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Stereonet Australia (Melbourne) Audio Show 2023

naviivan

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Oh, and one last note.....The new speakers in the Audio Note room do not yet have an official price, as they are still developing. But the room proprietor told us that they expected the speakers to come in at $120,000. And I don't care whose dollars those are, it is a lot for a 2-way speaker.
Crazy money yes but sooooooo good with all those tube amps. I think these audio shows is more about what they can do and less about what you can afford.
 

mcdn

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Brilliant write-up, thank you so much! Alan March is indeed a lovely man to meet in person, it is a shame his online persona doesn’t match. His speakers are very good, as are his amps.
 

AudioJester

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Brilliant write-up, thank you so much! Alan March is indeed a lovely man to meet in person, it is a shame his online persona doesn’t match. His speakers are very good, as are his amps.
I will second that, having quarelled with him on line and having a completely different experience in person. And his speakers are brilliant!
 

ozlegend

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Some semi-random thoughts from someone who has been using DEQX commercially for nearly 20 years in designing active speakers http://www.legendspeakers.com.au/ultimate_active/

I first became intersted in speaker DSP when working for Linn in Glasgow in the late 1980s designing their new range of loudspeakers including their Kaber and Keltik loudspeaker that could be either passive or active though the latter generally only sold relatively few. The active version was designed using existing Linn analog-based technology. However when I went to the University of Essex and heard what 2 post-docs of Prof Malcolm (Omar) Hawksford had done with DSP on loudspeakers I was sold on digital active.

Unfortunately I left Linn before any collaboration came to fruition and eventually setup Legend Acoustics in Australia initially making just passive loudspeakers - but when I came across Australian DEQX processors in the early 2000s I (literally) grabbed them with open arms. Because Legend offered some loudspeakers in both passive and analog forms it was easy to appreciate the improvements that the DSP made - to linearity/tonality, timing/PRaT etc. And I have always found DEQX units relatively easy to learn & use. I did not wish to go down the DIY route of PC programming etc even though i have quite extensive computing experience, as life is just too short!

When Stereophile in 2005 reviewed the NHD Xd system that was one of first established speakers to use DEQX, Kal Rubinson said after listening "The NHT Xd is the best thing to come down the pike in a long time. I hope it is a harbinger of designs to come." And John Atkinson's measurements were "Extraordinary!" Unfortunately the Xds did not last long and the harbinger on the mass market still seems to be waiting.

Even though a number of manufacturers have entered the DSP loudspeaker market in recent years the niche market for active speakers still seems very small. I am not sure why this is so given the obvious technical and sound quality advantages. It may be cost: a 3-way active system requires 6 channels of amplification and if this is to be of the quality needed to justify going active it is not cheap though recent advances in class D amps have helped. It may also be the seeming complexity, even at the elementary level of connecting all the bits together. Or it maybe that many audiophiles tend to look backwards as evidenced by the rise again of LPs!

Given the small niche market it means manufacturers like DEQX do have to amortise their R&D, tooling etc costs over small numbers that inevitably makes their prices high. In addition, costs have risen steeply in recent years, perhaps by up to 50% since DEQX stopped making its previous models in 2019, and this combined compoundly with the 33% increase in number of channels from 6 to 8 goes a long way to explaining the price rise from the old US$6k+ to the proposed new price of around US$12k. And as someone once said, the main way to become a rich hi-fi manufacturer is to start as a very rich one!
 
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Keith_W

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You must be Dr. Crawford! Nice to see you here.

I too am surprised that active speakers aren't more common. Amplifiers are cheap and getting cheaper, and DSP is more widely available. And if audiophiles like to tweak, then tweaking the DSP will bring real benefits. Unfortunately, it does seem as if audiophiles actually like to spend money ... on wasteful tweaks that do nothing, like network switches and the like. Learning DSP is hard, but there are semi-automated solutions out there. And if you don't want to DSP, there are active speakers on the market that perform very well. SGR in Australia is one such example.
 

killitmore

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View attachment 320328

This Dali / NAD system was my surprise of the show. It gets my vote as one of the best demonstrations. It is their new flagship speaker, driven by NAD Master series Class D amps with Purifi modules. The sound was surprisingly articulate and linear, with very few room issues. I was told that the baffle was carefully shaped to help achieve a smooth polar response.

View attachment 320330

The KEF R3 Meta is the bookshelf I would buy if I was in the market. They sounded great today, no wonder they rank so highly on Spinorama.org. It was a really impressive demonstration of what the speaker was capable of - more bass than any bookshelf has any right to go, coherently sounding, and layered.

View attachment 320333

I was expecting to like the Dutch & Dutch 8C's (demonstrated without BACCH) but I found them really underwhelming - the second disappointment of the day of a speaker I know to be objectively good but performing below par. They sounded muffled, lacking in bass. Maybe something was wrong.

View attachment 320334

And it would not be a hifi show if there wasn't something weird. There wasn't anything weird about the Wilson-Benesch ACT speakers, in fact they sounded wonderful. What was really weird were the amplifiers driving them:

View attachment 320335

Alieno Audio amplifiers. The demonstrator claimed that these are 300B, single ended, output transformerless, output capacitorless amplifiers which "use the current from a solid state amplifier" but are "not a hybrid" which puts out 250W of Class A power into 8 Ohms. This is quite simply an unbelievable claim. They certainly had enough power to drive the Wilson Benesch speakers above, so I believe that it is making more power than a typical 300B. What I do not believe are the claims about the amplifier topology. Perhaps someone in ASR might come up with a plausible explanation (besides "marketing") about how such a thing is possible!
Is there any objective measurement for Wilson Benesch speakers?
 

DSJR

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Is there any objective measurement for Wilson Benesch speakers?
There has been on past models. Earlier ones had a massive peak at 1.5kHz or so which gave them a spiky 'cold' tone unless used with large warm toned 'Class A' amps designed for that sound. bass-mid drivers seem to have evolved from that now, but no idea as to how they actually perform. For then 'political' reasons, I did have a Tactic-driver equipped pair of Act Ones twenty odd years ago and despite the great looks in the more modern lounge we had, the sound wasn't at all realistic to me...
 

milosz

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Thanks for showing what I missed - I was considering travelling down for this but as it happens, covid finally caught up with me this week.

Seems like I missed less than I might have expected.

On DEQX, that's been on my radar for a while but they haven't actually had anything to sell for what seems like years now. Did they say anything about when the products might be available? Or how high the price will be for any of the new range?
The first wave of beta units of the DEQX Pre-8 is being prepared for shipment to beta testers around the world as I write this. I suspect it will be months before bugs discovered during beta testing are found and corrected and the units are released to the general market. The TOTL DEQX Pre-8 looks to be a WONDERFUL product. I have three DEQX PDC-2.6's - rather old units- two in my main system for three-way plus subwoofer correction, and another that I experiment with. The DEQX Pre-8 offers four-way crossover / correction, plus streaming, ROON, ethernet & wifi, SPDIF, AES/EBU, USB, analog RCA and XLR inputs, and a phono stage which seems to be optional, and appears to have been designed by Dynavector. A lot of engineering - both software and hardware- has gone into it.
 

ozlegend

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Some semi-random thoughts from someone who has been using DEQX commercially for nearly 20 years in designing active speakers http://www.legendspeakers.com.au/ultimate_active/

I first became intersted in speaker DSP when working for Linn in Glasgow in the late 1980s designing their new range of loudspeakers including their Kaber and Keltik loudspeaker that could be either passive or active though the latter generally only sold relatively few. The active version was designed using existing Linn analog-based technology. However when I went to the University of Essex and heard what 2 post-docs of Prof Malcolm (Omar) Hawksford had done with DSP on loudspeakers I was sold on digital active.

Unfortunately I left Linn before any collaboration came to fruition and eventually setup Legend Acoustics in Australia initially making just passive loudspeakers - but when I came across Australian DEQX processors in the early 2000s I (literally) grabbed them with open arms. Because Legend offered some loudspeakers in both passive and analog forms it was easy to appreciate the improvements that the DSP made - to linearity/tonality, timing/PRaT etc. And I have always found DEQX units relatively easy to learn & use. I did not wish to go down the DIY route of PC programming etc even though i have quite extensive computing experience, as life is just too short!

When Stereophile in 2005 reviewed the NHD Xd system that was one of first established speakers to use DEQX, Kal Rubinson said after listening "The NHT Xd is the best thing to come down the pike in a long time. I hope it is a harbinger of designs to come." And John Atkinson's measurements were "Extraordinary!" Unfortunately the Xds did not last long and the harbinger on the mass market still seems to be waiting.

Even though a number of manufacturers have entered the DSP loudspeaker market in recent years the niche market for active speakers still seems very small. I am not sure why this is so given the obvious technical and sound quality advantages. It may be cost: a 3-way active system requires 6 channels of amplification and if this is to be of the quality needed to justify going active it is not cheap though recent advances in class D amps have helped. It may also be the seeming complexity, even at the elementary level of connecting all the bits together. Or it maybe that many audiophiles tend to look backwards as evidenced by the rise again of LPs!

Given the small niche market it means manufacturers like DEQX do have to amortise their R&D, tooling etc costs over small numbers that inevitably makes their prices high. In addition, costs have risen steeply in recent years, perhaps by up to 50% since DEQX stopped making its previous models in 2019, and this combined compoundly with the 33% increase in number of channels from 6 to 8 goes a long way to explaining the price rise from the old US$6k+ to the proposed new price of around US$12k. And as someone once said, the main way to become a rich hi-fi manufacturer is to start as a very rich one!
I forgot to mention that the speakers DEQX were using for their Melbourne show demo were actually Legend's Isobaric Small Reds (ISRs)
 

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Keith_W

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I forgot to mention that the speakers DEQX were using for their Melbourne show demo were actually Legend's Isobaric Small Reds (ISRs)

Now that is interesting. Alan Langford told people that the system they had on display at the show was his personal system from his home. I think I heard him mention "DIY" at one point.

IMO this was one of the better sounding rooms in the show, and if you head over to the discussion thread on SNA, many people commented on how good this room sounded. Not once was "Legend" mentioned.

People on ASR are not Australians, so they are not aware of the longstanding relationship between DEQX and Legend. The first time I heard a Legend speaker, it had a DEQX crossover in it, and maybe Redgum amplifiers (I can't remember). The guy subsequently went to work for DEQX. You may be able to guess who he is :)
 

AudioJester

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The DEQX- Redgum - Legend systems were way ahead of the times!
Mid to late naughties?
 

ozlegend

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Now that is interesting. Alan Langford told people that the system they had on display at the show was his personal system from his home. I think I heard him mention "DIY" at one point.

IMO this was one of the better sounding rooms in the show, and if you head over to the discussion thread on SNA, many people commented on how good this room sounded. Not once was "Legend" mentioned.

People on ASR are not Australians, so they are not aware of the longstanding relationship between DEQX and Legend. The first time I heard a Legend speaker, it had a DEQX crossover in it, and maybe Redgum amplifiers (I can't remember). The guy subsequently went to work for DEQX. You may be able to guess who he is :)
Yes Keith the system at the show was Alan's personal one but no the speakers were definitely not "DIY" as can be readily seen by comparing your photo of Kim 's demo with the one of the ISRs that I posted.
It was decided not to emphasise the origin of the speakers for a number of reasons. One was not to detract from the DEQX emphasis of the demo. Another was that Legend's ISRs are not currently in production - though I am currently working on a mark 3 version (Alan's was mark 2) that hopefully may go into production next year.
 
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Keith_W

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That's great! I haven't heard from you for a while, and it is good to see you are still developing products. I look forward to see what you have in store.
 

MattHooper

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I was the unofficial and self-appointed reporter for ASR at the StereoNet Australia (SNA) audio show today. Obviously, at the show I am unable to take measurements, so I will provide subjective listening impressions only, along with some points of discussion. I took this attitude to the show: (1) I was forgiving of boomy bass because of show conditions and limitations of where I was able to listen. I was not forgiving of lack of bass, because I was able to move around enough to ensure I was not in a null zone, so it meant that the speaker was not producing it; (2) I listened first and asked questions later to avoid colouring my judgement, but this was not possible with all products because I already knew some of them by reputation and even seen the measurements; (3) I was there to enjoy myself and socialize and not on a special mission from ASR so this report isn't as detailed as it should be.

View attachment 320305

Sound Gallery is a premium hi-fi dealer in Melbourne. They had one of the larger rooms and had the Wilson Audio Sasha and Linn loudspeakers on display. They were driven by D'Agostino and Gryphon electronics. When I went in, the Wilsons were playing and the place was absolutely packed. Wilsons sound like Wilsons - what I liked was the tactility of the bass, it feels like a punch to the chest. What I did not like was the overly bright top end. The room had enough people in it to act as living bass absorbers so it had fewer issues than some of the other rooms. It was a good demonstration of Wilson's capabilities ... if you like Wilson. I don't. I did not have a chance to hear the Linns.

View attachment 320307

I did not get the name of the speaker, I think it was Klipsch Heritage. It was easily the worst system in the show. It sounded like a PA system, all smeared together with poor stereo separation and with its only redeeming quality being able to go loud. The room was one of the larger rooms in the show, and it was empty - thus proving that everyone else thought the same.

View attachment 320309

This is Kim Ryrie from DEQX giving an explanation of the new Pre-8 active crossover / room correction / DSP-in-a-box (similar to MiniDSP). This is definitely a product that will be of interest to members of ASR, so I will post a separate thread. The system was belonged to Alan Langford (Alan and Kim are the founders / engineers of DEQX) and consisted of his own 3-way DIY speakers, a pair of subwoofers, and Purifi Class D amps which he DIY'ed, stuffed into spare DEQX boxes and will not bring to market. Every year there are at least a couple of DEQX based systems in the show (given that DEQX is an Australian company), but this year only DEQX themselves were exhibiting the product. The sound was superb, as you would expect from an engineer who knows what he is doing.

View attachment 320310

This is Bill McLean (a well known local dealer) showing off Magnepan speakers driven by Sanders Magtech amps and REL subwoofers. He was using DBX digital room correction (you can see the mic in the corner). A pleasant surprise was that more and more exhibitors were using DRC to overcome the limitations of the rooms. The Magnepans were not as directional as I thought they would be, and they still sounded balanced even when I deliberately moved around the room. I visited quite a few times, they did an excellent job with the demo with seamless integration with the sub. I don't know how much of an objectivist Bill is, but he certainly talks like one, e.g. "DBX is used by pros for correcting bass in concerts, we should be using it more at home". The glowing cable is decoration, not speaker cable.

View attachment 320311

This was another pretty empty room ("empty room" is my euphemism for "everyone thought it sounded awful") featuring Microphase speakers, an Australian hi-fi brand. I didn't like them, I thought they badly needed a subwoofer and there was an obvious tilt towards the treble.

View attachment 320312

Sonus Faber and McIntosh are quite popular here in Australia and there was absolutely nothing wrong with this demo. It was mostly free of room issues, and sounded lovely. Every room like this (these were identical hotel rooms) had an audibly boomy bass around 100Hz or so and this room was no exception, but this room was less boomy than others. It was probably because of the huge gaggle of people in that room - I walked in and claimed the sweet spot since the room was half full and I was lucky to see it vacated just as I walked in. When the track I requested started playing, I turned around and the room was packed.

View attachment 320314

I did not get the model numbers of these Martin-Logan speakers driven by Anthem and also featuring digital room correction. I was amazed by the sound of the little bookshelf, and even more amazed to learn of its price - AUD$3500. They were able to convincingly project scale and do low bass very well.
What a great show report! Thank you very much.

I have to remember to visit this section of the form more often.
 
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