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Copenhagen HighEnd 2018 Show Report

Copenhagen HighEnd 2018 Show Report
Show Coverage By Clive Meakins

 

 

 

Norwegian Hagto Audio demonstrated a system with Konus Audio and Sparkler Audio electronics with Hagto's own Trym speakers. Priced at 2,300 + tax, these speakers sounded far bigger than expected, I was really rather taken by them. There a 6" full range driver, sensitivity is 92dB/Wm, bass extends to 45Hz. Again very Scandinavian and very appealing.

 

 

 

Connaisseur-AV assembled a couple of interesting systems, the first one with some mighty speakers from the Lithuanian company Audio Solutions, the Figaro L. They are 4 Ohms, 92dB/W/m sensitivity, three-way with extension down to 25Hz. Purposeful in looks and sound.

The music server was from Danish company Alluxity, this was the Media One which has an internal DAC that's 384kHz and DSD256 capable, there's also a 2TB internal HDD and various streaming options. The integrated amplifier was also from Alluxity, the Int One which is a 200W amplifier with both RCA and balanced inputs. The chassis for both units is well crafted from suitably substantial aluminum. The music server and amplifier were shown in a striking red color which to my eyes worked well.

 

 

The other Connaisseur-AV room was equipped with Audio Solutions Figaro S speakers, these are 91dB/W/m sensitivity with extension down to 37Hz. Pricing is 27,375 to 30,000 DKK per pair depending on finish.

 

 

Electronics was from the Italian company Gold Note, there was the iS-1000 integrated amplifier and streamer. There's 125W on offer and streaming options include Tidal / MQA, Qobuz, Spotify, and Spotify Connect plus Deezer with Roon. There are six digital inputs (TosLink optical, S/PDIF coax, USB, and Ethernet) plus three analogue ones.

The Gold Note PH-10 phono stage and its PSU-10 power supply were also present.

 

 

HiFi-freaks.dk had a room with Marantz electronics (ND8006 & PM8006) feeding a pair of neat looking speakers by Definitive Technology, these were the Demand Series D9 bookshelf speakers. The D9 have a couple of intriguing features. The tweeter has a waveguide which is offset laterally. The particularly intriguing feature is what I originally took to be a phase plug. This is in actual fact a passive bass radiator.

 

 

PM Audio had a system with a CODA Technologies CSiB V1 integrated 150W Class A/B linked to some funky looking Australian speakers from Krix, these were the Estoterix Altum. These speakers are a two-way with a 165mm bass/mid, the shape of the cabinet and angle of the baffle are a fraction unusual in an interesting way but what's really wacky fun is the very purposeful waveguide for the tweeter. Both drivers use neodymium magnets. Bass extension is to 40Hz.

 

 

HiFi-freaks.dk presented some of the latest Cambridge Audio electronics with a Cambridge Audio representative from the UK being present. The equipment was the 100W Edge W power amplifier and Edge NQ preamp & network player. The Edge NQ offers USB input with 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 capabilities, there's also coax S/PDIF, TosLink, Bluetooth, Ethernet. Wi-Fi and in-built Chromecast. The preamp section can output up to 6V single ended or 6V + 6V balanced. The Edge W power amplifier is priced at 2,500 in the UK and the Edge NQ preamp &network player is 3,500. This looks like very well specified equipment in a very nice two box format.

 

 

The speakers in use were Tannoy Legacy Arden, to my mind this was a great pairing of very modern sources and amplification electronics with a modern reinterpretation of great classic speakers.

 

 

If you've made it all the way to the end of this show report you're in for a treat as I've saved the best for last. It wouldn't be a truly High-End show without Avantgarde. It was 2003 in Tokyo's Akihabara technology district when I first heard Avantgarde's outrageous Trio horn speakers. The experience left an indelible imprint within me. My Avantgarde experience at the Copenhagen HighEnd 2018 show did not disappoint me. The greatest downside is that in terms of the Trio XD products at the show, if you need to ask their price then you won't be able to afford them. I'm estimating that a complete system (speakers plus suitable amplifiers, cables and a source) would set you back at least $250,000. Oh, you don't have a large room? Then you either need to move house or build a large listening room. How large? Why stint, so something like 40 feet x 25 feet.

How can anyone justify this sort cost; with typically diminishing returns a $250,000 system can't be so much better than a $25,000 or $50,000 system can it? Avantgarde throw the book describing the law of diminishing returns out of the window. If any $250,000 system can be value for money an Avantgarde Trio XD based one qualifies. The sound quality is so staggering impressive that it's very hard to convey just how good the Trio XD with four or possibly six Basshorn XDs really is.

 

 

Avantgarde brought their Trio XD in orange (many more subtle finishes are available), there were four Basshorn XDs in the center. There were a pair of Avantgarde XA Power two-channel power amplifiers, these are zero feedback putting out 150W in to 8 Ohm or 67W into a more Avantgarde relevant 18 Ohm with the first 3.5W being Class A. With the Trio XD being endowed with a sensitivity of 109dB/W/m barely more than 0.5W is required even for a very large room. Headroom is vital for effortless performance so it would seem that an overkill of power is what Avantgarde have found to work.

The preamp was the Avantgarde XA Pre, again its zero feedback, it's a battery powered as mains induced hum is the enemy of speakers with a sensitivity of 109dB/W/m. With this in mind there were a couple of PS Audio P20 Powerplants to ensure power was as clean as could be. Sources were Innuos Statement streamer and PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player and DAC.

The system was clearly well setup. The room was large, presumably a conference room. The sound was totally effortless, detailed, plus massive in scale and presence with wonderful three-dimensionality. Indescribably realistic and it would surely put a smile on the face of the most miserable person you might know. I listened to track after track, totally enthralled. Avantgarde's Peter Gabriel (no not of Genesis fame) put on Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien, the power, the delicacy, and the emotion... wonderful! As we were so close to the Oresund Bridge which leads to Sweden Peter played some Abba for a finale. Hmm, not my typical choice. I can't work out whether I'm a little personally embarrassed or hugely impressed with Avantgarde that I enjoyed the Abba track so much.

 

In Conclusion
Unlike some shows I didn't hear a system I disliked, this is part is due to the rooms being quite a decent size, proportions and construction so the Clarion Hotel was a great choice of venue, easy to get to as well. The standard of the equipment at the show was very high with a lot of highly desirable products shown. The very Scandinavian influences from many designers is very welcome with a very clean, tasteful aesthetic. Congratulations to the organizers and exhibitors for putting on such a great event. I very much hope to be back next year!

 

 

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