Shows and Demos, Demos and Shows...
This weekend I attended the annual show at Woodland Grange (UK) and as I love reading other people's first hand experiences of listening I thought I'd share my own impressions here.
I felt the standard of replay was fairly high - no sonic shockers this year despite some fairly cramped hotel rooms. Playback was conducted largely via vinyl and laptop. We took along some CDs but they appeared to be superfluous. And of course, whilst requests were being offered there was plenty of Jazz and plenty of Diana Krall played that day.
There were also quite a few visitors taking photographs and making notes on their phones. Always a good idea as it's far too easy to get sensory overload and the resultant loss of memory that inevitably follows.
Anyway, on to the listening itself.
The unique looking new single driver Curvi BMR was purported to be the best Curvi yet by its designer. It didn't take long to realise that he was right. It's a far more balanced and less shouty sound than the previous model I heard featuring a small metal driver. Impressively cohesive sound from what is said to be the largest BMR driver available.
The new Thorens 1601 record player created a remarkable impact when played back through some customised active Yamaha NS1000s. Huge dynamics and authority. Great looking deck too, harking back to the classic TD150s which reincarnated later on in another guise as the infamous Linn LP12.
The Horning Hybrid speakers had a luxurious sound befitting their exalted price.
Meanwhile the revised large bookshelf Kerr Acoustic K300 and the floorstanding K320 both offered reference quality sound. The larger models I felt were better balanced if you wanted the whole picture, whilst giving away nothing in timing or speed to the smaller models.
Finally I got to hear the two Monopulse speakers, the S and the larger A models. Both were in active mode streamed via a laptop by their designer Alan Hendry who said he wanted to make them as easy to use as possible.
Both models sounded relaxing but the larger A edged it for me (despite being clearly being too large for the 12 x12ish room +20Hz bass!). I could hear some buzzing of the fittings whilst the A's were playing but the sheer ease of sound made it more than worthwhile as far as I was concerned.
I felt these were the best in show not because of what they were doing but perhaps because of what they were not doing. Of all the loudspeakers on show these were the easiest to listen to. Previously all day I had a mild headache (due to a lack of sleep the night before) but listening to the Monopulses, even playing loud, actually helped clear my head.
No other speaker I have heard previously could do such a thing. They're not perfect, other speakers will do things better, but taken as a whole when it comes to vivid tonality, putting on an impressive disappearing act, life-like dynamics and sheer ease of listening I have not heard a better loudspeaker. They made other speakers sound marginally messy. In fact they sound like what I always imagined electrostatics would sound like, but never did.
They're pretty radical and so it could be that they're either wrong in some fundamental way, or far more likely, it could it be that the rest are.