Australian Hi-Fi Show 2023 Highlights Report
The best bits from the brand-new Sydney audio and AV show!
Australian Hi-Fi Show report by Becky Roberts plus contributions from Jez Ford
my ears had a very good weekend. Yours would've too no doubt, if you also
spent your Friday, Saturday, or Sunday attending Future's first-ever Australian
Hi-Fi Show. Visited on multiple days? Good for you, I hope you managed to cover
most of the 100+ brands that were on display and being demonstrated. Brought to you by
Australian Hi-Fi, What Hi-Fi?, and Sound+Image magazines, the Australian Hi-Fi Show 2023 took place from April 28th through 30th and celebrated the latest and greatest in the hi-fi and AV industry. This show gave visitors the opportunity to see and hear a range of audio products from all around the world.
With over $10,000 in hi-fi prizes up for grabs at the 2023 Australian Hi-Fi Show, attendees surely had a lot to look forward
to. If you didn't, or couldn't make it
altogether, don't fret – the show floor highlights from the three-day
celebration of the hi-fi and home cinema industries can be found in annotated
photo form below, so you can at least see what sonic heaven at the show looked
like and have an idea which product demos to chase your local retailers for
as the winter months draw close. And hey, there'll always be next year!
Brought to you by Australian Hi-Fi, What
Hi-Fi?, and Sound+Image magazines by Future Publishing, the central
Sydney show rewarded visitors with demonstrations of some of the finest audio
and AV equipment from Australia and around the world within the walls of the
Novotel Sydney Central. There were brand-new products that Aussie audiophiles
were given sneak peeks of before their appearance at the HIGH
END Munich 2023 show in May, a dribble-inducing demonstration of a
system that costs over AU$500,000 and, unsurprisingly, drew a constant crowd
over the three days. Moreover, there were many recently announced Sound+Image
Award winners proudly crowing over their trophies.
The brainchild of Laurence Dickie (designer of the
famed Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus), South African speaker company Vivid Audio
occupied one of the largest rooms of the show with its majestic flagship Giya
and new Kaya range. The Lumina P1 amplifier and Devialet 250 streamer were
feeding the company's Giya G3 model, which was impressively hitting the
heights playing a live version of Katharine McPhee and David Foster's The
Prayer during my time in the demo room.
Natural, dynamically soaring sound
from such distinctive-looking speakers (the tubes are for handling resonance),
made from fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar.
Yamaha has sensibly produced a partner for its
recently launched YH-5000SE open-back headphones, the HA-L7A headphone
amplifier, which will launch nearer the end of the year. On demonstration in
pre-production form – hand-brought from Japan, in fact, before it soon wings
its way over to Munich for the HIGH END Show
2023 – the L7A is a
built-from-the-ground-up design, with its distinct look owing to the isolated
placement of two toroidal transformers (powering the preamp and power amp
stages) away from the rest of the electronics. A very special-sounding pairing
that consolidated my high regard for the 5000SE.
And that was in just one room! In its other two, Yamaha was
naturally raving about its flagship 5000 Series components and the 2000 Series
it launched last year.
Acoustics (Decibel Hi-Fi)
With New York-based Ohm Acoustics speakers no
longer exported to Australia, Decibel Hi-Fi is now making Australian versions
of the W2000 model in Queensland, built to the same specification with the
Walsh drivers imported from Ohm housed in alternative cloth-covered cabinetry
to the original's timber wood box. Striking to look at (the cloth designs
can be changed), and to hear due to their distinct upward-firing line-source
driver, which not only means they radiate 360º soundstage but also makes them
less fussy to position. More Australian Ohms will be built this year.
& Wilkins, Marantz And More (Masimo Consumer)
A visit to a hi-fi show is never complete until
you've visited Masimo Consumer (formerly Sound United), which has some of
the biggest brands in the hi-fi and AV industry under its umbrella. Bowers
& Wilkins was giving an Australian outing to its new 700 Series, paired
with some of the latest electronics from Marantz.
I heard the 705 S3 standmounters and 702 S3 floorstanders
with the Marantz SACD 30N source and 40N integrated, examples of terrific
all-round systems that prove you don't need to spend tens of thousands to
get a cracking-sounding setup. Unless you can afford it, in which case you owe
yourself a demo of Bowers' 800 Diamonds (which was unsurprisingly very
popular throughout the weekend). Flying the flag for affordable hi-fi was also
the Polk R700 speakers with Denon 9000 Series electronics from Masimo
Audio And Halcro
Guess what, a AU$500,000+ system can sound pretty
darn good (a shocking statement, eh?). And it certainly does in the case of
the backless Kyron Audio Kronos speakers and multi-box Halcro Eclipse
amplification, an Aussie partnership that treated me to the best rendition of
Rufus Du Sol's Innerbloom I've heard to date – the interplay
between all of the track's rhythmic elements was truly outstanding.
Considering how frequently that song is played at hi-fi
shows, and that it's on a go-to playlist I've been using to test hi-fi
equipment for years, that's saying something. It's hard to argue with the
companies' mantra: stay true to the source.
Fresh from a Sound+Image 'Amplifier of
the Year AU$8,000 to AU$12,000' award win for its 200iX, New Zealand's
Perreaux showed off its brand-new VP4 phono amplifier alongside Holbo's
highly engineered air-bearing turntable and Amphion's flagship Krypton towers.
& Dutch (Sound And Music)
It's always a pleasure to be introduced to a brand you
aren't familiar with at a show – that's always been one of the beauties of
shows for me – and Dutch & Dutch was one of them this weekend. I don't
need to tell you where they're from, but it occupies an increasingly popular
space in the high-end all-in-one active speaker market with its plug-and-play C8
with built-in REW room correction. An interesting offering in the world of
completely fuss-free hi-fi.
The Sound+Image Award-winning Sointuva WG standmounts
were out in force, as were March Audio's new Ukonnen floorstanders, paired
with the company's (also Purifi-based) P421 mono power amplifiers, a Topping
DAC... and a framed photo of the husband and wife (Alan and Ruth March) team's
Norwegian-breed dogs. Both the Sointuva and Ukonnen did a cracking job
delivering Hubert Sumlin's gravelly crooning and the texture of the bass
chords in Sometimes I'm Right. Real class acts.
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