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The Melbourne International HiFi Show: bringing together cutting-edge silicon with vintage vinyl

In two short years, the Melbourne International HiFi Show has made its mark on the audio visual scene, bringing together more Aussie hi-fi and home cinema brands than can be found anywhere else. 

This year, the show will gather new tech from local market leaders including VAF Research, Krix and Hulgich Audio, updated versions of classic speakers from Yamaha, and collections of vintage radio equipment in an exhibition to dwarfing
previous years.

The show aims to give Australian manufacturers a chance to shine in the international spotlight. Aussie brands such as Lucie Audio, DEQX and Legend will be put shoulder-to-shoulder with international mainstays like Sonus faber and McIntosh. 

The Melbourne International HiFi Show will also unveil a new sound system for home cinema providing a degree of immersion and audio sophistication previously unavailable to private consumers. 

The 34-channel Dolby Atmos system aims to create a more realistic and nuanced sound experience, promising a cinematic quality to Australians’ home theatres. The system is manufactured by Australian brand leader Krix, in an effort to import a theatrical approach into the home.

The first public demonstration of the Dolby Atmos system will take place in the ballroom of the Pullman Mercure Hotel in Albert Park, with a special visual system designed by Barco. An array of 15-inch loudspeakers positioned behind the screen, along with 27 surround and overhead speakers, ten subwoofers and four dual 18s, will impress the most obsessed audiophiles. Attendees will also have the chance to take a look at the 250-inch picture produced by Barco’s 4K Wodan projector, a piece of kit that usually moves for $150,000.

For listeners who demand refined sound, but don’t want to wake the neighbours, the Melbourne International HiFi Show will also offer a variety of specialist headphones and smaller amps.  

Set to be showcased for the first time in Australia by Yamaha is the heavyweight GT-5000 turntable, at 26.5 kg. Yamaha’s M-5000 two-channel power amplifier is also sure to catch the eye of audio production professionals and hobbyists. Of course, not everyone has sufficiently deep pockets to purchase cutting-edge Yamaha tech. 

For audio connoisseurs with a more modest budget, Osborn Loudspeakers is coming to the Melbourne International HiFi Show with a series of sound systems designed to deliver the goods without breaking the bank.

Company founder Greg Osborn recalls how his more budget-friendly models attracted as much praise as his more elaborate sound systems at a previous expo. “People came in and saw loads of expensive stuff and were impressed,” Osborn told show organisers. 

“But they were blown away by the sound of a budget-priced Osborn audio system and stayed to listen for a long time. So at this year’s show, I’m demonstrating one system comprising one integrated amplifier, DAC/Streamer and a pair of Osborn Reference Epitome Tower speakers. I’ll swap between those, a pair of Reference Eclipse Tower speakers and my mighty capable Eos bookshelves as well.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the Australian Record Fair will assemble an expansive collection of vintage vinyl in a family-friendly setting. The 2016 Melbourne International HiFi Show broke records, so to speak, with over 30 vendors bringing in 100,000 unique vinyl recordings and related pieces of memorabilia. This year’s Australian Record Fair will showcase records and other material from vendors including Vinyl Rules Music, JJ’s Vinyl and Candyflip Records.

Also of interest to nostalgic audiophiles will be a unique exhibition of radio equipment from the 1920s onward hosted by the Historical Radio Society of Australia. Any fan of the Golden Age of Radio or the majestic wooden and Bakelite appliances, which originally brought listeners dramas like The Lone Ranger, Suspense or The Shadow, should find something of interest at the History of Radio exhibition.  

The HRSA maintains a collection of 30,000 vintage radios, with an emphasis on sets manufactured in Australia. The exhibition will also include an array of vintage televisions and ground-breaking hi-fi systems from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

To raise the profile of Australian manufacturers, the show has partnered with Future Publishing Australia and other media groups. Numerous high-visibility tech publications, including TechRadar and TechLife, fall under the Future Publishing umbrella. Future Publishing will be joined in raising awareness of the show by GadgetNET and StereoNET, which reaches Australian as well as New Zealand and UK markets.

As in previous years, the Melbourne International HiFi Show will offer attendees high-ticket prizes in sweepstakes and other competitions. Julie Watt, a West Australian audiophile, purchased two three-day passes to the show and won a Bluesound Pulse Soundbar, a sleek piece of equipment usually priced at $1,849. Single or three-day passes to the Melbourne International HiFi Show can be purchased online, with discount rates on one-day passes available to students.

Melbourne International HiFi Show will take place at the Pullman Mercure Hotel, Albert Park from Friday October 12 until Sunday October 14.