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iEAR audio show in the Netherlands
#1
Hey guys,

Past weekend I visited an audio show in the Netherlands (https://audioshowiear.nl/) and I'd like to share some experiences with you.

There were 30 listening rooms and about 60 brands so it was a very fun day to attend the show. Devialet was not present.


Very high end systems

Kef was there with its Muon speaker. Very nice sound, indeed. But I wonder whether anyone would buy such huge speakers. I really did not find them visually attractive. The amplifier was the top of the line Hegel integrated and it did a great job. These new Hegel amps are really something. Full control on all the drivers, even with very challenging tracks.

But it was the Naim + Focal combination that blew my mind. For me by far the best system on the show. Naim was there with its top streamer, pre-amp, interconnects and with a 300DR power amp. Of course all with separate power supplies. Speakers were the Utopia Scale EVO. Seriously...

OH MY GOD... these speakers are truly amazing. I know the Naim amplification quite well, having owned it myself and always liked it; yet, I've never heared it this good with these speakers. Demo tracks were very well chosen. The sound was fun to listen to, yet very refined. There simply is something with large drivers in a speaker, as Steve Guttenberg recently argued as well in one of his videos. They were so impactful, such a great slam and body in the music. These speakers are for now a bit too expensive for me, €16k each and then an additional €1.6k for the Iso Accoustics feet, but its very likely I'm going to buy them someday. The need is real Smile


High end systems

Dynaudio was also there with its new Confidence 20. Quite a serious speaker. Higher and deeper than the Contour 20 so this is really a big "bookshelf" speaker. One of the big Moon integrated was driving them and the source was top of the line Auralic (streamer and the separate clock). The room was really big and I was a bit afraid on the quality of the demo. But there was no need. These new Confidence speakers easily filled the room. It was incredible. I could not believe that it was not a floorstander playing and other listeners agreed wholeheartedly. At some point in the demo a techno track was played at loud volume. When the track was done the full room remained silent... just stunned by the bass, the detail, the speed... Top speaker, absolutely. Worth every cent of its €10k price per pair (inclusive stands). By a large margin the best speaker in its price range on the show.

The new Michi pre and power was there as well. These are really big boxes. A bit like a Pass Labs or top of the line PS Audio BHK. Nicely made, outside and inside. The top was uncoverd so you could see the layout inside. Very nicely done. Unfortunately they were connected (of course) to the B&W 804D3 and for some reason - cannot exactly pinpoint why - these speakers do not do it with me. So I cannot really tell from my own experience I liked the Michi amps, but many other visitors told me they really liked it. So here you go... Compared to the Moon + Dynaudio system above, though... the B&W + Michi simply was not in the same league. Dynaudio all the way for me.


Hi-fi system

Another system that - again - surprised me was the Cambridge Audio Edge series. A very nice engineer came to explain their design principles (very interesting) and the Edge streamer and power amp were connected to Spendor speakers. Source was the small Lumin streamer. The Cambridge Audio electronics are really nicely made and represent a huge value-for-money statement in the hi-fi world. Well done! Spendor speakers, unfortunately, seem not to have the last word in punch / bass so some of the rock tracks they played were lacking. But i know from other shows and from dealer audition that the Cambridge has power enough to deliver real punch when the speaker allows it. Very worthy mention!!


Baby Hi-fi system

For those looking to enter the hi-fi world, I could advise them to audition the Naim Atom + Focal Chora. The system is about €4k in value and very well received at the show. The small Naim really has some muscle. Should not come as a surprise though... you can indeed tell that Naim is far from neutral; yet, a Naim Watt is really a big muscle Watt. The Chora speakers, although at the low-end of their speaker range of Focal, were very nicely made and they paired great with the Naim. You could really tell that they voiced their speaker with the small Naim. I would guess it can outperform quite some systems with a Devialet 140 (very subjective, I know)


Interesting tracks I did not yet know

For wine-sipping in late evening: Billy Raffoul - Accoustic
For getting swept away by a nice voice: Aha - take on me (Live from MTV Unplugged)
For partying and speaker testing: Billie Ellish -&Burn


That's it. Just wanted to share some info so I hope at least a few of you enjoyed reading it. Of course, all in audio is very subjective so it's just an opinion your reading here.
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#2
Nice report, @Stino, it sounds like a fun show.
Roon (Mac Mini), Wilson Benesch Full Circle, Sonos ZP90 (Cullen modified), Expert 1000 Pro CI, Kaiser Chiara
Warwickshire, UK
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#3
(20-Nov-2019, 23:04)Stino Wrote: Interesting tracks I did not yet know

For wine-sipping in late evening: Billy Raffoul - Accoustic
For getting swept away by a nice voice: Aha - take on me (Live from MTV Unplugged)
For partying and speaker testing: Billie Ellish -&Burn


That's it. Just wanted to share some info so I hope at least a few of you enjoyed reading it. Of course, all in audio is very subjective so it's just an opinion your reading here.

Excellent read. Thanks.

Billie Eilish, wow! Not a name I expected to read in these forums.
Currently, one of my favourite artists.

&Burn. Nice, but I’d suggest xanny.
Kit: Oppo BDP-103EU (Vanity HD board mod), Sky+HD, Dell laptop tuned with Audiophile Optimizer 3.0 and running EQ software (Voxengo Curve), laptop input via miniDSP UDIO-8; output via RME Digiface. Watch: Panasonic PT-AT6000E, Panasonic TX-L55ET61B. Listen: Devialet Gold Phantom fronts and sides in Direct Optical mode.
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#4
(20-Nov-2019, 23:04)Stino Wrote: Hey guys,

Past weekend I visited an audio show in the Netherlands (https://audioshowiear.nl/) and I'd like to share some experiences with you.

...

Very high end systems

But it was the Naim + Focal combination that blew my mind. For me by far the best system on the show. Naim was there with its top streamer, pre-amp, interconnects and with a 300DR power amp. Of course all with separate power supplies. Speakers were the Utopia Scale EVO. Seriously...

OH MY GOD... these speakers are truly amazing. I know the Naim amplification quite well, having owned it myself and always liked it; yet, I've never heared it this good with these speakers. Demo tracks were very well chosen. The sound was fun to listen to, yet very refined. There simply is something with large drivers in a speaker, as Steve Guttenberg recently argued as well in one of his videos. They were so impactful, such a great slam and body in the music. These speakers are for now a bit too expensive for me, €16k each and then an additional €1.6k for the Iso Accoustics feet, but its very likely I'm going to buy them someday. The need is real Smile

...

Nice write down @Stino. I also went to this show, and I agree with you on the sound of the Focal Utopia and Naim combination. I was very impressed too. On the second floor though there was a small room in which one demonstrated the effect of the Isoacoustic Gaia decoupling feet. That demo was jaw dropping. They also used Focal speakers. One of their midrange models. Without the Isoacoustic feet they sounded mediocre, but the exact same ones with these feet transformed the sound transmitted into something completely different. Spectacular! They were so good, I bought two sets for my speakers, and I am glad I did. The effect on staging, detailed and layered highs, mids and lows from my Audio Physic Virgo speakers is staggering now I have these feet installed. I don't want to imply the Focal Utopia scale EVO are no good. They are! But you would probably be surprised what you could get more out of your own speakers when decoupling your speakers. Just try and you could be impressed too. I am pretty sure you could get these feet from your dealer just to try out.

Coincidence or not: Today hifi.nl (a Dutch hifi site) published a review of these feet (in Dutch) with similar conclusions as I did.
https://www.hifi.nl/artikel/28466/Review...tweak.html
Devialet 400 - Linn Akurate DS/1 - Audio Physic Virgo 25 Plus - IsoAcoustics Gaia II - MIT Matrix 28s - AudioQuest Diamond - Vibex One 6 Cu - Shunyata Research ΞTRON Alpha Digital and ΞTRON Z PC-10 powercords - Qobuz Sublime
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#5
(21-Nov-2019, 11:38)kerkhoffd Wrote: Nice write down @Stino. I also went to this show, and I agree with you on the sound of the Focal Utopia and Naim combination. I was very impressed too. On the second floor though there was a small room in which one demonstrated the effect of the Isoacoustic Gaia decoupling feet. That demo was jaw dropping. They also used Focal speakers. One of their midrange models. Without the Isoacoustic feet they sounded mediocre, but the exact same ones with these feet transformed the sound transmitted into something completely different. Spectacular! They were so good, I bought two sets for my speakers, and I am glad I did. The effect on staging, detailed and layered highs, mids and lows from my Audio Physic Virgo speakers is staggering now I have these feet installed. I don't want to imply the Focal Utopia scale EVO are no good. They are! But you would probably be surprised what you could get more out of your own speakers when decoupling your speakers. Just try and you could be impressed too. I am pretty sure you could get these feet from your dealer just to try out.

Coincidence or not: Today hifi.nl (a Dutch hifi site) published a review of these feet (in Dutch) with similar conclusions as I did.
https://www.hifi.nl/artikel/28466/Review...tweak.html

I missed that one, unfortunately. A/B demos of the manufacturers we can only applaud to! 

I use the Orea under my devialets, 3x bronze under each Dev. Nothing under the speaker, unfortunately, even though I know it will make a real difference when you have hard floors (which I do, it's wood). Maybe my next purchases, once I've settled down on my final speakers, if ever... Smile
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#6
Interesting. Did the Orea Bronze make a big difference when placed under the Devialets? That could be my next step.
Devialet 400 - Linn Akurate DS/1 - Audio Physic Virgo 25 Plus - IsoAcoustics Gaia II - MIT Matrix 28s - AudioQuest Diamond - Vibex One 6 Cu - Shunyata Research ΞTRON Alpha Digital and ΞTRON Z PC-10 powercords - Qobuz Sublime
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#7
(21-Nov-2019, 20:56)kerkhoffd Wrote: Interesting. Did the Orea Bronze make a big difference when placed under the Devialets? That could be my next step.

For me it was a small difference. Some others here spoke about big differences in their systems.

Given the price, it is a worthwhile upgrade, i would say.
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