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FOREWORD TO THE 11TH EDITION OF WHAT HI-FI? SHOW 2019 – HYDERABAD

When an AV show takes place for the first time in a part of the country that has never experienced one, the hopes of one and all are high. Hyderabad is considered as the ideal city to have such a show what with the target audience being extremely fond of their music & movies. The majority of these enthusiasts also have the where with all to spend and also have the luxury of real estate to do justice to their spending, which is quite rare these days in general. Hence the show should ideally be a huge hit.

From what we saw from Thursday afternoon to the late evening on Sunday, it was by all accounts a relative success but there is always room for improvement and that is where we shall focus on in this piece.

Starting from the venue, which is well known in the local circuit to be one that is pretty much a nonentity these days as far as being one visited by the local well heeled populace, it became pretty apparent from Thursday itself as for why this was the case.

Secondly, we have pretty much given up on trying to promote the show as time & again, our pleas to get the information on who is exhibiting which brands & their specific models, goes on deaf ears & now it has become a truly futile attempt to get the desired information from either the show organisers or the exhibitors, who by their behaviour with regard to sharing the relevant information, appear to be still in kindergarten & believe in keeping everything a secret! How does it help to grow the audience of such a show if you do not believe in divulging any information to the target audience, therby making it not a priority for them to attend & look at other things to do during the weekend of the show? We are constantly provided with such feedback from disgruntled AV enthusiasts, who now don’t even bother to think about visiting the show. It is sad to see the enthusiasm being killed by such childish mentality of the exhibitors and being disrespectful towards the target audience as well. Ok, so then the show is targeted towards the industry itself as it becomes more of a B2B, than a B2C show. If that is the case, then it should purely focus on this aspect & put an end towards AV enthusiasts, prospective buyers, end users as being the targeted audience for the same. There is no point for the show organisers to spend tidy sums by means of advertising in local newspapers, digital media & other such avenues, which am sure they wouldn’t mind as their profits will no doubt be much more if they went down this path.

Another recurring issue is that of static displays, which inspite of doing no favours to the visiting audience yet the trend continues, which is disappointing to say the very least.

Overall, the show could have been much better, more involving & get much more traction, had the organisers & exhibitors being more enthusiastic towards achieving the common goal.

We hope that our observations are taken into consideration positively and they help in improving the quality of the shows in the future to ensure growth for  the AV Industry & Target Audience.

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AV News Reviews

What Hi-Fi Show 2019 Hyderabad Show Coverage Report – Part 1

The 11th edition of the What Hi-Fi? Show 2019, took place at the Trident, Hitec City, Hyderabad, from the 30th August to 1st September 2019. We were present from the day before the show started right till it was pack up time on the last day, to cover the event as well as assist a few of our friends from the AV Industry, who were participating in the show.

We will therefore cover each of the rooms that we entered and provide our audience with the details of the brands and models show cased, room wise.

We start with the 2 Ball Rooms that were taken by the following:

Preeti Trading Corporation (PTC):

The main sponsors of the What Hi-Fi? Show were as is customary for them present by means of showcasing their wares in a Ball Room, but this time, they had been very smart and used the size of the room to ideally showcase their Home Theatre Demo, which consisted of the under noted:

Static Display –

Monitor Audio

Tower Speakers (Monitor 300 & Silver 200) Series

In Wall & In Ceiling Speakers (Iw460x and cpct380idc)

Denon –

AVR’s (S series 650, 750 and 950)

Demo Setup –

Pro Audio Technology

LCR SCRS 12SM

Surrounds SCRS 6iwp

Atmos Speakers – SCRS 25ica

Subwoofers – SCRS 14sm

Amps –

Pma9942

Pma4242

Dma1508

Retail price – 49 lakhs

We were extremely happy to hear and see the outcome as we were pretty disappointed with their efforts at the last show and were not at all complimentary in conveying the same to the big boos at PTC. Our constructive criticism seems to have worked as the outcome of their approach with respect to this show was totally different and one that worked positively in their favour.

We particularly enjoyed their home theatre set up which whilst not only had the impact and punch that one expects from a install in a large room but one that also gave the visiting hyderabadi people, a sense of scale that can be achieved, what with them being blessed with large rooms & real estate available to do justice to a home theatre scenario.

Good Job, team PTC, you guys definitely surprised us with your room this time!

BENQ :

BenQ used the entire room area to demo the range of models they have and also a few on static display. Details of all the models are provided in the pics attached.

12TH FLOOR

1217 – MONEE & CO

The range of KLH speakers in Book Shelf, Tower, Surround, Inwall & Inceiling speakers were showcased, in stereo, home theatre & static display.

1219 – VINSHEK

Elan Home Automation products and accessories, Rako Control Panel Switches & Fusion Research Audio Server were showcased here.

1221 – CINEBELS (JAMO)

The Jamo range of subwoofers, tower speakers and book shelf speakers greeted us at one side, garden speakers on the opposite with plywood wall of inwall & in ceiling speakers on static display. The other end of the room had a home theatre demo of Jamo speakers and the adjoin suite room had a full blown THX certified Jamo Speakers 5.1.2 Atmos enabled set up on demo. The side area of the room had some static THX certified speakers along with in ceiling speakers on display.

1223 – RECLINERS INDIA

The new range of recliners from Recliners India were on demo/display here. Most people visited this room and it was always full. Recliners India also had a placard placed outside their room stating their achievements, service criteria amongst their other USP’s.

1224 – VINSHEK

Waterfall Audio Speakers in floor standing, in wall/in ceiling & subwoofers, were on demo and static display here.  The Victoria speakers were very attractive to look at but sadly the room acoustics did not support the speaker’s performance in the truest sense, as they sounded their best at lower to moderate volumes. It was good to see them nonetheless.

1225 – RIVERA INTERNATIONAL

Amina Invisible Speakers and Audio Vector QR Series in home theatre application. We were pleasantly surprised at the performance of the Amina Speakers in this configuration and commend team Rivera International for managing such a impressive result. We are sure that most visitors must have been impressed as well.

1226 – NUCLEUS AV

The Lyravox Stereomaster SM3-150 & SM2-170 were showcased to good effect, targeted to the well heeled HNI looking for a truly hi-end stereo solution.

1227 – NEXUS AUDIO VIDEO

The combination of PMC IB1S Transmission Line Speakers with Octave V80SE Integrated Tube Amplifier & AVM MP3.2 CD Player with Streamer were well matched & delivered the results in an emphatic manner. There was no contest once again though the set up really came into its own from Saturday onwards. Yes, the man behind Nexus AV always finds the proverbial pin of a hand grenade, which he pulled off masterfully to showcase his talent into the art of setting up a kick ass system in a horribly designed hotel room. No fancy acoustic panels, isolating devices, power conditioners nor any gimmickry involved here! Some incredible music heard once again, thanks to the CD collection that accompanied as part of the playlist.

Sadly, the setup involved doesn’t come cheap & is privy only to those who can afford the same!

1228 – VIEWSONIC

Another room used to cram as much product as possible, what with Projectors firing to Screens in every possible space of the room. Quick click of pics will show the needful.

1229 – LUXURY PERSONIFIED LLP

Devialet Phantom Reactors belting out loud sound throughout the day, every single day, without fail. Bang, bang & more bang!

1230 – M Z Audio

Q Acoustics Concept 40 in a 5.1 home theatre set up with Marantz Pre/Power were showcased in the main room of the suite. The adjoining room had Q Acoustics Concept 500 with Marantz PM10 & SA10 hooked up, which sadly the majority did not even hear thanks to the notion that only home theatre demo was possible in the said room. An even bigger pity was the presence of the new Concept 300’s albeit on static display at the event registration area. One big opportunity missed to show case these raved about speakers, which sadly we won’t have a chance of listening to thanks to various reasons involved.

1231 – SURROUND SWAR

XTZ Speakers, subwoofers & PSA Subwoofers were on demo in a dolby atmos 5.2.2 configuration, along with Eltax 5.0 Speakers & Tangent 3.0 Speakers Sets, as static displays in the room. The good folk behind Surround swar tried their best to dial in the monstrous subs throughout the show & what we heard gave us enough to rate their set up as that being highly capable to deliver the goods to a movie crazy enthusiast craving for good quality bass extension. We hope to review some of the XTZ speakers in the near future.

On demo were the following:

XTZ

Cinema M8 Tower speakers

Cinema M8 Center speaker

Cinema S5 Surrounds speakers

Cinema S2 Atmos speakers Upfiring Modules

DS12.17 sealed dual 12” Subwoofer (Debut at the show)

D12.17 sealed side firing dual 12” Subwoofer (Debut at the show)

PSA

PSA V1510 15” Ported Subwoofer

1233 – SOUNDTRAILS

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs Inc., are now officially represented in India by Soundtrails, which was a good surprise to us & to those who visited their room. Mofi Electronics by way of the Ultra & Studio Decks & Phono Stages were on demo along with Vinyl Accessories & Vinyls displayed alongside. We look forward to reviewing the Mofi Electronics in the near future.

1234 – MUSIC & MOUNTS

Axiom Wireless Speakers, the M5HP & M100 were on demo along with numerous inwall & onwall speakers on static display, with Clicktronic & Goobay Wires. The source was compromised hence we could not really get a good idea of these Axioms. Hopefully these will be sent for review to us in the future.

1235 – SIGHT & SOUND INDIA PVT. LTD.

Aero Digital products were showcased which consisted of Mirror TV’s Digital Displays, Digital Standees & 2 Way Digital Displays. We are always impressed by the price to performance ratio that Aero Digital Products deliver upon and definitely see them growing in stature as the years go by.

1236 – ACOUSTIC PORTRAIT

It has been a long while since we heard Acoustic Portrait products and that too consisting of the entire chain, which certainly was a bonus for us as we have always felt that their synergy is best achieved when they entire chain involved consists of their own products. On demo were the new speakers called Naadam, along with Thiyaga DAC & Thiyaga Power Amplifier with Volume Control.

It was also a pleasure to meet the people behind Acoustic Portrait, namely Jaya & Siva, who were very warm and gave their audience ample time to listen to their products. Acoustic Portrait also had the Kavi Active Studio Monitors at hand with their outboard Electronics, which sadly we could not hear due to being busy during the time they were brought into action. Nevertheless, the setup we heard that costs just under Rupees Ten Lakhs (excluding cables) was in our humble opinion a true winner and undoubtedly the star of the show.

The icing on the cake were the Indian Classical Music CD’s that Acoustic Portrait have for sale under their own label. These are some of the best recorded CD’s once can currently find in the market & are a real source of pleasure to those who love this genre of music. Acoustic Portrait also offer MP3(320 kbps) Studio Master FLAC Digital Downloads(24bit/192kHz) of the music via their website.

For those looking at investing in a quality stereo setup that will last a long time without the need for upgrading, then we highly recommend you visit Acoustic Portrait in Bangalore to get a first hand experience of what they have to offer. The only caveat being that you have to buy all the links of the chain to get the desired results.

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AV News Reviews

What Hi-Fi Show 2019 Hyderabad Show Coverage Report – Part 2

1419 – NEDIS & AWAN INDIA

Nedis, Sweex, Bandridge & Profigold Cables Stacks were on display along with Thonet & Vander Koloss Speakers, Dunn Sound Bar & Outdoor Speakers were on demo.

Bandridge Speaker Cable Wire Spools, Apart Audio Speakers & Sennheiser Microphones Boxes were kept as static display.

1421 – CINEBELS (KLIPSCH)

As one entered the room, there were a stack of sub woofers placed on of top of the other, with a line of Klipsch RF Series Tower Speakers lined up post which there was a Forte III set up with Roksan DAC & Prima Luna Amp, playing music through a laptop. The adjoining room had a 5.1.2 home theatre set up along with a static display of sound bars and powered speakers.

As one left the room, the opposite wall of the room had a in wall / in ceiling speakers display mounted on a plywood wall with a small garden speakers corner assigned right near the room exit. We liked the effort taken to display the garden speakers in their natural habitat scenario.

1423 – EPSON

The room had the newly launched TW9400 projector on demo and the EB-700U ultra short throw projector kept at another side of the room.

1424 – SIDH INTERTRADE PVT. LTD.

Origin Acoustics Inwall/in ceiling speakers along with outdoor garden speakers were on demo along with their respective amplifiers. We were asked to listen to their outdoor garden speakers, the Bollard LandScape Design LSB64RD360k(Rs.1.45L ea), which were paired to the origin acoustics amplifier with DSP,  the DSP3-700 (Rs.2.57L ea) and were creatively placed amongst plants to create the intended atmosphere & environment into which they are to be placed. We spent some time listening to the speakers & were impressed with their performance, which was very good indeed but then at their respective pricing, these speakers better sound great! They also had more of the inceiling speaker & subwoofer models on static display along with a SB3 sound bar.

1425 – BASS N TREBLE (PIEGA & DEVIALET)

The following Piega Speakers Models were on demo

COAX511

Classic 7.0

Classic 5.0

Classic 3.0

Premium Wireless 301 with Connect Module

Coax 311

TMicro Subwoofer

The Devialet Amp used for demo was the Expert 440 Pro Dual

1426 – LITTLE NAP RECLINERS

Another recliner company showcasing various combinations possible with recliners, including two which were capable of doing more than just recline! They also showcased a new model that they have bagged an order for an upcoming elite multiplex cinema in Srilanka.

Pictures attached have all the details and a video as well.

1427 – BASS N TREBLE (LINN)

We were surprised to see Linn products at the show as we have now forgotten the number of times this brand has changed distribution(more of representation than true distribution) in India. On demo were the Majik 140 Tower Speakers with Selekt DSM, with a Roon Server.

We were happy to listen to the Majik 140 & Delekt DSM, but we felt these were new out of the box & hence the very much essential breaking in hadn’t taken place to truly showcase their potential.

On static display were the Majik 109 Book Shelves, Majik DSM, Inwall & Inceiling Speakers. Also on static display were a number of furutech products.

1428 – PROFX (KEF)

A number of KEF speakers were on static display from the RSeries namely the 3, 7 & 11 Book Shelf & Tower Speakers, Q950 Tower Speakers, Kube Subwoofer, along with THX & QR Inwall & InCeiling Speakers. The solitary Denon PM2500NE Stereo Integrated Amp accompanied the above speakers as static display.

The LS50 & LSX Wireless Speakers were on demo playing music via Bluetooth paired with cell phones.

1429 – BASS N TREBLE (AUREA BY LW)

A 5.1 home theatre set up with Aurea Coaxial 8 as LCR & the Coaxial 6 as surround speakers and Lucas Sub 15 DSP subwoofer were showcased from the VIP Theatre Commercial Cinema Series & Lucas Home Cinema Series respectively.

1430 – PROFX (DENON, HEOS & POLK AUDIO)

This suite had the front part with static displays of Denon AVR’s, DP450 Turntable & the Polk Magnify Max SR Soundbar which was on demo intermittently.

The inner room attached had a full blown 5.1.2 home theatre set up consisting of

Polk Audio

Signature S50 Tower Speakers

Signature Centre Speaker

Signature S10 Surround Speakers

Subwoofer HTS12

Denon AVR-X

1431 & 1433 – EIGHT AUDIO

On stereo demo were the Satori Ara Be Book Shelf & Satori Rinjani Tower Speakers, along with the newly launched Platina B17 Book Shelf Speakers.

For the adjoining home theatre demo, the following configuration was used

Agate Series

F26 Towers + A13 Dolby Atmos Upfiring Speakers

C35 Centre Speaker

B13 Surround Speakers

S10 Ultra Thin Subwoofer

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WHAT HI-FI? SHOW 2019 – MUMBAI (SHOW COVERAGE REPORT / PART 3)

15 FLOOR

1501 – NUCLEUS AUDIO

BRAND SHOWCASED: LYRAVOX

Once again the Lyravox SM3-150 was showcased by Nucleus Audio, although this year with some new clothes (Centre Grill). Inside also there were changes in the form of a revised amp module software that has resulted in the Lyravox SM3-150 shining to an even higher level now, thereby making what was a great piece of kit even more amazing. We felt the dynamics are now even larger and when the volume was increased the Lyravox SM3-150 turned into a party animal with EDM music being belted out at full tilt but never as jarring as some of the other rivals at much lower price points end up doing. Having said that, the Lyravox SM3-150 at 16L isn’t for the average Joe, so the target audience is one that we feel won’t be visiting such a show in the first place, but rather would be advised about its presence by dealers, advisors and influencers who would be part of the inner coterie of the said clientele. The Lyravox SM3-150 is definitely a product that demands attention from the rich & famous.

1502 – OKAS

BRAND SHOWCASED:

OKAS

Excerpts from their website:

“OKAS a Sanskrit name for home or a place where you feel peaceful inspired the idea to create a solution that makes you feel more connected to your home. While designing OKAS, we understood that home is an exceptional space for people with class or taste for exclusivity. Also, each member has their preferences and feeling of living. Keeping all this in mind we integrated Artificial Intelligence with User persona to create the world’s first human-centric and user-driven home automation system with quintessential design features.”

As per our understanding, OKAS is a tailor made software that not only does everything that a automation software should do but it goes further by constantly tweaking the settings via artificial intelligence thereby suggesting the end user what he/she may like at the given time of their presence in the various zones of their home.

OKAS has smart controllers that function either for a single room or could multiply the same for larger spaces with integration of​ lighting, music, video, climate control, security and more into one simple system—a system you can access and manage from anywhere in the world. The user ultimately determines when, where and how things and actions should happen. The salient features of OKAS are as under:

  • Multi-Room Music – Play music from almost any format, in any room, any time.
  • Lighting – Save energy and enjoy the perfect ambiance in every room.
  • Interface – Enjoy control from anywhere-online or on your smartphone.
  • Security – Experience peace of mind with features that enhance your home security.
  • Artificial Intelligence System that is Human Centric.

We were given a remote tour of what OKAS does and how it can be implemented into the automation platform. The OKAS team advised us that the same will be ready for purchase in a couple of months’ time, during which they will also announce the pricing of the same. In the current scenario where there are already a lot of players offering various options and solutions, it will be interesting to see how OKAS gains a foot hold into this crowded market and notably at what price. We shall observe their progress nonetheless as the concept is interesting and challenging to be accepted by one & all, to say the least.

1503 – SONY INDIA PVT. LTD.

BRAND SHOWCASED:

SONY DOLBY ATMOS SOUNDBAR

SONY HEADPHONES

In typical Sony fashion, there was an exhibition vibe associated to their room, with one part showcasing the much talked about Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar – HT-ST5000 and in the other part were the headphones on display. Sadly, the way the demo of the sound bar was given, much was left to be desired and frankly speaking it wasn’t done in the right manner to showcase the Dolby Atmos effect. Hopefully, the others who visited the room did not think that Dolby Atmos is a gimmick as that would surely do more harm than good to the Dolby Atmos format in the long run.

1504 – NAGAOKA TRADING CO.

BRAND SHOWCASED:

NAGAOKA PHONO CARTRIDGES

NAGAOKA RECORD CLEANING ACCESSORIES

NAGAOKA ISOLATION ACCESSORIES

NAGAOKA HEADPHONE

A rather young gent was in charge of the room, who incidentally is also the newly appointed distributor for the Nagaoka brand products, notably their very popular range of Moving Magnet Phono Cartridges, which currently are the rage the world over. Along with the range of these Moving Magnet Phono Cartridges, were samples of the Nagaoka brand of Vinyl playback related & storage accessories such as Record Cleaning Brush, Cleaning Sprays, Inner Sleeves. Besides these, Nagaoka’s Isolation Devices were also on display and so were their Head Phones. The distributor kept changing the cartridges for demo purpose, amongst the range to showcase each ones sonic capabilities as well as show the visitors how to use the cleaning sprays and brush. Other than Nagaoka, the gent also is the distributor for a couple of record labels (World Circuit & Jackpot Records), of which he had on display as well as played most of the titles, for the benefit of the visitors. A team of Nagaoka representatives had also come down especially to be part of the show and to gauge the market response of the same for their products. We were very happy to meet them and interact with them, in regard to the Vinyl scene in general not only in our country but the world over. We hope that the distributor does justice to the Nagaoka brand and is able to keep the prices that are in keeping in accessibility to the Vinyl Aficionados across all walks of life and wish him the very best for his endeavors.

1511 – NEXUS AUDIO VIDEO

BRAND SHOWCASED:

PMC

One of the rooms that always is one of our favourites, not because we are good mates with the Nexus Audio Video Bossman, but because he has that ability of making his brands sound top notch almost every time he takes part in the show. He is one of the very few gents in the AV Industry Distribution business that is firstly a die-hard audio-video enthusiast and that truly reflects in not only the brands he represents but also the way he does so. This time, he showcased PMC’s newest line of ‘budget’ speakers that too active ones and currently are the flavour of the audio circuit world, be it home or studio. The PMC Result 6 are aimed at the prosumer segment, meaning they can fill in the requirements of not only a home audio enthusiast but also that of the professionals in the recording studio industry, notably those that are just getting into the business. A tight rope walk as we would imagine but something that a company like PMC is very much so capable of pulling off effortlessly and that is exactly what the PMC Result6 do!  The new Business Development Manager for PMC – Asia Pacific, was also at hand to experience the show and gauge the reaction of the visitors. Personally speaking, the PMC Result6 aren’t very much so in the realm of what may be called as typical ‘PMC Sound’. In fact, we feel that the boffins at PMC have taken a very different approach with these speakers. We even stick our neck out when we say that the way these speakers deliver the LF, is very different to that of a traditional LF response of a PMC loudspeaker. That itself made us sit up and take notice of the Result6. Coupled to this aspect the MF & HF’s also are so well integrated and pleasing that one thinks that these surely are very different speakers. The PMC Result6 have this uncanny ability to sound musical, precise and accurate whilst still providing a clear insight into the blemishes that might be present in a less than stellar recording, which itself is such a great asset that one can even listen to the poor recordings and not feel agitated to the extent with speakers which make them totally unlistenable. This is one very difficult feat that needs to be complimented to the fullest. At 2.5L, the PMC Result6 still aren’t cheap but yet when one pays attention to how they were showcased, minus any paraphernalia in the form of special cables, isolators, stands, acoustic treatment, etc., one wonders how much more can be gained if one decides to go down that path. Yes, a good source was used to pair the speakers with (AVM CS3.2 – 4L), but then the quality of a source can make or break the outcome of any set-up. Suffice to say, that we are very much so impressed with the PMC Result6 and would heartily recommend to those looking for a musical yet accurate active speaker. We would like to rate this room as the ‘Most Aspirational’ Room of the show.

1513 – ABSOLUTE SOUND

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

KII AUDIO

SOtM

ROON

TRANSPARENT AUDIO

EMOTION & KRAFT

STILL POINTS

SET-UP INFO:

Kii Audio Kii Three Active Loudspeaker

Kii Audio Kii Control

Kii Audio Kii Stand

SOtM sMS-200ultra Roon Streamer

SOtM tx-USBultra USB Regenerator

SOtM sPS-500 Regulated Power Supply to power Streamer and USB Regen

SOtM sCLK-OSX10 Master Reclocker

SOtM sPS-500 Regulated Power Supply to power Master clock

Roon Nucleus Roon Server

SOtM sPS-500 Regulated Power Supply to power Roon Server

Transparent Audio Premium Line Power Cables and Conditioners

Bamboo platforms from Emotion and Kraft

Stillpoints Aperture Acoustic Panels

Apple Remote

Total Cost of all the Equipment Showcased – 27.5L

Absolute Sound once again showcased the gear that was done the year before and we can state with confidence that this was going to be spectacular irrespectively. To say that the ‘Audiophile Crowd’ was happy is a forgone conclusion as JK, the set-up guru and owner of Absolute Sound always does his best to satisfy this crowd to the hilt. Having said so, we still have a lot of questions that need to be answered with regard to the Kii3 speakers as we have never heard them without the associated paraphernalia attached to them. How do they sound as is? Why can’t we hear them as is? What would be the outcome of the Kii3’s if they played without these attachments? Would they still sound as good? So many questions that aren’t being answered at the moment and we for one would love to learn the answers but only IF the opportunity so presents itself. Maybe, we need to speak with JK, to make this happen.

We can safely award this room as the winner of the ‘Audiophile’ Room of the show.

1514 – ELITE SCREENS

BRAND SHOWCASED:

ELITE

2 Screens, 1 with a short throw projector with some clips played in a loop, the other screen being a static display and one very disinterested person in charge of the room. That’s it folks!

1515 – LUXURY PERSONIFIED LLP

BRAND SHOWCASED:

MARSHALL

A complete illuminated wall of various Marshall Wireless Speakers of varying sizes dominated the room, along with a wall of Marshall Headphones were on display. We rather liked the sound of the Marshall speakers and would definitely love to hear a few of their models as & when we get the opportunity to review them if at all it happens. Prices were not advised to us so unfortunately we cannot state the same in this write up.

1516 – LUXURY PERSONIFIED LLP

BRAND SHOWCASED:

DEVIALET

Stars of the room were the Devialet Phantom Reactor 600 & 900 Ultra Compact Wireless Speakers, which are priced at 99K & 1.2L respectively. Also on display were the carry cases called Skin (30k) & stands called Legs (20K). As is with the bigger Phantoms, the Reactors go very loud and that is their claim to fame. Whilst it’s all good and fun for a while, one gets the feeling that fatigue sets in rather quickly with all this high SPL shining. Not to our liking to be very honest.

1518 & 1519 – BENQ INDIA PVT. LTD.

BRAND SHOWCASED:

BENQ

A couple of projectors showcased in each room, darkened rooms due to lights being shut off and again a couple of attendants walking around like zombies. The W2700 was the notable new model being showcased and on demo.

1520 – EIGHT AUDIO

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

EIGHT AUDIO

SB ACOUSTICS

Eight Audio is established in Hyderabad Telangana, and has brought in revolutionary designs of Danesian Audio (Denmark).

Manufacturing & Supplying Partners – SB Acoustics (Sinar Baja Electric Indonesia), Scan-Speak (Denmark) & Jantzen Audio (Denmark)

Eight Audio also design, develop and manufacture high-quality Audio Amplifiers, Pre-Amplifiers, Speakers, DAC’s using high-grade components. Eight Audio have been designing and building hand crafted high-end audio amplifiers and speakers for about 8 years. Eight Audio’s pricing is also rather very reasonable with the prices of the models showcased at the show as follows:

SATORI ARA BOOK SHELF SPEAKERS: 1.25L

SATORI RINJANI TOWER SPEAKERS: 1.5L

NOTE: 10K EXTRA FOR GLOSSY FINISHES (BLACK, WHITE)

Both the above speaker models were paired with Parasound Z Series Pre+Power Amps, with a Marantz CD Player. Why they did not showcase their speakers with their own amplifiers is a question mark though.

For the price, we rather liked what the ARA & RINJANI had to offer and surely look forward to hearing them in the near future as and when they arrive for a review. The attendants manning the room were young and dynamic which is always a good sign of an up and coming company.

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WHAT HI-FI? SHOW 2019 – MUMBAI (SHOW COVERAGE REPORT / PART 2)

14TH FLOOR

1401 – KEI

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

NAD

FYNE AUDIO

Fyne Audio’s F502 Speakers were paired with NAD’s M10, the new BluOS Streaming Amplifier that was launched internationally, a couple of months ago. The Alexa enabled M10 as a one box solution has a lot to offer, with the added advantage of being part of the Bluesound BluOS ecosystem. The gent conducting the demo had attached a hard drive to the M10 and was controlling the playlist via an iPad.  We enjoyed the simplistic setup and ease with which the music was played. Also interesting to note were the King & Queen showpieces that were placed on top of each speaker, were they just for show or were they doing something sonically??? We will leave this question to be answered by the good folks at KEI. The very fine Fyne Audio F502’s continue to impress us with their abilities and we look forward to hearing them more for a future review.

Pricing of the above equipment as follows:

Fyne Audio F502 – 1.9L

M10 – 2.8L

1402 – MONEE & DIVINE MUSIC

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

KLH AUDIO

PEACHTREE AUDIO

AUDIOART CABLES

KLH, the newly launched loudspeakers company was present in the form of their Kendall & Albany. Paired to them were Peachtree Audio Amplifiers Nova 300 & 150. We were advised that the KLH speakers were brand new out of the box and had arrived just in time for the show. We liked what we heard in the brief period that we were in the room and the synergy with the Peachtree Amps was good. Thanks to the new distributors – M/s. Root Note Audio, we shall be listening to the Peachtree gear in future. Hopefully, Monee the distributors of KLH will oblige as well.

Pricing as advised for the above equipment as follows:

KLH Kendall – 1.55L

KLH Albany – 56k

Peachtree Nova 300 – 1.85L

Peachtree Nova 150 – 1.37L

Peachtree Deep Blue 3 – 45k

Peachtree Deep Bluesky – 47k

Audio Art Cables used were as under:

IC3 1.0M – 9K

IC3 TECHFLEX 1.0M – 10.5K

SC5-GB 3M – 20.3K

SC5-SB – 21K

SC5-SP – 20.3K

POWER 1 2M – 18.5K

1403 – AVAAA

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

THONET & VANDER

TECHLY

SWEEX

PROFIGOLD

BANDRIDGE

Mostly all static equipment in the form of cables placed on racks. Thonet & Vander Kugel Bluetooth Powered Speakers(30k) and Dunn Soundbar with Sub(15k) were on demo. We liked the Thonet & Vander equipment for being value for money and serving the purpose very well.

1404 – KEI

BRANDS SHOWCASED

THORENS

ELAC

AUDIO TECHNICA

In this room, KEI showcased a few Thorens turntables, Elac’s well engineering Miracord 90 and an Audio Technica LP60BT, by means of a static display. We are not fans of static displays so post clicking the mandatory pics, we had nothing else to do here. What was noteworthy was that KEI had taken pains to display the prices alongside of each of the models on display, across all their rooms. We really appreciate this gesture as it makes it easy for all concerned, so kudos to KEI for doing the needful.

1411 – KEI

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

TOTEM

BLUESOUND NODE2i

What was going to be an active speakers with a turntable set up turned out to be an active speakers with digital source setup, due to certain technical issues in setting up a turntable. Nonetheless, we focused on the Totem Kin Play, which are getting very well reviewed internationally. Unfortunately, we could not hear them sufficiently to be able to write more about them but whatever little we heard, we liked. Hopefully, we shall be sent a pair for review in the near future.

1412 – M.Z. AUDIO

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

MARANTZ

Q ACOUSTICS

M.Z. Audio had taken a suite which had the inner area with equipment as under:

Marantz SA10 SACD Player – 5L

Marantz PM10 SACD Amplifer – 6.35L

Q Acoustics Concept 500 – 4.10L

The flagship Marantz Amplifier and SACD Player with Q Acoustics Flagship Concept 500 Speakers were showcased as a stereo set-up.

The outer area had 2 set ups of Marantz + Q Acoustic + Morel in home theatre configurations.

Set-up one had:

Morel CW525LCR – 3.15L

Morel CW600 – 85k

Morel MSP10 – 60K

Marantz SR7013 – 2.15L

Set-up two had:

Q Acoustics Concept 40 Tower – 1.23L

Q Acoustics Concept Centre – 34K

Q Acoustics Concept 20 – 48K

Q Acoustics 2070Si – 49K

Marantz SR5013 – 1.10L

Source used for both was a Marantz UD7007 – 85K

We were glad to see that the clutter of static display was non-existent in the room, save for a set of Q Acoustics 7000 LRi(36K) & Ci(19K) placed at the entrance of the room. Q Acoustics Rock Speaker – QI65LW(27K) was also on static display.

1413 – VIEWSONIC

MODELS SHOWCASED:

X10 4K

LS800HD

M1+

We Started off with the M1+, an ultra compact and portable projector that features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, along with built in Harman Kardon speakers. Ideal for sharing multimedia anywhere, even outdoors thanks to a built in battery power supply. The form factor is really small, making it a breeze to carry around in its own pouch that is part of the M1+ which also has 16GB inbuilt memory.  The M1+ makes it easy to share and view a variety of multimedia content, as it comes with multiple connectivity options including HDMI, USB 2.0 and USB Type C, Audio Out and a MicroSD card reader. We look forward to reviewing the M1+ in the near future.

 The next projector we saw was the X10-4K LED portable projector with LED technology, the projector offers up to 30,000 hours of operational life. The X10-4K projector includes Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, and an integrated Smart TV interface for easy streaming of TV shows and movies from popular content services, while a built-in OS provides access to popular apps via the Android Aptoide store. The X10-4K features 125% of Rec.709 color accuracy and Frame Interpolation technology, which reduces motion blur and ensures fluid multimedia content projection. The connectivity options include HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2, USB 2.0 Type-A, Type-C, Audio In/Out, and RJ45. This too has speakers from Harman Kardon, a lightweight design, easy carry handle, and short throw lens, the X10-4K can be conveniently moved from room to room, indoors to outdoors. The projector features 2,400 LED lumens of brightness, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

1414 – MILAN SALES CORPORATION

MILAN SCREENS

Milan Art Screen with Leather Finish

Size:-92″ Diagonal

Surface:- Micro Perforated Silver 3D

Mrp:- Rs.2,00,000

Milan Motorized Tab Tensioned

Size:-92″ Diagonal

Surface:-Grey

Mrp:- Rs.60,000

Milan Zero Edged Screen

Size:-92″ Diagonal

Surface:-Optical (Ambient Light Rejection)

Mrp:- Rs.90,000

As always, Milan Sales Corporation was fronted by the bossman Milan himself, who kept us entertained with the demonstration of the 3 types of screens on demo and their attributes. For the pricing, Milan Sales Corporation always provide value for money and that is precisely why they sell a lot of screens year on year. We were particularly impressed with the Art Screen with Leather finish, that not only looked beautiful with the now customiseable leather wrapped border in a variety of colors, but also with any type of picture/artwork that one can custom design to their liking.

1415 – VINSHEK MARKETING

ELAN HOME AUTOMATION

Vinshek Marketing focused on providing a hands on demo of Elan based home automation to one and all, thereby educating not only an end user but also those who are part of the automation installation industry. We couldn’t sit through one of their sessions as had other rooms to cover as well.

1416 – LITTLE NAP RECLINERS

Little Nap had a few new models of recliners to showcase, one which we have shared the video of was very comforting to sit on and attractive to look as well, what with a pleasant red textured leather used to wrap the same. We spent a good 5 minutes relaxing in the same post which it was time to hit the next room.

1417 – CINEBELS

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

KLIPSCH

Klipsch Forte III Speakers

Balanced Audio Technologies (BAT) Pre/Power Amplifiers

Klipsch Debut Carbon Turntable

Cinebels showcased the above models as their demo set up, which sounded great when they played a record, which was rare as they mostly played music via Bluetooth, which was quite a turn off for us. We were atleast glad to hear some music on vinyl for a few minutes to note that the Balanced Audio Technologies Pre/Power indeed drove the Klipsch Forte III Speakers rather beautifully. We wish we could hear this set up more, sadly not! The turntable looked familiar as it is none other than the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with Klipsch badge engineering. Anyway, as per the Klipsch website, this is now a discontinued model.

Pricing of the above models as under:

Klipsch Forte III – 4.95L

Static Display Models:

Klipsch Heresy – 2.68L

Klipsch Sixes – 89.8K

Klipsch Three – 46.8K

Klispch One – 28.8K

Theatre Bar – 1.5L (Fully cusomiseable as it is made to order and delivery schedule is 12 weeks)

1418 +1419 – VU TECHNOLOGIES

BRAND SHOWCASED – VU TV

VU Technologes showcased their new range of TV’s, ranging from sizes 75, 86 to 100 inches from their pixelight & quantum pixelight series.

Unfortunately, no one was made aware of them being offered at special prices if booked during the show! The star of the TV’s on display was the 100” 4K TV that retails at 20L, but was available for a very special price of 13.5L!!! This is the world’s first 100” 4K LED TV and does it look good or what? Fantastic we say and worth buying if you have the real estate and financial ability to buy the same. VU Technologies are truly showcasing quality and value for money at the moment. We certainly believe in their products as we also happen to use their TV’s and have been very satisfied with their quality and price to performance abilities.

1420 – AUDIOVISION INDIA

BRANDS SHOWCASED:

BOWERS & WILKINS (B&W)

VIVID AUDIO

JEFF ROWLAND

ROTEL

ARTISANIA AUDIO

KIMBER KABLE

MELCO

SOUNDCAST

As is customary with Audiovision India, this year too they had lined up their room with products from the brands named above by means of static displays, except for Soundcast portable speaker models, which they played intermittently inside and outside their room. Most of the visitors were disappointed, including us for not being able to have a chance to hear their great line of brands, such as B&W, Jeff Rowland, Melco, Vivid Audio, to name a few. We hope that next year they will change the system and get active from static!

1423 – AERO

BRAND SHOWCASED: AERO

Aero showcased their range of water proof Mirror TV’s, LED display video walls, LCD monitors, digital posters, along with their flagship product called Aeroscape, a 176” smart LED TV, which is the world’s largest LED TV.

All in all, the products on display were well displayed and their functionality was perfectly explained by the team at hand for doing so. We were surprised to see a few digital posters used in the marketing of the show this year, at the hotel venue, which is a good sign and hopefully will be used in a full fledged way for the ones to follow. We look forward to learning more about Aero’s product range in the near future.

Categories
AV News Reviews

FOREWORD TO WHAT HI-FI? SHOW 2019 – MUMBAI COVERAGE REPORTS

Writing the post show coverage is always a task as one has to cover the whole show meticulously, arrange the large number of photographs taken/watermark them and then arrange them in the desired order to link with the article written for them. It takes a lot of time and mental concentration to do so, though inadvertently, there can be some mistakes which we will ensure to minimise to the best of our abilities.

As always our aim is to provide an as fair and impartial reportage of the show as possible, based on what we personally experienced ourselves. For sure, there will be those who will be aggrieved by what we write and be cross with us but we do so for the general benefit of the entire home audio video industry, that we consider ourselves to be part of. We hope to see not only the industry grow but also the level of the shows like What Hi-Fi? and maybe more that we will hopefully see taking place pan India.

As per our experience, this show has been one of the poorest attended and disappointing in more ways than one. The following are a couple of our observations of the show, that were contributing factors, ones that hopefully won’t be repeated in the future shows:

Provision of Information of Brands/Models being Showcased – Time and again, we have requested the exhibitors taking part in the show to advise the details of the same, so that the show organisers and we amongst others as digital AV focused media can create the awareness and interest into the target audience to ensure they must visit the show. This is a very critical aspect that needs to be addressed the most as AV enthusiasts by and large do not have an avenue to experience a lot of  the brands and their respective models(notably high end) at a dealers premises for obvious reasons.

Static Displays – Whilst it is very easy for the exhibitors to do so and time and again we have being noticing the trend growing amongst the exhibitors, it doesn’t really serve the purpose as the attending visitors do not appreciate the same and would love to hear the equipment on demo to their benefit rather than just see. After all the What Hi-Fi? Show is a Aural & Visual experience hence the exhibitors MUST make the effort to have the gear showcased properly and as desired, notably the aspirational / expensive / halo brands that the normal av enthusiasts do not ever have an opportunity to hear anywhere else. It rather makes sense for the show to be a small one that is focused on providing the satisfaction of the visitors than be a large one with the said visitors just walking by in disappointment and disgust.

Demo Set Ups – By and large most of the exhibitors who make the effort of showcasing their gear on demo always do so with great care, but there are some that just do not pay attention to this aspect, thereby the said product/brand doesn’t get showcased in the right manner. The reasons for such instances can be attributed to a lot of factors, including lack of relevant experience for doing the desired setup and or not having the synergy to showcase either their brand of electronics or speakers. Not always does a distributor have speakers and electronics that have a synergy between them and by showcasing such sets ups due to such constraints always backfires. Hence, it would make sense for distributors of such brands to have brands of other distributors showcased with their brands to achieve the desired synergy, thereby making it a win win situation for all concerned. There were a few that did precisely this and the results achieved were fantastic. We hope that this trend continues in future as well!

Designated Time Slots for Demo’s – Whilst a few exhibitors had smartly managed this, it needs to be done by most if not all to get the desired satisfaction of the visitors, so that they can hear the gears on demo in the correct fashion to appreciate or get more insights into the set up on demo as a future reference or purchase.

Pricing Information – A perennial question that most if not all of the visitors would like answered to! Besides one exhibitor, who ensured that all their products had the respective pricing displayed, none of the others did so. Our market is always curious to know the prices and that aspect is vital so that the same question does not keep getting asked and answered to time & again.

We hope that our observations are taken into consideration positively and they help in improving the quality of the shows in the future to ensure growth for all concerned.

Link to Show Report Coverage Part -1

Link to Show Report Coverage Part -2

Link to Show Report Coverage Part -3

Categories
Reviews

FYNE AUDIO F502 FLOORSTANDING SPEAKERS – FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I have been wanting to listen to the Fyne Audio F502 floor standing speakers for a while now as I have always liked the Tannoy Revolution XT8F speakers and hence was keen to hear how much the boffins at Fyne Audio (ex Tannoy), with a collective experience of over 100 years, have managed to showcase their skills with the F502’s

After an excruciating wait, thanks to strong demand for the F502’s worldwide, KEI, the distributors for Fyne Audio in India, finally managed to get a few pairs for our market and duly opened a pair for evaluation as well as for the listening pleasure of the av media as well as the audio enthusiasts. It so happened that I had the good fortune of visiting on the day the F502’s landed at KEI’s HQ and were just plugged in for their evaluation, so technically they were fresh out of their boxes and ready to go. Go they went as right from the first track played, the F502’s showed no signs of edginess or any of the usual maladies associated with new speakers. What struck me the most was that the sound was so open, enveloping and balanced inspite of having no break in and also the fact that the speakers were not in an ideal environment. Given the constraints, KEI’s technical head was at hand and had no doubt managed to set them up well so kudos to the gent.

Partnering the F502’s were the following:

Analogue Source: Thorens TD240MKII with TAS267 MM Cartridge

Phone Pre Amp: MM Phono Input of NADM32

Digital Source: DAC inside NAD M32, paired with Bluesound Node 2i as the streamer.

Amplifier: NAD M32 Direct Digital

Cables: Inakustik

We played a variety of music genre’s, analogue & digital, some being very familiar, some not and the F502’s never sounded harsh, tinny or having bloated bass. The usual suspects (audiophile tracks) sounded wonderful and without any overemphasis of any specific frequencies. I also played some tracks from itunes and the tracks that did not have a good recording did sound flat and unappealing so yes the F502’s do not gloss over any glitches, which is also good.

Initial Thoughts:

What was supposed to be a quick listening session turned out to last for over two hours which indicates that the F502’s have the knack of reeling one in hook line & sinker with their abilities.

I Would not like to straight away compare the F502’s with the Revolution XT8F’s, but what immediately comes to the fore is a balance – sound wise which is better than the XT8F’s and the overall build quality of the Fyne Audio F Series is 100% superior than that of the Revolution XT Series. I will cover those aspects in detail when I have a pair of the F series for a detailed review, in future.

Do I like the F502’s, hell yes and am very keen to listen to them again, once they have had a decent amount of hours of break in, post which would be better positioned to arrive at a comprehensive conclusion BUT based on what I heard, I believe that the F502’s have that magic to ensure that they will be popular with the music enthusiasts & also the movie enthusiasts who love to listen to music in their home theatre environment as well.

I just hope that Fyne Audio & KEI ensure that the F502’s are available to the prospective buyers as required and that KEI promote the F Series in general with the right dealer network, in order to get the desired results.

Categories
Reviews

Pro-Ject Classic Review

I have been wanting to review a good mid-level model turntable from the Pro-Ject Audio stables for a long while but have never got the opportunity to do so. To date, I have only had first-hand experience with the entry level models (Elemental, Primary and Essential II USB) thanks to friends requesting me to help them set their turntables. So when the opportunity arose to experience the Classic, I jumped at it and agreed to do an install of the same, on behalf of the Pro-Ject Audio distributor in India.

The distributor states that he does not get any assistance from his principles at Pro-Ject to send ‘review’ turntables to the audio journalists who want to review the turntables and so this was the only way I could get an opportunity to listen and experience the said model.

Packing:

Pro-Ject has improved their packaging quite a bit or maybe the premium turntable models have a higher quality of the packing materials used as is the case with the Classic model, which I found to be well secured, packed and with good levels of insulation to avoid any damages taking place during transit. I also found a nice instruction manual aided with apt photographs, to ensure the setting up of the Classic is relatively easy even for a first-time vinyl enthusiast.

The accessories included are a paper protracter, belt hook, set of allen keys and a vinyl singles / 45’s disc adapter. A pair of gloves completes the provision of accessories.

Installation:

For the most part, the Classic is quite easy to set up. I start with screwing in the feet, remove the three transport screws on the top plate chassis, install the belt on the pulley and sub platter, then place the platter on top of it and then the dustcover after which proceed to level the turntable, which is the most important thing to do prior to doing anything further. The ortofon cartridge comes pre mounted and aligned so all that’s left to do is remove the stylus protector, attach the anti-skating weight and set the vertical tracking force by rotating the counterweight that is strangely unmarked. One can use the supplied RCA to RCA interconnect cables or replace them with your own preferred low capacitance phono interconnects to connect to either your outboard phono pre amp or use the phono input of your amplifier, that is entirely upto you. The good thing is that Pro-Ject provides good quality set of RCA interconnect cables with a third ground lead and also has a nice grounding screw at the back next to the RCA jacks for ground. The Classic is supplied with a DC power supply with country-specific outlet adapters.

Appearance:

The woodwork finishes available are Rosewood, Eucalyptus & Walnut Veneers. I had the pleasure of installing the walnut veneer model which not only looks very sober and understated but also appears old school like the Linn Sondek LP12 & Thorens TD150, taking you back to the ‘60s & ‘70s. What is so simple is also very classy in appearance, what with a wooden rectangular box made with MDF having a matt polish, brushed aluminium top plate chassis with a polished aluminium platter and a thin felt mat. A curved clear acrylic dust cover completes the aesthetics of the classic and rather aids the overall visuals of the classic turntable as stylish and simple.

Construction:

There are 6 TPE balls that separate the aluminium top plate chassis from the plinth, acting as shock absorbers and replacing the springs that were originally used in the models stated above. TPE(Thermo-Plastic Elastomer) is a rubber like material that is used to dampen resonances at specific frequencies with different materials selected, usually associated with the workings of a turntable. They ensure that the top plate chassis which has the tone arm and platter attached to it, do not touch the plinth thereby ensuring isolation of untoward vibrations.

The platter is made from a solid aluminium billet and damped further to prevent any ringing. The tonearm with integrated headshell is an aluminium tube coated with carbon fibre to further strengthen it and dampen vibrations. The counterweight is also filled with the TPE material to avoid resonance build up. An ortofon 2M Silver moving magnet cartridge comes fitted from Pro-Ject but one can also retrofit various moving magnet or moving coil cartridges to this tone arm which is of medium compliance. To change the speed from 33 1/3 to 45 rpm, one has to remove the platter & manually change the position of the belt to the appropriate sized pulley. This can be quite irritating if one is having a listening session with a mixture of both types of records being played. Pro-Ject has a SB (Speedbox) model of the Classic also that allows one to change the speed at the touch of a button but it costs more. Ideally, they should have offered the same as standard fitment rather than offering the convenience as an extra.

Performance:

My time spent with the Classic was limited and had the pleasure of playing only brand new records on it. I was pretty much impressed with what I heard as it plays true to form from the get go, with no deficiencies but at the same time in my humble opinion its true potential is limited to a large extent with the cartridge it comes pre-fitted with. The background is extremely silent thereby delivering the details on macro levels. A solid base to start off with is provided by the Classic, which one can build further upon by the avenues available in the form of cartridge upgrades and so on.

Verdict:

The combination of a classic retro design with relative ease in set up, usage and with performance to match, makes the case for acquiring the Pro-Ject Classic turntable very compelling but sadly it comes at a cost (Rs.1.6L) that might not be pocket friendly to all vinyl enthusiasts in India. I am told by the distributor of Pro-Ject Turntables that there is a lot that contributes to the cost over and above what it should ideally sell for or that matter all turntables from Pro-Ject should be selling for in our country, for which he is currently unable to substantially reduce the costs. A crying shame as the Classic indeed can sell in quite large quantities if it hadn’t had the cost going against it.

The Pro-Ject Classic is ideal for those having a substantial record collection and have a mid to high end stereo set up in place. Experimenting with different cartridges and phono stages will also reward the listener with substantial improvements in the levels of playback from the Classic.

Specifications:(As stated on Pro-Ject Website)

Speed 33, 45 (manual speed change)

Drive principle belt drive

Platter300 mm aluminium

Mains bearing stainless steel

Wow & flutter33: ±0.11 % 45: ±0.10 %

Speed variance33: ±0.15 % 45: ±0.12 %

Signal to noise70dB

Tonearm 9” carbon/aluminium sandwich tonearm

Effective arm length230 mm

Effective arm mass13.5 g

Overhang18 mm

Tracking force 10 – 30 mN

Included accessories 15 volts DC / 0.8 A power supply, dust cover

Power connection 110/120 or 230/240 Volt – 50 or 60 Hz

Power consumption5 watt max / < 0.5 watt standby

Dimensions462 x 131 x 351 mm (WxHxD) lid closed

Weight 10.2 kg net

Categories
AV News Reviews

An experience at the ‘Unit’

Ever since The Den India, relocated to their new venue and opened for business last month, Pawan Sahjwani, the owner had been patiently calling me time and again to come over and experience his entire AV Showroom but for some reason or the other, it did not materialise until yesterday when I decided to go for an impromptu visit that too without him being aware of the same. To be honest, I was keen to do so only once his allocated hi end stereo set up was in place, up and running and to the satisfaction of  Khushrau Jilla, the bossman of Nexus AV. To me that was the proverbial cherry on the cake, but to what extent it was going to bamboozle me was still unknown. More on that later….

I shall purposely not include an in depth review of each component of the room which from now onwards I shall refer to as the ‘Unit’ in this article, as I feel that the sum of the total parts is what makes the ‘unit’ perform the way it does. The break-up of the components installed were as follows:-

Source:

AVM MP3.2 CD Player with Streamer

Amplifier:

Octave V70SE with Black Box (External Power Supply Booster)

Speakers:

PMC Twenty5.26 – 3 Way Floor Standing Loud Speakers

Acoustic Panels:

Kaiser Acoustics Diffuser and Absorber Panels

Cabling:

AudioQuest

Music heard on CD’s –

Retrospective – The Best of Suzanne Vega

This is one album, I thought was simply at it’s best playing at really very high spl with immense bass control in songs like ‘Luka’, ‘Tom’s Diner’, ’99.9F’, ‘Blood Makes Noise’

Ms. Vega’s vocals were always in the spotlight but with the rest of the instruments in balance, making one wanting to hear the album in its entirety.

Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities – OST

The drum beats of ‘Yeh Rista’ were intoxicating, the composition of ‘Chinnamma Chilakamma’ sounded brilliant and the effervescent artifacts of the entire sum of the musical and non musical instruments used to create a vivid image of ‘Cyclist’s Rhythm’ were mesmerising to say the least. This song perfectly encapsulates AR Rahman’s creative genius and why this album needs to be in every music enthusiasts collection of CD’s.

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow

This is one of my favourite albums that I thought was very poorly mastered and recorded until yesterday when I heard it. ‘Man on the silver mountain’, ‘Catch the rainbow’, ‘Snake Charmer’, ‘The temple of the king’. I was specifically listening to certain passages of each song twice or thrice, literally in disbelief as what was I hearing was truly possible or not? Most noteworthy in all the tracks was the presence of Cozy Powell’s insane melodic timing with his stick work and intense rhythmic pounding of the skins and cymbals that was never felt as deeply as it was today. Now I can live happily in the fact that this album is indeed recorded and mastered at a higher level than what I was lead to believe for all these years!

Stradivari Sampler – Volume 2

The control the ‘unit’ displayed whilst playing Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’ had to be heard to be believed. The bass was felt more than heard which was magnificent and really satisfying.

If You Wait – London Grammar

Hannah Reid’s seductive vocals in ‘Strong’ were simply a treat to my ears. The strong (pun intended) bass was also a revelation.

The Dark Knight OST – Hans Zimmer

The true depth and power of this extremely dark composition needs to be heard in it’s entirety of 16 odd minutes to truly comprehend what Hans Zimmer is all about. Incredibly powerful and deeply connects with you on an emotional level. ‘If you are a fan of the movie then you can simply visualise the scenes in front of you, such is the impact’. Khusrau said so and I concur.

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

The tracks ‘Giorgio’ and ‘Contact’ just pull you into the music with an addictive bassline and intense contact (again pun intended) The frenzied pace of the beats kept me awake at night, whilst I tried to get some sleep but the experience had earlier in the day was not leaving my consciousness. Total knock out!

Love In The Modern Age – Josh Rouse

I heard this artist and album for the first time thanks to Khusrau. It has a very 1980’s music feel that instantly connects with a listener who grew up in the ‘80s. ‘Businessman’ is a track with so much of the ‘80s synth vibe that it instantly transports you into a happy space, emotional connect and nostalgia. I heard this track a couple of times and each time enjoyed it even more!

I literally had a ‘reset’ and my ears were re-calibrated by the ‘unit’ whilst listening to all the albums that I had carried along with me. The intensity of the music played at varying volumes was always on point. Infact, so seductive that it makes you listen to the album end to end, what with so many nuances in the recordings coming to the fore that you are bamboozled by how much information there has been in your favourite tracks that you are realising this only after listening to it in this environment. Ones ears also get re-calibrated with regard to the lower frequencies, their texture, quality and finesse that sadly most if not all of us have never truly experienced in our life to date. Another important aspect of the whole experience was that we could listen to music at a stretch for hours together, without any ear fatigue, irritation and also manage conversations without having to shout or strain to hear the other person speak. A side note and probably the irony of this being reiterated with authority was when an accompanying non audio video industry related person mutually known to me and others in the audio video industry had just come from an uber high end system set up listening session, where he was truly miffed at the level of sheer ear fatigue and irritation he experienced in that listening session vis a vis to what he experienced in this room. He was simply not able to comprehend how a uber hi end stereo music set up costing 6 times more than the ‘Unit’ was so terrible, painful to the ear and not able to have any musical connect with him at all?

The sharing of his experience simply reassured me and validated what I was experiencing was true and there was NO false sense of over appreciation that he or I was intentionally or unknowingly getting into.

One thing that impressed me most about the whole set up is that Pawan clearly states that he is selling you a tailor made solution that is guaranteed to make you happy as the entire gear on demo including the acoustic panels will be sold as a ‘unit’ or single entity only. Yes, you may want to buy selective components from the ‘unit’ but how will it perform by itself is not something that he is interested in getting into. As far as Pawan is concerned, there is clear focus and a plan of action in what the ‘unit’ does. Play the entire game or don’t play it at all! This ensures top level performance that is guaranteed to make a music enthusiast relish the opportunity of experiencing sheer bliss. At a price of 40 lakhs, our market may be very very small and insignificant in context to the one in matured markets worldwide, but the fact that there are buyers of hi end audio in our country and that their tribe is growing, is gratifying and ensures that the need of the hour is to correctly showcase hi end stereo in India. The hallmark of a great sounding and optimised room is how much one is able to just forget all the baggage of life and relax into a nice comfortable chair to not only listen but to get involved in the music. The ‘Unit’ achieves this so effortlessly that it became addictive for me to hang around inside its environment for a couple of hours than what was supposed to be just a few minutes.

Overall to sum things up, it takes courage of conviction & intestinal fortitude to go all out and walk the talk. Pawan & Khushrau have managed to showcase in our country, what high end stereo done at an international level is all about. It is a matter of great satisfaction that now there is yet another dealer who is ready to make the dream a reality as far as hi end stereo set up showcasing is concerned.

Chapeau time for both the gents mentioned above and look forward to them succeeding in their endeavour. I only hope that the others too in the audio industry take the cue from them and collectively take the leap of faith to replicate such environments pan India.

As always, my aim is to first and foremost be unbiased and share what I feel on a personal level than sugar coat or wax eloquently on something that isn’t true. Infact, I would appreciate the readers of this article to visit The Den India and experience first hand what I did yesterday. It would be best if you could get in touch with Pawan and his team to fix an appointment for experiencing the same. I also suggest to carry all your favorite music album CD’s to enjoy to the maximum.

Categories
Reviews

ELAC DISCOVERY SERIES DS-S101-G MUSIC SERVER – A LOVELY WAY TO DISCOVER YOUR MUSIC

  • WRITTEN BY RIKHAV

Enter Elac Discovery network streamer which has Roon essentials 1.3. Agreed it’s not the full fledged Roon system as the name suggests but it’s not exactly a stripped down ROON either. It does almost everything a full package of Roon can do within its capabilities.

Appearance:

The Elac Discovery is a very minimalistic looking machine with its chassis made out of aluminium and has a very solid feel to it. The front has nothing but just one LED which blinks when there is no network connection or something is amiss. The rear has a connector to power up the machine with a supplied wall wart, an optical and coaxial digital out, USB input to connect a thumb drive or a portable hard disk, Ethernet port and two analogue outs which can be used to connect directly to a power amp or powered speakers. Essentially, it can be used as a DAC with a preamp and also a network streamer connected to your external DAC. It can play different tracks to all the three zones i.e. digital out, analogue output 1 and analogue output 2. Note: you can only run one instance of Roon on your network at a time so you cannot run Roon Server/Core on another device in addition to running Roon Essentials on the Discovery. It can also read a shared network drive or folder on any other pc connected to the same home network the discovery is connected to. I won’t be getting into details of how roon works and difference between roon essentials and full fledged roon package. Everything is controlled by a Roon Essentials remote app which can be used from a mobile phone or a tablet. A tablet is always preferred as roon has optimised the working of the app for a tablet. So it is a different experience to browse through the whole music catalogue by a tablet. Inside Discovery resides a Quad Core ARM9 Processor running at up to 1.2Ghz, 512MB of storage for the OS, 8GB of flash memory for meta data storage, and Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC’s (24-Bit/192kHz) with Burr Brown op-amps. There are two linear power supplies, one for each set of analog outputs. One is notified on the Roon Essentials remote app whenever there is an update for the main Roon Essentials and one just needs to press YES and rest is taken care of. Roon is always improving its eco system so that’s an added plus point It does not support DSD playback but Elac is almost ready with higher end streamer in the discovery series which would support DSD playback. Roon Essentials can only catalogue a maximum of 30000 tracks but that should not be a big worry for most users. It is most likely that Roon would increase the limit with its next major room essentials update as it did earlier increase the limit from 15000 to 30000 tracks, which to be honest is a LOT OF MUSIC!

To get the Elac Discovery going, one simply has to hook the network connection through a ethernet cable, connect an output of your choice and power. Download the Roon Essentials app on to your hand held device, post which just advise where the music is located, login to Tidal (if you have a subscription to Tidal) and which output to play through. Essentially it takes less than 10 minutes for you to get the Elac Discovery going and is very hassle free.

My System Details:

Power amplifier – Odyssey stratos extreme ++ Pre amplifier – DIY Salas hotrodded B1 (based on pass design B1 pre design) DAC – Burson conductor Speakers – Nibanna Dvee Computer transport – HP Pentium quad core laptop with Audiophile Linux OS and running Roon Core with Uptone Regen Reclocking USB audio stream Music Server – AMD based desktop running Roon Server

The Sound:

The Elac Discovery can provide two different sound signatures depending on whether the analogue out or digital outs are used. The final sound from digital outs will be obviously majorly influenced by the external DAC used but surprisingly I could find hardly any difference between coaxial out of the Elac Discovery feeding my Burson Conductor DAC and a laptop running roon feeding my DAC via USB. The laptop runs fully optimised audiophile Linux as OS and has an Uptone Audio USB Regen Reclocking USB signal connected to my DAC. I did listen to varied kinds of music in lossless Flac and WAV formats ranging from well recorded bollywood soundtracks to typical demo material for audio shows and some chesky records music. The Music sounds rich and warm. There’s also a nice weight to the sound and drive that keeps an engaging listening atmosphere. The analogue outs won’t have the ultimate resolution of a high end DAC but still the sound signatures is enjoyable and sort of forgiving with any kind of playback. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no way lo-fi but just that it lacks the ultimate resolution and is more leaning towards a forgiving sound probably helping to be good for all kind of playback methods including internet radio stations which the discovery can play from.

Conclusion:

Anybody using any kind of computer device as transport to play digital files or any streaming service would be aware about ROON, which is a playback software by Room audio labs. Add to it a network streamer which has lifetime of Roon embedded into it at no extra cost (don’t have to pay extra for Roon subscription) is what makes the Elac Discovery a very interesting product. With all its capabilities Elac has put into the Discovery it makes for a good product to be had in most audio setups except for the very high end setups which would be having a media server costing three or four times the price of the Elac Discovery. The only downside being the retail price being on the higher side for someone to consider it just as a network streamer. Keeping the pricing aside the Elac Discovery is a very well thought out product with an added bonus of a lifetime of Roon services included.

Elac Discovery WebLink