones' and one of the longest queues was the one for Focal's new Elegia design. Unlike Focal's last three high-end headphone releases (Elear, Utopia and Clear) which have all been open-back designs the Elegia, is a closed-back design. It appears that because of the propensity for open-back designs to be almost as loud for people nearby as they are for the person wearing the headphones, they haven't been popular with audiophiles who use headphones on their daily commute, or when traveling.

 

 

So according to Focal, "The Elegia was designed for use with portable audio players, which are often used when commuting, so the Elegia has excellent sound-proofing, to ensure anyone nearby can't hear your music." The Elegia uses a newly designed full-range speaker as a headphone driver that has what Focal calls a 'frameless' voice coil that drives a 40mm diameter 'M-shaped' aluminum / magnesium dome. When you're not using the headphones, you can store them in their supplied thermo-formed protective carry-case, which measures 250 x 240 x 120mm.

 

 

The second-busiest queue was for Sony's DR-Z7M2 headphones which take over from Sony's award-winning DR-Z7M2s and whose neodymium driver magnets are twice the volume of that model. The MDR-Z7M2 (A$1,299) uses 70mm aluminum diaphragms coated with liquid crystal polymer and claims a frequency response that extends to 100kHz. The DR-Z7M2s were connected to Sony's new DMP-Z1 'portable' DAC/Headphone player, which uses dual Asahi Kasei Microdevices AK4497EQ DACs and features Sony's DSD Remastering Engine which converts PCM to DSD 5.6MHz. The battery enables around nine hours of playback from the 256GB of on-board storage which can be expanded via two microSD cards. You can also hardwire via analogue, digital or USB, or deliver music wirelessly via Bluetooth aptX. It retails for A$9,999.99.

 

 

Dynaudio Confidence 20
Dynaudio showed its new Confidence 20, which replaces the C1 and is the first to arrive in Australia of four new Confidence models. All four have new drivers, including the new Esotar3 tweeter with its new directivity control lens.

 

 

The new coned drivers have revised chassis to enable freer air flow around the rear of the cones, new glass-fibre coil formers and 'NeoTec' magnets. All baffles on the new models are made from a material Dynaudio calls 'Nomex', rather than the previous MDF. The Dynaudio Confidence 20 is a large, two-way stand-mounted speaker that couples a single 177mm bass/midrange driver with the Esotar3 tweeter.

 

 

The speaker comes with a dedicated stand because it has an unusual down-firing bass reflex port, and so cannot be used on a conventional speaker stand. The new directivity control lens (DDC) is said to be the direct result of measurements made by Dynaudio's 'Jupiter' measurement system in its new HQ in Denmark. 'Intensive analysis using the Jupiter measuring facility enabled us to refine the Confidence speakers' high-tech DDC sound-beaming technology to produce the new DDC Lens system,' said Otto Jørgensen, of Dynaudio.

 

 

Yamaha 5000 Series
Yamaha showed the same 5000 series components at the Australian Hi-Fi Show in Melbourne that it debuted earlier this year in Berlin, at IFA, namely the C-5000 stereo pre-amp (A$12,999), M-5000 stereo power amp (A$12,999), and GT-5000 turntable (TBA), but all were prototypes, with limited operational functionality.

 

 

The C-5000 pre-amp has twin toroidals and fully balanced, mirror-imaged circuitry that is floated to remove potential issues caused by grounding. The M-5000 power amplifier's circuit topology is similar, and power output is rated at 100-watts per channel into 8 Ohm (20Hz to 20kHz, 0.07% THD) and 200-Watts per channel into 4 Ohm. Both models have the retro Yamaha hi-fi 'look', though the switches and control mechanisms have been modernized with ball-bearings and precision-cut aluminum knobs and housings.

 

 

Marantz Ishiwata Anniversary
Not to be outdone, Marantz showed its SA-KI Ruby SACD/CD player (A$7,990) and PM-KI Ruby integrated amplifier (A$7,990), which it says will each be available in a limited global production run of only 1,000 pieces. Each component features a laser-etched facsimile of Marantz ambassador Ken Ishiwata's signature and a symbolic 'ruby' (actually a red Swarovski crystal) atop their front-plates.

 

 

The two components celebrate Ishiwata's 40th anniversary of working for Marantz. The PM-KI Ruby has a Class-D output stage derived from the Marantz PM-10 amplifier that's rated at 100-Watts per channel into 8 Ohm and double that into 4 Ohm. The SA-KI Ruby plays SACDs, CDs, and home-recorded CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs. An asynchronous USB input handles formats up to PCM/DXD 384kHz/32-bit and DSD11.2MHz. Marantz uses what it calls 'Marantz Musical Mastering technology' to up-converting all file formats to DSD before conversion to analogue.

 

 

Davone Solo
As with most audio shows, attendees were predominantly male, so it wasn't hard to do a straw poll in the corridors to find out which of the hundreds of loudspeakers at the show women would most like to have in their homes. The overwhelming majority of those polled identified the Davone Solo, which were being driven by Halcro amplification in Magenta Audio's demonstration room. Not surprisingly, the Davone Solos were designed and engineered in Denmark, reportedly as homage to the famous 1-2-3 chair created by one of Denmark's most influential 20th-century furniture and interior designers, Verner Panton.

 

 

The shape of the Davone Solo cabinet not only looks beautiful, but also serves the physics of loudspeaker design well, because down low the cabinet is wide enough to enable a good-sized bass/midrange driver (203mm), before narrowing to accommodate a 100mm midrange driver, with the narrowness of the baffle ensuring improved dispersion, after which the cabinet thins yet again, to provide an almost point-source environment for the 25mm dome tweeter. Plus, of course, the height of the speaker means the tweeters are at the ideal height (seated ear level). The curvature of the cabinet also minimizes internal standing waves, reducing resonances and the integral stand seems to suspend the cabinet in mid air, decoupling the cabinet from the floor, minimizing vibration transmission in both directions.

 

 

Two Shows Too Many?
If there was any downside to the Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show, which has been held every year in Australia by the Chester Group (UK), for the past seven years, it was that this year, there was a second hi-fi show held in Australia, in the same city, and concluding just five days previously — called the 'Melbourne International Hi-Fi Show', and run by StereoNet. This timing meant that potential hi-fi show visitors (and exhibitors) had to choose between one of two hi-fi shows or attend — and pay for — both.

Opinions about the relative merits and the popularity of the two shows differed significantly, with no real agreement between either exhibitors or attendees, but the one thing on which they all agreed was that having two hi-fi shows in two weeks in the same city was not a good idea.

 

-- Greg Borrowman

 

 

---> Back to main Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show 2018 report page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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