Reviewed: Sound & Vision The Bristol Show 2015

posted on Saturday, 21st February 2015 by Steve May

home cinema  Hi-fi  Events 

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Those looking for overarching themes to distinguish this year’s Sound & Vision The Bristol Show, would probably opt for 3D multichannel sound and high-resolution audio. The companies on display were legendary, the listening experiences inspirational.

The arrival of Dolby Atmos hardware prompted something of a home cinema revival at the Marriott City Centre hotel this year, with multiple demos of Dolby Atmos to be had around the venue. As if to stress the versatility of Dolby’s new surround format, the system could be heard in all manner of rooms, from intimate hotel spaces to awkward high-ceilinged conference rooms. There was no shortage of price points to choose from either. Onkyo used its space to demonstrate the prowess of an inexpensive Dolby Atmos HTIB (home theatre in a box), although it might better be describe as a HTIVBB (Very Big). Pioneer, Kef and Monitor Audio ran more upscale configurations.

Epson and JVC both flew the flag for 1080p projection with some success. Even as we popped into the Epson room in the hope of seeing the brand’s upcoming laser projector (it wasn’t there), a happy visitor was sealing the deal on an EH-TW6600. JVC used its traditional ground floor space to recreate a living room environment, in order to emphasise that its projectors don’t necessarily have to go into a dedicated theatre. Fellow projection evangelist Optoma used the show to unveil its newly acquired Nuforce digital audio line, although there were no demos.

Hi-Res Audio hardware was ubiquitous. Newly rechristened UK outfit Sygnifi unveiled the Novafidelity X40, a high-end CD/HDD/ripper/streamer equipped with ESS SabreDACs, priced from £1300 with a 2TB drive. Elsewhere, 24-bit pioneer Sony proffered its HAP-Z1ES hard drive player and TA-A1ES stereo amp. The brand had nothing new to talk about, but confided to Inside CI that new component launches were just months away.

Of course, vinyl record decks, headphones and DACs were everywhere. The Bristol Show also marked the triumphant return of Technics to the UK audio arena. The newly relaunched brand offered an opportunity to stroke its sublime SU-C700 Series networking streaming system, and its gargantuan Reference Series. 

Visitor traffic was high, with many demos having standing room only. Monitor Audio unveiled its Radius series loudspeakers in a Dolby Atmos configuration to huge acclaim, while Pioneer implemented a ticketing system for its Dolby Atmos demos, and promptly sold out its entire first day slate in less than an hour. And for two-channel of the highest caliber, you really couldn’t beat Arcam’s 49-Series demonstrations.

While the show itself appears indefatigable, there’s considerable change happening behind the scenes. Even as the crowds thronged, the ramifications of the Onkyo buy-out of Pioneer’s AV division were just hours away from being announced, while simultaneously, JVC UK is just days from morphing into JVC Kenwood. Britain’s best-known hi-fi show will doubtless return in 2016, looking largely unchanged. However it remains to be seen if the same can be said for some of its best known exhibitors.

For more from the Sound & Vision The Bristol Show 2015, fire-up our exclusive Photo Gallery below...
(all images copyright Inside CI)

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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