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
Audio (National AV Solutions)
One of the biggest surprises of the weekend for me was the
80-inch-tall Wisdom Audio LS4 line-source array speakers, which predominantly
use a 1.3m planar magnetic driver to cover its 350Hz to 20kHz frequency range and
pride themselves on offering a spread of sound with high volume albeit low
distortion, losing only 3dB in loudness every doubling of distance. You can
connect a subwoofer (which will take over at 80Hz), but I reckon it kicks out
enough deep bass for most owners not to add one. It's the midrange, however,
that really stunned me – super clean and pure with Lisa Lovbrand's vocals in Let's Get It On, thanks no doubt in part to the crossover being at
350Hz. Not a cheap proposition at AU$70K together for the speakers and Wisdom
Audio amplifiers, plus AU$30K for the dCS Bartok streaming preamplifier it was
paired with, but one that makes a great impression.
Avantgarde And More (Maxmedia)
Maxmedia was showing off the all-new Avantgarde Duo SD horn
speaker (another that will appear in Munich next month) in a rather lovely
orange finish, paired with Innuos' Statement power supply, Valvet pre and
power amplification, plus the Cos D10 DAC and streamer. A stand-out not just
visually but sonically too.
Another pleasant surprise: the performance-per-dollar value of
the speaker and pre/power amplifier pairing from Melbourne-based OAD
Ultrafidelity, whose Vajra power amp was recently very well-reviewed in Australian
Hi-Fi magazine. The brand's Padma preamp, Vajra power amp, and Gem dipole
speakers struck me as being very open, natural-sounding performers with great
& Sonus Faber (Synergy Audio Visual)
Another room that reliably impresses show after show is
Synergy Audio's most premium systems, this time featuring McIntosh's
reference electronics – the MCD12000 DAC, two-box C12000 preamp, and the MC451
power amps (getting their first Aussie outing) – and Sonus Faber's Serafino
speakers (which will soon make way for the new Serafino G2), fed sweet streams
by the Aurender N20 server.
Fun – that's what you'll have with Richter speakers. I
can say that of the Aussie company's Wizard S6SE and Excalibur S6SE anyway, as
I found myself tapping my feet along to the more upbeat demo tracks thanks to
its fine sense of rhythm – musical talents its well-matched system
accompaniments, the Bluesound Node streamer and Musical Fidelity M6si integrated
amplifier, also share.
A small speaker highlight for me was the Serhan Swift Mu2
MkII, whose spread of sound and bass punch belies its compact dimensions, and
whose detail, precision, and agility make it just as compelling a performer too.
I could've happily stayed listening for much longer, and credit deserves to be
given to the Leema Acoustics Tuscana II and Austik CD player behind it too.
Bertrand Audio uniquely offered an opportunity to get in on
some smooth, soothing reel-to-reel player action courtesy of a refurbished Crown
Reel model (CX 822), driven by a Canary Audio C1300 valve preamplifier from
Canada and KR Audio Kronzilla VA-680 from Czech Republic, and fed to a custom
pair of horn AER Loudspeakers using the company's BD3B driver from Germany.
Boulder, Silent Angel And More (Hi End Audio)
Distributor Hi End Audio kept its side of the bargain with
multiple demonstrations of truly delectable kit, from the Magico A3 speakers to
the Boulder 866 and Vitus RI-101 MK2 streaming amplifiers. I nailed timing by
entering when Stenheim Alumine Three speakers were being powered by a DartZeel
CTH-8550 Mk2 amplifier – an AU$110K pairing, no less – and it put the cat
amongst the pigeons in terms of precision and detail.
Some of the most consistently impressive wired models on the
headphone market are by Germany's Beyerdynamic, from the budget DT 770 to the
high-end T1. Heading up the Head-Fi section of the show by the entrance gave
visitors a chance to hear some of the finest in-home and on-the-go personal
listening from the off.
Sennheiser delivered another not-to-be-missed room for head-fi
fans, with much of the German brand's lineup available for demonstration –
including the excellent range-topping HD820 and the all-new HD660 S open-backs,
which my short demo of reassured me that the resolution and spaciousness the
model has been known for over the years remains their priority.
Australian Hi-Fi Show 2024
This year's show was universally praised by many as a
wonderful success. Attendees and exhibitors alike from around the world had a
great time here in Sydney listening to top-rated sound systems. We look forward
to seeing everyone here in Sydney for the Australian Hi-Fi Show 2024!
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