2015 Sound and Sight Exhibition
AV Intelligence were exhibiting the Devialet Phantom speaker (just one) and their amplifier in the main hallway.
Not forgetting the portable crowd - in fact, quite a significant part of the show was dedicated towards portable gear and head-fi.
|Chord Dave. If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it.|
Time to move to the hotel rooms upstairs.
First stop was to visit Audio Basic. Steven Cheah had plenty of goodies from Telos of Taiwan. Acoustic Energy was also back in the market with a big bang.
|The petite Acoustic Energy 301 and the Reference 3 floorstanders.|
|The Telos GNR or Grounding Noise Reducer - this is one of the most innovative products I've come across this year. I attended an earlier demonstration by Jeff Lin of Telos this year - keep an eye on this product.|
|Telos Quantum caps and stickers. A separate review of the stickers will be out shortly.|
|A very special product from Telos designed for the China market - all those Duelund caps are guaranteed to bump up the price tag to dizzying levels.|
The Kubrick DCX turntable from Soulines of Serbia was definitely a talking point.
|I love the styling and performance so much that I bought one earlier in the year.|
Also on display were electronics from Aurender and Mizik.
Over to Audio Note's room. The digital source was an Audio Note CD 3.1X/II, while the analog rig was a Dr. Feickert Analogue Woodpecker deck (with Ortofon Cadenza Blue cartrdige) and Audio Note phono stage. The Audio Note Oto SE amplifier was hooked up to AN/J SPe Hemp speakers.
Audionote were showing off a pair of Devialet Phantoms in the next room. They placed a bottle of water on top and cranked it up very loud, to demonstrate how little vibration the cabinet had.
Horizon Acoustics always put up a good show, and this year was no different. I felt right at home with the Total DAC Dual with reclocker front-end, and Nola Studio Grand Reference Gold speakers. Great control, dynamics and a very balanced sound. This was in part helped by the massively powerful Grandinote Shinai amplifier with the astonishing power output of ...... 37 watts ! Power conditioning was handled by a Plixir Balanced AC transformer and High Fidelity's Ultimate Reference Wave Guide. Cables were a mix of High Fidelity and Verastarr.
|Nola Studio Grand Reference Gold speakers. Check out that gloss !|
|Grandinote Shinai amplifier. A big sound that belies its low power output (37 watts).|
|High Fidelity cabling. Their power conditioner was hiding behind the rack.|
E-Mu Systems Pte Ltd had a wide variety of desk-fi and head-fi equipment on display. The most interesting products were two new headphones with gorgeous wood cups. The larger model sported teak cups, and the other model, walnut. Suggested retail price of the teak model was S$ 1,280, and $199 for the walnut model. The project team director, Mr. Chan explained the development of these two models and beamed with pride like any new father would. I took a brief listen and they do sound quite good. The walnut model seemed like particularly good value.
|Each cup is carved from a solid block of wood and hand matched for grain appearance.|
|A close-up of the E-Mu walnut headphones.|
Audio-Technica had a wide range of head-fi gear and turntable cartridges on display. I noticed their tiny tube head-amp. I love tubes !
SKM Technology were similarly exhibiting portable and desk-fi centric equipment. However, the very elusive Sony HAP-Z1ES was on display (with pricing and actual availability) - many months after discussion and rumours that Sony Singapore were going to make the product locally available. I had already seen the HAP-Z1ES in flesh at earlier Sony events this year - what a tease ! Let's not forget the TA-A1ES amplifier hiding below.
AVP Soundcraft LLP had two rooms, the first room being dedicated to a wide range of Nagra electronics, paired with Verity Audio Sarastra II speakers. When I was there, the massive Nagra HD amp was being used, paired with the Jazz preamp and CDP disk player. Nagra's marketing director, Matthieu Latour talked about the technical design of the HD amp, such as it's massive 1600 VA transformer and capacitor banks, as well as the fact that the amp is biased into class A up to 30 watts (which handles most listening volumes), and A/B up to 250 watts. The sound in this room would be best described as refined, highly resolving yet powerful and controlled. I liked this room very much.
|I have a weakness for Nagra styling and build quality. Needless to say, performance is top class.|
|Nagra HD amp - I love the idea of vertical standing amplifiers. They really don't take up much real estate on the floor.|
It seemed fitting to start off the day with AVP Soundcraft - this time their second room. They were displaying Canton speakers there, and a smaller Verity Audio model - Finn. Paired with the Simaudio Moon Neo 260D CD player and 250i amplifier, the trio cost a shade above S$12,000 (at the special ISSE show price). Yes, it sounded smaller and less resolving or refined than it's big brother with the Nagra setup. But no, you don't need to rob a bank to afford it. Not only did I love this setup, I could recommend it to almost anyone without having to make excuses about the price of audio equipment. I doubt I could assemble a nicer system for that budget.
I quickly popped back in to the E-Mu room. Mr. Chan had kindly promised to bring his solid wood block to show me the quality of the wood used.
|The E-Mu Teak headphone.|
|Another pair of the E-Mu Teak, with very different wood grain.|