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AAD At The National Audio Show 2013 pt.1

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AAD At The National Audio Show 2013 pt.1

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It was the first Sunday of autumn, and as we arrived, the sun was shining bright on the beautiful surroundings of Northamptonshire’s Whittlebury Hall. Immediately I got the sense that this was not going to be your run of the mill trade exhibition. It seemed a little friendlier, a little more unique, and just in general a bit more fun.

What made Whittlebury house different from other venues I have been to in the past was its layout. Rather than big halls crammed pack with exhibitors, Whittlebury had around 50 separate rooms, mostly occupied by a single company. Obviously, this is important for an Audio Show as it meant there were dem-rooms galore. That said, I must admit I did find it a little maze-like. I got lost more than once.

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The first stop on our tour was to Townshend Audio’s stand who were exhibiting their Rock 7 turntable, super tweeters and their Autotransformer pre-amp, but what really grabbed my attention were their Seismic sink isolation cells and stands.

The Seismic Load Cell (pictured above) is designed around a high quality alloy steel compression spring used to block vibrations from 3Hz and upwards. The cell’s spring design allows free movement in all directions giving progressively greater isolation as the frequency increases.

Townshend manufacture their own hi-fi racks which use the load cells, but interestingly, they also sell single pods and seismic corners which can be fitted to your current hi-fi setup.

The next demo that really grabbed my attention was by dCS. They were showcasing their Vivaldi range (pictured below) paired with an Aurender S10 streamer, which dCS distribute but not manufacture. The sound produced in this room took my breath away, as a full orchestra piece was played, it really did feel as if I was at a live performance, the sheer power of the system too was impressive.

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Speaking to Raveen and Liam from dCS, they assured me that high-quality DSD sound files are going to soon become more readily available to download and that the Aurender S10 would be at the fore-front of the boom, giving its competitors a ‘run for their money’.

DSD (Direct Stream Download) is an audible signal reaction system developed by Sony and Phillips. The technology is currently used to store audio signals on SACDs (Super Audio Compacts Discs). They offer 64 times the resolution of standard audio CDs. DSDs are currently the closest digital contender to the richness of sound quality available from vinyl. There is a lot of buzz building around DSD files, so much so that Sony are currently planning on releasing their entire (yes, entire) back-catalogue in the format. So you can see why manufacturers like Aurender are putting a lot of effort into developing streamers.

The S10 works with its own iPad app and boasts 2 x 3 terabytes of internal hard-drive space, up to 24-bit width and 192 kHz sampling rate whilst also allowing playback from a solid state drive or NAS as well. The guys at dCS seemed very excited about it indeed.

Headphones are an area that I am especially interested in at the moment, so when I heard that there was a ‘Headzone’ at the show, you can imagine my excitement. As usual when around headphones, as soon as I entered the room I immediately went about trying out every pair of headphones that I could.

I tried a few new brands that I hadn’t heard before courtesy of hifiheadphones.co.uk, Sound Magic, Final Audio Design, German Maestro and Audio Fly. The latter being my personal favourites of the four.

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The most interesting headphones in the headzone had to be the Harman/Kardon Sohos (pictured right).  When I first picked up these light and fragile looking closed back headphones I was not expecting as big a sound as they gave me. The clarity and size of the soundscape that the Sohos provided really did surprise me. If only they were a little more comfortable. The size of the cans were barely as big as my ears, and I don’t think I have particularly big ears (at least I hope not).

The AAD award for nicest looking room has to go to Janszen loudspeakers, whose paper fan inspired layout gave a great mood to enjoy their equally great speakers.

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‘Only one of?’ was designer David Janzsen’s response when I told him that I thought his speakers were one of the best I had heard all day. Of course he was joking; being one of the best loudspeakers at a show as good as this one was high praise indeed.

For part 2 of my journey round the National Audio Show 2013 please check back on Friday.

– Posted by Lewis

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