Over a cold weekend in March Rotterdam was the place to be if you like your music on vinyl. There was not a CD in sight let alone a streaming device. The organisation added a little live music but every other tune was played direct from the record players at the show.
Audio Note UK
Our top down visit started on the top floor at the end of the corridor and led us to a nice system from Audio Note UK. A Meishu integrated amplifier with only 8 Watts produced a very nice sound through Type E speakers with 94dB efficiency. Loud enough to make us happy and enjoy the vocal music.
The new VPI Traveler record player ($1,399) was busy spinning with a VPI Zephyr cartridge ($1,000) that looked a lot like one of the Soundsmith family. Turns out it’s a joint project between the two companies. It sounded nice over Dutch Real Estate transmission lines and Raysonic tube amplifiers.
Always great to see at any show; the beautiful Nottingham Analogue turntables. This Interspace Junior was not playing which was rather a pity.
New to the Netherlands are Dr. Feickert high end turntables and arms, the Blackbird presented here was used with Einstein Audio amplifiers and Blumenhofer Genuin FS2 loudspeakers with a bass reflex bottom end and mid/high frequency horn. One of the nicest sounds at the show. A Lyra Kleos was getting the dirt out of the groove. I would love to try the Blumenhofers at home. Maybe one day someone will carry them up the stairs for me!
Kudos speakers in combination with Icon Audio amplifiers were making a very decent sound with a €600 record player, complete with arm and cartridge. The Takumi Turntable Level 2 was in other rooms as well and sounded just as impressive and far beyond its price level. I understand export to the UK might start soon.
Van de Leur Audio
Dutch amp maker Van de Leur used Willi Bauer’s DPS turntable with its 002 preamp which has an adjustable MM/MC input and only uses valves inside. The 402 power amp makes good use of Hypex Class D modules. It’s a very nice combination, but they should have used other loudspeakers at the show. Later they brought live music into the room, we really enjoyed these young people who are friends of the Van de Leur Audio designer.
I lied to you, a streamer was in use, to compare an SME Model 20/3 turntable against the latest technology from Ayon Audio of Austria. So many people wanted to hear what the streamer would be capable of that no one could hear it. This Ayon S-3 streamer and DAC was under review a couple of weeks ago and was received well, especially the built in tube preamp with a tube based power supply inside the box.
Also from Germany come the TW Acustic Raven GT and Black Night (above) turntables and arms with carbon fibre on the platter. Real high end record players made by a very small company. Not only playing very well but looking good too.
Star of the show for sure was the Dutch Pluto 12A Carbon Cobra with Pluto 9A Special arm and Van den Hul Colibri cartridge. The standard version costs €50,000 and for Pluto this is the entry level. An even bigger one is available but does cost a lot more. This massive carbon and steel design is fully handmade by one man only. It made the Thunder turntables from Acoustic Signature look rather small and simple. But they are very well received in the Netherlands and available in the UK. Again Blumenhofer speakers were used, this time the larger Genuin FS 1 along with Octave amplifiers. This system made a lifelike sound that I won’t forget very easily.
The last interesting room was filled with Von Schweikert speakers, KR Electronics amps and a JC Verdier Le Platine turntable. I must say the Verdier is one of my favourite players and I would be proud to own one. The Von Schweikert speakers were stealth black coated for use in home cinema rooms. They look nice and will not reflect any light during the movies.
René van Es