Dealer Visit – Kantata Audio

It has been a policy of mine to not write about dealer visits as such, as I wanted to keep Adventures in HiFi Audio as non commercial as possible, no advertising, and I have attempted to keep the audio trade at arms length, despite my having once earn’t a living by being in the trade, both specialist audio and brown goods, and knowing a number of audio trade personalities. My reason for this is to try and keep AIHFA clean re accusations of shilling, biased/paid for reviews and the usual things that get brought up on forums re how ‘bent/corrupt’ the magazines and industry are.

I write AIHFA for my enjoyment and over the years it mostly has been, there have been moments it hasn’t been fun, industry shenanigans (1), annoyance at my not ‘playing the game’ (2) and more recently reviewer/writer burn out. However this year, so far, I feel my reviewing/writing energy starting to return, and as such I feel that not only will I include record stores, as I have in the past, but also audio dealers from time to time – if I am suitably impressed by what they do and they can offer something different for their potential customers.


Kantata Audio – Lisburn, Northern Ireland


I received an invite to a new to me dealer a little while ago, and after thinking about the invite I decided to pay them a visit, take some photos and if suitably impressed maybe write about that experience.

Based on the outer edges of Lisburn, near Belfast, Kantata Audio have opted to conduct their business in a domestic situation, so the products they represent are presented in actual living room environments, as they might be used.


The usual dealer model is high street or designed space locations, and while that is one way to do it, the advantage of from a domestic location is you hear gear in real rooms, and there is space and time to hear equipment with minimal distractions, that other locations can generate.



043_1369x492Kantata Audio is owned and run by John Stirling, who started of in the trade by selling used equipment, and then more recently he has moved into retailing quality new products. I did not know him, nor had I heard of Kantata Audio before he contacted me to tell me about the Launch Show he was holding at the Crowne Plaza back in March 2019 (3) a show I attended and enjoyed.

John has chosen to concentrate on a select range of brands, most of which have not been seen in Northern Ireland before: Analogue Works, Aqua Acoustics, AudioQuest, Custom Design, Hegel Audio Systems, Innuos, Jelco, Kudos, Lejonklou, Metrum Acoustics and Track Audio.

The Visit 

I visited Kantata Audio on a typical late winters day and was immediately impressed by the welcome I received, and how John had set his products up. We talked for awhile and he explained his story and how Kantata Audio had come into existence. He was knowledgeable regarding audio in general and the brands/products he represents. John also came across as being warm, friendly and not in any way shape or form as being pushy, or a typical sales man.

He gave me a tour of the listening spaces, typical domestic rooms and allowed me time to listen to the systems, something I enjoyed a lot.

Main Room

The main room is just to the right of the entrance way to Kantata Audio, its a large well decorated room with high ceilings and gave the audio equipment within a nice even sound. The acoustic was not too live and bass was extended and deep, but not boomy.

I listened to a number of pieces of music via this system including tracks from Dead Can Dance – Into The Labyrinth, and a lovely album new to me from Boris Blank & Malia called Convergence.  These were played on the following system: Innuos Zenith Music Server/streamer, Aqua La Voce S2 DAC, Lejonklou Sagatun 1.4 pre amp, Lejonklou Tundra 2.5 power amp, Kudos Audio Titan 707 loudspeakers, Audioquest Niagara 5000 power conditioner +Audioquest Tornado mains cable to wall outlet (For Innuos and Aqua only), Audioquest NRG-Z3 power cables on Innuos and Aqua), Audioquest Water Interconnects, Audioquest Diamond USB cable and Audioquest Castle Rick Speaker Cable. I also heard these tracks via a Hegal Audio H360 integrated amplifier.

I have not heard any of these products before, and whether it was the Hegal H360 amplifying or the Lejonklou pre-power I very much enjoyed the music being played.






Music played on this system had a deep wide soundstage, lovely instrument separation, and retrieval of detail, bass was extended with very nice articulation. The midrange and treble was also beautifully reproduced. Overall very enjoyable.

Secondary Room 


The system in the second room comprised of the following: Hegel Rost integrated amplifier, Hegel H90 integrated amplifier, Analogue Works Zero, fitted with a Jelco 750D tonearm. Innuos Zen Mini music server / streamer / DAC , Lejonklou Boazu integrated amp, Audio Physic Classic 15 loudspeakers with upgraded bases., Audioquest Yukon interconnects and Audioquest Rocket 44 speaker cable.



This room is down the entrance hall, from the main listening room and to the left. Its much smaller than the main room and yet it also produced very nice sound. On this system I listened to various music, via the Analogue Works turntable, Innous server and amplified by the Hegal H90 and Lejonklou Boazu integrated amplifiers.




035_1492x369I was not sure what to expect of Kantata Audio, being honest, and was very pleasantly surprised regarding the quality of the visit, sound and presentation of the products in the rooms, and John himself.

I left having enjoyed myself, having had fun, and feeling fairly certain that anyone looking to do business with John would be dealt with fairly, professionally and in a friendly non pushy way, no hard sales here.

Kantata Audio are well worth contacting if you are looking for quality HiFi.




Kantata Audio- https://www.kantata-audio.co.uk

FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/kantataaudio/

Contact Details – [email protected]
Phone: 028 9260 7882/7990 910227


(1) Having barely finished prototypes passed off as being finished products. Then finding out my review was part of their development process. Not on my watch. One particular company I will no longer take emails from after this happened.

(2) A few dealers/distributors hated my saying how their rooms sounded at shows, to the point of hostile emails and confrontations at shows. My response was simply I must be honest re how I heard your room sound. To not do so damages my credibility. If I say it sounds great and it didn’t, and visitors to the room thought it sounded poor and I state it sounds great, well that reduces/brings into doubt my ability to subjectively assess sound. I won’t compromise my views re what I hear, if its mediocre I will say so.

(3) Adventures in HiFi Audio Show report of that event – http://www.adventuresinhifiaudio.com/02/04/2019/kantata-audio-show-case-show-crowne-plaza-hotel-saturday-23rd-march-2019/


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