10th (Saturday) – 11th (Sunday) November 2007

Hotel Jan III Sobieski
Plac Artura Zawiszy 1

Hotel Bristol
Ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44

It was a nightmare. I am talking about the show of course. I mean it would have been a nightmare if more people would like to visit the Bristol hotel during those two cold days – Saturday and Sunday. Closed streets, road works, etc. And in addition the festivities related to the Independence Day. When minister Kaczmarek talked about sabotage and claimed that the Warsaw City Hall closed the place around the Presidential Palace I was not quick to get what he is talking about. Until the moment I realized he mentioned us, audiophiles, and sabotage means that we are not able to reach the hotel exposition rooms. For the first time in our lives we were regarded as VIPs, and our case, listening to music, gained state importance. The concerns of minister Kaczmarek were a bit exaggerated, but the fact remained a fact.
And this did not happen without a cause: the Audio Show 2007 was the best show in its history and for the first time it had the smartness putting it on equal grounds with other similar shows throughout Europe. The presentations were prepared very thoroughly and were really good, the expositors knew what they should do and even knew what they are exhibiting (what was not so obvious earlier) and I felt the same way I did in the Kempinsky hotel in Frankfurt during the High End show. I mean I felt fantastic. The visitors were also not lacking – way over 7000 people, this is a much better result than just good. It is also worth to mention the absolute success of the coffee served in the Chillout Studio room by the company Coffee Dream . More than 2000 coffees were served, what means that every third visitor could taste a hi-end coffee. And although this was just an introduction to the capabilities of those machines, it still did impress. Because everybody was impressed, we are already set for the next year’s show – please feel invited!

The only thing lacking was the representation of foreign press. Its honor was defended by the deputy editor in chief of “Hi-Fi News” Andrew Harrison. On the other hand we can’t complain about the amount of people from the companies distributed in Poland, what shows well the high rank the show achieved.

The quality of the presentation is not only a whim of a bored journalist (I am talking about myself), but the foundation of a good show. Because we have to think about the show like about the promotion of the sector as a whole. I know, that the main goal of the distributor is to keep afloat, what translates into taking care of the daily problems, monthly costs, having money to buy the merchandise (no company except the biggest players credits the stock). And this is the “zero” level. In the last few years this was the face of the Polish market and with a few exceptions this was the reality. Such a minimalist approach has a broader influence. The basics are not so strongly regarded by the so called audiophile hard core, that is more or less immune to most of the things related to marketing. I think, that they have a fixed goal and follow it regardless of the seller being nice or not. This is slowly changing, mostly due to the Internet sales, where there are no problems with the salespeople, but this is a slow change. But the passionate people are only a part, very needed and valuable but a minor one, of the whole community related to our trade. In reality that what keeps it alive are the newcomers, starters. If we look at the structure of sales or just need think logically, then it turns out, that mostly budget devices are sold, then the more expensive ones and finally the hi-end. And the audiophile “budget” is complete Sci-fi for a common home appliances consumer. For 2000zł one can buy a nice amplifier, but a “budget” one, and for this money the consumer expects a whole home theater set, preferably with a plasma TV. And if it must be stereo, then one with loudspeakers, gadgets and fish in an aquarium. Convincing such a consumer to switch to the right side of the Force is key, and at the same time very difficult. What does such a person require? Because this is stellar money for him, and the stereo is luxury goods, he expects the right service and something extra, called “pride of ownership”. Judging based on your emails, conversations, etc, in the audio salons it not good with it, or even worse than that. Somebody entering it for the first time is treated as an intruder and if he doesn’t immediately put his money on the table, he is a potential enemy. And an enemy is eliminated, isn’t he? This first contact is something that can be decisive if we have another “converted”, if we give him the chance to hear music as it should sound, if we – finally – enrich somebody with new layers of sensibility. It may sound a bit exaggerated, but it is solidly anchored in reality, in that what we were talking about earlier, in sales.

This year’s Audio Show announces some changes. Alleluia! Seemingly it is possible to take a deeper breath and look at all this from a greater distance, to think about tomorrow or even next week, and not only fight for the daily bread. And the case is not easy, because it cannot be so in audio. Because if nothing changes in the direction we are moving now, then only dust will remain, a handful of people, as numerous as the train model lovers, that were a real force some time ago (I hope I didn’t offend anybody, but this just jumped into my mind).

During the AS I made a dozen interviews, most of them will appear in “Audio” together with the photographs from the show (and this is how I revealed my idea for this year’s coverage…). Every person interviewed had to answer mandatory questions, including the following one: “Do you think, that the MP3 generation will save our branch or destroy it?”. I had my own answer to this question, I uttered in an article that is to see light in “Audio” but I did not suggest anything. My interlocutors were big fish in western companies, and they know what they are talking about. And all of them say in one voice, that iPod and MP3 are probably the saviors of our branch. They are not talking about the quality of the sound, of course, as this is as it is, but about the return to listening to music. Please look around you – there is a big chance, that some of the people passing by have headphones on their heads. And this means they listen to music. All kinds of music. I was really surprised, when on my son’s player (Creative ZEN, 4GB), otherwise used by me to record the interviews, I found not only Eminem, soundtrack of the game Unreal, but also The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Lionel Richie, etc. And the boy is 13. I asked him why he listens to such differentiated music, and he responded: “Because I can”. Simple, but basic – young people listen to music due to the availability and ease of access, provided by the devices and internet. And even if it is MP3 compression, the sound is much better than from the known ZK140, Grundig, funny turntables from GDR, that raised many recent audiophiles. A big problem is to show the users of such devices that their most liked pieces can sound even better. And this is the role of the audio shops, that cannot intimidate, critique, not give a damn, etc, but should encourage and fire-up this passion.

So we return to the Audio Show. This is a place, where many people meet real audio for the first time. And the presentations, like the ones this year, seem to be just tailored for this. Demonstration rooms, people, promotion elements are sometimes the key to the listeners and in effect – clients. At last a big chunk of the expositors treated the show not as a sales place, a showcase, that will increase sales by 100%, but like a long term investment. I do not call for anybody to be a charity institution; it is not like that, but to have a broader picture. If you don’t want to tie with our branch for longer, if it is a temporary assignment, or one of many assignments you do, then that what I am talking about really doesn’t make sense, or is actually meaningless. But if audio is not only a way of earning money for you (however this is the basic thing with every job – you get paid for it!), but it is a passion that you can earn money on, then you have to invest not only for today or tomorrow, but also in the years to come. So I hope we all see each other next year, at the 2008 Audio Show, and that the show will be equally successful, as this one. And the only wish I have, is that it becomes more an international show, and that the journalists from abroad would not only be represented by the never failing Andrew Harrison, that was there as always.

This is a system many people were waiting for: the top integrated amplifier 845 with JMLab Alto Utopia. Cables – XLO.

The Absolute from Unison once again, one cannot turn away from it: it is mighty, much bigger than it seems on the photo.

This year’s Audio Show was also an occasion for presenting a completely renewed line from Triangle - Genese. As seen on the photo, the main change, also a cosmetic one, is the extraction of the tweeter from the front baffle and putting it in a solid cast enclosure. The system was composed of Primare electronics - I30 amplifier and the gramophone preamp R20 – and the turntable Pro-Ject Perspective II with Sumiko Blackbird cartridge. Loudspeakers – Genese Trio.

The main “base” of Triangle. On the photo Genese Quartet and (further away) Magellan Cello. The source is the turntable RPM10 with a new cartridge Celebration II and the BAT VK-10 preamplifier. The speakers were driven by the BAT VK-300 integrated or a Primare set – CD31, Pre30 and A32. Beautiful, really beautiful sound.

As usual, in the room of the Austrian company WLM there was nice sound. The basis was formed by the Grand Viola Signature speakers, where besides a paper bass driver and a planar tweeter a large midrange driver was used. Somewhere also the subwoofer Duo 18 was hidden (behind the screen probably) controlled by the active module.

Because in the upper registers, such large speakers like those used in the WLM Grand Viola, in the transition region between the midrange and the tweeter, transmit in a very directional way, it was enhanced by a tube improving its characteristics in the discussed range.

Acoustique Quality uses very tasteful drivers in their loudspeakers, like the Scan-Speak dual-ring tweeter

This year’s demonstrations were prepared with taste and idea. One of the better ideas was to employ Monroe twins to lure people to the rooms of Horn – the distributor of Denon, among others.

Denon prepared many novelties – among them the receiver AVR-3808. This is a real control center, equipped with HDCD, Dolby True HD, DTS HD, Audyssey calibration, HDMI 1.3a and many others.

Best Audio is the distributor of the Swedish loudspeakers Audiovector. They do also carry the devices from Advance Acoustics and Thorens turntables. This is the model TD160.

AA – in the mission of bridging the worlds of i-Pod with the audiophile world. Those devices enable to integrate the portable players with the audio system. This is the MIP Station II, tube preamplifier and EZY-7, all-in-one with an i-Pod dock.

Xindak is taking off and besides solid-state and hybrid devices prepared a few tube amplifiers, like the one on the photo – based on the EL84 tubes in classic push-pull setting, the MT-1. The prices are kept low, as usual.

The Xindak distributor, Polpak Poland, prepared another surprise, except the Xindak – a novelty in their offerings, the company NHT (Now Hear This), with beautiful loudspeakers in piano varnish.

One of the most interesting loudspeakers from Koda, although inexpensive, is the model K5200 with a ribbon type tweeter.

Ferguson is a new brand on the Polish market. The devices and loudspeakers manufactured in China are well crafted and really inexpensive.

Another tasty presentation: tube electronics from Manley Labs, the power amplifiers Neo-Classic and the preamplifier/converter Wave. The sources were new acquisitions manufactured by the Italian company Bluenote – the player Stibbert and the turntable Bellavista Signature. The loudspeakers – Joseph Audio RM 55 LE.

Bluenote Stibbert. One can see immediately, that the manufacturer cared for mechanical decoupling of the device. It is otherwise known, that the basic concept for the construction is the Zero-Clock concept, eliminating jitter in a specially designed digital filter.

A presentation that was brilliant in some aspects, like the timbre of the violin, and in other aspects – like resolution – was not satisfactory: Avalon Ceramic with Cary electronics.

Cary Electronics powering the Avalon was composed of the player CD303/300 and a split preamplifier SLP-05. The latter is also a high class headphone amplifier.

One of the biggest surprises of the show – the brilliant sound of the Lyngdorf system, produced by the small speakers DP-1 with an open baffle. It must be said, that they were supported by two subwoofers W210 hidden in the corners of the room.

This is the Lyngdorf system that was the basis of the success during the show: the CD1 player and the digital amplifier TDAI2200 with an additional power amplifier SDA2175 (for the passive subwoofers). The success was mainly due to the splendid work done by the room acoustics compensation circuitry, that is built into the amplifier. That can be called a complete solution.

Yeah – Mr. Koserczyk, the constructor from the company Pro-Tonsil (the successor of Tonsil) prepared a new version of the Altus with a new tweeter. It turns out that this is still a very good selling loudspeaker!

However Pro-Tonsil is now a manufacturer of great, worked out, inexpensive systems just like this one on the photo – Siesta. Really worth a recommendation!

One of the nicest presentations with novelties, prepared only by Polish manufacturers (except for the CD). The loudspeakers Helene is a new proposition of Audio Academy, the amplifier Epoca III in the new version comes from Baltlab, cabling – Albedo, power conditioners, power cables and power strips are a product of the company Gigawatt that was created based on the Power Audio Lab. Besides the high quality of the sound the thing that drew attention was the flawless workmanship of all products. This are really world class products. Or better.

Gigawatt is a Polish company specialized in purifying mains. It carries conditioners, cables and strips. Two of them on the photo: PF-1 and PF-2.

Baltlab Epoca III (new) is the newest product of the Gdansk company. It is characterized by a fully balanced setup.

This is a special “side jump” of the company Audio Academy: the loudspeakers Helene, based on the drivers from the French company Davis. The mid-woofer diaphragm is made from woven Kevlar, as has the tweeter. The latter is a complete rarity: it is a driver with a cone shaped membrane. In its center there is a big phase corrector.

Hmm... This was superb sound. No doubt about it. And what about being German? – Just good for the Germans… The loudspeakers Audio Physic Virgo V driven by MBL electronics: the integrated amplifier MBL 7008 and the player MBL 1531.

The MBL system was very impressive. The only problem… was the cheaper system of this company with the Virgo V, that sounded fabulous. Anyway, in this system the speakers MBL 116 Radialstrahler, power amplifiers 8011AM, preamplifier 5011 and the split player 1521A+Noble 1511 were used. The support was given by the fantastic tables and platforms from Finite Elemente. Thus – another German system.

Besides drivers also complete loudspeakers based on Visaton components are available. Especially interesting is the smaller loudspeaker on the photo, the model VIP200T, where a metal mid-woofer and a ceramic (!) dome tweeter were used with a 6dB cross-over.

The Tychy company 16Hz is a live, vivid, compression less sound. A part of the system are the manufactured in Poland tube amplifiers and amplifiers of the Ukraine company N-audio.

This is a further example, that it is possible to achieve really high level of sound even in really bad acoustic environment: coming from the Austrian city Graz the company LOG, supplying complete solutions: starting with the amplifier APOLOG, through the loudspeakers EPILOG III, cables TRANSLOG and ending with furniture. Those are tube amplifiers based on very good, but not very commonly used power pentodes EL156. As the source the CEC TL1 drive (there is a successor – TL1N) was used with the Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 21 converter. Dynamics, timbre, coherence. Really good!

A further new Polish company manufacturing loudspeakers – Nexton (we tested the model M-100). During the show two models were presented – the M100 and the larger D-200. All transducers are manufactured in Poland. Phenomenal treble and outstanding tonal balance drew attention. And the prices – starting with 2000zł for the M-100 in natural veneer.

The system from Audionet, as usual precision, speed and information about the stage. This year played the new player ART G2 with the new preamplifier PRE1 G3 and the power amplifiers AMP, additional power supplies EPS and Imagination-2 Monitor 2008 from the Zoller line Metropolis. The presented for the first time cables from Audionte were a real novelty.

Finally – I listened to it last year in Berlin during the IFA, and now it arrived in Poland: the headphone amplifier A1 from Beyerdynamic. It is characterized by a very wide frequency response: 1Hz – 1000kHz (-3dB).

loudspeakers from the Gdansk company QBA, in the front the three-way design Dominator 200 TL Aktiv, with an transmission line and Seas transducers. To the sides of them new versions of the known models Mieszko and Sobieski.

At last a well done presentation of Magnat devices. Devices, because besides the loudspeakers Quantum 700 the tube amplifier RV 1 of that company was playing.

A further example, that audiophilism is not an isolated island, but a part of a larger collection of luxury goods – a treat prepared by the company Coffee Dream, a distributor of high class coffee machines, for every visitor of the Audio Show. The smell was present on the whole fourth floor. And it was free.

A second try to implement in Poland the tasteful design and sound of the Italian company Chario. On the photo the model Constellation Ursa Major.

A debut (or rather a resurrection) of Luxman – a Japanese brand, that was finally bought from the hands of Alpine and returns to the roots with, among others, the amplifiers L-509A (class A) and the multiformat player DU-50.

A next debut, and a successful one: perfectly controlled, detailed but also saturated sound from the speakers EB 1 with a transmission line and a flat woofer diaphragm. The presentation was prepared very well, with a comparison of a CD player and a mutiformat player. The acoustics was supervised by large panels from the company 4Sound. It should be mentioned, that the loudspeakers were tri-amped.

This is actually not a debut, they were seen earlier, but the son of the chief editor of “Audio” with the latter himself may show, that there is a return to the tradition of a generational adherence to a profession. Or maybe not? Anyway – it is worth to mention, that children should be sensitized to music and good sound as soon as one can. And until – until they run away to a club with their colleagues…

Another very good sound, although quite costly: the source is the integrated player CDSA from EMM Labs, the preamplifier Audio Research LS 17 and the power amplifier the Audio Research VS110. Cables – Kubala – Sosna. But maybe most interesting were the loudspeakers – the stand mount Usher Be-718 with a beryllium tweeter.

And this was in my opinion one of the most interesting presentations of the show, and a debut of the Scottish company Art Loudspeakers, founded by the brother Derek and Ramsay Dunlop (their father led the company Systemdek, that manufactured fine turntables). A full, saturated sound – really tasty. The electronics was composed of a Talk player and a tube amplifier Cayin. The latter is based on the 300B triode, as the model Emotion from ART has a very high efficiency of 90.5dB 1W/1m at 8 impedance.

The company Kustagon appears and disappears from the view field. But it exists and works, and wit every appearance it causes raised heartbeat, as it happened this time. It presented a new system, with an amplifier powered fully by batteries and loudspeakers based on wideband speakers from Lowther. Exceptional styling and really interesting sound.

With Kustagon the form follows function: beautifully made, with a wooden enclosure and vibration dampening by glass and aluminum plates amplifiers are fully battery powered. And besides that, oil capacitors V-cap in the sound path.

Ansae is a manufacturer of power elements – a mains filter Power Tower SE and mains cables. As always, the electronics was placed with the back to the listeners, to not distract the audience from the cables… It is worth to turn your attention to the table from Troks with an extra anti-vibration platform, that uses a glass plate as the dampener. It seems, that this material comes back into attention.

Please don’t touch! This is a “do not touch” chain in the JAG Electronics room.

And this is the JAG system. The loudspeakers are based on very old Siemens drivers, driven by tube amplifiers with ECL 86, EL 34 and 300B tubes.

The Naim system sounded very attractive this year. The loudspeakers were still the small satellites n-SATS supported by the n-SUB subwoofer, but the amplification was provided by the new amplifier Supernait.

Those beautiful panels are the magnetostats Magnepan MG 1.6. Due to the strong zloty, their price below 10000zl is more than attractive. The sound was as always in a very good scale, volume and without a trace of brightening. A part of the presentation was the electronics from Simaudio.

Soavo 1 loudspeakers from Yamaha are really hi-end speakers, although the company is not regarded as a hi-end company since long time.

Marantz received a partner – the loudspeakers Elac, that will be distributed by the same distributor, Audio Klan. Those are interesting, technologically advanced constructions, using the JET tweeters (a patent from Oscar Heil) and metal mid-woofer diaphragms.

Now Marantz offers a turntable, the model TT15S1, and thus has a complete, high class, beautifully looking system.

Side by side the loudspeakers Vienna Acoustics and Elac. The latter has a JET tweeter and mid-woofers with a characteristically shaped diaphragm named “crystal-membrane”.

Mmm, beautiful – the Bowers B&W Signature Diamond loudspeakers, prepared for the 40th anniversary of this renowned manufacturer.

The Bowers played with Classe electronics and I must say that it was nice. Of course besides the moments the presentation was too loud…

Those beautiful, unusually shaped loudspeakers are the Reference 3.1 from the company Antony Gallo. Interesting is the piezoelectric tweeter with a surface of 60cm2.

The distributor of Totem and Simaudio enhanced his offering by Acoustic Solid turntables. On the photo the model Solid Machine.

And this are loudspeakers from the company A.D.A.M. with the ART tweeters (similar to the JET from Elac) – in the model Tensor used as a tweeter and midrange.

The Senicz Audio/DIY room is the proof, that the spirit (of experimenting) was not lost. The basis of the system were the modified Marantz loudspeakers and a player also coming from this manufacturer with a DIY amplifier.

One of the better known Polish cable manufacturers is Artech. New cables were shown at the show, among others Pro SE.

A very interesting presentation was prepared by the company Audiowave, whose loudspeakers, the model 141 SE with metal diaphragms and the cheaper model Optima were powered by the amplifier Lorelei by Mr. Markow.

And this is an absolute revelation, the products (really inexpensive) from the Polish company Talcomp: tube amplifiers, hybrid amplifiers and loudspeakers.

Audionova, until recently a cable manufacturer, showed tube amplifiers signed with their name.

System with the electronics and loudspeakers from the Russian company Art Audio Lab.

And this is already an icon – the loudspeakers Sonus Faber Guarneri driven by Jadis electronics.

The Sonus and Jadis was partnered by a novelty on our market, the turntables of the German company TW Acoustics, here with the top cartridge Koetsu Jade Platinum Diamond Cantilever.

System Audio Note, with the CDT Two II transport, DAC 2.1x Signature converter and the integrated amplifier Meishu Line Silver.

A novelty - the devices of the British company Sugden, amplifiers – like the A21a, working in pure class A.

Chario means first of all beautiful finish, just like in this small thing – costly stands Academy Sonnet.

And this is Bristol and the Ancient Audio presentation. Besides the completely new electronics new loudspeakers, mini Wing were shown, with a very expensive and due to that fact rarely used ribbon tweeter Raven R3.

The room of ESA and Intrada. Two systems were setup here. The first one was based on Cyrus electronics with the new CD from the series 8 and the new Vivace loudspeakers from ESA, with a Scan Speak dual ring tweeter. The second systems was composed of the top ESA, the dipole Revolution No.9, in a new finish, driven by the Nagra electronics, including the new, exceptional player from this company.

And this is one of the most successful presentations this year, with the new flagships from Thiel, the model CS3.7 powered by McIntosh electronics: the power amplifiers MC501, dual-box tube preamplifier C1000, split player MCD1000/MDA1000 and Transparent cabling.

Another superb sound – the company Fast presented the loudspeakers Wilson Audio Sophia 2 driven by the hybrid amplifier Audio Research VM220 with the preamplifier LS26 and an absolute novelty, a two part player dCS Scarlatti, costing 180000zl.

And this is probably the most expensive and most striking presentation: the loudspeakers Avantgarde Acoustics Duo Primo (covering frequencies from 16Hz) with Accuphase electronics. The presentation was done with the top digital source and the costing 100000zl turntable Transrotor Turbillon O7 with an SME tonearm. Not only the prices but also the sound was impressive.

And this was probably the most natural sound of the show – the omnipolar loudspeakers Duevel, RCM Bonasus amplifier and the sources – turntables.

Beautiful, nicely playing turntable from the company Feickert Analogmanufactur with the Japanese tonearm Jelco was presented by its creator dr. Feickert.

Just after the pre-premiere (the premiere in January and February) show in Japan the new split player from CEC – TL1N/DX1L – could be seen by Polish audience. And the world premiere in tests… by us – already in January.

New cables, also reference ones, shown by the Polish company Velum.


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