Melbourne's Int'l Hi Fi show

Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#1
G'day maties, just wanted to report some "honest uncolored coverage"

The Melbourne Hi Fi show; hi fi? I think a more appropriate term would be “low fi”...
On a scale of 10, I give it a strong 3! – 1 for good parking, 2 for good accessibility & 3 for clean toilets, that’s about it!

First of all this post is NOT to put down Melbourne in anyway way or form, or letting down Aussie land for that matter (for those who may be offended already). This is purely from an equipment point of view. In terms of evaluating high end audio. So I make this very clear before offences take place, thanks.
I was looking forward to this show, since I hadn’t been to a local one for years, only to be quite disappointed. The overall show was well organized, easy access and free parking on Sunday. Set along the beautiful serenity of Albert Park. Walk in and for the novice, well I guess it would have been an eye opener to experience such elaborate systems, with elaborate price tags…

However, for the seasoned Audiophile, music lover and tech guru, this was a huge let down. As I walked in, I came across the mighty Halcro electrostats, huge stats indeed! Big Halcro amps, preamps and the works- soundwise? I sincerely think the Bose 901 is far better. I don’t mean this as an insult to Bose owners but to say to achieve a sound with a price tag in excess of 150 grand is not necessary, the Bose 901 is just fine!

Moving onto the upper floor, came across a massive butt ugly pair of JBL horn loaded system. Jeepers creepers, this was like the awaking of Dracula! Driven with huge tube amps from Melody (Chinese made), those tubes were larger than the latest missiles fired by Kim Jon Ill (or however you spell his name). Sounded terrible! Just a wall of a thunderous blast!
Opposite to that was the WAF room. Slightly better but yet another blast! As I ventured into each room, it was basically blast after blast. I felt like I was in a war zone and not an audio show or at least some decent room where you would relax to the music and not end up with a headache within the first 15 mins!

There were speakers from Hulich, SGR, Monitor Audio, Devialet, Klipsh, Paradigm, etc, the majority were dynamic driver- box designs. And, I could distinctively hear each and every type of box! They were boomy, muddy, and didn’t allow the music to flow freely, although driven with 100’s of watts. I was wondering whether the Klipsh Lascala’s would possibly sound any better driven with tubes? I have heard the Klipsh with tubes and they are wonderful. These were driven with Marantz SS, just awful, another big blast!

I was told by nearly all the show people that they didn’t like their rooms. Maybe so; they were small and cramped, wall to wall carpeting, and if too many people were there at any given time, it would end up being sweaty and smelly. There was no ventilation, just plain stale air. I strongly believe, an open exhibition center would have been far more effective than pigeon holes… Of course constructing partitions to demo systems would be challenging but is doable. Other audio shows I have attended have been in these types of settings and the sound is not congested at all. I assume that the major problem for poor/mediocre sonics was partly the room acoustics, to say the least.

There were no panels for that matter, other than the one Halcro stat system. The lounge that this system was set up in was more than adequate to let it sing, but sing is what it couldn’t do whatsoever!

I finally managed to find a decent demo with two systems that I am very familiar with:
1.The Sonus Faber (Safarina) driven with a full McIntosh system (C22 digital pre, SACD player/transport & MC452 power amp). Although the room was about adequate for just one speaker, the sound wasn’t overbearing and quite listenable compared to the blast zone out there! The Safarina’s were begging for a larger space (I could hear them saying, "please allow us to breathe...") the bass was tight, gutty and quite smooth but did have some overhang. Speed & agility were more apparent in the mids & highs. The chaps who were the importers/distributors for SF & Mac told me that they spent a good half a day trying to tame the SF’s with the Mac amps the best they could and found this positioning to be ok. I agree!

2. The other system which was pleasing to listen to and had a far better control of “coherency and balance” was the Avant Garde Uno XD system. Driven with Avant Garde’s own hand crafted SS power amp (looks & sounds outstanding) partnered with a tube pre from Lab, soundwise the best on show! I thought I had wasted my time with this show but that Avant Garde Uno for the last hour was well worth it!

Bonzo: I am not sure of you have heard the AG Uno XD’s but they are VERY good! The overall balance factor in terms of horn and driver integration have come a LONG way from previous designs and the dynamics and smoothness are superb! The dynamics are not forced out, and does not make you jump, unlike previous models. In fact, if not for that horn looking diaphragm, I would certainly like to have a pair of these partnered with my CJ amps. Cameron the importer said the CJ amps would take the performance to another level on the XD’s. I can imagine.

Overall, I think for what was on display/demo was indeed a good array of gear to audition. Including audio software such as, Tidal/hidal & bridal whatever… (I am ignorant in this area and not interested as I still feel that a dedicated transport & dac or all in one playback is still unbeatable). Then comes the deqx, meqx and so on… whether this makes a difference or not I wouldn’t know. One thing for sure is that no matter what exq was used, obviously to no advantage…

In summary: I can clearly see why other high end dynamic types such as Wilsons, Genesis, Magico’s & Rockports cost so much. About 70-80% of the cost goes on the structure of the cabinets, hence the main reason you don’t hear the box! But does that mean in order to acquire a top end dynamic design, you have to spend over 100 grand to achieve it? I certainly hope not because the average audiophile/music lover does have an actual life other than dishing out large sums of money for speakers.

And this is where the fact remains- in order to achieve that “open/natural/transparent/unhindered/de-congested/expansive soundstage with realistic scale and with a realistic price tag” there is nothing better than panels! May it be AA, Maggies, Apogee’s, stats from ML, Acoustats, Carver, Quad and so on, I sincerely feel that they are superior in reproducing what’s “available” on your favorite recordings, and they can be driven with either tubes or SS according to your liking.

I ended up staying back in the AG room, virtually whiles Cameron was packing up. Then when I got home way after 8pm, fired up the system and listened again till another late-night session. It is now 4:00am! And all I can say is that for a fraction of the cost on some of that very fancy/pricey gear on show, the Ethos & CJ operate on a totally different platform, one that is not only higher in every sonic regard but also one that is in a league of its own when it comes to stats or panels. The comparison is just not possible whatsoever!

The Avant Garde’s on the other hand, yes but these are horns and well-designed ones and they cost 35 grand upwards- the Ethos were just under 10… Apogee’s & maggies are way less than 35 grand as well, value for money? Obviously!

Now, I can certainly understand how and why Roberto enjoys his CLX’s with the CJ Classic 120, that would be one outstanding SOTA combination at its very best! Also an Apogee system, no doubt. I am very happy I attended this show because now, I appreciate the humble / simple systems even more!
Cheers to those with good room setups, great gear to match and well thought out layouts, enjoy what you have to the fullest! You really don't have to go homeless spending on high end, careful planning and rational judgement will get you pristine sound.

Cheers! and a big woof RJ
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,402
172
63
Pleasanton, CA
#5
I always thought THIS was the WAF room:

WAF room.jpg
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,963
498
83
Utah
#6
Last edited:

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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#7
Hi big Dog, I don't like the uno. At all.

Btw, you hit the nail when you say those uber priced cones spend loads of money on a problem intrinsic to the design, i.e. Trying to fix the problem created but three box by making it inert. A planar does not need that kind of money because it does not have that problem in the first place.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
994
52
28
#8
Thanks a bunch for the Report Big Doggie !--I must agree with your comments the on the Halcro stuff

--I see they have dug up the corpse and administered CPR!

Hope they have got something right this time the previous efforts were Dreck!:mad:

Avantgarde--Honky tonk Chateau!--same with them see above.

I luv the SF's GH's etc Franco era--the current crop--meh!-- paired with Macintosh? better you than me:p

Thanks again and Woof Woof;) from Bruce the Malamute !:b

BD

1.jpg
 
Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#9
points to ponder...

Thanks a bunch for the Report Big Doggie !--I must agree with your comments the on the Halcro stuff

--I see they have dug up the corpse and administered CPR!

Hope they have got something right this time the previous efforts were Dreck!:mad:

Avantgarde--Honky tonk Chateau!--same with them see above.

I luv the SF's GH's etc Franco era--the current crop--meh!-- paired with Macintosh? better you than me:p

Thanks again and Woof Woof;) from Bruce the Malamute !:b

BD

View attachment 37031
Hey BD mate!

What are those doggies? is one of those a Huskie? I've always wanted a huskie but I don't think the poor buggers would survive in our climate too well, although winters would be a breeze... So we ended up with two kitties, actually had three but that one sadly didn't make it.

When I saw the mighty Halcro's, I thought finally! here we have something superb to listen to... but it was sort of like a funeral march... Usually when I come out from one of my favorite dealer's or demo rooms, I have a big smile. This time I had a long face... the wifey asked who died? I told her "highend". and that's all she wrote.

Have a good one mate,
Cheers, and woofo RJ
 
Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#10
Hi big Dog, I don't like the uno. At all.

Btw, you hit the nail when you say those uber priced cones spend loads of money on a problem intrinsic to the design, i.e. Trying to fix the problem created but three box by making it inert. A planar does not need that kind of money because it does not have that problem in the first place.
Bonzo mate,

how come and why don't you like the AG Uno's? sonics/soundstage/presentation/looks...

is it that you are comparing them to Apogee's?

tell me more about it, perhaps I can learn something new here, looking forward to your reply.
RJ
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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London
#11
Bonzo mate,

how come and why don't you like the AG Uno's? sonics/soundstage/presentation/looks...

is it that you are comparing them to Apogee's?

tell me more about it, perhaps I can learn something new here, looking forward to your reply.
RJ
I will take most cones over the unos, no need to bring apogees to a stone fight. The thing with horns like Unos, Duos, Acapella Violons, Liszt etc is, look at those conical bass drivers. The Rectangular box you see below the horn. Play an orchestral through it. You will hear multiple crossover issues, and it will sound like two different speakers. Also the smaller avantgarde horns are much shoutier. To really get a good horn, you need to go big. And then it gets expensive unless you find some custom DIY guy somewhere around Australia. But you still require space.

Apogees, Infinity IRS Sigma (used price 4500 Euro), Maggie, Logan hybrids - I will take all of them and cones over these compromised "horns'.
 
Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#12
Good point!

ok, good point. in fact I was under the impression that the AG team, Holger & Mathias solved this issue in their newer design, compared to the past. By less of the cross over components, in fact I thought there was no cross over to begin with or just s simple phase splitter circuit that takes care of any foreseeable issues... I guess not.

definitely the way to go would be full range no doubt.
yes, this is perhaps the main reason why the Trio system sounds far more transparent than any of the other models but pricing starts to get a bit silly.

after the show, although not on a high note for me, I did pick up on a few systems attributes, especially when it comes to vibration isolation platforms/ shelves. I will be ordering a few shelves from the Mac/SF importer who also offer this brand.
cheers mate, thanks for the info on the Uno system. RJ
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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#13
I haven't heard the XD version. But the cross over aside, it does not change that there is a box below a horn
 

Harlequin

New Member
Jul 30, 2013
741
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#14
I take it that you (as was I) were not entirely convinced by Jim's High Violon Cello's then Kedar, they have app improved on driver integration with the newer builds.

These remain a potential future interest of mine ( whilst still retaining CLX )...

[video]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hfMGtap0pQ8[/video]

[video]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JwL7exrHbQw[/video]

And their latest design......

[video]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hfMGtap0pQ8[/video]
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,905
1,599
113
London
#15
I take it that you (as was I) were not entirely convinced by Jim's High Violon Cello's then Kedar, they have app improved on driver integration with the newer builds.

These remain a potential future interest of mine ( whilst still retaining CLX )...

[video]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hfMGtap0pQ8[/video]

[video]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JwL7exrHbQw[/video]

And their latest design......

[video]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hfMGtap0pQ8[/video]
I have heard the violon and violon cello. Both have a nice midrange. Everything coming from below is the issue. Also users report issue with the plasma tweeter that regularly needs to be fixed, but I don't know details, there is an Australian on this site who owns those and has much more information on fixing those issues etc. Forget his id.
 

Harlequin

New Member
Jul 30, 2013
741
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#16
We're Horns to be written into my audio future....For my part they would have to be Full range front horn loaded, what are your impressions of the latest model from Sadurni Kedar ?
 
Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#17
Cardinal sin!

I haven't heard the XD version. But the cross over aside, it does not change that there is a box below a horn
Bonzo mate! you have committed a cardinal sin my friend. You have prejudged a speaker system without even listening to it.

no mate, this is no longer a way to be able to evaluate something without hearing it! I used to be like that many years ago. most recently I dismissed the new Maggie line up since I actually owned several iterations and when the new mg 3.7i & 20.7 series came out, I didn't bother to audition thinking they were all the same compared to what I had. I even had the mg20.

The new maggie line up is VERY different from the old series. and I wouldn't have ever known this unless I actually listened to the pair.

I am writing this note to you in sincererity, perhaps a pm would have been more appropriate but I think this is for everyone else who makes pre-assumptions out there, stop that!

I am also reading the Uno XD brochure as I write this note: this new radical design has the following: 107dB sensitivity, 18ohm Omega midrange driver, midrange without passive freq, 2x10 inch bass driver, 1,000 watt subwoofer amp with DSP plus EQ with 10 parametric user settings to align the cpc freq. crossover for room optimization.

judging from the above specs, NONE of the AG previous horns had any of these special characteristics whatsoever and this was incorporated only in AG's most recent designs. This is why those XD's sounded seamless to me in full freq top to bottom, no issues that I came across. and this was in showroom conditions. in a dedicated room this would sound even more marvelous!

Bonzo I begin to wonder now, just how many systems you are omitting based on prejudgements... This is definitely not the way mate, and I'm starting to question your true credibility...

I still respect you mainly for three reasons:
1. at least you were honest by stating that you haven't heard the Uno XD's.
2. you're a panel lover, and I am very passionate about the CLX's and other stat/ribbon panels in general.
3. you happen to like kothu roti!

having said that mate, please don't tell me that a particular system or transducer wasn't good at all... without even hearing the dam thing!

similarly people hear state all sorts of things, of which I wonder what percentage have actually sat down and listened?

bye for now, RJ
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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#18
Hi big Dog, I commented on uno and duo, not on XD, unless the XD has totally transformed the previous ones. I had no idea you were referring to XD in particular in your first post. I can see that now. How does it change the fact they still have a box below.
 
Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#19
Hello from the other side...

I was chatting today with Whatmore (Trevor) who was kind enough to tell me straight up that according to some of the statements made by my initial post on the Melb HI Fi show, I have upset/offended quite a lot of members. Therefore, this is my second post that I had replied on Stereonet and also wanted to clear up any drama/issues that I may have caused without intention.

dear fellow members, I write this note to everyone with my sincere apologies.
I was just talking with whatmore ( Trev) and according to him, my opening statements ref to the show were quite damaging and offensive and has made many upset. Therefore, I just wanted to say sorry for upsetting anyone, that was certainly not my intention...

I am a very passionate person when it comes to audio and I'm overly passionate towards stats & ribbons. hence perhaps the reason why I went slightly off the rails, sorry for that.
sometimes I do tend to go off like this, even the good wife has commented on my high end manners.... I need to work on that.

on a lighter side of things, being a Melbournian and having lived here for nearly 15 years, the show was well organized. parking & accessibility are very crucial to such venues and free parking on Sun certainly helps. Most of the rooms were obviously not ideal... but the gear on display were outstanding indeed. I was very disappointed though with the Halcro set up being a panel lover I was expecting more since they also had the ideal space for stats.

rooms being smelly or congested is obviously because of the rooms! if this was based in a large convention center then things would be more airy. apart from that, I feel sorry for the exhibitors after all they're the ones who spend the entire 3 days in bloody congested environments, it's a wonder that none of them fainted, let alone put up with us public...

Overall, I think there was a lot of effort and energy put into this show, and I should be proud to have a show like this in our very own backyard! so well done to the organization committee and all exhibitors. I certainly learned a lot from that Sun and especially the time spent with Cameron at AG and Mac & SF speakers. again I'm terribly sorry if I have offended or upset anyone here and caused unnecessary drama, I will be more considerate the next time I post something. Thanks Trev for pointing that out, I do appreciate your honest feedback.

cheers to all and a big woof!

So with that said gentlemen & any ladies out there, next time I will be more thoughtful and not so frustrated, and try my best to make the statements more diplomatic/kind.
Cheers to all, RJ
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,402
172
63
Pleasanton, CA
#20
Heh, Heh. Easy to do with the twitchy show egos. I have made statements thinking I am a speck in the audio firmament, only to have the indignant retaliators rake me over the coals over seemingly innocent remarks.
 

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