By their very nature, lesser-known and fledgling international hifi brands landing down under require a leg up with promotion and positioning. The local distributor must seek out appropriate dealers, organise sales staff training, push out adverts, organise listening/awareness events, converse with press, conduct regional audiophile society demos…the list is never-ending.
Distributors of bigger, more well-established brands have an easier time of it on the brand awareness front. They enjoy the inevitable knock-on effect of more potent worldwide promotion that might also include international reviews and show coverage. Dealer training materials will likely be provided by the manufacturer (obviating the need for generating one’s own).
Long-standing brands will have already proved their worth by weathering the fickle nature of market trends. They must be doing something right – right? With years of experience in the bank, ‘heritage’ brands arrive already inked into the Aussie audiophile consciousness.
Synergy Audio’s Philip Sawyer is the smartest guy in the hifi game in Australia. Or perhaps the most fortunate. His Melbourne-HQ’d company handles the import and distribution of Cambridge Audio, Rega Research, ELAC, Quadraspire as well as the Fine Sounds collective: Wadia, McIntosh, Audio Research and Sonus Faber. Heritage brands each and every one of them. They probably sell themselves.
Case in point: when the Synergy team exhibit at shows their room is always a-buzzin’. That is, when the show itself turns up the attendee numbers. It’s a double shame that New Tech ‘15 came up short because, as per last year, Sawyer and right-hand man Gareth Weller brought everything and the kitchen sink.
In the exhibition hall, Synergy Audio dedicated the far wall of their prefabricated room to the blue glow of a full McIntosh rig, inserted piece by piece into a fancy new display rack from Quadraspire. It’s hard not to find oneself short of breath (and dollars) when confronted by the sheer visual opulence of it all.
The left-hand wall brings us back to terra firma…
A Rega turntable and electronics housed within Quadraspire EVO furniture keep prices sane. To the left and to the right of that, a similarly affordable new three-way floorstanding loudspeaker from Sonus Faber: the Chameleon T (for tower), so named because of its detachable side panels. Black, red, white, blue, grey and orange options concede some much needed interchangeability to differing aesthetic preferences.
From front to back and over the top a dark leather finish is noted. According to Sawyer, the drivers come from Germany’s DKM whilst the speaker itself is made at Sonus Faber’s Vicenza factory.
A pair of Chameleon T ships with one set of four side panels. Yours for US$1999/AU$3800. When you find yourself wanting to switch things up, each additional set will run you US$390/AU$TBA.
The more affordable Chameleon B (for bookshelf) is a two-way with similarly configurable colour schemes. It sells for US$899/AU$1700 per pair. Each additional panel set sells for US$199/AU$TBA.
New Tech ’15 coverage brought to you by Aurender: