The Indulgence show 2017 pt.1

The Indulgence show in London entered its second year last weekend and proved a highly entertaining event. The Novotel venue near to Hammersmith Broadway was packed with exhibitors showing serious sound systems and headphones alongside so called Pure Pleasure brands with the likes of massage chairs, artisan gin and even some fancy cars and motorbikes. Max Townshend discovered that his piano isolator can enhance the sound of a cello and I realised how remote my chances are of ever being able to play the guitar to a tolerable standard. But overall a lot of fun was had and good music enjoyed, not least in the Ear’s demo room, of which more anon. For now here are the latest products spotted at the event.

AVM like to offer plenty of features so their top dog preamplifier, the Ovation PA 8.2 (£8,450), has more than you can shake a remote at. It’s a modular design that can accept cards for a phono stage, DAC, balanced or single ended line inputs, FM tuner and even one for tone controls. Even the output is modular with tube and transistor options available.

It looks like plywood is finally coming back into fashion if 3 Square Audio’s products are anything to go by. They make a Translator floorstander and a Liberator standmount with the same 6.5inch main driver and tweeter coupled by a first order crossover in ply for £2,800 a pair alongside a modular rack system in the same materialwith prices starting at £325 for the Base.

Emotiva comes from the US but at £400 for the CD100 clearly isn’t built there, it’s good looking kit that includes the TA100 integrated (£520), XSP-1 fully balanced preamp (£1429) and 600W class AB or 60W class A XPA-1 mono power amp, which is a lot of power for £1,449.

Trilogy have answered the prayers of electrostatic headphone lovers looking to hear even more. The H1 driver/amplifier will work with any electrostatic headphone that has a Stax jack and uses six tubes in its output stage for maximum sonic excellence. Price is £4,995.

Trilogy’s 925 integrated hybrid amplifier was being to used to power a pair of very shiny Kaiser Kawero Vivace loudspeakers in the CAD room. The system sounded very sweet indeed thanks to a quiet* of CAD’s Ground Control devices keeping noise at bay for the company’s Audio Transport and 1543 MkII DAC. (* made up collective noun alert).

Michell Engineering teamed up with ProAc to put together an enjoyable vinyl system but what caught my eye was their vintage eighties system topped by a Prism turntable and Michell electronics including the Orca preamp, Alecto power amp and Delphini phono stage. More up to date are the solid copper speaker terminals with renaissance wax finish that Michell is offering for aftermarket upgrades at £195 for four.

American turntablists VPI showed the the Player (£1,500, above), a one stop solution with onboard phono stage, headphone amp and Ortofon 2M Red cartridge fitted for plug and play operation. The Prime Scout (below) is a more serious alternative at £2,650 without cartridge, it has a high torque free standing motor, RCA or XLR outputs and high quality main bearing under its aluminium platter.

Innuos used a Prologo active loudspeaker system from Goldmund to demonstrate the upgrade offered by its Zenith SE server (£4,995 for 2TB of SSD) over the standard Zenith, which is clearly not small. The company offered the same dem with a Chord DAVE DAC and a pair of HiFiMan planar headphones in the Headroom zone.

The Neo 240i is the latest and most affordable integrated amp from Moon Audio. It has an onboard 32/384 DAC and 50 Watts per channel in a fait au Canada design priced at £1,990.

Longdog Audio had one of the sweetest sounding systems at Indulgence. It consisted of a Technics SL1200 turntable with old school SME arm and Benz Glider MC driving the Music First Reference phono stage, Baby Reference passive pre, Longdog P6 power amplifiers and Graham LS5/9 monitors. They also had the good taste to play Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, which helps.

Townshend Audio have found a much tougher finish for the Seismic Podiums that everyone should have under their speakers. The rubber coating is self healing which means spike holes disappear. I like the laser cut logo too.

Not sure which mountain that is but it makes a great backdrop to Devialet’s Expert Pro amplifier and a system with Vertere SG-1 turntable and Wilson Sasha 2 loudspeakers. The digital amplifier is rated at 1000W per channel with crazy low distortion figures and a chewy £22,900 price tag.

Astintrew have finished the AT2-1100 preamplifier (£1,195) first spotted at the Bristol show. This dual mono design has a modular construction allowing a variety of in- and outputs including DAC and phono boards to be incorporated. They also have the AT2-5100 (below) at £3,195, this is a monster power amp offering 180W a channel from a dual mono MOSFET design that weighs a discomforting 28kg.

See the second part of our Indulgence 2017 report here.