Ascot, September 2023
Press Day was quiet on the Friday 29th of this three day Hi Fi show, which suited us just fine, enjoying great exhibits and many almost private demos. The glassy Ascot venue sparkled in the morning sunshine and as we decoded our notes we were guided along and down the many terraces of this famous grandstand. We headed up to the top terrace for Absolute Sounds seeking new prestige product launches from the likes of Robert Koda, Constellation, Wilson Audio and Magico, to name but a few.
With a huge arena for static displays of their massive range of brands Absolute Sounds also fielded two substantial demonstration rooms highlighting Magico and Wilson Audio. I had experienced Dave Wilson’s first version (the WATT-PUPPY) in the mid 1980’s, and have now, albeit temporarily, experienced the latest incarnation which for some years now has been dubbed the Sasha, and is presented in Version V. I felt that the inclusion of classic Alnico magnet formulation driving the voice coil contributed to the sweet, yet transparent midrange, bringing this quality which we heard to be so well expressed in the towering XVX. At times two matching subs were added, adding scale and air but seemingly without an obvious increase in bass per se; subtle stuff this. The dynamics on the Peter McGrath piano recording were stunning with this latest Sasha.
In a huge room the Klipsch Cornwall three-way horn design was king. Dynamic yet relaxed, I have never heard them better, really natural seemingly effortless dynamics and well balanced , they loved this space. (Henly)
Paul McGowan of PS Audio had come over from the States to personally demonstrate his flagship loudspeaker the PSB Aspen AR30 which benefits from unusual thinking, employing a varied range of custom planar drivers. I am glad I did not know this in advance, as the sound quality was truly impressive with very low coloration. Timbre was natural while this speaker simply got out of the way of the music played, which is just as it should be. I was not sure what to expect with more than eleven ‘drivers’ per channel, but the result was truly impressive, not just for the excellent dynamic range and very wide bandwidth, but also for the fine image focus and seemingly effortless recovery of the finer structures in the music chosen.
Bowers and Wilkins
Some rooms were still closed when I visited, others had private dealer demonstrations, understandably as this was the trade day. I had aimed to catch some highlights and enjoyed what I heard. My apologies to those I was unable to visit.