The countdown to the largest specialist audio event in The Netherlands is underway, and visitors to this month’s X-Fi in Veldhoven can expect to be wowed by seriously high-end sounds. Our special correspondent Trevor Butler rounds up what you can expect to see and hear.
There’s something rather civilised about a Dutch audio show, a certain laid-back feeling without the pressure selling found in some markets or the jostling for best position prevalent in others. It’s for this reason that the annual audiophile gathering outside Eindhoven is a must for many, not just from Holland and the Low Countires but from much further afield. The rural venue that is a former monastery and now the Koningshof hotel and conference centre provides a wealth of decent-sized rooms, all on one floor. The only independent (that is to say non-dealer) hi-fi show of any note in Benelux, X-Fi offers a two-day immersion into some of the finest audio systems money can buy. Here’s a brief look among the wealth of new and exicitng products we can expect this time round.
New this year is what promises to be an impressive 250-seat auditorium where the organisers are staging live music, including a recording of the Harbor [sic] Jazz Band on Sunday morning. Playing on both days will be Eric Vloeiman’s String Quartet. X-fi is also known for its series of expert workshops and lectures, and this year a series of eight events including digital doyen Bert van der Wolf of NorthStar Recording Service. Then there will be the chance to hear from Swedish speaker aficionado Ingvar Öhman (Guru) in his talk entitled “It’s all about physics.”
Temporal Coherence’s systems use time-correcting active cross-over filtering to eliminate temporal errors introduced by the drive units and timing issues caused errors by the physical location of the drivers in the cabinet. Added to that, the Diamant and Pyramide systems have a 360o radiation pattern, so the indirect sound has the same spectral properties as the direct sound. This will be interesting!
Metrum Acoustics’ non-oversampling DACs are particularly popular with the Ear so we are looking forward to hearing the fully-balanced Onix and top-end Jade converters alongside the Forte, the first power amplifier in the range.
Ultisone presents two new products at X-fi. First, a world first showing of Aries Cerat’s new integrated amplifier, the €15,000 Genus single-ended triode running 813 output tubes. This will be driving high sensitivity Stenheim Alumine TWO stand-mount speakers at €12,500. The room will also host a Studer A80R reel to reel.
Grimm is poised to release an entry-level version of its active louspeakers in the form of the LS1a. A design that combines digital signal processing, converters and amplifiers in the stand.
Audio Life will have systems from Chord Electronics, Audio Note and Avantgarde Acoustics with the Trio XD horns. We are promised a “tremendous system with a big and rich sound’”
John Watkinson will be launching his Legend loudspeakers (above left). These are based on the study of human hearing and incorporate inventions like a “secondary acoustical crossover that re-assembles frequency channels acoustically, inside the cabinet”.
Club 27 who will be at X-fi with an expanded range of speaker kits. Hear what the Janis, the Kurt (above centre), the Jimi and the Amy can do and name another famous musician who died at 27.
Live Fidelity will be demonstrating the new Bastanis Sagarmatha DUO open-baffle speakers (above right) with horn loaded tweeters alongside Silvercore Audimax single-ended mono amps with a claimed 80 Watts of pure classe A power.
RMR Soundsystems will be using components from Sivian Acoustics, including the Lysithea and Leda 5-driver, 3-way floorstanders, plus the Elara digital pre-amp/DAV and 150W/ch Larissa. Townshend Audio will be joining them to demonstrate their Seismic isolation products.
Aequo Audio’s Ensis is a three-way floor-stander that resembles a musical note and includes a 10-inch active subwoofer and room correction hardware. This year it will be joined by the Stilla: a smaller hybrid speaking boasting Ncore-amp powered 7-inch subwoofers.
Gustavson Audio will have their Pear Amplifier with wooden housing that produces 2 x 240W into 8 ohms. Wooden because the designer feels the material has a beneficial effect on the sound.
Driade’s hand-made Premium Series has been redesigned with neutrality to the fore. The Model 1 retains the original shape and constitutes the foundation from which the remainder of the range is derived.
Elsewhere, there’s a new amplifier from Bryston and expect queues as Bowers & Wilkins’ new 700 series gets an early Euro hearing. Expect, also, the usual mix of cables, accessories, software, publications and alike which are necessary to complete any decent hi-fi show.
X-Fi takes place in Veldhoven, 30 September to 1 October. Details of discounted advanced tickets at x-fi-audioshow.nl Doors open at 10am on Saturday 30 September.