The Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show – Melbourne 2018: Part 2

We open Part 2 with an über system which provided both enjoyment and was a strong aspirational symbol…

Australia Hi-Fi

In one of the best sounding rooms (and also the most extensive in terms of sheer component numbers), shared between Reference AV and Krispy Audio, a massive system featuring Esoteric and EgglestonWorks had music playing with a solid bass foundation and oh-so-sweet mids and highs. Dynamics were also impressive and well controlled. More Australian debuts in the Esoteric K-03Xs CD/SACD player (AU$$15,500) and K-05Xs CD/SACD player (AU$10,000). Rounding out the source componentry were Esoteric’s K1 Grandioso CD/SACD player (AU$35,000), the N-05 network streamer (AU$9,500) and fidata Global HFAS1-XS20U network audio server (also debuting at AU$11,000). Amplification was via Esoteric F1 Grandioso integrated (AU$35,000) and making its debut was the Esoteric E-02 phono stage (AU$10,000). The massive and beautifully-built EgglestonWorks Viginti were debuting too (AU$64,995). Shunyata Research and Grand Prix Audio were used for cabling, racking and accessories (in excess of AU$50K worth). www.referenceav.com.au www.krispyaudio.com.au

Australia Hi-Fi

Tim Brierly, Michael Kirkham and Tony Wong from Magenta Audio were at hand to run me through some of the new products being show. Making a first appearance in Australia were the Davone Audio Solo (AU$13,495) speakers which were pure Danish/Scandinavian gorgeousness with their curved and elongated design tapering to a delicate point – stylish and simple. Sonics were excellent too, with the PS Audio DirectStream and Bridge front end (AU$9295) directly feeding the new Halcro Eclipse Stereo power amplifier (price to be finalised but approx. AU$65,000) contributing to a musical, sweet sound that sometimes startled with its transient attack. PS Audio P20 Power Regenerator, FoilFlex cables and bespoke Bandicoot audio racks rounded out the main rig. Also on display was the new The Wand turntable with its dedicated carbon fibre arm. One of my favourite rooms. www.magentaaudio.com.au www.halcro.com

Australia Hi-Fi

Totally new from Parasound and debuting at the show were the Hint 6 integrated amplifier (AU$5995) with top-flight ESS Sabre Ref DAC chips on-board, the P 6 preamp with DAC (same DAC chip and AU$2995) and the JC 5 stereo power amplifier (AU$10,995) designed by amplification guru John Curl. Torus Power’s TOT AVR (AU$5995) was used for AC conditioning. The always impressive GoldenEar Triton Reference speakers (AU$15,995) sounded big, full and awesomely dynamic. www.networkav.com.au

Australia Hi-Fi

When it comes to pure musicality Harbeth speakers are always mentioned in the mix. Here, the Harbeth Super HL5+ speakers (AU$8390) were paired with Lavardin’s ISx integrated amplifier (AU$6950) with built-in MM phono stage, the super cool MAG-LEV ML1 turntable (AU$3495 including Pro-Ject 9cc arm and Ortofon OM10 cartridge) and Lumin A1 network player (AU$7700). An extremely enjoyable setup with the Jazz pieces I heard while visiting this room. www.audiomagic.com.au

Australia Hi-Fi

Bryan and Catherine Fletcher have honed-in the distinct Audio Note speaker positioning methodology to a fine art. They manage to produce consistently good sound despite the usually adverse show conditions. No exception this time. And in a world premiere...

Australia Hi-Fi

...the Takatsuki TA-S01 300B-based amplifier (AU$23,000) made a static appearance sporting the collectable serial number 01. This writer cannot think of a more beautifully-designed amplifier – pure audio jewellery. www.audionote.com.au

Australia Hi-Fi

In yet another Tivoli Hi-Fi room (the retailers is, after all, celebrating 45 years in business) Marantz electronics which were making their Australian debut. The superb-value-for-money Definitive Technology flagship BP9080x ‘Forward-Focused’ bipolar speakers (AU$5995) were powered via the SA-KI Ruby CD/SACD player (AU$7995) and PM-KI Ruby amplifier (AU$7995) which are special edition products honouring the 40th Anniversary of Ken Ishiwata’s Hi-Fi adventures. Room filling sound was the order of the day with the Marantz electronics and Def Tech speakers showing their ample capabilities. www.tivolihifi.com

Australia Hi-Fi

Mark Döhmann was on DJ duties and, once again, spinning some real doozies. Here, in a shared room between Tivoli Hi-Fi and Telos Audio Distributors, the beautiful Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 speakers (AU$41,900) were being capably driven via the team of Thrax Dyonisos (AU$29,990) preamplifier, Orpheus phono stage (AU$29,990) and Teres monoblock amplifiers (AU$48,000/pair). Einklein cables and the freakishly effective Les Davis Audio damping pads were used throughout. The Döhmann Helix Two turntable fitted with Schroeder arm was used for the analogue tunes. In a few words, this system was dynamic, resolving and utterly powerful. www.tivolihifi.com www.telosaudiodistributors.com

Australia Hi-Fi

Tivoli Audio’s Gary Tye was showing, among other items, the App-controlled and Alexa-capable Music System Home all-in-one digital small system solution. The Music System Home is capable of streaming from music providers such as Spotify, TuneIn, Tidal and more. Tivoli Audio has also optimised the sonic performance to mimic a bigger system. www.tivoliaudio.com.au

Australia Hi-Fi

Vivid Audio speakers were sounding smooth and laid back with the stunning special edition B1 Decade (AU$36,000) shown in bright red contrasting with the G4 (also AU$36,000) in black gloss. A Roon server and Devialet amplifier were used to feed the speakers. www.avation.com.au

Australia Hi-Fi

As is now the norm at audio shows, a large space was dedicated strictly for headphone auditioning – labelled ‘Headzones’ and staged by Busisoft AV and its retail arm Addicted To Audio. On-hand for listening pleasure was a huge variety of samples from some of the best brands available. Apropos, also launched at the show was the Stax SRM-D10 battery powered headphone amp/DAC (AU$1499) which will allow Stax headphone goodness to be enjoyed on the move. www.busisoft.com.au www.addictedtoaudio.com.au www.audiomarketing.com.au

Australia Hi-Fi

And for something a little different… Oris Watches had a display area showing some of the Swiss company’s superb time pieces. I’d like to get one of those big boys around my wrist… www.oris.ch

Australia Hi-Fi

Among other things, audio shows serve to educate, entice and provide aspirational ideas to attain the instruments that will allow the reproduction of music in, as close as possible, a verisimilitude of the real thing. Ergo, I close the report with Mary Webb strutting and strumming on stage in the live performance space. www.marywebbsings.com

…Edgar Kramer
Editor-in-Chief
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