47 Labs show report of X-fi High-End 2011

Sead, owner of Konus Audio (47 Labs Distributor for Europe) and Kimura San (47 Labs owner and designer) were both present at the X-fi High-End Audioshow 2011. Sead made a nice show report which you’ll find below, many thanks!

Dear friends and colleagues,

As promised, here are some of my impressions from Utrecht X-Fi Show and our presentation there.

First, I think Caspar has done a great job with organization of this show. It has grown a lot since last year and in that has gained additional relevance.

There was plenty of exhibitors and as well plenty of visitors and in that sense it has come out of the, what could be called a “local show”.

Emotionally, I love smaller shows but business-wise, this format is better.

As the size of the show has grown, so has the presence of 47Labs – this year we had two rooms.

A bit of showing off but in all reality we had to do it as we were presenting two new lines, both deserving to be in focus in their own terms.

We had two rooms, a logistics nightmare by definition (although it all went well), Junji and I were dealing with room where Midnight Blue / Lens were playing and Kaz Tsukahara was, with great help from WIlko, taking care of 47Treasure / Konus Essence room.

As some of you may know, this occasion was my first contact with many of the products we were demoing and, frankly I had my fears. Lots of them. But, as the show was progressing, those fears were lesser and lesser and I must say that I was rather pleased with both products and the way we had them presented. Perhaps we could have burned in Lens with Al-Ni-Co a little bit more before the show but that was really a minor thing that most of show visitors could not notice anyway.

In selection of speakers, which to go in which room, I did not interfere (as I did not want to favorize either) and Junji has decided to have Essence to support 47Treasure and Lenk MKII (AL-Ni-Co) to play with Midnight Blue.

In general, we have put more emphasis on 47Treasure room, as we were more confident Midnight Blue will be up to the task (as we already had experience with it in the shows).

So, we had really lots of new products! We had to move aside some of 47Treasure thingies as they were creating visual chaos on the shelf!

First, Midnight Blue room.

Lens MkII sounds very rich and much more refined than previous version that you all know. It has a full body in the presentation, but certainly it would benefit from burn-in (which is a long process with Al-Ni-Co speakers anyway) as it would be more open (which is my preference in any case). As usual, people were going around looking for subwoofer, which is kind of lame…

Eventhough hotel is completely surrounded by concrete buildings and we only had wire to improvise an antenna, we were playing quite some FM radio. It was funny to see reactions from visitors who were listening to tuner thinking they were listening to CD when here and there radio announcer voice would come through speakers! I am so proud of this tuner and I was really glad to hear that it is a real bestseller in Japan. Long live FM!

CD Player was a completely new thing for me and I was shocked listening to it and, mind you, I have experience with good CD replay. Midnight Blue CD player/transport is a serious CD playing machine by any criteria and by any price range! Since we could use it with both it’s integrated DAC as well as with DAC built in the preamplifier, my choice at first listen was it’s own DAC – more dynamic and more authority, although using dac from the preamp was also exceptionally good (some liked it better that way but I have decided the other way, hehehe).

Midnight Blue preamp. Some of you know it and some of you don’t know it and you are not aware what you’ve been missing – it is a very flexible and very good unit which now, with exceptionally good power amp (60W at 4Ohm) makes a perfect match.

Yes, poweramp, even it got me many grey hairs in anticipation of it’s release to the market, was something that was worth waiting for.

We played the first day preamp/poweramp and the second day we played Midnight Blue integrated amplifier. Of course, preamp/poweramp combo was sounding considerably better but we had many, many great compliments the second day when we were playing only integrated amplifier.

All in all, as I have told you earlier, my heart is with Midnight Blue.

47Treasure was a complete news to me (except for 0147 which I had for about a year but in black finish which is waaaaay less attractive than this new finish).

Yes, I must say that photos don’t do justice to either but even more so to Midnight Blue, which is really eye catching in flesh.47Treasure has lots of products but I think what is interesting is CD player, preamp with USB DAC and power amp. The rest (passive volume with USB DAC, passive volume and headphone amp/preamp) may appeal to some but I don’t feel they will have that much appeal to an average customer.

Sound we had with Essence was exceptional and it was a joy for me to come into this room every time Kaz was not playing bizarre Japanese tunes, when Wilko was there to play some “real” music. 🙂

Junji was super cool and very relaxed. He got married with Mitchiko san recently and it shows on him!

We have enjoyed a variety of Belgian beers and even some Dutch beers… but mostly Belgian.

I wish more of you could come as we really had good time together. I thank Volker for coming. And, I thank Wilko and Caspar for their kind hospitality.

Next year!

Cheers, Sead

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