UK Audio Show 2021 pt.2

Paul Benge is now HiFi Guy and alongside MSB DACs and TAD loudspeakers he is bringing in Holbo’s Airbearing Turntable from Slovenia. At £6,500 this must be the most affordable air powered, linear tracker arm equipped record player available today. It comes with a super silent air pump that produces the pressure to support a heavy aluminium and Delrin platter, and to allow the arm to glide across the vinyl in a parallel style. The silver knob atop the arm base allows VTA adjustment on the fly and a switch on the back provides electronics speed control.

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The styling of Diapason’s dramatic Karis Wave standmount is courtesy of artist Antonio Comini who was inspired by the way that the wind shapes sand dunes. The technical side of the design is from company founder Alessandro Schiavi who appreciates that the carved surface provides a diffusive surface on the solid walnut cabinet that breaks up acoustic waves and contributes to the potential of this speaker. Limited to 200 pairs worldwide it incorporates a 110mm main driver and 19mm tweeter for a price of £6,750.

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Node have decided to upgrade their Hylixa transmission line loudspeaker with a removable stainless steel bass that provides greater mass where it’s needed and can be removed for ease of transportation. The Hylixa Reference (£30,000) has higher quality capacitors alongside Mundorf resistors and internal cabling is now by Duelund rather than Van den Hul in the first incarnation of Hylixa.

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Mycetias are from Lancaster and aim to provide maximum value by selling direct. They make a small range of amps and speakers with the latter being constructed in plywood with metal grilles. The V2 is a medium sized standmount with a pair of 6.5inch woofers allied to a soft dome tweeter that claims a high 90dB sensitivity. They are available in a range of finishes including paint with pricing from £540 for the version shown. The Mycetias compact audio amplifiers are Class D types that use B&O’s ICEpower module, the single input integrated model is £420 while the power amp is £400.

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Music First’s Jonathan Billington had brought along two of his preferred reel to reel recorders, namely a Nagra 4.2 (left) mono with a splitter on the output that was there largely to take over when the Nagra IV SJ was rewinding the tape. He was using the Music First Classic V2 transformer passive preamplifier with a pair of Longdog Audio P6100M monoblocks and the Jordan Marlow loudspeakers shown in the first part of our coverage. The system did of course sound lovely despite the distinctly non audiophile music choice.

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Monopulse take a different approach to most speaker brands by incorporating almost all you need to play music into their Active SA floorstanders (£1,245). These will accept inputs via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and RCA phono and have 50W onboard to power the 6.5inch mid/bass driver and 28mm tweeter. All Monopulse speakers are intended to work against the wall for maximum room friendliness and are available in 10 colours.

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Finkteam’s smallest model the Kim was fronting a system with Pass Labs electronics and Melco server in Ultimate Resolution Audio’s room. Kim costs £9,800 for a pair including open frame stands and have adjustment for treble output and bass damping on the rear in order to make them easier to place in a room without compromising sound quality. They combine an AMT planar tweeter with a high power 8inch bass driver in a cabinet that’s built with damped double layers to keep resonance at bay.

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Celebrating 20 years of magnetic amplifier production Lavardin have launched the ITx20 integrated amplifier (£10,500) in a fetching red hue. This is a direct evolution of the original ITx with many upgrades to circuitry and power supply, power output is 55 Watts per channel and the aim is to deliver wide bandwidth with maximum transparency. It has taken the company 12 years to achieve and has a luxury not afforded its predecessor, namely remote control. Midland Audio Xchange were using the ITx20 with Devore Orangutan 093 speakers to highly entertaining effect.

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Amphion and Hegel distributor Auden put together one of the most attractive rooms of the show in order to make the idea of a decent system more appealing to the unconvinced. They used a Rega Planar 8 turntable as a source, always a good idea, and combined this with a Hegel V10 phono stage (£1,350) and H120 integrated streaming amp (£2,300) driving a pair of Amphion Argon 1 standmount speakers (£1,200), the latter in white for maximum style points.

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Emilen had more than the amps and speakers mentioned in the first part of our show coverage. In fact they appear to make almost a system’s worth at different price points, their Solstice phono stage (£2,975) is an MM/MC device with loading switches hidden under a magnetically fixed cover, while the D-Block mono power amps (belwo) are 200W Class D types with the “best environment” for Hypex NC500 output modules. Emilen even make a filtered AC supply for £745 and screened power cables for £150.

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Taylor Acoustic from Hungary are not a new company but this was their first UK show. They have a wide range of components but demonstrated the Classic 90 (£16,990, in light wood) and the Concert 120 (£34,990, in American walnut) reference monitors. The cabinets are made from birch ply and alternative veneers including cashew, mahogany and teak and are available. The electronics consisted of a Meridian 808 CD transport, Taylor WD 500 DAC and Taylor AMP50 integrated amp, the cables were also by Taylor Acoustic.

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The Audio Consultants brought a lot of gear to the event but when we visited the room they were demonstrating a Luxman front end consisting of PD151 turntable with LMC5 cartridge and E250 phono stage, an AVM A6.2SE integrated amplifier was powering Kudos 707 loudspeakers. All of which was connected by Gutwire cable and sounding pretty spiffy thanks in part to the wide array of stands, supports and damping devices atop every box. Elsewhere you can see a Nottingham Analogue Space Deck and a Luxman D10X CD player that Alex Tomlins was particularly enthusiastic about.