Well, what an exciting year it has been for Expressive Audio! In May this year we started the first of our 'Bring Your Own Music Nights' at The Red Lion, Revesby on Sunday evenings from 7pm - 9pm.
The simple goal of these nights was to bring together people who love music and HiFi to talk and interact, while enjoying a great variety of systems from different manufacturers, across a range of price points.
The first evening, we started with a modest system consisting of Arcam CDS50, SA30, Rega Planar 6, powered by ISOL-8 MiniSub Axis and driving a pair of Fyne Audio F501SPs. This system set the tone for all the rest of the evenings to come, sounding great and encouraging people to try each other's music and the differences between CD and vinyl.
Our second evening in June featured more heavily around Cyrus' new XR series, using the i9-XR as well as CDi-XR with a Planar 6 and driving a pair of ATC SCM40s. The system sounded excellent with scale and panache that left our visitors excited for July's event.
Unfortunately our third event was pretty much on the hottest day of the year, so was not all that well attended. However, those who did visit very much enjoyed a more modest system based around the Rega Brio, Rega Apollo, Rega Planar 3 and KEF LS50 Meta. Given we had a little more time to play with, we also did some cable comparisons within this system, which lead to some raised eyebrows at how much a better speaker cable like Chord Shawline X could do, even in a modest system.
In August, we decided to do a comparison between solid state and valve amplification using Rega Elicit Mk5 vs Ming Da Dynasty Octet. For our sources, we used Rega Planar 6 and Rega Saturn CD player driving a pair of Fyne Audio F701s. It was a great evening and we all felt that, although the Elicit was a better all round amplifier, there was something special about the way the valve portrayed emotion into the sound that even an amp as good as the Rega could not produce. I think this will lead on to another valve evening in the new year, and maybe I can persuade Ming Da to come along for a visit.
In September, we tried some more digital content using Chord Electronics' Hugo TT2 and TToby vs Cyrus i9-XR and CDi-XR with a pair of Dali Rubicon 5s. Although we had a few network issues, the system sounded magnificent and so much so that the speakers did not stay in our showroom for very long afterwards and ended up in a lovely couple's home.
October brought a slightly different flavour to our Bring Your Own Music Night, with our first manufacturer-supported comparison event. ISOL-8 were there in force, including designer and founder Nick Poulson, and we worked our way through the first stages of their range of mains conditioning products. From the ISOL-8 Wave Mains cable, then through the first of their mains condition power strips - the ISOL-8 Powerline Ultra - and then up to the Mini Sub Axis and finishing on the Substation Integra. At each stage, we played the same track before and after each upgrade and everyone was left speechless as to how much difference mains conditioning could make to a reasonably high-end system (read more about mains conditioning if you're interested!). For the purposes of the evening we used Rega Elicit Mk5, Rega Saturn, Rega Planar 6 and Fyne Audio F701s.
For November we broke out some bigger guns. Renowned British manufacturers Rega and Fyne lent us the mighty Rega Planar 8 with Ania Pro, Rega Aethos integrated amplifier and Fyne Audio F1-8s, which we paired with our trusty Rega Saturn for CD duties. The system sounded magnificent and, although the evening was not totally smooth due to some unexpected technical issues, it was agreed by our regulars that this was one of the finest systems we had put together for any of the nights so far.
Our last Music Night of the year in December was just this Sunday and featured the whole of KEF's new wireless series, from the KEF LSX II and the KEF LS50 Wireless II to the all new KEF LS60s especially designed for KEF's 60th anniversary. These speakers use technology from the high-end Reference and Blade models, combined with the META material they designed for LS50 Meta, and amplification specifically optimised for these ground breaking speakers.
Due to illness and adverse weather conditions we were a few down on numbers, however we had a great evening listening to the three models. All of them did a great job of filling the big room at the pub and when we got to the LS60s we all sat in awe of just how good these speakers were playing streamed audio and vinyl alike. For a customer who does not want a stack of boxes or even a dominating floorstander, these speakers are incredibly capable of replacing your whole system and perform to astonishing standards that would rival many £6-10k systems.
We are looking forward to next year's events starting on January 22nd, where I'm looking forward to flexing some of our home cinema muscles in our first 'Bring Your Own Music/Movie Clip Night'. Onwards into February, I will look forward to bringing some more great systems together for everyone to enjoy and chat about music and HiFi together.
See you all in the new year and look forward to seeing you at The Red Lion, Revesby.
All the best for the season.
John | General Manager