Show Reports

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024, pt.1

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net

Hats off to the organisers of the second Oslo Hi-Fi Show for another amazing success. Learning from last year’s debut event, they made 2024 even better for exhibitors, visitors and the visiting Press. As well as demonstration rooms large and small there was a series of hi-fi related talks as well as some live musical performances. These proved very popular and gave some added value to the admission price.

Despite, or perhaps because of the snow storm on the first day, the corridors were soon packed and many of the manufacturers, importers and dealers exhibiting said how pleased they were with the turnout; not just the quantity but also the quality. We have to hope now that the interest turns into concrete sales to boost the hi-fi industry in Norway. Many of the prices are quoted in Norwegian krone (NOK), at the time of writing 1,000 NOK is equivalent to £74 or $94.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Eksakt Hi-Fi with Select DSM Edition

Among my personal highlights was the demonstration by Oslo’s Linn dealer Odd Rune Hegge. He had the Select DSM Edition modular system that comes with a phono stage and other units can be added as required. It can be a source, preamp and even an an integrated streamer. I liked the way that the DAC module can be easily replaced to allow for simple upgrades. This was powering one of Mr Hegges’s own creations, a floorstanding loudspeaker marketed under his Eksakt Hi-Fi brand. With a wonderful retro look, the £20,000 package is a three-way with 10-inch coaxial main driver plus 12-inch woofer. An active option takes the price to £30,000, it is based on Floyd Toole’s principles and a form follows function approach.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Hifi Rose RA280

Neby HiFi Concept distributes Korean brand Hi-Fi Rose, which is known for its streamers but now adds an amplifier to the catalogue. The RA280 integrated provides flexible inputs and produces 200W/ch using GanFet output devices in a 43,000 NOK package that worked well when partnered with Piega loudspeakers from Switzerland. The sound was highly competent, very rhythmic with an absorbing and entertaining presentation that seemed to be appreciated by visitors.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Klaus Nielsen with Lyngdorf LS1000 panel

Pulling out all the stops to create a showstopper, Danish loudspeaker maestros Lyngdorf had built an entire [false] wall of 110 drive units in their room to create, literally, a big sound from the line source LS1000 which is so well integrated into the building as to be almost invisible. With sensitivity of 98dB/W and capable of 120dB SPL, the LS1000 is proving especially popular during home renovation or house building. The cabinets for this €80.000 scaled-down version of the Steinway/Lyngdorf system are sourced in Germany and drive units made in Denmark where final assembly takes place. Klaus Nielsen from the Norwegian office demonstrated a unit with tweeters in front of the midrange drivers to show how compact the modules are, just 8.7cm deep, and 27cm for the woofers.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Ilias Koutromanos with Estelon Aura

I’ve always considered Estonian loudspeakers from Estelon to be out of my price range, but Oslo saw the launch of a new model at €17.500 and branded ‘entry level’. The cheapest design they’ve ever created, Estelon unveiled the Aura introduced to me by sales director Ilias Koutromanos. I took to it in the exotic Amber Elegance finish which is admittedly €22.000. More compact than other designs in the catalogue, the designers have worked hard on cost savings to create something that’s intended to work even in small spaces. With a downward firing woofer, acting as a sub, a 1-inch tweeter is placed between two 5-inch midband units on the front baffle of a most elegantly-shaped cabinet.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Revival Atalante 4

Unable to see the UK launch at the Bristol Show, I was very excited at my first chance to sample Revival Audio’s brand-new slimline floorstander. Wow! The Atalante 4 has a lot in common with my own Atalante 3 but a lot more else, as well. I was struck by the bass definition, incredible levels of micro detail and a clear, clean and precise upper-midband. They were superb on vocals as we enjoyed tracks by Johnny Cash. This three-way uses a 28mm soft-dome tweeter, 5-inch Basalt Sandwich Construction midrange driver plus a pair of 7-inch BSC woofers which clearly have great timing abilities and a vice-like grip on the music, powered by a 24,000 NOK power amp from local, fledgling K-audio.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Andreas Knedahl with K-Audio 10 channel power amp

In embryonic existence for a short while, Norwegian brand K-Audio used the Oslo show to officially launch. Founder Andreas Knedahl makes not only his own amplification designs but also an entire range of Neotech copper cables. I was taken with the 10-channel power amp capable of 10kW of audio output. Key to the wonderful sound, I learn, is to run the Class-D output devices at 45 degrees Celsius. The sound was certainly anything but harsh and not at all brittle-sounding. The stereo power amplifier driving the Revivals is capable of 1400W/ch into 8 Ohms and boasts a damping factor approaching 1800.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
System Audio 40.2

Not only active, but also wireless, System Audio from Denmark demonstrated an entire home audio solution. Smallest offer in the range, the 40.2 floorstander unit is 50,000 NOK including the control hub. Of course, there’s an app (the Cockpit) and one that permits highly versatile room correction or a bespoke frequency response curve using parametric EQ. There are four amplifiers per side, one for each drive unit: tweeter, midrange and two woofers in what’s marketed as a four-way although the woofers all cover the same frequency range but have different delay. That said, there’s the option to make it into a three-way if tonal accuracy is preferred over sheer SPL. Would love to get my hands on a pair of these.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Popori Acoustics WR1SE

What began life as a repair business in Hungary has, albeit 28 years later, created what’s probably the best electrostatic loudspeakers I’ve ever heard. Fed with Tellurium Statement II cable, Popori Acoustics’s WR1SE three-way electrostatic panel provides an incredibly wide response from 33Hz to 22kHz with 92dB efficiency and 105dB max SPL. For me, it was the best-sounding room at the show because of the sheer delight it generated on truly well-recorded and well-placed classical works at an event where most rooms openly eschewed the genre for fear it would clear the room. Imri Kiss was on hand to explain the technology behind this remarkable €40.000 loudspeaker which, all being well, may soon be available in the UK. I, for one, sincerely hope so because I would love to try these out in my system. The units are 68kg each and rely on an exceedingly thin yet continuous foil of only six microns. There’s no crossover needed in the dipole design which has ingenious damping pads that are inserted to allow it to excel in a variety of settings. It is both very quiet and yet very loud at the same time, if that’s not a contradiction. It took a dozen transformer prototypes before the optimal was found by experimenting wtih thousands of kilograms of ultra-fine wire for the windings.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Stenheim Alumine Two Five

French drive units are at the heart of Swiss manufacturer Stenheim’s Alumine Two Five floor-standing loudspeakers. With a reflex-ported aluminium cabinet, yes, aluminium, the 322,500 NOK design looks rather utilitarian but, boy, does it sound good. The twin polymer-coated paper mid/bass units, coupled with a silk-dome tweeter in this two-way created a memorably clean, clear and natural sound. Combined with the technologically advanced B.audio Alpha One streaming amplifier from France the sound from this system was refined, detailed and really, really involving.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Electrocompaniet AW300M monoblocks

If size counts then Electrocompaniet are in the finals with their new AW300M monoblocks, capable of 300W.ch into 8 Ohms of delicious ClassA/B using bipolar output devices in a €27.000 (per pair) design. The EMC1 CD player, in Mk V form, provided an admirable source when I was in the room which, understandably, was packed with audiophiles lapping up the sound from this well-respected Norwegian high-end brand that clearly has a strong local following.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Børresen X1

Audio Group Denmark used the Axxess Forté integrated amp, with in-built DAC, to drive the newly-launched Børresen X1 two-way loudspeakers, the least expensive model in the range. The standmount design is €5.000 per pair with matching stands an extra €1.000. Here in black, but also offered in a glossy white finish, the ribbon tweeter (with membrane from more expensive variants) was creating a detailed treble working with the 4.5-inch mid/bass with its carbon/honeycomb/carbon sandwich cone which offers lightness but is stronger than steel.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Vienna Mozart Infinity

Narrow, floorstanding loudspeakers with onboard DAC and amplification make up Vienna Acoustics’ new 148,000 NOK Mozart Infinity. One side houses a stereo amplifier which feeds a passive crossover in each cabinet. Finish options for this two-and-a-half-way are white, as demonstrated, as well as black, rosewood or cherry. With a rear-firing reflex port, the sound generated at the show was fast and created a big sound with plenty of pleasing detail.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Tom Dolfi with Gold Note XS85 speakers

From Italy, Gold Note used the event to launch their latest loudspeaker, the XS85 (top of page); XS for Excessive, 8 is the series and 5 the model. Hopefully it will be joined by the models 3 and 7 in time. All the drive units are by Norway’s SEAS, so it was appropriate to launch the three-way floorstander in Oslo. There are two cabinets: top for the midrange and HF, and a twin ported one below handling the bass. At €38.000 a pair the two crossover networks are seriously complex and create what was a detailed presentation with tremendous dynamics, even in a hotel bedroom. Tom Dolfi had travelled from the Florence factory to showcase them alongside what was the best coffee on offer at the event.

Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Gold Note XS85
Oslo Hi-Fi Show 2024 pt.1 show report https://the-ear.net
Anders Hansson with Regal DAC

I was tipped off at dinner by a local journalist to check-out Regal Audio’s new R-to-R DAC from Sweden. Minimal by design (no front panel display, for example), it uses a bank of 15-Farad super capacitors as batteries to power crucial stages, no wonder there’s a one-minute power-up time. By re-clocking all the data, creator Anders Hansson has achieved very, very low jitter. I am struck by the inclusion of AES/EBU input and the use of constant impedance BNC connections for the SP/DIF inputs, as well as balanced analogue output on XLRs alongside RCAs. Termed ‘zero technology’, attention has been paid to removing losses in the circuit board insulation to zero in this not exorbitant €6.000 unit.

Trevor Butler

The second part of out Oslo Hi-Fi Show coverage is here

Location:

Oslo, Norway

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