by Keijo Tanskanen
This time Helsinki Highend & Hifimaailma event had very unsuitable time for me. My brother and his bride had decided to get married 27.9 at 14:00! So, I had enormously tight schedule, actually only three hours, and I had to plan my visit very well before the event. I managed to get in one hour before the official opening, but despite of this I had to pass several interesting setups. I didn´t had time to visit for example Amphion Loudspeakers, Musiikin.com and AH Hifisystems rooms although I had planned to. I decided to compensate this afterwards; actually I’ve already visited at Musiikin.com and checked the same system which was presented in the event.
I noticed a couple of interesting. First, the event seemed to be well organized again. Second, the event was even bigger than last year and several very expensive setups were presented. Third, I did not found very poor presentations, especially when taking account the listening room limitations. It was also nice to notice that there were at least slight acoustic treatments in most of the rooms where I visited! Finally, the old truth “small speakers for smallish rooms” was verified again! Couple of very expensive setups even failed at least partially because of the small rooms. Additionally some setups had even more or less faulty speaker placements!?
Again, it is not fair to pass harsh judgements on the presented audio systems because of the hotel environment, too short listening sessions and too few listening samples, especially this time when I had only 3 hours for my “race”! I had only Roy Buchanan’s Live in Japan (REPUK 1002) as a reference CD. Naturally this gave me some basis for the system evaluation – typically representatives will play quite strange variety of CDs in demos! Anyway, I’ll not go into the details either this time but rather try to describe roughly the main sound features of each system which was among the best ones.
Below are the photos from the event. I have added some thoughts worth mentioning.
Audiopori was clearly a successor of this event. Their all rooms gave at least moderate listening experiences. Although I couldn’t play my test-CD in this room, I encourage myself to evaluate this setup having excellent sound. The equipment was SME 20 vinyl player with SME V tonearm and Benz LP cartridge, ASR Basis Exclusive RIIA, ASR Emitter 1 Exclusive integrated amplifier (incl. battery power unit!), Mark&Daniel Apollo II speakers and Corfac 2 cabling.
Audiopori’s second room had Trigon Recall CD player, Trigon SnowWhite preamp, Trigon Dwarf monoblocks, System Audio SA Ranger speakers (internal cabling was modified to TK Cables emotion 12) and TK Cables cabling.
Audiopori’s third room equipment was Consonance Turnadot CD player, Trigon TRV-100 preamp, TRE-50 monoblocks, Consonance M-15 speakers and Corfac 2 cabling. The sound was very fast!
Audioshop Ratilainen had three rooms as well. All of them delivered relatively coherent, enjoyable and big sound. The first room’s equipment was Sugden 21 Serie 2 CD player, Red Wine Isabellina DAC, Red Wine 30.2 integrated amp (used as a preamp), Manley Mahi power amps and new WLM La Scala speakers.
Audioshop’s second room equipment was Pro-Ject RPM 10 vinyl player with Pro-Ject 10cc tonearm and Ortofon Bronze MC cartridge, Project Speed Box SE II RIIA, Sugden Masterclass CD player, Sugden A21 SE integrated amplifier, Triangle Genese Trio speakers.
Sugden Bijou CD player, Sugden Bijou preamp, Trafomatic Tube power amps and ETBT Plutof speakers were presented in Audioshop’s third room. Unbelievably big sound from so small speakers!
Jari Kastikainen (Audiostar) and Jorma Salmi (Gradient) had managed to setup a nice system and especially a great room/speakers combination! The sound was great, balance and clarity was clearly among the best ones in the show. System consisted of Accuphase DP-500 CD-player, Accuphase E-450 integrated amp, Gradient Laura speakers and Supra Classic cabling.
Concept Hifi had quite impressive setup in Åland room. It consisted of Blacknote CDP 300 CD player, Audio Analogue Bellini preamp, Audio Analogue Maestro Duocento amp and Vienna Acoustic The Musik Speakers. This room had at least great frequency response extensions and respectable bass punch.
Ari Niemi from Hifihuone presented Mc Intosh MCD-301 CD player, Mc Intosh MA-7000 integrated amp, Marten Form Floor speakers and Nordost cabling. Ari had also managed to choose very suitable speakers for the small room. At least my listening experiences were good ones when I played here Roy Buchanan’s Live!
Another Hifihuone’s room had Moon electronics: Moon Supernova CD player and Moon i-7 RS integrated amp. The speakers were Totem The Ones, and Thorens TD 700 with Thorens MM-005 RIIA took care of playing vinyls. Audioquest cabling was used in signal transfer.
Kari Kuismanen (Hifiklinikka) had brought his monstrous system to Helsinki. The presented system was Oracle Delphi V with SME IV tonearm and Benz Ruby 3 cartridge, Conrad Johnson CT5 preamp, Conrad Johnson ET250S amplifier and Avalon Eidolon speakers. The system included incredible Trasparent Opus cabling! The Avalon Eidolon speakers didn’t match very well into the small room and they could deliver only a part of their true potential. I’m sure Kari knew this already in advance but wanted anyway to show his system. The main reason for this kind of presentation might well be making contacts. The front end with Oracle Delphi player seemed to work excellently. Because of the “vinyl only” presentation I could not evaluate the over-all sound very deeply, but the sound was anyway among (only) the best ones.
Highendstudio had reserved also three rooms for their equipment presentation. First room had AVID Acutus vinyl player with SME V tonearm and Transfiguration Orpheus MC cartridge, Ayre P-5xe RIIA, Ayre C-5xe universal player, Ayre KX-R preamp, Ayre MX-R monoblocks, Martin Logan Spire speakers and Crystal Cable cabling. Jari Råback played vinyls successfully. The sound was airy and clear, but there still were some slight problems especially in low end because of the room and/or Spires construction.
The second Highendstudio’s room included Cambridge Audio Azur 840 CD player, Leben CS-300 amplifier and Aurelia Graphica speakers. The sound was quite big and promising.
Mitro Koskiluoma (Highendstudio Tampere) trusted again his Ocelia speakers which worked very well with less dynamic and midrange concentrated music. The sound was soulful and relaxing. When more dynamic and wider frequency spectrum music was played the limits of the system were quite easy to notice. The equipment was AVID vinyl player, Ayre C-5xe universal player, Yamamoto CA-04 tube preamp, Yamamoto A-08S tube amp and Ocelia Grandis Calliope .30 speakers.
Kruunuradio presented domestic Woodworks W3 speakers. This system was one of them which stopped me for a longer time. I managed to listen to this setup from the sweet spot and the listening experiences were very good. There was no low frequency emphasis at all although the room was very small. The speakers seemed also to be very fast responding and accurate. The spatial info was also greatly delivered. The over-all sound was clearly among the best ones but still it suffered a bit from a clinical and cold front end. Although this was only a very fast and limited test I’ll predict a great success for the W3 speakers. System consisted of Primare CD-31 CD player, Primare PRE-30 preamp, Primare A-32 amplifier, Woodworks W3 speakers and Nordost & Supra cabling.
This room was where I started my visit. The setup consisted of Meridian 808 CD player, Unison Research Mystery Two preamp, Unison Research Smart 845 monoblocks, Avalon Ascendant speakers, Cardas interconnects and speaker cables and Shunyata power cords. I had great expectations for new Avalon Ascendant speakers, but I must confess this presentation was a disappointment. I had listened Ascendant in Soundworks’ show room and there the sound was much better. So, the reason for a relatively humble sound production was not speakers. I think it was unsuitable listening room and the wrong speaker placement. Afterwards Mikko Raumanen told me that they made a new speaker placement for the next day. By the help of this the sound was told to be remarkably better on Sunday.
This Marantz& Dynaudio setup was placed into the same room as previously mentioned Avalon setup. The equipment was Marantz SA-15S1 CD player, Marantz PM-15S1 integrated amp and Dynaudio Excite 32 speakers. This budget class system got very close to Avalon setup’s over-all sound. The bass quality and balance were probably even better! Hmmm…
Petri Mutanen presented smaller Avalon speakers in Soundworks’ room. The whole system was Pathos Digit CD player, Pathos Logos integrated amplifier, Avalon Symbol speakers and Stereovox and Shunyata cablings. The sound was good and among the best ones at the sweet spot seat. Actually the balance and clarity of the sound clearly exceeded the level of much more expensive Avalon Ascendant setup! Smaller speakers can be sometimes better.
This was what I could go through in three hours. It was really pity I couldn’t do more, but this is what happens sometimes (too often?) in our life. Even after my busy race I would say that the event was again a positive experience, although crowded and clearly missing true highlights. Let’s see what will happen next year!