Following a few weeks after CES, the annual Bristol Sound & Vision show might not be the largest audiophile ‘launchpad’ for new products, but it gets more than its share. The ‘Bristol Show’ (only the organisers call it ‘Bristol Sound & Vision’ these days) takes place across Friday, Saturday and Sunday in late February and has become arguably the most important audio and video event on the UK calendar. It always draws a large crowd, with keen listeners from around the country lining up around the block every day.
Because of the Bristol Show’s proximity to CES, we are not going to concentrate too heavily on the brands that showed in both places. Naim Audio’s first UK showing of the Statement amplifiers continued the company’s campaign to deeply impress all those who hear the system (the company has also intimated new interconnects and loudspeaker cables are on the drawing board). Meanwhile, the likes of Arcam’s A49, the Cyrus Lyric and the Chord Hugo are still just as new on this side of the Atlantic.
Nevertheless, Bristol is more than a provincial show, and a number of serious UK brands actively choose the event to showcase their new products. This year was no exception. Bowers & Wilkins, Spendor, ProAc, PMC, and Q Acoustics all showed new models for the first time at the Bristol show. Beginning with Bowers & Wilkins, the company launched its new 600 Series range just a few weeks ago, but took a large room in the basement of the Bristol Marriott City Centre hotel. This range comprises two two-way standmounts (the £350 per pair 686 and the £500 per pair 685), two floorstanders (the £800 per pair 684 and the £1,150 per pair 683) and two centre channel loudspeakers. All the loudspeakers use a common Double Dome tweeter arrangement as used in the more upmarket CM10, and (where applicable) aluminium bass drivers to support the Kevlar mid/bass units. All four pairs of loudspeakers were demonstrated in a room that should be too large for all of them, but they sounded remarkably unfazed by the task in hand.
Spendor’s D1 loudspeaker is not as brand new as the Bowers & Wilkins range, having been announced in late December last year. The 30cm high £1,795 per pair bookshelf sealed box two-way is a fine little Christmas present, and is designed to replace the company’s popular SA1. As ever with Spendor designs, it uses the company’s own ‘LPZ’ tweeter and EP77 mid/bass and sounded nice and room filling running from a Devialet 110.
ProAc announced its Response D20R floorstander at Bristol. The two-way uses the company’s well-liked ribbon tweeter with an open fibre weave cone bass unit and acrylic phase plug. Prices of the loudspeaker are expected to be £2,650 per pair in standard finishes and £3,180 per pair in ebony, and are expected in April. They sounded extremely good on the end of a small Naim system, although other ProAcs (in the Nordost and Michell rooms) didn’t sound that bad either.