Posted on 31st July, 2017


Aussie music lovers and HiFi enthusiasts are the beneficiaries of not one, but two HiFi shows down under this year. Considering that only a few short years ago there was no HiFi Show to speak of, the U.K’s Chester Group broke the decade's long drought and have infrequently rotated a show between Melbourne and Sydney in recent years.

Too long; don’t care? – Jump straight to the complete gallery.

This time around it was Sydney’s turn at the InterContinental Hotel, a beautifully restored Treasury Building that dates back to 1851, complete with the iconic Harbour Bridge as a backdrop.

Set over two floors, punters were treated to audio and video products from not only around the world, but also some of our more prominent, locally produced brands.

Heading straight up to the 21st floor, the lift delivered you right into the core of the show; 21 rooms of audio visual delight, a treat for senses. 


Legend Acoustics & Redgum Audio

The local Legend Acoustics and their loudspeakers had teamed up with iconic Redgum Audio who provided amplification in the form of their RGi120ENR Black Signature amplifier ($4000 RRP). A mix of vinyl and digital sources proved a stunning combination through the Legend Kantu floor-standing speakers ($4990 RRP) and at this price point you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value. It was the first time I’d heard this combination of brands and I was left impressed.


Simaudio Moon and Dynaudio

Flanking both sides of the Legend/Redgum room was Busisoft AV with a vast selection of Head-Fi products in one room that was always well attended, but Room 2124 was where the action was. Canada’s Simaudio were debuting their 888 Amplifiers and complete suite of Moon electronics, completed by nothing less than Dynaudio Evidence speakers.

With a total system cost heading north of half a million bucks. expectations were expectedly high, and while glimpses of excellence were evident, the system completely overpowered the room both sonically and visually. This is of course one of the limitations of show environments but it is certainly worth an audition via a specialist retailer if you’re fortunate enough to be in the market at this price point.


Around the hall, Melbourne’s headphone specialist Jaben Audio were showcasing many of their brands including the complete suite of the U.K’s Chord Electronics’ headphone and portable audio gear. Jaben Audio stock all the very best brands in Headphones, Desktop and Portable Audio and they brought with them an extensive range of each.


In the elegant corner suite, our kiwi friends at N.A. Distributors showcased an array of offerings from co-owned brands Naim and Focal.

Newly released, the SIB EVO Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 system was on static display which consists of three satellite speakers, two Atmos speakers and a subwoofer. At just $1500 for the complete set it represents excellent value for the small apartment or living room in a stylish, compact package.

The highly anticipated Uniti range was also on display after extended delays before its release, we’re told “due to licensing issues”. The family of products consists of three all-in-one players: the reference audiophile Uniti Nova, the multi-functional CD operating Uniti Star and the compact yet powerful Uniti Atom. The Uniti Core reference music server completes the range, allowing you to store and stream thousands of albums and back up all of your music in one place. Simply BYO speakers and you’ve got a multi-room capable audio system with limitless connectivity options.

The adjoining room was where the action was though. By appointment only across the three show days, punters got the chance to hear the newly released Focal Utopia III Evo Maestro loudspeakers.

A 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker that will see an investment of $90K, this new iteration sees new and improved speaker drivers and crossovers, along with a new range of finishes. They performed effortlessly when complimented by the full suite of Naim gear, and while none of the material being played was familiar to this listener, they did nothing but impress and warrant an extended listen in more favourable conditions at a later date.


Audio Marketing literally filled a room with goods from Triangle, Stax, Musical Fidelity, Peachtree Audio, Krell and more. A brand that flies under the radar locally, Triangle loudspeakers continue to impress and the Musical Fidelity combination should be high up on your auditioning short list.

Stealing the limelight though, it was the table around the corner packed with Stax headphones, or ‘earspeakers’ as they prefer to call them, along with their corresponding amplifier combinations. The full range was on display and ready for audition with the flagship SRM-T8000 amplifier and SR-009 electrostatic earspeakers being the popular audition choice for all. Air, grace, scale, comfort, the list could go on, but this is effortless, musical audio reproduction at its finest.


Bill Mclean of Mcleans Smarter Home Entertainment is no stranger to HiFi Shows and a true veteran of our industry and HiFi in general. One thing Bill is known for is his great ear for piecing together audio systems and evidently, finding that elusive ‘synergy’ when mixing and matching speakers and electronic components.

I find myself seeking out Bill’s room at every show for a sense of calm and to just reset the audio palate. The DeVore Fidelity 2-way Orangutan O/96 speakers powered by Linear Tube Audio is not a new combination for this listener. There’s a warmth to this system that is consistent, but it’s not coloured like some of the BBC inspired monitors of today that I’m somehow always reminded of.


Convoy showcased two systems within their space this year, sans Bowers & Wilkins following the recent change of distribution. The 4367 studio monitors that are part of JBL’s Synthesis range perched atop the brilliant IsoAcoustics stands and powered by Cary Audio’s stunning CAD-120S MkII Valve Amplifier and matching SLP-98 Valve Preamplifier.

As a former JBL 4367 owner, I’m a fan and know them well however I had revelation at this show. I first heard them at last year’s Melbourne show and feel in love. This affection was shared by many attendees who proclaimed them the best sounding speaker in the show. Room sizes between the Melbourne and Sydney shows were on par, and what I would consider on the smaller size compared to a typical living room.

Shortly after when I landed my own pair in a much larger, dedicated space and treated them to a suite of very high-end electronics they still had the scale and dynamics I’ve come to expect from JBL’s higher-end offerings, but not the sweetness and presence I’d experienced prior.

This time around and back in a room I would have previously considered too small for such a loudspeaker, once again the 4367’s sang in all their glory. If you’ve been thinking you don’t have a room big enough for this speaker, think again.

In timed alternating demonstrations Convoy switched between the former system and PSB Imagine T3 loudspeakers ($9999 RRP) powered by NAD Masters M32 Direct Digital Integrated Amplifier and a M50.2 Digital Music Player ($6699 RRP each).

In the shadow of the 4367 behemoths, the T3’s slim footprint could easily see these speakers unnoticed. Upon springing to life though, legendary speaker designer Paul Barton can be very proud. They held their own and easily go down as one of the best value loudspeakers at the show for the money. I even overheard punters ask if it were the 4367s playing on more than one occasion.


Mark Doehmann and Con Lucas of Telos Audio are world-renowned for their knowledge and experience at the pointy-end of HiFi. As chief designer, Mark and a number of other audio luminaries (legends) around the globe are responsible for the Helix 1 turntable was accurately spinning vinyl across all three days. The Helix 1 is quickly becoming the benchmark turntable of choice for many reviewers and analog aficionados.

With Thrax amplification the system evolved a number of times over the weekend treating each day’s visitors to a slightly different system. Stand out for this listener was day three when the Thrax Lyra stand mount speakers were swapped out for locally designed, and somewhat more affordably priced OneAudio Mu2 standmount speakers.

Measuring just 32cm high, 18cm wide and 23.6cm deep and priced at $5,500 RRP, well known speaker designer Brad Serhan has refined this design to within an inch of its life and the result is an immensely accurate speaker that has liveliness and grace, amazingly linear response and plays well across all genres, no doubt thanks to a near perfect crossover design.


Yamaha’s announcement of the NS-5000 loudspeaker, a tribute to the NS-1000 of yesteryear was met with much applause from enthusiasts worldwide. At the same time, many hoped that it wouldn’t be simply a grab for cash off the back of the NS-1000’s success and would truly be a high-end loudspeaker.

They didn’t need to fear. Presented at the show by Sydney retailer Len Wallis Audio, the NS-5000 powered by Yamaha’s A-S3000 amplifier along with a CD-S3000 CD player is the epitome of simple system design. The NS-5000 has earned accolades by its own accord and it’s showing here was no exception.

At times, music choices were somewhat questionable in the quality of the recording itself, but once Len himself stepped up to play DJ via the AVID Ingenium turntable, the NS-5000 speakers showed what they were clearly capable of.


Distributors of some of the finest HiFi brands in the world, Synergy Audio Visual were in Sydney to showcase Sonus faber, Audio Research, Rega and the newly acquired Mobile Fidelity brand.

Just a small selection from their extensive portfolio was on display including the affordable Sonus faber Chameleon standmount speakers, select Rega products and the first showing of the MoFi UltraDeck+ turntable ($3199 RRP).

Made in the USA, the record label turned hardware manufacturer turned to Allen Perkins of Spiral Groove for the design. As an affordable line of USA made turntables, the UltraDeck+ features an in-house designed 10” tonearm which is said to achieve an optimum balance of rigidity and low tracking error. It uses custom vibration-damping feet to provide isolation and a 32mm Delrin platter that is renowned for its neutral sonic signature and dissipation of vibrations. It also features Cardas tonearm wiring.

The Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck+ comes equipped with a factory premounted and aligned UltraTracker MM phono cartridge and will be available around September this year.

Sadly, my initial visit to the room resulted in talking shop with Synergy staff, Gareth and Elizabeth, while subsequent visits to the room proved difficult as it was popular with show attendees. StereoNET will take a closer look during an upcoming review of Mobile Fidelity’s new turntables.


Sydney based CDA Pro Audio is a name synonymous with Pro Audio more so than HiFi. They primarily import and distribute products used in recording studios and were quick to point out that much of the commercial music we listen to on our systems has likely been mastered through Prism Audio electronics and ATC speakers. A brief presentation revealed studios around the world using this combination including Abbey Road studios.

While the domestic audio market is finally ‘switching on’ to active loudspeakers, ATC have been in the game for years and being demonstrated at this show were the ATC SCM19-A floorstanding speakers. Simple in design, with 182w Class A/B amplifiers onboard, the 2-way system uses a 150mm woofer and a 25mm tweeter with active filtering. They sell for $11,999 RRP which when you keep in mind this includes amplifiers and negates the need for loads of cables, just add your own source, they present great value.


Like ATC and Prism Sound, Bricasti Design is a name known more perhaps within Pro Audio circles than HiFi, but that’s not to say their small line-up isn’t worthy of standing up against the best.

Being exhibited by their Australian distributor Studio Connections, was the M12 Source Controller, M1 DAC, M5 Network Player and M28 Power Amplifiers. Speakers are the Tidal Piano Diacera which while not available in Australia, they sell overseas for around $36K USD.

A stunning match, this is the same combination showed at international shows by Bricasti.


I’d argue that Greg Osborn and his Melbourne based speaker brand, Osborn, has exhibited at more shows around the world than any other single Australian brand in history. His ‘manufacturer direct to customer’ sales model lends itself well and history has proven that Osborn loudspeakers offer a hell of a lot of speaker for the asking price, right across the range.

Complimented by electronics lines from Consonance Audio, also chosen by Greg for the very same philosophy shared by his speakers, his ‘Tower of Power’ aka component rack certainly pulls in punters with the glow of pretty valves and lighting.

On my visit, the Eclipse speakers ($4470) were playing and while I’ve heard these speakers numerous times, the body language of those in the room told the story with every foot tapping or a knowing smile with everything from Pink Floyd to classical and orchestral tracks I’ve not heard before.

Greg offers an airport pickup and drop-off service for anyone wanting a no-obligation demonstration of his loudspeaker and electronics range at his Melbourne premises.


Audio Magic is the Melbourne based distributor of Lumin, Bauer Audio, Harbeth and Boenicke Audio among other brands.

Aided by local Sydney retailer Cameron Pope of Krispy Audio, they showcased the highly musical Harbeth HL5 monitor speakers while interchanging with highly regarded Boenicke Audio throughout the course of the weekend.

The Lumin A1 network player recently became Roon enabled as a certified endpoint, so sources alternated between digital duty and analog from Bauer Audio’s turntables.

Boenicke Audio’s unique design and small form factor impressed many show-goers and are capable of far more than their size would indicate.

Powering the various speakers was one of the best sounding integrated amplifiers I’ve ever come across, the Lavardin IS Integrated Amplifier which I reviewed two years ago, here.

This highly capable but lightly powered amp is a great match across the Boenicke and Harbeth speaker ranges.


While the multi-room audio category has been well carved out by Sonos and more recently reshaped by the likes of HEOS, Bluesound and MusicCast, a new contender in the form of Riva Audio made their Australian debut at the show.

Known prior for their Bluetooth speakers, their new range known as WAND offers two speakers, the Arena and the Festival. Both include multiple ways to play music, including Wi-Fi, DDMS, Spotify Connect, AirPlay, DLNA, Bluetooth, and Chromecast. The more expensive Festival has an optical input, too. You can also distribute analog inputs over Wi-Fi to other speakers and all is in control via their dedicated Wand app.

The Riva Festival has a sound much bigger than its size and uses three actively powered woofers, three tweeters and four passive radiators. Projecting sound in three directions, Riva says the Festival produces a wider frequency response than all their competitor’s products.


There has probably been no bigger statement ever made in the headphone world than Sennheiser’s HE-1 and its presence at the show was a little understated given it was a late inclusion.

Trumping their 1991 Orpheus headphones, the HE-1 is a system comprising a valve amplifier that sits on a housing crafted from glass and a solid block of Carrara marble, plus the headphones themselves.

Having previously only available to a select few journo’s last year, this was the first showing at a public event in Australia and those wanting the opportunity to hear them had to make a booking in a dedicated time slot. The room was solidly booked across all three days, of course.

Not wanting to take the opportunity to hear them from someone else, I resisted the urge to hear them once again but instead snuck in for a few photos thanks to an obliging listener.

If you haven’t heard them and you’re wondering? Yes, they are the best headphones in the world.


Nearing the completion of a full lap of the 21st floor of the InterContinental left a room that has received loads of praise on the StereoNET forums.

A combined room by distributors Audio Heaven and Grooveworks, they showed the unusual and radically designed Crystal Cable Arabesque Mini speaker ($25,000). A 2-way speaker housed in a comma shaped aluminium shell with a design that is said to cast a wide soundstage and deal with side-wall reflections.

Side wall reflections certainly weren’t going to be a problem given they’d been placed along the long wall of the room and right out in the middle of the room. With an effective frequency response down to 40Hz in room, the bottom end was aided by the similarly unique Torus Infrasonic Generator (in other words, subwoofer) from Wilson Benesch.

The depth of soundstage was truly delightful as was the tone and timbre of these speakers, alas, I couldn’t help but feeling I wanted to sit 6 feet further back which wasn’t possible with the chairs already hard up against the opposing wall. The baby speakers blended with the subwoofer so incredibly well.

Hanging off the back of the speaker terminals was a peculiar little device known as a Spec RSP-901EX. It is said to have two main functions. The first is to “make an improvement to reduce the fluctuations of speaker’s impedance frequency characteristic”, while secondly, “the other is absorbing that counter-electromotive current from speaker including network composed of some inductors.”

It would have been great to hear an A/B comparison with this device, so for now we can only wonder how much difference it made to the overall sonic presentation by Grooveworks.

A whole array of ‘audiophile tweaks’ appeared to be in use in this room. An explanation or presentation would have been great I think, but it wasn’t forthcoming and I didn’t ask.


Aussie distributors of Pioneer, Powermove Distribution, felt right at home with their current LX series of AV Receivers coupled with a borrowed pair of Krix loudspeakers in one system while on the other side, they demo'd their range of stereo components including their A50DAK Integrated Amplifier, PD30AE SACD Player and their Network Audio Player.

StereoNET recently finished a review on the new highly capable A50DAK Integrated which you can read here soon.


As the Marantz brand ambassador and one of the most influential members of the audio fraternity, Ishiwata would have been proud of Marantz and Jamo distributor QualiFi's room. HiFi needn't be complicated and amongst the highest end of audio, Marantz exhibited a demonstration that included the Marantz SA14S1SE CD Player ($4990 RRP) and PM14S1SE Amplifier ($5490 RRP). In a near-perfect matching these were connected to Jamo's Concert C109 floorstanding loudspeakers ($7490 RRP) to form a very realistically priced system.

The Concert C109 is a 3-way bass reflex floorstanding speaker using two 7” woofers, a 7” midrange driver and a 1” decoupled tweeter that sounds remarkably accurate, and is available in High Gloss Black, High Gloss White and Walnut Veneer finishes with satin-painted MDF baffles for a premium, contemporary appearance.


The full lap of Level 21 was completed at the Audio Note (UK) room hosted by distributor Brian (guru) of Finn Bespoke Technology, a regular StereoNET member, and his lovely wife Catherine.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from hearing Audio Note and in particular, Brian’s demonstrations, is that he has a keen ear for good sound and a minimalist approach to audio; think, less-is-more.

Everything played was simply sublime with a synergy unmatched by virtually all other rooms.

I admit to being largely unfamiliar with the Audio Note product range but Brian’s choice of speakers for this show were the AN-E SPE HE which sell for $14,000 in the beautiful high-gloss Palisander rosewood finish.

Electronic companions included Audio Note TT3.05 turntable, CD-4.1x CD Player, and OTE SE Signature amplifier which produces a humble 10 watts per channel.

I’m told Brian even made the table/rack himself just for showcasing the products at this event. Dedicated.


Down, but certainly not out, Level 2 was where the action was. As the main level for entry to the show the boardrooms and conference rooms served as the premier spaces for those exhibitors.


One of Australia’s most well-known retailers, Sydney based Audio Connection proved they know high-end like no other. In a room fit for a King, brands including Wilson Audio, Nagra, Nordost, Dan D’Agostino and more are fittingly considered HiFi royalty.

With timed demonstrations across the weekend, Australian distributor Advance Audio, and their Operations Manager, Nigel Ng, expertly delivered presentations of Wilson Audio’s Alexia Series 2 in gloss black, and Alexx in bold blue. What more can be said about Wilson Audio other than if you can afford them, just buy them. Ownership is still firmly atop my audio ‘bucket list’.

I sat in on one of the Nordost USB cable and Sort Kone demonstrations. An A/B/C/D type demonstration it started with the same track and volume played on a cheap USB printer cable connected to the DAC, and then proceeded to step up across the Nordost USB cable range.

The audible difference between a cheap printer cable to the entry-level Nordost cable was night and day, with the remaining cable upgrades at each step an incremental improvement. It wasn’t until the jump from the top Valhalla 2 Reference USB cable back to the cheap printer cable however that you realise just how much difference there is. Night, Day, Chalk, Cheese, and all that.

A similar demonstration of the Sort Kones, a directly coupled and mechanically tuned resonance control device which is said to use a sophisticated new approach to the problem of supporting sensitive electronics, was also enlightening. The brief demonstration of with, and without the Sort Kones under a dcs CD Player was enough for me to order a set then and there.


Krix is arguably one of Australia’s most successful home-grown brands on a world-level with their cinema speakers featuring in more than 80% of Australian commercial cinemas. Then there’s the rest of the world too.

Touted as the ‘wall of sound’, Krix offered a unique demonstration of a complete built-in LCR cinema speaker system for acoustically transparent screens.

In a purpose built modular wall they powered up their Series MX system to show the sheer scale and dynamics that you can experience in your own home cinema. For an investment of around $15,000 you can have a commercial cinema experience right at home with no speakers in sight and all completely hidden behind your cinema screen. In fact, I’d argue that the experience at home will be even more enjoyable than having to leave your home to experience it.

From one extreme to another, the second part of Krix’ demonstration shifted to the other side of the room to show off their brand new Esoterix 2-way standmount speaker.

After experiencing the wall of sound just moments before you expect to be a little underwhelmed at such a small loudspeaker. No joking, this little two-way complete with waveguide and dispersion controlled tweeter is among the best speakers I’ve ever heard. I’m cheating a little here as I got to hear it extensively at the Krix factory in Adelaide recently. Since then, Krix engineers had refined it even further and is it nears full production this is a loudspeaker everyone must audition.

The Esoterix standmount produces bass you wouldn’t think possible down so low, throws a soundstage wider than you would think possible from a small speaker, and tonally is just oh so sweet.

I must confess, Krix had never been on my audiophile radar until I heard this loudspeaker. Standmount in size, floorstanding in sound and nature. Full production will start in September this year. I’m not one for handing out HiFi show awards, but the Krix Esoterix standmount speaker is certainly more than worthy. Outstanding.


I already knew what to expect entering Melbourne based distributor Pure Music Group’s room. We reviewed their Kii Audio KiiTHREE active loudspeaker only weeks prior to the show, and I’d also sat in on dealer training and a demonstration in Munich earlier this year.

Part of the new breed of HiFi manufacturers following an exclusively ‘active’ approach to loudspeaker design, they draw on the latest digital amplifier technology along with state of the art DSP processing.

While relatively new to the market and certainly less known to the market in Australia, KiiTHREE is cutting edge. In fact, it often requires the listener to recalibrate what a speaker with minimal distortion and a corrected response in room actually sounds like. The KiiTHREE were on song in Sydney and I believe this is a brand and product that will have a strong future.

Warwick and Rom’s room was well attended at all times and this type of product is certainly garnering more market interest.

Add a source and you’ve got a complete, state-of-the-art HiFi system that works just as well in small rooms as it does large for $15,950 RRP with dedicated stands.


I’m no vegetarian. When I was a kid I used to get in trouble at dinner time for eating all my vegetables and sides in order to save the entire piece of steak for last. And I’d still do it today if I sat down to eat a 2000 vintage cote de boeuf from Boucherie Polmard at $3200 a cut.

There’s a room that I’ve enjoyed immensely at every sitting I’ve had at shows gone by. Another Australian brand that by now needs little introduction, Kyron Audio.

Before this show I’d made my mind up that I would give the high-tech, open-baffle, digitally powered and DSP controlled speaker system much more attention. Mostly for selfish reasons, as I’m potentially a prospective future buyer as the Kronos ticks a couple of check boxes for my wants, needs and application. I was also keen to hear their newly added subwoofers.

I won’t delve into all the techy of Kyron Audio’s Kronos as that information is freely available online. What I will say though is that thanks to the inclusion of DEQX DSP within the Kyron Audio system, there’s not a time I’ve auditioned them that they haven’t clearly offered the best sound within the show. Each system is tuned specifically to the room in which they are installed which makes them highly flexible.

The combined efforts of Lee Gray and Leon Suter is a combination that is complimentary with end products that no one person could likely achieve. The marriage of industrial and audio design, system architecture combined with a true knowledge of music, its reproduction and realism both live and amplified, Kyron Audio is now enjoying a dedicated and loyal following around the world.

Much like my comments on Kii Audio, one must recalibrate what instruments sound like when corrected for phase, timing and distortion. That snap of a kick drum, the decay of the cymbals, the harmonics of a guitar. Remove the box from a speaker and it sounds far different to what we’ve been conditioned to.

While the look of Kronos may not be everyone, the mechanical engineer in me loves it. While the sound may not appeal to all, perhaps they’ve just not opened their mind enough yet? But when you listen, and I mean really listen to the Kronos, you actually stop listening like an audiophile and simply start appreciating the music again. At least, that’s what happened to me.

So once again Kyron Audio takes the accolade as the best sound at an Australian show in this writer’s opinion. If you do get the opportunity to hear Kyron Audio at a show or a private event don’t pass it up.


And as the final bell went and the last boxes were wheeled out of the InterContinental Hotel, Sydney, I was reminded of just how fortunate Australia is to have not only the very best brands in the world available on our market, but just how well our own local brands can hold their own against them. We should be damn proud of our home-grown brands.

While it’s great that the high-end of HiFi is alive and well there are also more emerging products that offer stagging performance for a modest outlay. HiFi products are essentially luxury goods but as vinyl spurred a revival of its own, the by-product of that is that HiFi itself is enjoying a revival as well.

Music lovers and HiFi enthusiasts get to do it all again in Melbourne later this year for the International HiFi Show, November 3rd-5th at the Pullman Mercure Hotel, Albert Park, Melbourne. Tickets are on sale now.


Marc Rushton's avatar

Marc Rushton

StereoNET’s Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.

Posted in: Hi-Fi Headphones Home Theatre Visual Lifestyle
Tags: australian hifi show 

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