Highlights of the Bristol Hi-Fi Show 2023
The Bristol Hi-Fi Show is back after three years of Covid-related postponements, and it brought back a heaving crowd as well new products and announcements over the course of the weekend.
By the time you read this, the UK’s biggest hi-fi show will be over and exhibitors will have packed up to return in 2024. Trusted Reviews attended the event to have a look at the new products, and while some big names were missing (like KEF), others filled their space with the likes of Sonus Faber and McIntosh appearing at the show for the first time.
As usual, the products on show varied from the affordable to wallet-exploding expensive. The show’s absence seemed to create plenty of anticipation, so here are some of the highlights that caught our eye at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show 2023.
JBL Bar 1300
Announced at CES 2023, the JBL Bar 1300 had its first public outing in the UK at the Bristol Hi-Fi show (despite being very much an AV product). Inside the bar are more than twenty speakers, with detachable units that can be placed around the room to act as surrounds and a 10-inch subwoofer to provide the bass. This soundbar pretty much supports everything under the sun from Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, AirPlay 2, Alexa Multi-Room Music and more. And the price? Well there’s a reason it’s called the JBL Bar 1300 as it costs £1299.
This year’s Hi-Fi show was home to a world exclusive in the appearance of Rega’s Naia turntable. Only two working turntables currently exist (hence why this one was sealed in a glass cover), with the Naia due to go on sale in the latter half of 2023. Featuring a tonearm made out of titanium and constructed using carbon fibre materials, the Naia is built to high standards and comes with a high price tag. When it goes on sale it’ll be available for £9200 (with the REF PSU) and £12000 with the PSU and Aphelion 2 cartridge. Better start saving…
Astell Kern PA10
Announced late in 2022, the PA10 is a Class-A amplifier from the Korean firm that boost audio quality with a warm presentation and has plenty of power to drive your (wired) headphones. Designed to go hand-in-hand with company’s own portable players (such as the five-star SP3000) for even more high fidelity sound. It’s priced at £549 / $550.
Fyne Audio Vintage
A fine vintage was seen (and heard) in Fyne Audio’s (rather small) room as it debuted its Vintage Five and Vintage Fifteen loudspeakers. Expanding the series and featuring all-new IsoFlare drivers, the little and large combination are a retro-styled pair (indicating old is still very definitely new) for small or massive rooms. The Vintage Fifteen has a 15-inch multi-fibre cone mid/bass driver with Fyne’s premium 75mm titanium dome and weighs 93kg each, with a price tag of £30,000. A large wallet, large house and a winch and pulley system are likely needed to get this speaker into the home.
Wilson Benesch A.C.T 3zero
Wilson Benesch were present with their customary stylish and curved speakers, with the A.C.T. 3zero on display during the time Trusted Reviews was there. This floorstanding design uses an Isobaric Driver unit to provide the bass alongside hand-built Tactic 3.0 drivers and Fibonacci tweeters. The price, if you must enquire, is £31,995 for the pair.
Another relatively new product that hit the market towards the end of 2022, the Mission 778X may look familiar to older hi-fi fans as it is inspired by the original Mission amplifier back in the 1980s, which in itself served as a platform for spun-off company Cyrus to produce its amplifiers (hence the resemblance). Compact in size, it’s intended to be an affordable, retro-styled amplifier graced with the performance of modern amps.
One of the stranger looking speakers (and that’s saying something), the Lyngdorf Cue-100 are a high-end pair of standmount loudspeakers with an Air Motion Transformer tweeter, ultra low distortion Purifi aluminium midrange/woofer and ultra low distortion Purifi passive bass radiators to cover the frequency range of sound. The three-legged stand is detachable, and the speaker comes in a wide range of fabric colour options to suit a room. It costs just shy of £10,000.
Another speaker that exists in the retro speaker made new again category. The Dovedale dates back to the 1960s, and this new version retains the appearance of the older model with its wood-veneered cabinet. Inside the three-way speaker is a mixture of traditional and advanced techniques, with the midrange and treble units offset on the front battle to scatter reflections and produce a better stereo image, and a Kevlar cone employed to help drive the bass frequencies.
Yamaha NS-2000A floorstanders / R-N2000A network stereo receiver
Better known for its AV products, Yamaha has been pivoting towards its hi-fi products and had a floorstander and network stereo receiver on show in Bristol. The three-way bass reflex floorstander sounded particularly rich and musical during a demo, while the R-N2000A looked very elegant powering both speakers. The receiver is already available for around £3000 with the speakers are due to go on sale later this year, though the UK price doesn’t appear to have been confirmed just yet.