Kantata Audio Autumn Event Show Report, 28th September 2019


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Kantata Audio decided to hold an Autumn Event, last Saturday (at the time I write this) 28th, September, 2019 to launch two new brands, one new to Northern Ireland Auralic and one that hasn’t had representation in NI for a long time, Amphion. While this show was smaller than their first launch event it was perfectly formed, and provided me with several hours of interesting chat with distributors and  pleasurable listening.

Once again the Crowne Plaza, Shaws Bridge, Belfast was the venue and the same rooms used as last time, a definite plus as they worked well with the choice of electronics and speakers last time and did so again this time.


The Hall 


The layout to this mini show was similar to the last one, with a welcoming table on the right side of the entrance, with price lists and product information on the left oposite the welcoming station, further along the hall a desk top system was on display and playing music.

Hall System 


The system in the hall was made up of the following items: Bluesound Powernode 2i £799, AQ Rocket 11 speaker cable, Amphion Argon0 loudspeakers £720. AQ NRG – Y3 power cable. Standard ethernet cable, Music streamed from memory stick plugged into Powernode.


BlueSound  say this about the PowerNode 2i….

‘Borrowing state-of-the-art technologies from our award-winning sister company, NAD Electronics, the POWERNODE 2 can do everything the NODE 2 can do, plus effortlessly drive your choice of speakers. With the same zero-distortion audio signature we’ve become known for, the POWERNODE 2 allows you to take your favorite tracks to new levels. Permission to turn it up, granted.


  • Stream music to multiple Bluesound Players all over the home
  • Access and connect to internet radio stations, cloud music services, and your own local music library
  • Control music wirelessly with an intuitive Controller App for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Windows & Mac OS X desktops
  • Instinctive touch control on unit
  • Simple setup, easily expandable
  • Innovative digital amplifier
  • Available in Black or White’ 
  • More info here https://www.bluesound.com/products-archive/powernode-2/

The Powernode was partnered up with Amphion’s Argon 0 speakers. Amphion say this about these speakers…..

‘ Good things come in small packages

When your ear does not want to compromise, but aesthetics or space call for the smallest possible loudspeaker, Argon0 might be the answer. The Argon0 desktop loudspeaker employs premium design and components. The only modest thing about it is its looks. Argon0 home audio speaker is the smaller brother of the Argon1.

Shortlist an Argon0 if you are in the market for a world-class, mini home audio speaker for a small room or a desktop setup. Argon0 is a great choice if you intend to build a full-range 2.1 or 5.1 reference home theater system. Connect it to your TV and enjoy the whole media content a modern television offers in an easy and interactive way. Reference-quality midrange resolution leads to enjoyable clarity even at the lowest listening levels.


As with its bigger brother, the Argon0 is one of the most natural, neutral-sounding home audio speakers commercially available. A very high level of transparency means that you can hear deeper into your favourite recordings. Even if Argon0 benefits from a first-rate signal chain, surprising results can also be achieved with reasonably modest amplifiers.

Our busy daily routine often makes it difficult to find the time to enjoy our high-end systems. The small Argon0 home audio loudspeaker offers you an appealing alternative. The studio-grade nearfield performance of Argon0 desktop loudspeakers creates enjoyable opportunities to dive into the pleasures of high-end computer audio.’ 


This compact set up was producing a very engaging sound, which I enjoyed, but it was only later on during my visit when I heard just how good the Argon0 speakers are, when I heard them in the system being played in the Balsam Room – more on this later.

Juniper Room – Auralic 


On the left hand side of the hall, when entering the show, Auralic were showing off some new products and a few already established ones. This system used Hegel amplification and Amphion floor standing speakers in the form of the Argon 7LS, which were also being used in the main Amphion room. As this was the case I will leave commenting on these speakers to my coverage of that room.


The full system on demonstration was the following: Auralic Aries G2 streamer, Audioquest Diamond HDMI cable used as Lightning Link, Auralic Vega G2 being used as a DAC only (Auralic Altair G1 sometimes slotted in for demos replacing the Aries G1 / G2), Audioquest Water RCA to RCA interconnect, Hegel H590 being used as an integrated amplifier – the built in DAC and streamer were redundant in this case. Audioquest Rocket 44 speaker cable. Amphion Argon 7LS loudspeakers, Audioquest Vodka ethernet cables, Audioquest NRG -Y3 power cables, Musicworks Relex ‘Lite’ IEC Power Distribution Block , Musicworks ReEntry power cable. (Music was streamed from an Auralic Mini with built in hard drive). A Custom Design Milan Reference 10, 2 Shelf stand was used for the equipment.

AIHFA3228_560x420Kantata Audio has recently introduced Auralic to their portfolio of products, never before on demonstration in Northern Ireland, and exclusive to them. Richard of Auralic was a delight to talk to, someone who has been in the audio trade for a long time, our paths probably having crossed in the past, but neither of us recalled the other. He spent a fair bit of time talking to me about Auralic and their products and was very kind to demo the system with music I was familar with, namely tracks from the Daft Punk album – Random Access Memories.

Auralic say this about their origins –

‘AURALiC was conceived in 2008 amidst the strains of beautiful music. That’s when founders Xuanqian Wang and Yuan Wang met at the Waldbühne Berlin Festival. Their shared appreciation of music and their perfectly complimentary skillsets were the foundation for an inevitable collaboration, and in 2009 AURALiC was born.

Built around the idea that true hi-fi should be accessible to everyone, AURALiC today enjoys a worldwide reputation for innovative digital and analog components that sound as great as they look. We build devices that help you explore digital streaming, discover new music, and share experiences with friends. They connect your home by delivering high-resolution music to every room, and make novel use of your mobile devices to take control of it all.

Combining progressive technologies that deliver on the promise of modern digital formats with revitalized analog circuitry and hardware rooted in classic designs, AURALiC is always creating new ways to bring you closer to the music than ever.’ 

On demonstration in the room were the following products from Auralic.


An Aries G2 streamer £3899. Auralic say this about this product – ‘With the flexibility to connect to everything, the intelligence to control your musical world with a touch, and the power to deliver an exceptional signal, the ARIES G2 Wireless Streaming Transporter is the most technologically advanced, best-sounding way to bring high performance audiophile streaming to your home audio system that we’ve ever created. Whether your digital favorites reside on your local network, USB drives, streaming services like TIDAL and Qobuz, or Internet Radio, the ARIES G2 manages every connection so you can explore your entire digital universe right from our Lightning DS control app and take advantage of features like On-Device Playlists, Memory Caching, Gapless Playback and Bit-Perfect Multi-Room functionality. With a supercharged hardware platform, the ARIES G2 has got the power to build an astonishingly pure, bit-perfect stream for music formats up to DSD512 over Wi-Fi for truly exceptional sound performance. Whether on its own or matched with other G Series devices from AURALiC, the ARIES G2 redefines audio connectivity and performance.’

Auralic G2 streamer back_560x261









ARIES G2 Details –https://us.auralic.com/products/aries-g2


An Auralic Vega G2 Streaming DAC £5499 was also being demonstrated within the room. Auralic have this to say about the Vega G2 – ‘From the addition of integrated streaming to its unique casework, the VEGA G2 is transforming the idea of what a DAC can be. Every aspect of the VEGA G2’s engineering has been designed to push the boundaries of sonic performance, reshaping data into vibrant musical performance — but its sound engineering is only half the story. The completely revamped architecture of the VEGA G2 combines high-end DAC performance and feature-rich streaming, emerging as a complete digital music solution for your home audio system. VEGA G2 streaming is based on the Lightning Streaming framework, so favorite AURALiC features like On-Device Playlists, Memory Caching, Gapless Playback and Bit-Perfect Multi-Room are all at your fingertips. With support for every audiophile format and resolution up to DSD512, the stellar VEGA G2 is the embodiment of what high—resolution digital music can be.’

VEGA G2 Details –https://us.auralic.com/products/vega-g2

ALTAIR-G1-Top-1024x683_560x374And this about the Altair G1 £1899 –‘The new ALTAIR G1 distills AURALiC’s proprietary technologies and features in to a high-performance DAC and streamer built to exacting standards within a substantial aluminum case. As an entry point to the AURALiC ecosystem, the ALTAIR G1 offers a comprehensive number of features and functions. Music can be sourced from virtually any source – locally stored files on your network, Internet radio, Airplay™, Bluetooth, USB drive, an optional integrated hard drive or a playlist of favorites from a subscription-based streaming service such as Qobuz or TIDAL. Control is via either the proprietary Lightning DS appor the manual intuitive control on the front panel with all functions clearly shown on the high-resolution 4″ colour display. Completing the ALTAIR G1’s extensive feature set: full wireless utility, smart IR control learning, and an advanced digital volume control.’

ALTAIR G1 Details –https://us.auralic.com/products/altair-g1



Within a very short space of time I was impressed with the sound in the room. I had had a good listen a couple of times when the room had been full and during a lull I was offered a choice of listening material, and chose Daft Punk’s album, Random Access Memories, and a track I know very well Giorgio by Moroder.


The mixture of Auralic, Hegel, and Amphion with Audio Quest speaker cables and signal cables sounded effortless, and had a presentation that was both open and detailed with good spactial resolution. The track begins with Giorgio relating tales of his early entry into the music industry, making music and developing the things that make his unique sound. The spoken voice was solid and dimensional. The instrumentation ebbed and flowed with great separation and it was easy to listen into the elements of the track. When things got going towards the end of the track the system held on tightly and despite the presentation being a little forward and slightly loud for my taste, however, at no point did it become unpleasant. I didn’t ask for it to be turned down a little because I have often found that a systems ability to keep things in focus and musical can collapse and the Auralic, Hegel Amphion pairing did no such thing, it was simply louder, not unmusical or unpleasant.

I was impressed by the synergy on show, at one point I said what I was hearing was among the best sounds I had heard at a show. Sure not the most detailed, or biggest, deepest soundstage, or the most bass, but music sounded musical, detailed, spacious, dynamic and any sins were those of omission not commission and any were slight, not major. As I sat listening the ebb and flow, pace and rhythm had my feet tapping and head bobbing along, at the same time enjoying the spacious soundstage and very good instrument separation and detail retrieval. If I had to describe the way this system presented music I would say just to the slightly warmer side of neutral.


Excited by what I had heard in this room, I was looking forward to hearing how the system in the room across from this one sounded, and that is where I headed next.

Balsam Room – Hegel, Amphion, Auralic


The system on demonstration in this room comprised of the following items: Auralic Aries G1 streamer, Audioquest Carbon USB cable, Hegel H390 integrated amplifier (built in streamer redundant in this case) Auqioquest Rocket 33 speaker cable.Amphion Argon 7LS loudspeakers with occasional demos of Argon3LS, Argon1 and Argon0 loudspeakers. Audioquest Cinnamon ethernet cables  Audioquest NRG – Z3 power cables, Musicworks Reflex Ultra Gen3 Power Distribution Block, Musicwroks ReVive ‘Lite’ power cable (Music streamed from USB hard drive attached to Aries G1) A Custom Design Milan Reference 10, 2 Shelf stand was used for the equipment.


While visiting this room I heard a nice selection of music and a comparison between the Amphion Argon7LS and the much smaller Argon0 stand mount speakers. This comparison was very interesting indeed. Before revealing my listening impressions I will give Amphion space to talk about the 7LS speakers (the Argon0 mentioned above) ….

‘The Argon7LS floorstanding loudspeaker is the largest model in Amphion’s Argon family of high-end home audio speakers. Argon7LS follows the trend of employing design and technologies from our professional studio monitor line. This approach provides extremely natural, transparent, and precise sound reproduction with deep emotional impact. Argon7LS ‘floorstanders’ deliver an exceptionally precise imaging and wide sweet spot, keeping the sound well-balanced even when you move around the room.

argon_7ls_standardwhite_mainArgon7LS uses a passive radiator design which is also present in all Amphion studio monitors as well as Argon3S and Argon3LS home audio loudspeakers. Passive radiators eliminate the known problems associated with reflex cabinets, where the correct signal is always followed by an unwanted tail. Argon7LS design creates a more natural energy transfer, providing the listener with an improved physical connection to the music, even on lower listening levels.

Just like all Amphion loudspeaker models, Argon7LS uses the company’s signature approach to crossover design. Placed at 1600 Hz, the crossover is located outside the most sensitive human hearing range, allowing the use of the tweeter in that area, where our hearing is most perceptive. This way the speakers perform as point-sources, solving the problems we generally experience with coaxial or dual concentric designs, where the tweeter is housed in the moving “waveguide” ie. the woofer. The specifically designed waveguide creates an even dispersion, allowing you to immerse yourself into a room-wide sweet spot.

Amphion’s acoustic design together with the unique approach to crossover implementation, have proven their value in some of the finest recording, mixing, mastering, and postproduction facilities around the globe. Argon7LS loudspeaker uses very similar technologies and is fine-tuned for home use. This makes them the perfect alternative for audio enthusiasts who want to experience their recordings as the producer and artist intended.’


There were a number of other Amphion Argon speakers on static display within the room: the aforementioned Argon0, as well as the Argon1 £1040, Argon3S £1720 stand mount speakers and the smaller floor standers the L3S £2520 Which I understand were used on a number of occasions during the day. There is more information on Amphion’s website regarding these speakers.



This room was very busy during the time I was at the show, with a constant stream of people, so I was delighted when an opportunity came to take the centre position on the sofa, and have a good listen to the 7LS speakers, being driven by the new Hegel 390 £4900 (1) amplifier and music supplied by an Auralic Aries G1, Audio Quest cabling was also used in this room.

AIHFA3287_560x420After a number of tracks, covering a wide range of genres (including music by Ray Charles) a Miles Davis album started playing, Sketches From Spain. The soundstage was wide, and deep, imaging pin point, each instrument in its own 3 dimensional space, nicely separated. The acoustic and instruments spread was beautifully presented. Mile’s trumpet had great bite but was not harsh or gritty. When the music got going the Hegel 390 and Amphion 7LS  worked very well together, though looking to the right of the system, at the H590 on static display I did wonder how that amp would be with the Miles Davis music playing through this set up and in this room. I don’t say that as a slight on the H390, simply wondering how the H590 would sound.


It was nice to meet Bill Leigh of Auden Distribution, distributor of Amphion in the UK, and UK agent for Hegel once again, and he very kindly offered to let me hear the Argon0 speakers, and after a few minutes of setting them up he put Sketches of Spain on again. While the scale was somewhat smaller, had less weight, the overall sound was very similar to how it had been with the much larger Argon 7LS speakers. Imaging was pin point, the focus and detail very impressive, as was the bass and dynamics from what was a much smaller speaker. I would say that if space is limited, a 3LS or 7LS too big for your room, or budget restricted then the Argon0 at £720, plus a good pair of speaker stands is a bit of a bargain in my opinion.



AIHFA2276_560x420Well John Stirling of Kantata Audio has done it again, he is on to a bit of a winner in my view re these products and using these rooms at the Cowne Plaza hotel. I was impressed back in March and this event while slightly smaller was no less impressive. I enjoyed meeting Bill Leigh again and Richard of Auralic for the first time. Well done gentlemen, and those others who helped in set up and welcoming visitors. Great event, I look forward to the next one.




(1) – https://www.hegel.com/products/integrated/h390


Here is some video footage taken on the day by Richard of Auralic – 



Auralic –https://us.auralic.com/

Auden Distribution (Amphion) –http://www.audendistribution.co.uk/

Audio Quest – https://www.audioquest.com/

Blue Sound – https://www.bluesound.com/

Custom Design – https://www.customdesign.co.uk/

Hegel –https://www.hegel.com/


© Text Copyright 2019 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio, except manufactuers highlighted text. All photos Adventures in High Fidelity Audio, except manufactuer images and Kantata Audio Images. 

NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced, re published/posted or quoted without written permission from Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.Com. Doing so without permission is Copyright Theft. 

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