11. Pro-Ject Experience V Pack
Henley Designs showed two variants on the theme of the Pro-Ject Experience turntable. Both have an acrylic plinth, but are differentiated by arm and cartridge.
The V Pack has the latest Evo carbon fibre arm and an Ortofon Vivo Blue moving coil cartridge for £1,050, while the Two Pack has a 9cc carbon fibre arm in place of the older 9c and an Ortofon 2MM moving magnet for £775. The latter matching the price of the standard cartridge-less wooden plinth Experience.
12. Van Den Hul 3T
Van den Hul has completely revised its interconnect range up to the £1,000 price point. It's 3T, or true transmission technology, involves combining five types of metal and one non-metal conductor in a precise combination that is claimed to offer considerably improved long term stability compared to single metal designs.
The 3T cables have a higher impedance than usual, but are said to offer greater flexibility, strength and resolution after a short burn-in time. The range starts at £240 for the Valley and includes a single unscreened model dubbed The Cliff.
13. Tannoy DC6T
Tannoy has added two new models to its Revolution range, the DC6T (£820) features a six-inch dual concentric driver for mid and high frequencies, with a titanium dome tweeter, which is allied with a multi-fibre pulp cone bass unit. The cabinet is trapezoidal in shape to avoid parallel surfaces and stands 950mm high.
The DC6 standmount (£560) has the same dual concentric in a 365mm tall trapezoidal cabinet. Both models come in a finish dubbed Espresso, which suggests that no trees were harmed in its creation.
14. Vertere Pulse
Touraj Moghaddam is the creative force behind Roksan, but clearly has too many ideas for one company and created Vertere in order to 'address weak links' in the audio chain.
His first product is the Pulse range of cables, Touraj doesn't give much away about their make-up, but his samples reveal separately insulated multi-strands within each lead and these are terminated in custom-machined, copper alloy RCA phono plugs.
Several variations exist including the handbuilt Pulse interconnects for tonearms, as well as dedicated line level out and pre-out models. Entry level Pulse-B interconnect starts at £890 for a one-metre pair.
15. Elipson Music Centre and Planet L
Elipson has been making spherical loudspeakers in France for over 70 years and following its purchase by Inovadis, it now has its sights on the design-conscious British audiophile.
The Planet L is a 29cm, ported glass-fibre enclosure that houses a 6.5-inch coaxial driver, which can be mounted on a pole stand, wall bracket or hung in a hoop from the ceiling.
16. XTZ MH800 DSP
XTZ makes a range of loudspeakers and electronics in Sweden and at Bristol the company launched its MH800 DSP system. This is a computer audio set-up based on Dirac HD speaker optimisation software, which operates much like a soundcard on a computer, sending a signal that's phase optimised to the speaker and amplifier that are part of this €450 package.
The speakers themselves have a forward firing three-inch aluminium driver and a downward-firing 5.25-inch woofer. These are driven by an aluminiumcased, 40-watt ensemble sounded remarkably good for the money.
17. Electrocompaniet PD1
A better established Scandinavian brand, Electrocompaniet brought its latest offering to the convertor table in the form of the £1,250 PD1.
Electrocompaniet's angle is the EMS-1 – a dedicated Wi-Fi transmitter (£250) that connects to your PC's USB output and sends a signal to the built-in receiver on the PD1. This avoids the need for a Wi-Fi network and a soundcard.
The DAC has five inputs, including USB and the company was demonstrating it with an Apple iPod Nano in a PURE digital dock to good effect.
18. Leema Elements
Leema showed examples of the three components in its forthcoming entry-level Elements range. With pricing under £1,000 they have the company's high-quality metalwork and LIPs control system alongside more volume controls than most.
The CD player has a Quattro DAC, an analogue volume control and two sets of balanced outputs, so that you can run a bi-amped system without a pre.
The integrated amplifier has both digital (inc USB) and analogue (inc balanced) inputs with a 45-watt output, while the DAC has seven digital inputs and one analogue-in via 3.5mm jack.
19. PMC PB1i Signature
Having given the treatment to its FB1i and TB2i PMC has brought the Signature touch to its PB1i floorstander.
The process has involved PMC's designer Pete Thomas reworking the 24dB crossover with higher-quality components, a process which has resulted in greater transparency. The drivers remain the same: 27mm soft-dome tweeter, 75mm midrange dome and a pair of 170mm bass drivers, housed in one of the company's transmission line enclosures.
The signature finish is rose palisander veneer with goldplated fixings and each comes with a serial number plate and ten year warranty.
20. Acoustic Energy NeoV2-4
Acoustic Energy has beefed-up its Neo range with the biggest floorstander in its catalogue, the 1.2m tall NeoV2-4. It gets its name from the Neodymium magnet that powers its ring radiator tweeter and promises high SPLs without the need for massive power, thanks to a healthy 91dB sensitivity rating.
Its cone drivers consist of two six-inch aluminium bass units and a five-inch aluminium midrange. At £700 the walnut finish is not real, but it looks the part.
The rapid growth of computer audio resulted in a wide array of great sounding approaches on demo at Bristol. Companies like Naim had their own systems in action, but the majority were using third-party solutions, such as the ripNAS or laptops of both Mac and PC persuasion.
The exciting thing is that this approach is bringing both great usability (thanks to the iPad) and great sound as a result of the various systems that companies like Cyrus, among others, are creating.
There was a clear trend for streaming systems that operate without a computer or wireless network. These keep noise at bay and should make set-up a doddle.
Traditional formats are still being supported, of course, but the download revolution has clearly gripped the industry's imagination and this, combined with the expanding range of hi-res software, means that digital files represent the future for high-fidelity.
First published in Hi-Fi Choice Issue 345
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