The second Whittlebury show was bigger and busier than the first, which can't be bad for an event that's so far from everywhere except Silverstone race track. The theme was pretty much high end but there was plenty of variety and some affordable gems mixed in amongst the esoterica. It was gratifying to see plenty of turntables and valve amplifiers alongside the occasional streamer and even a reel to reel tape machine.
Those attending were served up some pretty fabulous systems and not all of them were playing dinner party jazz although I was surprised to hear one well recognized distributor letting rip with a classic track from Dire Straits. It's all grist to the fidelity mill and this year it was quite a lively mill to boot.
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Trilogy is getting on the headphone bandwagon with a two-box amplifier called the 903. This is a class A design in a very nice machined case that comes in at an aspirational £1,995. Volume is remote only and maker Nick Poulsen reckons it's the first single-ended design in the field.
The latest Stax ear speakers won't work with the Trilogy because they are electrostatics and need a dedicated amp but they are pretty radical for a Stax. For a start the leather-clad ear cushions have been reshaped for the first time in an age, also the electrostatic diaphragms have been made virtually impervious to climactic variation, which could be handy. Price is £700 without partnering amplifier.
Systemdek 3D Reference
Systemdek used to make the best value fully suspended turntables in the business but it got into loudspeakers for a long time before coming back to make rather more expensive record players. It unveiled the 3D Reference, a £20k design with mass-loaded suspension, huge aluminium plinth and the ability to accept 12in arms.
Allnic H1500II Plus
Allnic was a new name to me but its H1500II Plus two-box phono stage looks very nicely made and it's family run, Korean origins are interesting too. It has variable gain and impedance adjusted on top and Jordan Acoustics is bringing it in for £3,950 so it's clearly a serious bit of kit.
Mastersound Monoblock 845
Italian valve smith Mastersound launched two new walnut-clad beauties at the show. The PHL5 preamplifier offers four line plus MM phono inputs alongside mono and mute functions for £3,795 while the partnering Monoblock 845 (£9,995 per pair) delivers 50 class A watts from a 50kg chassis that clearly means business.
More from the National Audio Show Whittlebury 2010 1
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