Wilkins Cases makes a pair of high-quality, hard leather IEM cases, with a cool steampunk appeal. Two sizes, five colours, £17.95 for the standard size (suitable for most smaller IEMS) and £19.95 for the big model (ideal for custom cable IEMS or packing a set of accessories. They are also available in dollarbucks!
Oscar's Audio is a UK-based maker of elegant wooden headphone stands in a range of designs and finishes. The stands are all solid wood and birch ply, and the prices ranger from £25 up to about £80. Oscar's also producers a growing range of cones and isolation platforms, as well as branching out from trees to look at cables. Watch this space...
HiSound Audio, under the Nova brand, brought two high-quality, high-value portable players to the event; the Nova N1 and N3. The £100 N1 is geared very much toward the student market, an expandable 4GB player, but supports high quality formats to 24/96, and comes with a good, basic pair of earphones. The N3 is a more powerful player, both in terms of storage (16GB as standard) and in terms of output power. It comes complete with one set of earbud and two sets of IEM (itself worth £150 in its own right), all for £162, from the HiSoundAudio UK eBay store.
Definers of all things good and USB, iFi was showing its trio of highly praised USB computer audio devices, but was also showing the forthcoming Gemini dual-headed USB cable. This physically separates power and signal in the USB line, requiring two host USB sockets (or the company's iUSB power supply). This is also impedance matched to 90 ohms - rare in USB cables, apparently. Part of this comes down to the custom connectors used. This is expected to cost $179 for 0.7m or $249 for 1.5m.
But more than anything it was about the enthusiasm, whether from the amateurs or the pros. And in this case, the word 'amateur' is used in the original form; keen, knowledgable enthusiasts who are not bound by the limitations and concerns of the professional. So, no polite jazz to show off the system, no "Sorry, we won't play that!", no slick smiles or six-figure sums and no resting on the laurels of 15 years ago. Just some keen, audio enthusiasts... just like audiophiles, only younger!