Show Reports

NATIONAL AUDIO SHOW 2016: The Show Report

Taking place in Whittlebury Hall, Milton Keynes on 17-18 September 2016, Paul Rigby offers a detailed show report

This year, I will be offering an organic narrative which will build up over the next couple of weeks as the individual company reports are published one at a time. Each report will be published separately and then archived here afterwards for you to peruse at your leisure.

This year’ show was intriguing for a number of reasons, not the least because it was a whole lot smaller than usual. The NAS normally covers a swathe of the ground floor, occupying large, spacious areas with many large ‘suites’ (i.e. very large rooms) utilised plus hotel rooms on the first and second floor engaged by manufacturers, distributors and retailers. This year, the show only reached up to the first floor while several suites on the ground floor were empty. I initially wondered if the NAS was a dying show and that the vacant space was proof positive of that. Talking to a range of companies at the show, though, they seemed pleased with the public’s response, stating that the people that they met seemed to be “serious” users who were either ardently interested in the products on show or were actively buying. A number of very happy companies interviewed revealed that they had sold quite a few products, this year. More than usual. Other companies also pointed out that the sheer number of new UK national shows per year had blossomed and that the public now had a much wider choice of show venues than normal.

Other points of interest included the number of new companies that attended this show. I interviewed a few of them for this report. The enthusiasm and passion that they exhibited at the NAS was very welcome while their talent and skills (often evolved and perfected in other industries) brings new life and vivacity into the hi-fi industry. It is welcome and much needed.

My third point is one of confirmation. This year’s NAS verified the continued popularity of the headphone market. There were plenty of new products on offer, plenty of innovation and progress while the two days of the show saw more fevered activity in this part of the show than any other.

Finally, I was most surprised by the amount of companies who had decided to sell direct to the public, cutting out the middle man: the distributor. Again, some of those outfits will feature in my upcoming reports. These companies offer incredible value for their wares. Basically, each of these companies are offering their new technology at around 50% of the normal asking price, just because they are selling direct and do not use a distributor. The direct sales approach is also beginning to fill a worrying gap created by the lack of independent hi-fi dealers out there. All of these ‘direct selling’ outfits were offering ‘try before you buy’ deals for their kit. Giving you the chance to see how their hardware sounds in your home. Although distributors will not be happy, this direct sales approach does remove the worry and trepidation of buying cold from the Internet.

Next up? The reports themselves which all feature one or more images taken at the show and, more important than that, a ‘live’ interview from each company. Why make do with descriptive text from me when you can get the essential information and passion direct from the horse’s mouth?

Stay tuned.

1: The first report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Derek Hughes, designer for Graham Audio about the new speakers, the VOTU

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2: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Jes Kerr and Benedict Smith about their new transmission line monitor speakers

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3: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Arendal Sound which is selling its new speaker line direct to the public, reducing the selling price dramatically.

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4: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Ceri Thomas about his new active speakers, for sale direct to the public to keep prices way down

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5: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Graham Dawson from the distribution outfit, Xclusive-AV, about the new in-wall speakers from Waterfall, the new generation Hurricane Evo speaker.

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6: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Santos Maroly from Concerto Audio about the new, high end, Italian-sourced, Formula Aqua DAC: no DSD but plenty of PCM options.

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7: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Audris Sakalys from Lithuanian outfit, Wall of Music and his daughter, Inga Burbule who acted as translator for the event, about its new open baffle speakers, the Prelude. (Email: wallofmusic@mail.com)

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8: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Nick Gorham, head honcho at Longdog Audio about two products. His P6 mono block amplifiers, which owe a measure of their success to the motor trade that – once again and a constant theme at this show – are to be sold direct to the public to keep the prices down plus a neat little mains generator box for idler drive turntables. Owners of Garrards and Lencos really need to examine this box closely indeed. Listen to hear disturbing news on the much lauded quartz-driven motors, incidentally.

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9: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Paul Beckett (Creative design engineer and horologist. He also produces high end mechanical sculptural clocks) from ONKK Limited UK about its new high-end direct drive turntable, with variable speed and programmable presets, the Cue. This is a 20 minute plus interview but you’ll realise why when you hear it.

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10: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Paul Clark from Highend Headphones about the Focal Utopia (above) and Elear plus the Questyle headphone amplifier units which we first saw at Bristol Sound & Vision 2016 show.

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11: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to Sennheiser‘s Stuart Hoad, about two new designs, the PXC-550 and HD 599 headphones

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12: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to owner/designer Terry O’Sullivan of Garrard/Loricraft about the 601 turntable (and the 501…and the 301…plus a few other bits and pieces).

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13: This report from the National Audio Show 2016, sees Paul Rigby talking to owner/designer Peter Laitt from Planalogue about his new and first turntable, the Prelude. The crux of the entire design is a noise dispersing ‘pattern’ that rests inside the layered plinth. Tel: 01865 69 30 32, Email: peter.laitt@planalogue.com

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