Bristol Sound & Vision 2014

Wilson benesch’s Circle 25 Anniversary turntable has a Delrin plinth rather than the usual MDF and comes in white for £1,995, the ACT 0.5 Anniversary arm is the same again.

PMC unveiled the biggest member of the twenty series to date. The three-way twenty.26 has a 50mm midrange dome and 7inch bass alongside a dome tweeter, these units combined with a tweeter in a 1026mm high ATL loaded enclosure delivered the best sound of the show. And at £5,750 per pair they were far from the most expensive speakers in action.

Townshend Excalibur MkII is nearly finished, yes Max said that at Whittlebury but this time the tonearm is better finished and hopes are high. Bit like the £4,500 price.

ProAc’s Response Twenty R (above right) is a variation on the Response 18 with a ribbon tweeter and different bass porting arrangement. It has a 150mm mid/bass with woven fibreglass cone and an acrylic phase plug for £2,650.

The Michell Orbe SE EX (stop that tittering at the back) has an Isobase rather than a spider for greater isolation and a smaller dust cover, yours for £3,600.

Mmmmm felt. Libratone had an array of gorgeous Danish sound systems in single felt covered boxes. What differentiates them is ribbon tweeters and app control that lets you alter EQ to suite different locations. The Live above is £450 and it has a handle.

QUAD Vena wireless integrated has a DAC, Bluetooth aptX, two USBs, two analogue inputs and preamp outputs, it costs £600 and poots forth 45 watts per channel.

Graham BBC licensed LS5/9 (£3000) with Nagra T reel-to-reel and open frame stands (£150). They also had a EMT 948 in the system and some distinctly un retro Pass Labs amps.

CAD CAT, a computer audio transport with four external power supplies including two from Teddy Pardo, Paul Pang motherboard and CAD’s recipe for squeezing the best out Windows 8.1, it runs JRiver/JPlay and come in at £3,600 plus storage. The long awaited CAD USB has also finally been released for £480.

Steve Reichert with Q-Acoustics Concept 40 (£1,000), a floorstanding version of the Concept 20 with a Gelcore damped, twin-wall cabinet and twin bass drivers. These have bigger magnets to deliver deeper bass and greater sensitivity.

Real world audio alert! Pioneer’s SBX-N700 soundbar (£370 inc sub) has Bluetooth, Miracast, networking via wi-fi and YouTube direct that allows you to connect it to the video site via an app. There’s a cheaper version without the sub (SBX-N500 £270) and an even cheaper one without networking (SBX-300, £170).

Dynaudio showed the Confidence Platinum range with its sexy black anodised finishes. The range now has black rather than silver metalwork and piano lacquered veneers. The big C4 II will set you back £17,600 with shiny finish.

Stage (£1,200) is the first speaker system from USB DAC specialist HRT. It consists of a streaming amp/DAC with 75 watts of class A/B power and a better than II+ level converter. The speakers have plastic moulded cabinets and three inch woofers.

Audio Note used the nicely veneered TT Two Deluxe (£2,200) to play the most interesting record we encountered in Bristol this year; Henry Threadgill’s Easily Slip Into Another World

REL’s new Serie S subs have handy handles, deeper cabinets and alloy cones. Prices start at £999 for the 1,000 watt S2 but this is the £1,299 S3 which packs another 300 watts.

Nytech is back, albeit without the buttons, and ARC has been revived. The new Nytech consists of the compact CP range which is a preamp, 40 watt monoblocks and power supply for £1,500. There are two new ARCs, the 050 at £1000 and 102 for £4,000, both can be passive or active and feature a big ole 8inch doped paper driver from Germany.

AJ van den Hul building the new Crimson moving coil cartridge in front of very interested audience. The Crimson sits between Canary and Colibri models at £3,850 and he built two every day of the show.

Eclipse demonstrated a new sub, it has independent inputs for hi-fi and AV, and opposing drivers braced by an aluminium shaft between the magnet assemblies. The TD520SW has two 8inch drivers and 250 watts for £3,000. Unusually it’s intended for free space siting.

Naim Statement designer Steve Sells talks tech with Arcam founder John Dawson, winner of the Clarity Alliance’s Honorary Fellowship award. The heart of the machine (below).

Naim Statement

This retro beauty is the Ruark Rseven, it has a 2.1 speaker system, DAB/DAB+/FM, net radio, CD player, UPnP/DLNA compatible wi-fi and lots more for £2,000.

Pro-Ject’s DAC Box RS is a balanced converter with DSD capability, tube and transistor output stages, remote control, 9 inputs, asynchronous USB, the features go on but for £799 there’s more than enough of them.