Aus­tralian Hi-Fi & AV Show 2018

Australian HIFI - - SHOW REPORT -

This year’s Aus­tralian Hi-Fi & AV Show was full of sur­prises—in­clud­ing sev­eral world-firsts. We rush-wrote this brief re­port to meet dead­line. You can read the full-length show re­port— and see many more pho­tos of the show—at www.avhub.com.au/show2018

TakaT­suki Ta-sO1

The big­gest sur­prise at the show for Mel­bour­nites was that they were the first in the world to hear the first am­pli­fier ever built by Ja­panese valve man­u­fac­turer Takat­suki, the TA-SO1. Of course it was a valve am­pli­fier or, to be pre­cise, a sin­gle-ended in­te­grated am­pli­fier us­ing TA-300B valves… made by Takat­suki it­self. ‘ We first heard this am­pli­fier in March this year in the lis­ten­ing room of Takat­suki with the de­sign team,’ said Bryan Fletcher, of Finn Be­spoke Tech­nol­ogy. ‘ It was ac­tu­ally quite a sur­prise as we were vis­it­ing the com­pany to find out more about their valves and knew noth­ing about the ex­is­tence of their am­pli­fier. When I asked what am­pli­fier they were us­ing, they said it was their own de­vel­op­ment which wasn’t re­leased yet. The dy­nam­ics, tone, and speed of the am­pli­fier were all very im­pres­sive, but at the time, the power trans­former they were us­ing was only set up for 120-volt mains. Af­ter con­vinc­ing them to built a new trans­former with both 120-volt and 240-volt taps we had to wait for sev­eral months while Ta­mura de­signed and built those trans­form­ers, which hap­pend just in time for us to show the am­pli­fier to the world for the very first time, here at the Aus­tralian Hi-Fi & AV show. The am­pli­fier we’re demon­strat­ing here bears the se­rial num­ber 1.’

space Op­Ti­mi­sa­TiOn im­prOved

Vis­i­tors to the Aus­tralian Hi-Fi & AV Show 2018 were also the first in the world to hear the re­sults of Scot­tish man­u­fac­turer Linn Prod­ucts’ re­cent im­prove­ments to its ‘Space Op­ti­mi­sa­tion’ tech­nol­ogy. What is Space Op­ti­mi­sa­tion tech­nol­ogy? Ac­cord­ing to Nigel Ng, of Ad­vance Au­dio, Linn’s Aus­tralian dis­trib­u­tor, it’s tech­nol­ogy that al­lows you to get the best sound in your room. ‘You can have great speak­ers, but Space Op­ti­mi­sa­tion tech­nol­ogy will make them sound bet­ter in what­ever room you’re putting them in.’ But ac­cord­ing to one show-goer, who wanted to re­main name­less, what Space Op­ti­mi­sa­tion tech­nol­ogy meant to him is that: ‘ I can put my loud­speak­ers where my wife says they have to go, yet still get per­fect sound at my lis­ten­ing po­si­tion.’

Linn’s im­prove­ments to its Space Op­ti­mi­sa­tion are many. One of the big­gest and best is that you can now do all the re­quired pro­gram­ming with a phone or a tablet: there’s no longer any need to use a com­puter. Al­most as big a change is that whereas you pre­vi­ously could model only reg­u­larly-shaped rooms, you can now model rooms of any shape, in­clud­ing ones with re­cesses and nooks and cran­nies, spec­ify the ma­te­ri­als the wall sur­faces are made of, plus tell the pro­gram where all the win­dows are and their sizes. You can even have the sys­tem com­pen­sate for the ef­fect your room’s tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity have on the speed of sound in that room. Best of all, you don’t have to know any­thing about pro­gram­ming to use this Mk II ver­sion of Space Op­ti­mi­sa­tion. Rooms are cre­ated by just ‘draw­ing’ on the screen sur­face of your phone or tablet.

aries ceraT sym­phO­nia

Although they’ve pre­vi­ously been demon­strated at in­dus­try and trade shows in Eu­rope, Aries Cerat’s Sym­pho­nia Lim­ited Edi­tion loud­speak­ers (pic­tured on the op­po­site page) made their pub­lic de­but at the Aus­tralian Hi-Fi &AV Show. The Sym­pho­nia Lim­ited Edi­tion dif­fers from the stan­dard edi­tion by virtue of its ex­te­rior be­ing coated with ‘liq­uid car­bon’ and ‘liq­uid cop­per’ fin­ishes, plus the crossovers, in­ter­nal ca­bling and trans­form­ers have all been up­graded. The high-fre­quency trans­ducer in the Sym­pho­nia is a cus­tomised alu­minium foil rib­bon loaded with a spe­cially-de­signed and unique-shaped horn that Aries Cerat says dra­mat­i­cally al­ters the

pa­ram­e­ters and per­for­mance of the rib­bon. The midrange driver is a 100mm di­am­e­ter ti­ta­nium driver (also horn-loaded) that has a mag­net that weighs 11kg. The bass driv­ers are baf­fle-mounted, but they’re rear-horn-loaded to max­imise out­put in the lis­ten­ing room.

Eg­glE­ston An­drA Vig­inti

Eg­gle­ston’s new An­dra Vig­inti ($65,000 per pair), which are not only the first Eg­gle­ston speak­ers to use a slot­ted bass re­flex port, but also the first to use a midrange-tweeter-midrange (MTM) driver ar­ray, made their Aus­tralian de­but at the Mel­bourne show. De­signer Jim Thomp­son says the slot­ted port en­ables the en­clo­sure to be­have as a sealed box down to the port tun­ing fre­quency of 30Hz, and that be­cause the tuned fre­quency is so low, the re­sult­ing group-de­lay phase shift oc­curs in a re­gion where the hu­man ear is ef­fec­tively in­sen­si­tive to phase er­rors. The Eg­gle­ston Vig­inti sports two 254mm car­bon-fi­bre coned bass driv­ers, two car­bon-domed 152mm midrange driv­ers and a 25mm Beryl­lium dome tweeter plus a su­perb fin­ish.

Bri­c­Asti M21

The big­gest sur­prise in Bri­c­asti’s room was not so much the new Bri­c­asti M21 Plat­inum Se­ries DAC/Pream­pli­fier, which was re­leased ear­lier this year, as the fact that the per­son demon­strat­ing it was none other than Bri­c­asti’s founder and de­signer Brian Zol­ner, who’d made the 17,000km trek from Mas­sachusetts to Mel­bourne to help out his lo­cal dis­trib­u­tor Deb­o­rah Sloss, of Stu­dio Con­nec­tions. The new M21 is per­fect for any­one who’s not sure what type of dig­i­tal con­ver­sion process they like best—20-bit lad­der, 24-bit delta-sigma or 1-bit DSD–be­cause the M21 al­lows you to choose which­ever one you want, when­ever you want, due to be­ing switch-se­lectable. In ad­di­tion to han­dling all types of dig­i­tal in­puts, us­ing what­ever DAC method you like, the Bri­c­asti M21 is also net­work ca­pa­ble, is Roon ready, and comes with a built-in ren­derer.

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-backed de­signs, the Ele­gia is a closed­back de­sign. 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 ($1,299) uses 70mm alu­minium di­aphragms coated with liq­uid crys­tal poly­mer and claims a fre­quency re­sponse that ex­tends out to 100kHz. The DR-Z7M2s were con­nected to Sony’s new DMP-Z1 ‘por­ta­ble’ DAC/Head­phone player, which uses dual AKM AK4497EQ DACs and fea­tures Sony’s DSD Re­mas­ter­ing En­gine which con­verts PCM to DSD 5.6MHz.

dy­nAu­dio con­fi­dEncE 20

Dy­nau­dio showed its new Con­fi­dence 20 speak­ers, which re­place the old C1s and are 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 im­proved air flow around the rear of the cones, new glass-fi­bre coil for­m­ers and new ‘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.

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 ($12,999), M-5000 stereo power amp ($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 8Ω (20Hz–20kHz, 0.07% THD) and 200-watts per chan­nel into 4Ω. Both mod­els have the retro Yamaha hi-fi ‘look’, though the switches and con­trol mech­a­nisms have been mod­ernised with ball-bear­ings and pre­ci­sion-cut alu­minium knobs and hous­ings.

MArAntZ isHi­wAtA An­niVEr­sAry

Not to be out­done, Marantz showed its SA-KI Ruby SACD/CD player ($7,990) and PM-KI Ruby in­te­grated am­pli­fier ($7,990), which it says will be avail­able in a lim­ited global pro­duc­tion run of only 1,000 pieces each. 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 8Ω and dou­ble that into 4Ω. The SA-KI Ruby plays SACDs, CDs, and home-recorded CDROMs and DVD-ROMs. An asyn­chro­nous USB in­put han­dles for­mats up to PCM/DXD 384kHz/32bit plus DSD11.2MHz. Marantz uses what it calls ‘Marantz Mu­si­cal Mas­ter­ing tech­nol­ogy’ to up-con­vert 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. The So­los were de­signed and en­gi­neered in Den­mark, re­port­edly as an homage to the fa­mous 1-2-3 chair cre­ated by one of Den­mark’s most in­flu­en­tial 20th-cen­tury fur­ni­ture and in­te­rior de­sign­ers, Verner Pan­ton.

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