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International Sight and Sound Exhibition 2006 Report
Event:
International Sight and Sound Exhibition 2006
11th August (Fri) to 13th August (Sun) 2006

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This year’s show has now come and gone, too soon for some actually, as the ISSE was pushed up to August from the usual end of the year dates. It was a little unfortunate as people who were used to the traditional November dates were taken unawares and the organizer’s less than sterling publicity efforts did not help either.

Bitching aside, we did mention that this year our aim was to make a big impact at the show and based on numerous positive feedback, I think we more than achieved our goals. We had 2 rooms, one with an ‘ultra high end’ setup and other with a more modest but no less good-sounding system. In Room One, we had the following equipment:

  • Digital source – Bluenote Stibbert MKII Tube Reference CD player
  • Analog source – Musical Life Symphony turntable and Conductor tonearm with Ortofon Kontrapunkt C cartridge
  • Preamp – Air Tight ATE-2001 reference preamp
  • Power amp – Air Tight ATM-300
  • Speakers – Avantgarde Nano horn speakers
  • Rack – Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular and Amp Stand
  • Speaker cable – Shunyata Andromeda
  • Interconnects – Shunyata Anteras and Audience AU24
  • Conditioner and power cords – Shunyata Hydra 8 and various Powersnakes

 

I was actually surprised at how well the brand new Avantgarde Nano horn speakers integrated into the small hotel room, with even minimal fine-tuning of the woofer controls. I feel that Avantgarde has a real winner on their hands with this one, as the sound quality was just awesome! Coupled with the traditional speed and dynamics typical of most horn designs, the Nano also sounded very coherent across the full frequency bandwidth, something which was a constant point of criticism in the past with the earlier UNOs. Bass quality was also fast, tight and amazingly controlled, considering the less than perfect room conditions.

When I first saw the Nano during the Munich High End Show, I was a little skeptical if it could be a worthy successor to the best-selling UNOs. Reason being that I have never seen a full-range horn system so small before, and we are all conditioned with the “bigger is better” mentality. Well, after spending 3 long days with the Nano and playing all manner of music, it has made a firm believer out of me!

The other talking point of many show-goers was the new Musical life Symphony turntable and Conductor arm combination. While the sound produced by the Bluenote Stibbert Tube Reference CD player was excellent in many respects, the sound quality just jumped another 2 levels when the turntable was played.

 

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

I feel that the unique and innovative design of the Conductor tonearm contributed a significant part to the stunning sound quality. Called a ‘magnetic-bearing and magnetically damped unipivot’ design with wooden arm-tube, the Conductor’s amazing freedom of movement allowed it to faithfully track the modulations of an LPs groove like no other!

 


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