Hifi-High End Vantaa 2019 - positive vibrations
2-3.3.2019 by Keijo Tanskanen
If the last year's event was a sonical success, so was this year's event! Considering the well- known hotel room limitations, the demonstrators had managed to do excellent work in their equipment choices and setups. Therefore, I strongly believe the event has also a good future.
There were over 20 equipped rooms in the show, all of which we decided not to visit, because of the three hours’ time limit and because we already were familiar with the equipment of the passed rooms and their general performance. For example, we knew well that the Taipuu speakers will very likely work fine, just as they have done every time during the previous events. However, I will apologise our policy if any of demonstrators will be hurt by this.
In a technical manner, there were nothing very trouncing presented. However, we met a return of the Ohvo tube amplifiers, which truly is a great thing, and Linn's new and configurable Selekt DSM (selectable inner cards). Additionally, we met a couple of interesting technical details, like Audioshop's Egg Shell Prestige amp's volume control, which was very useful but also personal: a ball on the table!
I visited the
event with my enthusiast partner and all the following sonical comments are
agreed by both of us, at least roughly. This convers also the few lacks which
were noticed in some rooms. Both of us agreed that there were not real loosers
this time. Plenty of rooms had a good sound and flows of the music, some of
them even surprisingly so.
The photos and attached comments are shown below. The 12 show stoppers - in an alphabetic order!
Ataria room was equipped with shiny Accustic Arts electronics and of Fischer&Fischer loudspeakers (of course!). The demoed loudspeaker models were SN/SL 370 and SN/SL 170 both of which we listened to. The basic sound was clearly the same by both of the speakers. However, the bigger model could pull out a bit more accuracy and cleanness. As usual, the Ataria system delivered big and punchy sound, in the manner of which it belonged to the very best ones of the show.
Audioshop demoed Contrast Audio Lens two-way loudspeakers, which do not have any crossover! The speakers were fed by Egg Shell Presitige integrated tube amplifier and Atoll DAC 100. The sound was open and the sonic view very dimensional on depth. The amp had very distinctive volume controls: a big wheel integrated into the front panel and a desktop ball as a remote control. They are surely very nice to use!
This room was shared by Fink Team and JT Audio. During our visit, demoed were the Fink Team Borg loudspeakers fed by Musical Fidelity Nu Vista 600 integrated amplifier and some streaming source. I know that the Fink Teams Borg is a very high-quality loudspeaker, but for some reason, this time, the listening results did not achieve as high levels as we expected to. Although not having crucial lacks, the sound was more or less flavorless, I don't know why. I think that the Borg speakers deserve a new trial in the future. A very positive notification came from the music selection of the demonstrator. I think that I have never heard Robin Trower's Bridge of Sighs as a demo song, but this time, I heard it. Unfortunately, we were just passing the room at that time.
FineTune Audio Solutions Ltd is a new company in Finland, but it's managing director Jari Kastikainen is actually a long-time actor in the fields of high-end and hifi. The setup consisted of the well-known and highly appreciated Ensemble electronics, Penaudio Alba Signature speakers and Furutech cabling. I must admit that I have listened to several good Penaudio speaker demoes in the past, but not quite very impressive and memorable ones. This time, the sound had clearly gone a step ahead in quality. The presentation was quite powerful, transparent and surprisingly well balanced, which was achieved in a very small room. Well done!
Over the past years, Hifihuone's setups have continuously belonged to the best ones of the shows. This demo was no exception. MSB source, including UMT Signature, Diamond Power, The Discrete DAC and Discrete Power v2, fed a line signal into Moon Neo 330A amplifier. The loudspeakers were Marten Duke 2's. The signal cabling was from Jorma Design and the power cabling from Nordost. Again, Ari Niemi had managed to setup the system so that the bass extensions were incredibly extensive for the size of the speakers. Also, the balance of the frequency spectrum was very honorable. By help of this and other goodies, the listening results were very enjoyable in all of the music samples which we listened to. This was one of the setups which had no remarkable flaws at all.
Hifiklinikka is generally known as a demonstrator of high-end quality sound. Sometimes, the demoes have been even too "underlined" in this manner. I mean, sometimes, there has been slight transient and immediacy exaggerations in their performances. I found that this demo had less of these kinds of negatives, but still slight "horny" colorations. Otherwise, the demo was great. The equipment consisted of Transrotor Rondino Nero FMD vinyl player which was equipped with SME V tonearm and TR Figaro MC cartridge. The RIAA unit was Audio Research Phono 2, the amplifier Fezz Audio Mira Ceti, the loudspeakers VREL Electroacoustics TREs and the cabling from TK Cables.
Hifimesta's presentation was very good as well, once again. Noticeable was that Ari Laine had setup very affordable Audivector QR5 loudspeakers into the room (only 3 k€ a pair). The speakers were driven by Linn Selekt DSM, which was configured as a DAC and preamp, Melco N1A music library, Bryston 4B amplifier and Furutech cabling and accessories. The performance was smooth and entertaining, just as Hifimesta's setups have been during the previous events. Therefore, it was clear for us that the sound belonged to the best ones of the show. Hifimesta offered also plenty of vinyls in their room, which is always a nice extra, at least for me.
Kii Audio Finland demoed the Kii Three BXT active loudspeakers/audio system, which include digital signal inputs and DSP. I do not exactly know what kind of digital signal was fed into the speakers/system. The sound was of course big, dynamic, extensive and the frequency response well smoothed by the DSP. However, I cannot help thinking that there was a bit too much processing on the signal path. This has become to my mind several times when I have listened to the DSP systems. I still believe that the DSP offers several benefits and goodies, but I believe also that the processing will lose some finesses of the original signal. Finally, it is case dependent which philosophy and technology offer the very best results.
Musiikin.com's room included a Linn setup, of course. It consisted of a new Majik LP12, Linn Selekt DSM (configured as an integrated amplifier including DAC) and Sonus Faber Sonetto loudspeakers. This affordable setup delivered good listening results as well. This was achieved by concentrating on the music constructions, not on the details or sonic views. The new Selekt DSM is an enormously flexible product. It can be configured in several ways by installing the wanted cards inside. Highly recommended!
Solaudio demoed their Fusion loudspeakers which were fed by Illusion OTL 100 tube monoblocks and Illusion Double Line preamplifier. Double Line is a very new product and the demoed one was actually a customized model. The source consisted of a TotalDAC and Kenwood 9010X (as a CD transport). Cabling was from Graditech. The music flowed extremely enjoyably and pleasantly without any significant flaws. We could have been seated in this room all day! For example, in the event frames, the vocals were exceptionally natural and open. If something critical is forced to say, the transients and highs could have been a bit more aggressive. For our taste, the sound was just a tad too soft. Nevertheless, the performance was excellent and very memorable.
actually demoed several setups. We managed to listen to one of them only. The
system consisted of Franco Serblin Accordo loudspeakers which were fed by AirTight
AM201H integrated amplifier. The vinyl source was gorgeous: Kuzma Stabi R player
with 4Point 9 tonearm, Sound Smith Paua cartridge and Sound Smith MCP-2 RIAA.
Digital source, which we listened to, was Bluesound Vault 2. The cabling was
done mainly by Oyaide products. No matter which of the sources was used, the
sound was great, as it should be when one looks at the equipment! The setup
was pricey, but fortunately, the sound correlated well with the high price tag.
The sonic balance was very neutral and all the music deliverances effortless,
open and revealing enough. Also, the presentation seemed to be music genre independent.
Very nicely done Sound Factor!
Stars & Stripes has continuously offered a lot of personality in their demoes. Well, this year's demo was no exception, but this time, the personality includes some critics as well. The dynamics and transparency of the sound were good, but there were also "horny" colorations in the sound. These might have caused by the room, at least partially, but may also be caused by the characteristics of the loudspeakers. We became thinking this because the Hifiklinikka room had hints of these as well, but less so. Nevertheless, the over-all sound was good enough.
The event fulfilled our expectations hands down, which was actually a surprise. The performances were good in most of the rooms. However, the previously mentioned showstoppers were the ones which clearly came out in the manner of sonic goodies. I strongly believe that the event will be continued in upcoming years. At least, the quality of the event enables this! Thanks for all the hosts and the arranger, Solaudio!