Aylesbury Roadshow 2014 - Report

Hearing Was Believing!

Manufacturers can make great claims about their products and reviewers can wax lyrical, but it's not always a guarantee that you'll like what you hear.

We went a stage further a few years ago by starting our 'home trial' loan scheme so you could hear our products in your own home - giving you the chance to give them a proper audition - removing the odds of you buying something you'd not be satisfied with.

The loan programs are run by volunteers who are enthusiastic about our products, and that's done through our online forum - join and you are able to use that service.

But still, when buying anything it's good to see the faces of the people doing the talking, so this year we decided to take as many products as we could on the road in the UK.

Our first Road Show event happened on the 29th May 2014 at the Holiday Inn, Weston Turville near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

Not only was it a good opportunity to hear our products in action, it also brought our Forum 'to life' with some of our most prolific contributors attending and being on-hand to advise visitors. It also enabled members to introduce themselves to each other for the first time.

With our staff being a bit thin on the ground - there was just me, John and Ryan - our experienced 'owners' helped us man and demonstrate our headphone amplifier range in the Christie suite - something I was very grateful for!

In the Olivier suite we had nearly the entire range of Phono Amps, the Bitzie USB and Majestic DACs, and the Proprius 'mini' monoblock power amplifiers, and I delivered four presentations during the day, assisted by my production director John Cadman.

As with hi-fi shows in general, demonstrating using loudspeakers in an unknown room presents its own challenge: it's quite difficult to control room resonances, and you sometimes just have to make a few compromises. Even so the feedback from those who were there showed we'd got a good sound going.

You can read what Forum members thought about the presentations, demonstrations, the sound and everything else about the day starting here.

We shouldn't forget that hi-fi listening is often all those who suffer disabilities have as an interest or hobby. We made sure those wheelchair-bound got an equal opportunity of having an enjoyable day by carefully choosing the venue to have the right facilities - something we'll be doing every time we do one of our independent shows!

Amongst the visitors we had a couple of members of the hi-fi press - from Hi-Fi World and What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision. We're hoping they'll spread the word about our Road Shows in their future editions. OK, the sound was show quality which can never be perfect but we hope they'll have the experience to take that into account.

Here is a list of third party equipment used in the demonstrations:

  • Stirling Broadcast LS3/5a and AB2 (bass sub) loudspeakers
  • Technics SL12xx MKII turntables
  • Denon DL103 MC cartridge
  • Grado Sonata 1 MI cartridge
  • Ortofon 2M Black MM cartridge
  • Audio Technica AT150 ANV MM cartridge
  • Fujitsu Lifebook Laptops running Foobar 2000 on Windows 7 OS
  • Marantz CD6005 CD player
  • Cambridge NP30 network player
  • Sennhesier HD600, HD800 and HD250II headphones
  • AKG K701 headphones
  • Plus other headphones brought in by members and visitors, such as Audeze LCD-2, HD650, Denon 7000, Grado PS1000e and SR325e

I'll close this report with a few quotes taken from the Forum Road Show topic...

Thanks to all who attended!
Graham


The demonstrations were informative, fascinating and entertaining... The ability of Graham's phono stages to extract the music from even low grade vinyl was more than ably demonstrated. This trait also extends to the Bitzie and Majestic, both of which proved extremely musical with a wide variety of files fed from a laptop via USB connection

What came across very strongly was the quality of the equipment

Plenty of foot tapping and head nodding. Even my wife enjoyed it

Each of the phono amps performed as customers of Graham would expect; all very capable but improving slightly with each incremental step up the chain

One of the Majestic owners I was talking to (sorry, can't remember who) agreed with the general consensus that the DAC was a very analogue-sounding digital device...

Had a great day at the ROADSHOW... The Demo of the Amps pre Amps and Dacs etc were impressive...

One of the Phono Amp and DAC presentations

The 'speaker room' equipment

Headphone amp discussions and auditions

The 'headphone room' equipment

Some of the members of the Graham Slee Forum

A chance for Forum members and visitors to meet up

All photos are courtesy of Forum members and Graham Slee staff