The south west of England is always awash with hi-fi in late February, as the great and the good of the industry head to Bristol for the Sound & Vision hi-fi show. This year, Bowers & Wilkins had three rooms at the show: one dedicated to traditional hi-fi, one to display our range of new media devices, and another dedicated to Zeppelin Air – in it’s first UK showing to the public.
As you can see from the photo gallery, setting up three rooms at a show is no easy task. Turning the three sparse bedrooms into presentable presentation areas – both visual and audible – takes long hours of setting the day before the show, and a lot of effort in the run up to it.
The hi-fi room featured the new Bowers & Wilkins CM8 loudspeakers, which were partnered by the Rotel RSX-1500, an audiophile quality all-in one system. After the unpacking, set-up and fine-tuning on the Thursday, the room proved very popular once the show started on the Friday. For many of the consumers at the show this was the first time they had been able to listen to this combination, and it drew appreciative noises and packed houses throughout the three days.
Next-door was more of a display zone, with Bowers & Wilkins full range of personal audio products on display. However, everything from the MM-1 to Zeppelin Air was plugged in and ready to play, and a constant stream of customers with their favourite music loaded on an iDevice of some sort made for a noisy environment. Much of the attention was obviously focused on Zeppelin Air, but the MM-1s – which were connected to a laptop – also proved incredibly popular, following up last year’s success at the show by providing an unbelievable capable room filling sound from very small enclosures. The P5 headphones were also available for a listen, and proved highly popular, allowing people to listen to their favourite music in privacy.
In the final room, we ran timed demonstrations of the latest addition to the Bowers & Wilkins product portfolio: Zeppelin Air. As well as providing customers with their first chance to listen to this dramatically updated and up-rated iPod speaker, the knowledgeable presenters also introduced people to the concept of simple wireless streaming with Apple AirPlay. We ran two Zeppelin Airs in the room from a single computer, as well as streaming music directly from a handheld device. This demonstration proved incredibly popular, and played to packed rooms throughout the weekend. The general consensus being that Zeppelin Air sounded amazing, and AirPlay could well be a game changer in terms of providing an elegant streaming solution.
This third room was also the centre of attraction for most of the visiting hi-fi press, including what Hi-Fi Sound & Vision, who filmed a short news report on Zeppelin Air during one of the rare down times.
The show itself reflected the Bowers & Wilkins rooms: it was a mix of high-quality traditional hi-fi – in the form of turntables, loudspeakers and numerous vinyl stores – and new high-quality streaming solutions. A mix of old and new that hopefully bodes well for the future of high-quality sound.