Kantata Audio – Show Case Show – Crowne Plaza Hotel Saturday 23rd March 2019


I am not long returned from the Kantata Audio Launch Event, Show Case Show, which happened today on the outskirts of Belfast at the Crowne Plaza hotel. It has been awhile since I last attended an audio show in person, and its been well over 5 years since there has been any kind of high end audio show in Northern Ireland, so l was delighted to learn there was a show happening on my very own doorstep, on the 23rd of March – one that I would definitely attend.

Travelling to Shaws Bridge under blue skies and on a warmish March day I arrived at the venue just after the opening time. The show was on the secod floor of the hotel in the conference centre, and Kantata Audio had taken over an area comprising a wide hall with four large conference rooms: Juniper, Balsam, and Cottonwood (one room was not in use) and the hall area. These rooms as it turned out were ideal for the use they were put to on this occasion, with all three being kind to the audio equipment.

Despite this being a small show I was there from 12pm to after 2pm, finding out more about the equipment, talking with distributors and manufacturers, and listening to what was being exhibited.

The Hall


Access to the show was via a separate door on the second floor of the hotel, which had a large Kantata Audio sign outside. The hotel Conference Centre was nicely laid out for this, with access to this area from a large circular landing, at the top of the stairs.


Entering the show I was welcome by Kantata Audio’s welcoming staff, and after some pleasantries I had a look at the items on static display in the hall area opposite the welcoming area first, and then worked my way up the hall looking at the other items on display.

There was on the right hand side, half way up the hall, a working system which I had a listen to as well. So first up the Hall System.

Hall System


The Hall System comprised of a Hegel Rost integrated amplifier £2200, Audio Physic Classic 15 glass speakers £2790, Audio Quest DragonFly Red £170, Audio Quest Victoria 3.5 to RCA cable £289.


Despite being in the hall and not set up in a dedicated room, the quality of sound reproduction was very good. I rate the DragonFly Red DAC £170 highly (1) as a source and was not surprised to hear this set up sounding so nice.


Hegel Rost amplifier £2200

023_550x412Hegel say this about the Rost…..

‘Röst is the first of Hegel’s next generation integrated amplifiers. It represents everything that Hegel has learned about amplifier design and is a showcase for all of their latest technologies. The Hegel Röst combines an integrated amplifier with a built-in DAC and streamer. With 75 watts per channel and a damping factor in excess of 2,000, it offers enough power and grip to drive all but the most challenging loudspeakers. It offers single ended and balanced analogue inputs, coax, optical and USB digital inputs, as well as built-in AirPlay and UPnP/DLNA streaming.’

Also part of this system the Classic 15 glass £2790  speakers, offering a modern look to the loudspeaker. Audio Physic say this about the Classic 15…..

APclassic_15_2018_white_frontMaturity is a particular type of strength – the CLASSIC 15 presents itself as a loudspeaker that excels in its class through technical innovations, intelligent detail solutions and elegant styling, while sonically achieving an impressive degree of maturity. The results you will find highly convincing.

The two and a half-way system operates on a ventilated volume. The reflex port is located in the enclosure’s bottom plate above the solid plinth and radiates downwards, allowing for a uniform coupling to the room. The set-up therefore is uncomplicated. Flow noise, like you often have with classic reflex tubes, is entirely unknown to the CLASSIC 15, as the actual reflex opening is formed by an extremely stiff, fine-pored ceramic plate.

The CLASSIC 15’s technological maturity expresses itself through its driver technology. For the first time, the world’s unique AUDIO PHYSIC dual basket design is being used also in the CLASSIC series. This groundbreaking design drastically reduces the mechanical transmission of micro-vibrations between drivers and enclosure.

Woofer and mid-woofer are both equipped with cones made of glass fibre fabrics. However, surround, motor and voice coil are optimized for their respective frequency spectrum in order to achieve clear playback fidelity. The midrange driver has got a fixed phase plug to improve the ventilation of the oscillating system. The so important midrange clearly benefits from these efforts, because within this particular frequency range the human ear is especially sensitive and immediately detects tonal discolourations. The CLASSIC 15 are capable in reproducing tonal colours and human voices as natural and concise as previously only known from higher priced speakers.

The oscillating system of the CLASSIC 15’s tweeter is elaborately ventilated as well, so that the soft dome made by a German specialist company always finds ideal operating conditions even under heavy load. Thanks to the powerful motor and the low self-resonance, the tweeter achieves exemplary signal integrity far beyond the audible range. A small horn-shaped sound guide surrounds the actual dome and ensures a seamless transition between mid and high frequencies. So even outside of the so-called sweet spot you will be able to enjoy a relaxed musical experience.

And of course, the CLASSIC 15 can also optionally be equipped with the modern VCF II Magnetic M8 feet. These feet guarantee perfect decoupling from the floor and protect sensitive surfaces as well.’

I was impressed by the sound this system was making, even in the less than ideal hall area. There was a nice wide soundstage good bass extension and nice pace. Not being able to sit down I can’t say more, but it was making sweet music, where it was sited.

Rest of the Hall Area

From just opposite the welcoming desk there were a number of pieces of equipment on static display, spread across several tables.

Table One


Blue Sound Power Node £795

029_550x412Blue Sound say this about the Power Node…

‘The amp reinvented. The POWERNODE 2i is the streaming amplifier that merges several traditional components into one and unlocks a world of high fidelity streaming, while effortlessly driving your choice of speakers. With the same zero-distortion audio signature we became known for, the POWERNODE 2i takes your favourite tracks to new levels and lets your speakers loose on a world of high fidelity streaming. Permission to turn it up, granted.
Enjoy streaming hi-res audio fi les with no skips or delays, in every corner of your home, with advanced dual band, providing best-in-class WiFi performance even in crowded airspace. In addition, the POWERNODE 2i now supports state-of-the-art aptX HD Bluetooth, allowing you to stream studio quality music to wireless headphones and speakers, complete with dedicated volume controls plus a choice of analog or optical connections to other music sources.
The POWERNODE 2i is now more flexible than ever, with support for Apple AirPlay 2 and easy integration into the Apple ecosystem. Premium music services like TIDAL®, Deezer®, Qobuz® and Spotify® – as well as virtually all other popular music services and internet radio stations are already built-in. High end DAC technology built into every Bluesound player can decode and stream MQA fi les in all their lossless glory. Access your downloads, your iTunes library and content from any other NAS drive, all without turning on a computer.’


Hegel H90 £1500

Hegel say this about the H90….

‘The Hegel H90 is the Hegel’s latest entry level integrated amplifier. It features second generation SoundEngine2 technology for ultra low distortion, a choice of analogue and digital inputs, a built-in DAC and a flexible network streamer with support for Apple AirPlay and UPnP/DLNA streaming. Alternatively, you can connect your existing streamer, computer or other digital source to the USB, coaxial or optical inputs.’

It was nice to see these interesting products nicely displayed with information to hand. So many times in the past, at other shows, there has been no information with the products on demonstration, or display. A very frustrating omission, but not at this show as I was to find out, everything was clearly identified with information nearby. Well done Kantata Audio.

Table Two


One of the range of products I was intertested to see and hear at this show, was on display in the hall, and that was the Lejonklou Boazu Integrated amplifier £2700 from Fredrik Lejonklou of Sweden. 

Boazu_fram (1)Fredrik says this about the Boazu integrated amplifier……

‘The decision to make an integrated amplifier was made in the summer of 2015. I had previously felt it necessary to isolate sensitive, low level analogue signals from the strong currents needed to drive loudspeakers. That’s how things are arranged in systems with separate pre- and power amplifiers, such as Sagatun and Tundra. But now I had accumulated some ideas on how these two contradictory requirements could be successfully combined. So work on Boazu (which means ‘reindeer’ in Sami language) began in the fall of 2015.

The most important part of any amplifier – or any system, for that matter – is where the signal starts. This apparently simple but very important principle is called Source First. It dictates that any process taking place early in a chain where a music signal travels has a stronger influence on the quality of the signal than any process taking place later in the chain. When applied to the art of capturing and recording music, it’s easy to understand that the musicians are more important than their instruments, which in turn are more important than the equipment recording the performance. And at home, the recording we play is more important than the HiFi which replays it. But also within the HiFi system, the same Source First principle applies: The source component, such as a turntable or digital streamer, is more important than the amplifier it feeds. And the amplifier is more important than the speakers.

Most people get this wrong and focus their interest on the loudspeaker. Laymen do it because that’s where the sound appears to originate and speakers also vary a lot in how they sound. Engineers do it because loudspeakers don’t measure very well, hence they must be the main obstacle on the road to fidelity. But if our goal is to be moved by the emotional message of the music – to get a thrill – all practical experience shows that the closer to the source, the bigger and more important the differences are.

In Boazu, Source First means that the four analogue inputs are most crucial. In order to optimise them in an effective way, I took a Sagatun stereo preamp and simplified it by replacing the input switches with a circuit that sums every signal present on the four inputs. This means that whatever you play that is connected to Boazu, you will also hear in the loudspeakers. No buttons to press, no display to read. Just play. The main advantage with this solution is that there are no switching circuits to degrade the sound.

After the summing input circuit, an analogue volume control identical to the one in Sagatun handles the signal level. And here’s where the only user functions exist: You can raise, lower and mute the volume, by buttons on the front panel and with the supplied Lejonklou remote control. No other features exist – and for a very specific reason: They all degrade the sound just a little. As a result, the thrill you get from a Boazu is more intense.

Closely tied to the volume control circuit, a power amplifier section almost identical to Tundra adds power enough to drive any loudspeaker with great authority and control. As a large part of the cost when making Tundra is an extremely narrow selection of electronic components, Boazu is cost effectively produced by using component values just outside the ranges used for Tundra. Boazu is also equipped with the same 1.1 kg copper heat sink and dual 100W switch mode power supplies that is used in Tundra. Initially I tried a regular aluminium heat sink, but the musical advantages of copper (clean, solid, perfectly timed bass notes) were just too apparent.

The first Boazu prototype, which was ready in the spring of 2016, didn’t have ZERO features, but four: A phono input, a headphone output and connectors for Pre and Fix Out. I’d spent months tuning it and felt it had become a good integrated amp. But every time I played music with it, I knew in the back of my mind that it would be more fun to use Sagatun and Tundra. At home the listening sessions were not very long, I kept being distracted by other things rather than becoming immersed in the music. I knew this simply would not do. And in an effort to boost performance, I began cleaning up the circuits and removing features. Just as I had expected, each step towards simplicity resulted in a more expressive musical reproduction.

When it was finally ready, Boazu had ZERO features. And at less than half the price, it had actually become a little better than the separates Sagatun and Tundra! To restore the order of the range and to keep owners happy, I released an upgrade called Tarandus for all my pre and power amps. Tarandus is essentially tricks learned from the making of Boazu.’

I won’t apologise for reproducing so much about this integrated amplifier as Lejonklou products are something very special and while very much harking back to the time of ‘hairshirt’ audio products, few features and minimal functionality, these products sound amazing, and Fredricks purist approach, attention to detail is responsible for all the Lejonklou products reproducing music to an incredibly high level, and at a reasonable cost.



Next on the table was the Metrum Acoustics DAC £2250 and next to it the  Aqua Acoustics La Voice Dac £3395. I had read a lot about these over the last few years in Sterophile and other audio magazines so I was keen to see and hear this DAC, alas it was on static display only, but it was still very nice to see a La Voice in the flesh.

Aqua Acoustics say this about the La Voice….

‘Designed to provide absolute modularity, the La Voce S3 is a pure R2R ladder – FPGA-based DAC without digital filter. It has a sign-magnitude ladder converter. 
The absence of digital filtering means no processing of the input signal. The original digital samples are translated to the reproduced sound, preserving the transient shape and avoiding any ringing.  
In this way we also avoid the “intersample overs” problem that is vital to faithful reproduction, considering current recording studio practices. 
With our R2R conversion technology the sound is natural, fast, dynamic, and without the sense of compression characterizing others converters.

To protect the investment, owners of original La Voce can upgrade to La Voce S3 Discrete DAC. The update for the La Voce units of existing owners consists of the following hardware / firmware modifications:

• FPGA / decoding board cod. P608, high-resolution up to 384kHz PCM and DSD128
• R2R Ladder resistors board cod. P607
• USB board cod. P901 with new firmware
• hardware modification of main board P601
• hardware modification of I2S / USB board P603. ‘


Also in the hall there were three pairs of floorstanding speakers:Audio Physic Classic 5 speakers £1795, Kudos X2 £1595 and another pair of Kudos speakers the identity of which I was unsure.


031_412x550Kudos say this about the X2….

‘The 78cm tall X2, the ‘baby’ of the Kudos range, is a compact two-way floorstander designed to bring the Kudos sound to the smaller living space and/or budget. While it may take up a little less space in both listening room and wallet, there’s certainly nothing ‘small’ about the X2’s design and performance. The cabinet is internally damped and braced to minimise resonance, and beautifully finished in a choice of real wood veneers or a satin white paint. The drivers are neatly mounted into the cabinet and the grille is held by magnets to maintain a sleek outer aspect. As with all loudspeakers in the Kudos range, the easy 8 ohm impedance means that the X2 will perform beautifully with a wide range of valve and solid state amplifiers.’

Walking back up the hall I entered the first room on what would have been my left hand side if I had went into this room first.



Inside this room there were some lovely items fom Analogue Works, Innuos, Lejonklou and Kudos. I had a quick look around and took photos before visiting the other rooms, but I returned a bit later when the room was less busy to have a listen to this system, and very nice it was too.

045_412x550The system was made up of the following components: AnalogueWorks Zero+ turntable, Jelco 350s tonearm, and Audio Technica VM540 cartridge at a combined price of £2550, Lejonklou phonostage £950, Lejonklou Sagatun pre-amplifier £3100 and the Lejonklou Tundra power-amplifier £2950, Innous Zen Mini £900 + Zen mini LPSU powr supply £499 AudioQuest Yukon, Water, Rocket cabling and Kudos Titan T505 speakers £7750. All the electronics were housed on a Custom Design Milan table £619.

The few times I was in Juniper the Analogue Works turntable was not being used, but the sound of the system via the Innous Mini was very nice, with lovely instrument separation, dynamics and pace. The soundstage was wide, extending well beyond the speakers, with good depth and image focus. Music was nicely open and detailed but avoided sounding like hifi, and my notes have written in bold, ‘very musical’. Tony Bennet, with KD lang was playing at one point, and the track ‘Keep the Faith’ was very enjoyable to listen to.


At the heart of this system was the Lejonklou Sagatun pre-amplifier £3100 and Tundra 2 power-amplifier £2900. Lejonklou say this about the Sagatun…..


Sagatun has four main functions:

  • Selection of input – with a minimal loss of quality
  • Adjusting the volume with precision – especially at low levels, where the music is most sensitive
  • Controlling the above two by front buttons and remote
  • A Control Link that lets one Sagatun control other Sagatuns.

The first two functions is where quality is everything. This is achieved by the use of clever technology, endless trial-and-error and attention to every detail that has an influence. And as the sound quality gradually improved, we found that nearly all details do matter. Some a lot and others just a little. More than 500 listening tests were conducted in the development of Sagatun.

Some specific choices of technology were made, such as the design being dual mono (left and right channels are separate circuits) and the use of two ultra-quiet switch mode power supplies. We also experimented extensively with the regulation of the power feeding each circuit inside Sagatun. The best results were achieved with a combination of three different regulatory techniques, working in unison. When this combination was discovered, it was a breakthrough in musical performance. But even more quality was to be gained by individually fine tuning the feed to each part of the circuit.

The third function in the list above makes Sagatun possible to use, but it can also mess with the music. Therefore it needs to be as silent as possible and all experiments with conventional displays were discarded due their high level of interference – even when switched off! Luckily a suitable interface had already been developed for our single source pre amplifier Kikkin (now discontinued). It consisted of a quiet running low frequency processor communicating to the user with a coloured front light. This interface had already proven very popular, due it being simple and intuitive. We tweaked it a bit further, both in terms of making the processor run even more silently than in Kikkin (it shuts down completely three seconds after your last command) and by adding more colours to make it more informative and elegant.

To get an idea of how the coloured light display works, check out the pictures on this page!

The fourth function, the Control Link, is a feature that allows you to add more Sagatun’s to your system – if it requires more than two channels in stereo. The Control Link sets one Sagatun as the Master which all the others will follow and the communication medium is light in an optical cable. Use of the Control Link has no influence on sound quality.’

Lejonklou say this about the Tundra 2 …


‘The purpose of Tundra is to reproduce music in the most engaging way possible.

After the electronic design of Tundra had been decided upon, it took one year’s work to perfect its circuitry and another six months to make it possible to manufacture. The circuit combines very short signal paths with ultra high speed and high reliability components, some of which are intended for industrial use, not for audio, according to their manufacturers. But when selected into extreme tolerances and used properly, these components have a far greater potential than the standard ones used by most HiFi companies. As an example, we manually measure and sort all of our transistors into small groups, using a test rig built for the purpose. When the first batch of Tundra’s was manufactured, only one out of five transistors could be used. When the second batch was made, it was less than one out of ten. In the third, it was one out of 15. We save all of the discarded transistors for potential use in future products.

Tundra can drive almost any loudspeaker, but not to any level. Its power rating may appear moderate, but in reality Tundra plays music with impressive authority and power. This is due to the circuitry being optimised for music: High power delivery during short periods of time. Power ratings, on the other hand, have little in common with music as they are obtained with static test tones that continue for hours. If you’re in doubt whether Tundra can play loud enough for your needs, we recommend a demo in your room, using your speakers.

Tundra is powered by two switch mode power supplies of 100 Watts each. They are more efficient and perform musically better than bulky conventional power supplies. Each Tundra is individually fine-tuned and evaluated with music. Only when it performs as well as our reference it is packed and shipped to the customer.

Tundra has repeatedly been described as a product that makes it more fun to listen to music. I can think of no higher praise than that. In my opinion, it belongs on the Must Hear list of every HiFi enthusiast.

Tundra 2 was released in June 2015. It’s a completely reworked version, with the following improvements:

· The aluminium heat sink is replaced with 1.1 kg high purity copper. This is the most important part of the upgrade, as it cuts the variations in temperature (caused by the music you are playing) in half in all critical areas. Less temperature variation means a more stable foundation for the music, adding weight and solidity. As if the music is bolted down firmly instead of bouncing around.

· A new Thermal Interface Material is used between electronic components and heat sink. The old material was Swedish and really good. The new one is made in Japan, very expensive and without doubt the best in the world for this application. Thermal resistance through these interfaces is now one fourth of what it used to be. When heat moves fast, the music sounds Rock Solid. The lowest bass appears as clean notes instead of indistinct punches.

· Two capacitors on the main board are replaced with better types. This makes the music less distorted and more nuanced.

· A new optimised ground connection is used. This makes all musical edges better defined. Notes start and stop more precisely.’


I was a little disapointed that Fredrick, of Lejonklou was not able to attend the show as he had planned to, I would love to have talked with him, but his products spoke very loudly for the man and his designs. They speak music and very beautifully. I very much enjoyed listening to this system.


The speakers in this room were Kudos Titan 505 £7550 stand mount speakers. Kudos say this about the 505….

‘The newest addition to our flagship Titan series, the Kudos Titan 505 is a standmount loudspeaker designed to deliver stunning, top-of-range performance to a wider range music lovers. Small on size, big on immersion. If it’s everyday elation you’re after, the 505 offers all of the key Titan design features in a compact enclosure.’ 

I must say that despite their modest size the Kudos Titan 505 worked well in the room.




Just opposite Juniper was Balsam and the system in this room was made up of the following items: a 1TB Innous Zenith server £3000, Hegel H190 integrated amplifier £3000, Kudos Titian T606 loudspeakers £9000 and an AudioQuest Niagra 1000 mains conditioner £995. Cabling was AudioQuest:Moonson, Carmen and Rocket.


An AudioQuest Niagara 1000 £995 was powering the system, and AudioQuest say this about it….

037_412x550‘Niagara 1000 brings the benefits of highly optimized power management to far more music lovers. Designed by Garth Powell, the Niagara 1000 embodies the very same design philosophy and incorporates the same patented technology found in its larger sibling, the Niagara 7000, but packs it into a smaller, sleeker enclosure—at a fraction of the price.

Much like the Niagara 7000, the Niagara 1000 uses ultra-low resistance solid-core wiring optimized for low-noise directionality, capacitor forming technologies that vastly improve linearity and minimize distortion, and low impedance AC inlet and outlet contacts with heavy silver plating over high-purity Beryllium Copper for superior noise dissipation. Similarly, Niagara 1000 features our non-sacrificial surge protection, Zero Ground-Contamination Technology, and over-voltage shutdown, ensuring that your customers’ A/V systems are thoroughly protected from AC surges and spikes.

While the Niagara 1000 lacks the 7000’s sophisticated Transient Power Correction and Dielectric-Biased AC Isolation Transformers, it does employ our patented Ground-Noise Dissipation System and Ultra-Linear Noise-Dissipation Technology. And, whereas the Niagara 7000 has 12 AC outlets, the Niagara 1000 fits six high-performance outlets into its sleek chassis. In addition, input current maximum capacity—20 amps RMS in the Niagara 7000—is 15 amps RMS in the 1000.

Of course, the biggest differences between the 7000 and 1000 are also the most obvious: size, shape, and weight. The Niagara 7000 can be rack-mounted and measures 15.5” W x 5.24” H x 17.2” D and weighs an impressive 81lbs. The Niagara1000, however, is designed to be placed on a floor or atop a rack, beside or behind a hi-fi system, measures 4.75” W x 4.0” H x 20.0” D, and weighs a much more manageable 5.5lbs.’


Also in the system the Kudos Titan T606 £9000 floorstanding speakers.


The source was the Innous Zenith ITB SSD music server at £3000 and amplification was from the Hegel H190 at £3200

innuos zenith

Innous say this about the Zenith….

‘Pushing our popular ZENith even further, the new MK3 includes a Triple-Linear PSU with Mundorf CAPS and custom-treated SSD. Ideal for audiophiles who want a smoother, more relaxed sound with a wider soundstage.

Triple-Linear Power Supply

Inspired from the high-end power supply engineering of the SE, the ZENith Mk3 benefits from new premium Mundorf capacitors with ultra-low noise regulators and a medical-grade mains filter to provide even greater audio clarity.

Custom Motherboard

Our own custom-made Innuos motherboard is completely reworked for optimised audio performance. Sources of EMI have been removed and internal clocks optimised, resulting in a “blacker” music background and enhanced realism.

Ultra-low Noise Streamer Output

Dual-ethernet ports with isolation transformers provide an ultra-low noise network connection for your streamer, removing noise from the path and improving sound quality on all network audio.

Anti-vibration and EMI Treatment

New asymmetrical isolation feet derived from our ZENith SE plus added treatment to the chassis help to combat harmful vibration that affect a clean audio signal, with even greater treatment now applied to the SSD.

In-Memory Playback

With 4GB dedicated memory, the ZENith loads music directly to memory for playback so that it doesn’t need to engage the SSD during playback, improving sound quality.’

During one of my visits to this room Nik Bartsch was playing, and Ronin Live sounded very good indeed with a nice big articulate sound, open and detailed, with a lovely 3 dimensional soundstage. Bass had weight and scale and was nicely controlled. Music ebbing and flowing within the room in a very enjoyable way.

I have to say that hotel rooms, conference or otherwise can be a hard place to get an audio system sounding good and so far Kantata Audio and the representives of the various companies exhibiting had managed to get everything sounding very good indeed. I don’t mind saying I was impressed, and as such I expected great things from the big system in the Cottonwood room.


Before heading there I spent some time talking with Hegel Audio’s UK distributor Bill Leigh (2) and enjoyed my chat with him a lot, a very nice down to earth gent.



Within this room Kantata Audio had their big guns out in the form of a system fronted by an Innuos Statement server £9800, Hegel’s top integrated amplifier, theH 590 £9000, and the speakers were the Kudos Titan 707 at £13000. Cabling as in all the systems on demonstration throughout the show was from AudioQuest. In this system the cabling used was: Diamond, William Tell, Toranado and Hurricane. The system was housed on a Custom Design Milan Ref10 rack £619. Also in use was the impressive AudioQuest Niagra 5000 mains conditioner £3995. At the end of this room report I will do a mini review of this item.

Before that, and I talk about my sound impressions of the room lets look at the stars of the system the Innous Statement, Hegel 590 and the Kudos Titan 707 speakers.


Up first the Innous Zenith Statement £9800.

Innous say this about their top of the range two box design….

i statement‘Following on from the hugely sucessful Zenith SE, comes the Innuos Zenith Statement. A two-box digital source for high-end audiophiles.

The Innuos Zenith Statement builds on the foundations laid down by the Zenith SE but with a second, umbilically-linked box housing the transformer. This separate enclosure prevents vibrations and EMI emissions from polluting the rest of the circuit.

The Innuos Statement boasts a new power supply designed Dr. Sean Jacobs. From this power supply, eight independent power rails are extracted to independently supply each of the custom built motherboard’s critical components (CPU, hard drive etc.) There is an in-house designed USB board and ‘3ppb OCXO’ clock “for higher precision and lower phase noise”.’


The two box Statement looks the business and certainly was providing the Hegal H590 with a very high quality signal to work with. Antony Bunn-Major of Innuos was the man operating and demonstrating the Innuos Statement. Talking of which the Hegel H590 was, despite still being run in, doing a wonderful job of driving the Kudos Titan 707 speakers.

063_550x412Hegel say this about their top integrated amplifier, the H590 £9000 ….

‘H590 is the name of Hegel’s ultimate integrated amplifier. The H590 includes user friendly services such as Apple AirPlay®, while at the same time embracing ultra high performance formats like DSD. With SoundEngine 2 technology and Hegel’s finest amplifier implementation to date, the H590 really personifies our strive to bring High End to the people. The H590 uses the patented SoundEngine2 technology combined with a very high power, low distortion amplifier design. The result is unmatched dynamic capabilities while still maintaining a smooth, natural sound with all the details of the music. You will experience a huge soundstage and only want to turn the volume up, up, up and up.

The H590 is a reference amplifier throughout. From the carefully designed balanced and unbalanced inputs, with hand matched transistor pairs, ensuring minimal distortion to the delicate signal from an analog source such as a phono stage. Via the preamplifier, with its dedicated high quality power supplies and a unique volume attenuator, to the massive output stage where you will find 12 ultra-fast high power output transistors… per channel. The H590 is a beast. Many people nowadays use digital music as their main source of listening, so great care has been put into the DA-Converter, where all signals will be kept in their original form throughout. If you play high resolution or CD-format, they will all be played in their native form for best sound quality. Via the USB input, the H590 will also support high end formats like DSD. The H590 includes MQA decoding and rendering technology, which enables you to play back MQA audio files and streams, delivering you the sound of the original master recording.

The H590 is also a dream for people who are into streaming. First of all, there is Upnp streaming and second there is Hegel’s proprietary implementation of AirPlay. That means Apple Airplay user friendliness combined with the high performance Hegel sound. It does not stop there though, as the H590 is also software upgradable, and additional functionality will become available in the future. If you live in a smart home, the H590 can be a natural part of that too. With services like Control4 built in, and 2-way IP control for other smart home control systems, using the H590 can be as easy as switching on the lights. In short, while many high performance audio systems are made “only” for the enthusiast himself, the H590 is designed to give joy to the entire family.

There is ease of use and there is security. Afraid that the kids will play too loud when you are away from home? No problem. Simply set a desired maximum volume level and lock it there. The H590 can even be used to provide better sound in your Home Theater, or to combine a Theater and a system for music listening. Do you enjoy your Sonos or Bluesound app and want to use those, but without losing the sound performance of the H590? No problem. Connect them, lock the volume on the input and you are in full control using only the Sonos app (example).’

Technical Details

Power output spk: 301 w/pc into 8 Ohms, Dual Mono
Minimum Load: 2 ohms
Analog inputs: 2 balanced (XLR), 3 unbalanced (RCA)
Digital inputs: 1 coaxial (BNC), 1 coaxial (RCA), 3 optical, 1 USB, 1 Network
Digital outputs: 1 coaxial (BNC)
Line level output: 1 x unbalanced fixed (RCA), 1 x unbalanced variable (RCA)
Frequency response: 5Hz-180kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio: More than 100dB
Crosstalk: Less than -100dB
Damping factor: More than 4000 (main power output stage)
Distortion: Less than 0.005% @ 50W 8 Ohms 1kHz
Intermodulation: Less than 0.01% (19kHz + 20kHz)
Dimensions: 17,1cm x 43cm x 44,5cm (HxWxD)
Weight: 22kg (unit)
Dimensions US: 6,74″ x 16,93″ x 17,52″ (HxWxD)
Weight US: 48,51lbs (unit)’

064_412x550Kudos say this about the Titan 707 £13000 ….

‘Kudos Audio Titan 707 is a smaller, single box versions of the flagship Titan 808 loudspeaker. All three members of the Titan family feature world class drive units crafted exclusively for Kudos by renowned Norwegian specialists SEAS

In fact, all three models share the same superb quality K3 tweeter – a unique SEAS-Kudos design.  Based on SEAS legendary 29mm Crescendo K2 fabric dome tweeter, the K3 has undergone significant further development to precisely tailor its capabilities for the Kudos Titan design.  Enhanced features include an improved magnet system with copper shorting rings, a completely new resonance chamber and a new face plate profile, all engineered to deliver and even sharper, more dynamic and musically detailed performance.

The Titan 707’s twin mid-bass drivers, in contrast, are brand new and totally unique to the 707.  Their high quality hard paper cones are double coated to ensure superior stiffness while at the same time preserving the natural damping properties of paper.  The two drivers are positioned in an isobaric arrangement: the second driver is placed internally back-to-back with the first, enabling a significantly improved bass response while minimising bass distortion.


Kudos trademark minimalist, low order crossover is of course a key feature, made possible by our seamless matching of the drive units.  Alternatively the Titan 707’s crossover has been engineered such that it can be completlely by-passed in order to facilitate active operation with selected systems including Linn Exakt and Devialet Expert.

While the Titan 707 is a single-bax design (compared to the 808’s upper and lower cabinets), its bodywork remains impressively involved.  Its complex constrained layer damping in the plinth and side panels is cleverly designed to allow a stunningly convincing, true-to-life sound.’


As in the other rooms AudioQuest provided the signal, speaker and power cables, and like in Balsam system power was coming from an AudioQuest conditioner, in this case the Niagara power conditioner, 5000 model. More on that a bit later.

057_550x412I enjoyed this room’s sound, visiting it several times, and I even sat in on a ‘the difference power cables can make’ demonstration that Nick Allen of AudioQuest was giving, aided by Antony Bunn-Major of Innuos. For me there was no surprises here as the differences  better quality cables can make to the reproduction of music are well known to me. Nick Allen of AudioQuest was doing a formal demonstration by swapping out power cables from the Hegel H590, and it was clear and unabigous, that moving up the range of AudioQuest power cables brought a noticable, obvious improvement in sound quality each time it was done. The audience, some who may have been sceptical, could not have left the demonstration not knowing that better power cables make a difference.



Overall the system in Cottonwood was very enjoyable, and was expected during the course of the day to improve as the H590 was used, and ran in. I strongly expect at the end of the day anyone hearing this system would have been in for an even greater treat, than what I heard by the time I left the show.

During the time I was in the room, the system had a wide deep soundstage, with very nice instrument separation, focus and detail. There was an effortless organic quality to music, and an ease of reproduction that was very enjoyable. The way information was reproduced was both detailed and yet not spotlit – a Hegel trait I think.

On my second visit to the room Pat Metheny was playing, with tracks from his album Trio being deliciously reproduced. The interplay between guitar, bass and drums both beguiling and beautifully rendered. Later when I came back to the room tracks from Yello’s album Touch was being played.


Just after leaving the room I had a very nice chat with Dave White about Kudos speakers  and he also waxed lyrical about the AudioQuest Niagara 5000 which led to the following mini demonstration of said product.

AQ 5000g703NGARA5K-F


AudioQuest Niagara 5000 £3995

I had read about this product in Stereophile, but never thought I would see one in the flesh, never mind hear one working (albeit not in my own system, something I would like to do someday) and during the show I got to hear a brief demonstration of this products ability within the hotel environment.

Before talking about that some information from AudioQuest about this item….

‘ Boasting an instantaneous current reservoir of over 90 amps peak, the Niagara 5000 is specifically designed for today’s current-starved power amplifiers. Many AC power products featuring “high-current outlets” merely minimize current compression; the Niagara 5000 corrects it.’

Interesting, AudioQuest continue…

The science of AC power delivery is not a simple one; it demands focus, and the devil is in the details. In fact, the great increase in airborne and AC-line-transmitted radio signals, combined with overtaxed utility lines and the ever-increasing demands from high-definition audio/video components, has rendered our utilities’ AC power a somewhat antiquated technology.

Where Alternating Current (AC) is concerned, we’re relying on a century-old technology created for incandescent lights and electric motors—technology that was certainly never meant to power the sophisticated analog and digital circuits used in today’s premium audio/video systems. To properly accom-modate the promise of today’s ever-increasing bandwidth and dynamic range, we must achieve extraordinarily low noise across a very wide range of frequencies.

Further, today’s power amplifiers are being taxed for instantaneous peak-current demand, even when they’re driven at modest volumes. Although we have seen a substantial increase in dynamics from much of our audio software, the loudspeakers we employ to reproduce them are often no more efficient than they were two to four decades ago. This places great demands on an amplifier’s power supply, as well as the source AC power supplying it.

audio Q 5000Our systems’ sensitive components need better alternating current—a fact that has resulted in a host of AC power conditioning, isolation transformer, regeneration amplifier, and battery back-up system topologies. Through differential sample tests and spectrum analysis, it can be proven that up to a third of a high-resolution (low-level) audio signal can be lost, masked, or highly distorted by the vast levels of noise riding along the AC power lines that feed our components. This noise couples into the signal circuitry as current noise and through AC ground, permanently distorting and/or masking the source signal.

Given that the stakes are so high, all sincere attempts to solve this problem must be applauded. Once the audio/video signal is gone, it’s gone forever…

AQ5000-2For AudioQuest, honoring the source is never a matter of simply using premium “audiophile-grade parts” or relying on a proprietary technology—common approaches within our community. For years, we have all been witness to the same, seemingly endless audiophile debates: valves versus transistors; analog versus digital; can cables really make a difference?; and on and on. While we, too, can brag about our many unique technologies, we realize that true audio/video optimization is never a matter of any one secret or exotic circuit. When it comes to noise filtering for AC power, many approaches can yield meaningful results. However, these approaches may also impart ringing, current compression, and non-linear distortions that can render the cure worse than the disease!


Though it’s easy to tout a given technology, it’s quite another thing to create a solution that is consistent, holistic, functional, and that honors verifiable science. It’s not enough to reduce AC line noise and its associated distortions at just one octave, thus leaving vulnerable the adjacent octaves and octave partials to noise, resonant peaking, or insufficient noise reduction. Consistency is key. We should never accept superior resolution in one octave, only to suffer from masking effects a half-octave away and ringing artifacts two octaves from there. This is the principal criterion for AudioQuest’s Low-Z Power Noise-Dissipation System.

The Niagara 5000 represents over 20 years of exhaustive research and proven AC power products designed for audiophiles, broadcast engineers, and professional-audio applications. Every conceivable detail has been addressed: In the Niagara 5000, you’ll find optimized radio-frequency lead directionality, capacitor run-in forming technologies developed by Jet Propulsion Laboratories and NASA, and AC inlet and outlet contacts with heavy silver plating over extreme-purity copper, assuring the tightest grip possible.

A great system is built from a solid foundation, and that foundation starts with power. With an AudioQuest Niagara 5000, you’ll experience for the first time the clarity, dimensionality, frequency extension, dynamic contrast, and grip your system has always been capable of delivering—if only the power had been right!

We welcome you to experience the Niagara 5000 and hear firsthand the remarkable results of highly optimized power management: startlingly deep silences, stunning dynamic freedom, outstanding retrieval of ambience cues, and gorgeous delineation of instruments and musicians in space. Once you’ve experienced it, it may seem so elegant, so logical, and so obvious that you find yourself wondering why it hadn’t been done before.’


Nick Allen of AudioQuest, after Dave White said I was interested in hearing what the 5000 could do, and who earlier had been demonstrating the sound improvements available by moving up the various AudioQuest power cables, very kindly offered to let me hear what the Niagara could do. As Yello Touch was being used, the track ‘Till Tomorrow’  was played with the 5000’s  Transient Power Correction Circuit switched in and out, via a ‘power correction’ switch on the back of the Niagara.


The difference between the switch engaged was dramatic, effecting the entire way music was reproduced. Engaged the sound stage was wider, deeper and instrument separation and focus much improved. The way small details hung in the soundstage with dimensionality was impressive as was the way certain instrumental parts of the track gained weight, scale and lost some degree of forward edginess present when the ‘Engaged swich’ was at off. Frankly the collapse of soundstage, the reduction in detail retreaval, and the forwardness and slight harshness present without the  Transient Power Correction Circuit on, made a very compelling justification for the presence of the AudioQuest Niagara 5000 in this room.

Now I deliberately say ‘this room’ because I have not heard this product in my own system (I would love to review it) so I can’t definitively say this will perform this way, and to this degree in every system and environment, but on the brief showing here I walked away impressed and wanting to hear it again. Thank you Dave White for suggesting, and asking that Nick Allen do the demonstration.


074_550x412Well what a very enjoyable, and interesting show this was, sure it was small, but it managed to do a lot that some of the much bigger shows I have attented over the years have failed to do and that is make enjoyable music, and in rooms that would be challenging to good music reproduction. What we have here is excellent products, set up well and thoughtfully demonstrated making beautiful music.

Well done John Stirling of Kantata Audio, Bill Leigh, Nick Allen, Antony Bunn-Major, Dave White and Fredrick of Lejonklou.  Also I have to say that Kantata Audio’s helpers also made visiting the show a very pleasant experience.

Being very frank this event has set the bar high for my experience at any future shows I attend, whether dealer organised or other.

For those that missed this show, you missed a cracking good day.





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

AudioQuest – https://www.audioquest.com/

Innuos – http://www.innuos.com/en

Hegel – https://www.hegel.com/

Kudos Audio – https://kudosaudio.com/

Lejonklou – https://www.lejonklou.com/#categorieshttps://www.bluesound.com/

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

Aqua Acoustics – https://www.aquahifi.com/

Metrum Acoustics – https://metrumacoustics.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIn4DmtO6s4QIVUOh3Ch1P7w1bEAAYASAAEgIB__D_BwE&cn-reloaded=1


(1) Audioquest DragonFly Red review – http://www.adventuresinhifiaudio.com/11/12/2018/audioquest-dragonfly-red-diminutive-super-star/

(2) Bill Leigh also runs Auden Distribution – http://www.audendistribution.co.uk/

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

NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission from AIHFA.


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