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Edition: XVIII
Organizor: Adam Mokrzycki Services

Time: 8-9 November, 2014
Opening hours:
Saturday (8th November) – 10.00-20.00
Sunday (9th November) – 10.00-18.00

Venue: Hotele Radisson Blu Sobieski, Golden Tulip, Bristol


ow, tell me that people do not read. Wrong! The Krakow edition of “Gazeta Wyborcza” from 27th October 2014 had on its front page the article titled Tu królową jest literatura (Literature is the Queen Here). Just below, it read in bold: “Record! About 60 thousand readers has visited 18th International Book Fair in Kraków”. And in the article we read: “An exceptional fair has just ended. The most pronounced 18th anniversary this year!” (all quotations from: Małgorzata I. Niemczycka, Tu królową jest literatura, “Gazeta Wyborcza”, 27 października 2014, s. 1).

A déjà vu of sorts, since three days later I published the editorial that read: “Audio Show is growing at an exponential rate! And although it is hard to believe we have broken last year’s impressive record of more than 100 conference rooms and demonstration rooms booked by our exhibitors. This result only confirms the Audio Show to be the 2nd biggest hi-fi exhibition in Europe.” – wrote Adam Mokrzycki, organizer. Just behind High-End from Munich, let’s add.

I have previously compared the Audio Show to International Book Fair in Kraków on several occasions. Mostly because they are of the same age but also because, at least theoretically, people who come there belong or at least aspire to belong to the same circles of high culture. These two events have something else in common: both target groups, readers and audiophiles/music lovers, are treated like minor aberrations and have long been considered to be in decline. It seems, however, that there is something wrong with that picture.

So called high culture, even though difficult to define with its evaluative criteria changing over the time, is quite easy to understand intuitively because it stands in opposition to mass culture. Both are equally desirable and valuable, except that what is higher is usually more demanding and its target group is smaller. This is the case with reading books and listening music, and especially with listening to music in a perfectionist way, the way the music creators intended. For them, audio quality mattered.

The record of Audio Show 2014 was well earned. It is a result of promotion (a lot of information on morning TV shows on TVP1 and Polsat on Saturday, ads in Google, ads in both audio and regular press) but also of people’s authentic desire to listen to something more than just noise, which is forced on us by great many of producers who tell us it is music.
How many of us are out there could be seen on Saturday when the halls of Sobieski hotel looked very much like buses in Kraków in the morning rush hours. Just walking through the seven floors and the spacious ground floor was a difficult feat, not to mention getting into one of the rooms. Bristol and Tulip hotels had more breathing space but this was quite understandable as the former attracted only those with specific interests and the latter had bigger halls and just a few listening rooms.


The stunning success of the Book Fair in Kraków was made possible by moving it to another location. I believe that if Audio Show is to expand further and become more professional, it will have to change its venue. The model of such a change, which adopted by the High End Society – the organization responsible for the High End show in Munich, is worth considering. I can vividly recall the fears and truly ominous premonitions, including curses aimed at those responsible for the move. Those who thought that moving the High End show from Kempinsky hotel in Frankfurt would spell the end of the world were wrong. Without that move it would remain just another local exhibition and now it is the biggest high-end audio event in the world.

So, how is Audio Show, the second biggest audio show in Europe, different from High End? Location, location, location. I talked to quite a few exhibitors and guests and while voicing their desires differently they all agreed that there have to be changes and that the exhibition needs to move to a different, one (rather than three separate) venue.
That is where the troubles begin. It is very hard to find a suitable place. It needs to be spacious like an exhibition hall and has comfortable rooms. It has to be easily accessible and available at the required time, and not too expensive.
I have no idea whether there is something suitable in Warsaw but it is really worth starting to look for such a venue. Everything points to the growing popularity of this event and breaking new records each next year, which means even bigger crowd and noise.


Before we move to best sound awards I would like to take a while to say something about the products and companies that impressed me the most. Their design solutions, ideas and the way they showcased their products seem to be more important to me than the sound itself because they point to a better direction. A good sound at the exhibition is a sort of lottery; it depends on so many factors that only some exhibitors can be proud of consistent results, year by year. What I am writing about below will stay with us for a while (or so I hope). Here is my list of the most interesting “events” of the Audio Show 2014.


Ancient Audio presented the P-3 digital acoustic equalizer. This is the future of audio. A “with” and “without” comparison was staggering. Not all the changes were convinving to me but this is only the beginning and I believe that Jarek Waszczyszyn has a powerful tool in his hand that will prove itself in EVERY system. This will have to be verified during the KSS meeting.

FONICA | Affordable turntables

Fonica is not any more associated only with turntables remembering the old communist Poland but has its new products as well. The “vice” is their high price. You pay for quality, no doubt about it, but there has been a certain shortage of more affordable products in the lineup offered by the manufacturer from Łódź. Not any more – the new additions look pretty and one can hope they sound good as well.

JR AUDIO | The Impossible tonearm /turntable

A Swedish-Polish enterprise (the Polish designer has been living in Sweden for years) with fabulously looking turntables that boast an equally interesting design. The most interesting is the tonearm with an arm head that always aligns to the grove at the same angle. We know a similar solution from the Thales tonearms.

VOICE | Blue Note albums presentations

Mr. Milan Weber, head of Voice, apparently knows what’s the most important thing about our business: music. Inviting to the show a Universal representative with Blue Note vinyl remasters was a splendid idea. The 75 years old jazz Mecca is doing fine but its strongest weapon is its extensive album catalogue from the 1950s and 1960s. During the exhibition, selected tracks were played back on a system consisting of a nice-sounding Pro-Ject turntable, electronics from Primare and speakers from Sonus Faber. It was great. Not far from there, in the hall, the Czech company Indies Scope presented their records. Mr. Weber’s friends brought to Warsaw their whole catalog, including LPs. My attention was drawn to Kieslowski band and I bought one of their LPs – its review will soon follow.

NOMOS | Vintage audio

Vintage audio enjoys a true revival. And not accidentally so. Chasing the new things we have forgotten that the sound once used to be good, too, and that it had a wholly different dimension. Nomos specializes in putting together vintage audio systems. Their room could give you a heart attack – I would be happy to take practically every component from there and put it in my own house!


This year’s exhibition was more diverse than the last one and the one before, at least as far as the sound is concerned. We have witnessed several spectacular failures, bang up jobs and sonic catastrophes. Interestingly, most of them happened to expensive and very expensive systems. Everybody with a pair of ears has probably heard it so there is no need for me to point fingers.
I cannot help wondering though, whether the people responsible did not hear it themselves? If not then maybe they are in the wrong field. The failures were monstrous indeed and those responsible have no excuse, I say again: none! This was the worst marketing of the presented products one can imagine./p>

The middle of the pack, i.e. systems that were sensible, good or simply just average, were in majority. This is totally acceptable. Considering the conditions in Sobieski and the crowds of visitors it could be not any different. The more so that the mains voltage in the wall sockets dropped to 197 V after all the machines were switched on (down from the nominal 230 V). On the other hand, in Bristol the exhibitors had to fight with constant voltage peaks – most of the time the voltage was 238 V. Some amplifiers were damaged. Such is life and every exhibition has the same problems.

Hence, we would like to draw your attention to the systems that surprised us with their sound. Since the “High Fidelity” crew was larger than in previous years, you will also find my friends’ picks. I will point to my favorites first and I will try to shortly support my points. Here we go, in no particular order.


Speakers: Pylon Audio Sapphire 25
Amplifier: Musical Fidelity (vintage)
CD: Lector CDP-7T/mk3

Sapphire 25 speakers cost 3,000 PLZ per pair. If I had to point out the coolest system of the show, i.e. one that gives you most fun, it would be this one, built of several good, inexpensive components among which the cheapest were the speakers. Marcin writes more about it further below, so let me just join in here. The sound was so natural, so open and so unobtrusive that you could spend a really long time in the Pylon’s room. If somebody asked me what could draw more people to our hobby, Pylon with the Sapphire 25 would be my first choice.


Turntable: Transrotor Artus
Cartridge: ZYX Premium Omega
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Spheris III
Amplifier: Ayon Audio Crossfire Evolution
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Mezzo
Cables: Siltech Double Crown, Acrolink Mexcel
Rack: Base

Audio system of such calibre should sound just like that at the exhibition. It will sound even better in home environment. No matter what the source, it was a high quality sound in terms of its tonality, dynamics and resolution. The scale was enormous. This was also the room in which we held our open Krakow Sonic Society meetings on Saturday and Sunday.


Turntable: Avid HiFi Volvere
Cartridge: EMT TSD15
Preamplifier: Avid Pellere
Amplifier: Mastersound Compact 300B
Speakers: ESA Credo 1 Illuminator
Cables: ESA
Acoustic treatment: Nyquist

The system, according to Andrzej Zawada, ESA’s owner, was selected in such a way that all the components were of similar price and complemented their sound. It was not a very expensive system (not cheap, either) and yet it had a very nice tonal quality and fluidity. The source was a turntable and even if the statics were a little disturbing (hotel room electrostatics is horrible) the overall impression was very good. Due to sonic fluidity, density and class.


Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8
Power amplifier: Sanders Sound Systems MAGTECH
Audio file transport: Computer Audio Design CAD Audio Transport
D/A Converter: Computer Audio Design DAC 1543
Power conditioner: PurePower +3000
Cabling: PAD Luminist 25th Anniversary

Some of the rooms in the Tulip hotel are very spacious. They are seldom audio friendly. The tiny speakers from Switzerland came as a real surprise to all. They offered a powerful, well controlled sound with great dynamics and no coloration. I know that a man from Boenicke spent all day walking around the room looking for the best speaker placement. He found it. All the system components complemented each other in a way you can rarely find at audio exhibitions.


Turntable: Pro-Ject RPM-1.3 Genie
CD Player: Pro-Ject CD BOX RS + Pre BOX RS Digital
Amplifier: Pro-Ject MaiA
Cables: Cardas
Speakers: Sonus faber Olimpica 1
Acoustic treatment: EZ Acoustic

I could have actually chosen any of the systems prepared by the Cieszyn-based company Voice, because they were all very well put together, thought through and polished. I chose this one, because it’s another system that emphasizes the fact that you don’t have to spend giant sums of money to be able to enjoy beautiful sound.
There were two sources in this system – a turntable and a two-piece CD player, which I recently reviewed. That, together with the company’s own amp and Sonus faber speakers, sounded incredible! You could hear a fat beat, great tonality, tangible spaciousness, and a strong ambience. They were all pretty small components, and yet they produced so much MUSIC!


Turntable: Transrotor Silver Shadow
Cartridge: ZYX
SACD Transport: Accuphase DP-901
Acoustic equalizer/DAC: Accuphase DG-58
Amplifier: Leben CS-1000
Speakers: Spendor SP-100/2R2
Cables: Acrolink

According to the opinions of many of the visitors, this system should wear a crown. It sounded unbelievable. I spoke with Philip Swift, the owner of Spendor, about the changes that come with the new version of the SP-100/2R2. Keeping in mind what he said, and then giving his speakers a go, it was impossible not to agree with the fact that improvement is still possible. So long as it’s based on a solid foundation. The system sounded incredibly consistent, dense, and nice. The bass wasn’t boomy while it still had a very deep extension. But I already knew what the DG-58 is capable of – you can find a report from the KSS’s meeting dedicated to this component in the very same “High Fidelity” issue.
A signal corrector won’t ever replace a well-built acoustic treatment, let’s not lie to ourselves. But if that isn’t possible – because of a room’s interior design, for example – it will be truly irreplaceable, and what it does will sound truly miraculous. This was a really beautiful presentation, in which Leben and Spendor turned out to be perfect partners, yet again.


Turntable: The Funk Firm Little Super Deck
Amplifier: Trilogy Audio 925
Power conditioner: ISOL-8 HC + ISOL-8 LC
Speakers: Trenner & Friedl Pharoah
Cables: Harmonix

I already know part of this system, as I’ve previously reviewed the speakers, turntable and cables. The ISOL-8 electronics was new to me, though, as well as the amplifier and power conditioner. It turns out that a combination of all the aforementioned parts creates an incredible sound that leaves no space for the unexpected. It seems that all of the components just “clicked” and sounded together very well as a system. The sound was fast, dynamic with a big soundstage depth and no brightening. A great sound.


Speakers: Equilibrum Ether Ceramique
Audio file player: Atoll ST200
Amplifier: Atoll Gamme PR400 + Gamme AM400
Cables: Equilibrum Tune
Power supply: ENERR

In a room devoid of any kind of acoustic treatment (except roll-ups and everything that was behind them) the sound actually had a great dynamic and a very nice tonality. The bass, loose and wooly in nearly all the other rooms, here was really focused and dense. The ceramic converters have a very specific sound, i.e. their accent falls on the countour, on a rather firm support of the sound. But they are also capable of being beautifully warm and dense. As they were in this case. A marvellous cooperation of Atoll’s top-range lectronics with Polish speakers, cables and power supply.


Speakers: Sounddeco Sigma 4
CD player: Exposure
Preamplifier: Art Audio Conductor
Amplifier: Wells Audio Innamorata
Cables: Albedo

Entering the high-end world is a huge challenge for any company that specializes in low-cost speaker systems. But if it’s going to look like Sounddeco and its Sigma 4 speakers, then it’s bound to be a successful path to take. In a room where hardly anything seems to sound very well, in a room that takes a lot of hard work to provide any concrete results, these new, Polish speakers – which cost 33,000 zł – sounded very well, because they were both very dynamic and open, with a good tonality. Their large size helped with creating a very powerful soundstage and great holography.


CD Player: Reimyo CDT-777 + DAP-777EX Limited
Preamplifier: Reimyo CAT-777
Amplifier: Reimyo KAP-777
Powerline stabilizer: Reimyo ALS-777
Speakers: Trenner & Friedl Isis
Cables: Harmonix

I know all of the products presented in this room, and the Isis speakers were actually featured on the cover of November’s issue of “High Fidelity”. A printed version of this review came with an Audio Show catalog. The system actually played to about 50% of its true capability (I’m comparing it to what I heard at home), but it still trumped all the other systems around it. It was cultured, full, deep, free and – most of all – had an incredible tonality. All of these features caused this system to make pretty much any CD that landed in the Reimyo CD player tray sound great and captivating.


All-in-one system: Naim Muso

Expensive top-range stereo systems are the true magnet at any audio show. Even if people can’t actually afford buying one, they get to enjoy looking at it and giving it a listen, as well as getting a better idea of what they like or don’t. I’ve written about Pylon before – they are a great ambassador of our particular audio business. The Muso system from Naim did an equally good job, though. This small all-in-one system sounded so well that people assumed it’s actually a huge system with massive speakers playing. The speakers actually had to be moved aside from each other to make people believe that this sound quality was coming from such a small, pleasant-looking unit. Hats off!


Speakers: Audio Physic Classic 20 ND  Gloss
Integrated amplifier: BC Acoustique EX-332D 
CD player: BC Acoustique EX-622

The speakers are the most expensive part of this system (just over 11,000 zł). Its electronics cost a little less, overall. But it still sounded great, as confirmed by Marcin from the Krakow Sonic Society. This is the way audio should be promoted: as a hobby open to everyone.


Reel-to-reel tape players: Stellavox SP9
Turntable: MG-HiFi
Headphone amplifiers: Eternal Arts Tube Headphone Amp KHV Professional II – Lutz Version
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, Sennheiser HD700

My own false modesty almost made me omit the room that we prepared ourselves, in cooperation with Lutz-Precision. But I decided not to, after all, especially since we played a very minor part in all of it – “High Fidelity” merely found and imported a guy who knows a whole lot about analog tapes. He records them in his record label and sells the first copies of master tapes, including those made by other companies.
I have a deep conviction about the fact that any person who’d give at least a little bit of their time to listen to a copy of a 1st generation master tape, played back on the Stellavox tape player, would experience somewhat of an “enlightenment”. This is what a real source sounds like!

And if we’re talking about “High Fidelity’s” room, let me mention something that you might find interesting. This year, our magazine organized three events: Hans Theesink’s concert, shows prepared by the KSS, as well as the master tape presentation I’m currently writing about. Please take a look at the reviews found in other audio magazines, whatever they may be, and check if they’ve written anything about them. If not – cool, selectiveness is a writing strategy, after all, especially when it comes to reports and reviews. But if they mention any of the three without mentioning “High Fidelity”, we’re dealing with some auto-censorship.
I never do this myself, because pointing out the inability, weakness or even ignorance of your competition isn’t something people with good taste do. But this time I don’t have to point any fingers, since the readers can verify other’s journalistic diligence themselves. Please believe me: if anyone uses auto-censorship in this particular case, they are 100% likely to do it in other cases.

Kraków Sonic Society

I planned to go to the Audio Show in 2013, but an immense amount of other events took over and the planning stage was as far as I got. That’s why I decided to get my act together this year and actually attend it, come hell or high water. Especially since a few of my mates had confirmed that they would be attending the show. We planned a train trip together, although all of us booked our tickets independently. At the train station in Kraków it turned out that not only did we all have tickets for the same train, but all of us had seats in the same carriage. As if that wasn’t enough, all of us were coming back home in the same train and in the same carriage, again. I thought that a coincidence spree like this called for buying a lottery ticket; I was bound to win.

The 18th edition of the Audio Show was also my first, so I attended it without any major prior expectations. I didn’t really know what this event looks like nor what I should be expecting, so I was open to everything. I began my tour with the Sobieski Hotel. After visiting a dozen rooms or so I felt somewhat of a bad aftertaste. Most of the presentations sounded average, to say the most. I was sure that all the exhibitors would sell their souls for their room to sound like a reference room. Instead, I had the feeling that all the components playing there had been put together at random. For example, if you’re presenting a particular speaker model, you have to – whether you like it or not – hook it up to “some sorta source”, “some sorta amp”, and then put it all together somehow. But if high-end audio is your job, you know full well which direction to follow if the final configuration doesn’t sound very well. You change one of the components and search for improvements until the system “clicks” with what you want to present – like the said speakers.

Room’s acoustics are a whole different story – sure, they’re generally bad in any hotel, but there are ways to remedy this. I visited subsequent rooms in which I found more and more big fat “boxes” that cost big fat money, components that I knew can sound beautiful, elicit powerful emotions, even move people’s whole souls – and yet there they were and all they did was to make sound. It resembled retail stores rather than presentations of top-range audio systems.

Fortunately, I was able to find rooms in which the music truly was the most important factor. It was the one thing that really grasped your attention for long enough for you to want to approach the front end and check which manufacturer and company were behind it. I think that’s what every exhibitor should strive for. I’d like to name a few rooms that elicited this sort of response from me. First of all, there was the ground-floor presentation of a Pro-Ject turntable with Sonus faber speakers. On the 7th floor there was a room with the brilliant Albedo speakers which were paired with electronics from Lumin. I also noted the BC Acoustique system, on the second floor, even though it was far cheaper than the two systems mentioned earlier.

However, the biggest surprise to me, in terms of sound quality, was the Pylon Audio system. The company showcased its Sapphire 25 floor speakers. They sounded simply wonderful. This was even more surprising given that a pair of these Polish flagship speakers costs $1000. In the high-end world this is a sum of money that might get you some stands or cables, and mid-range ones at best. Each time I left this room I had to keep my jaw from dropping with one hand – otherwise it would drag along the floor and obstruct the way for other visitors. And I wouldn’t want to be rude like that.

A guaranteed award-winner: Pylon Audio Sapphire 25 speakers with a two-piece Musical Fidelity amplifier and a CD player from an Italian company, Lector.

After visiting the Sobieski, I made my way (by a dedicated coach, courtesy of the Audio Show organizers) to the Bristol Hotel. Exposition conditions are much better in the Bristol than they are in the Sobieski (bigger rooms and a more spacious hall), which is why the quality of auditions was better. The difference was really noticeable and this is probably what the entire show should look like.

I left the Golden Tulip for last. And yet again, I was very pleasantly surprised. It has beautiful, spacious rooms in which the systems could really be presented to their best capabilities in the best acoustic and visual conditions that could be mustered. The only issue were the thin walls in between the rooms, which resulted in me hearing what people were listening to in the next room. But ideal conditions can only be achieved in a studio or in the comfort of your own home, so I just had to suck it up. It’s no wonder that it was in the Tulip that I found the best-sounding system of the Audio Show 2014 – in my personal opinion. It was Grobel Audio’s room. The sound from the tape was simply incredible, although the black disc didn’t sound much worse.

As usual, Grobel Audio’s room offered calmness and class. The sources included the Revox PR99 tape player. The signal was amplified by the Jadis I-50, which uses KT150 tubes, and the sound came from the Franco Serblin Accordo speakers.

I finished my first visit at the Audio Show with Hans Theessink’s concert. He played a simply jaw-dropping gig and I truly regretted having to leave during the short break, after the first hour. Concerts like this are the real “cherry on top” of the whole show, they really fasten their last button. They cause the whole day to be complete and make you wonder what you’ll be surprised by next year.

„Music To The People”

There is a separate long version of my own report from the 2014 Audio Show (which will appear in the December issue of “High Fidelity”), but I will place a condensed summary of all the things that made the biggest impression on me here. Namely, the rooms prepared by three particular companies. First of all – Moje Audio. As they tend to do every year, the Wrocław-based company “went wild” and invested in renting out four rooms. And it was totally worth it: each of the rooms occupied by this particular company hosted systems with a remarkable sound (the amazing Aptika speakers + Lumin as well as the reference Isis with Reimyo’s electronics), attention to detail (very well used acoustic room treatment) as well as being, frankly, pleasing to the eye.

Honey to our ears: Trenner&Friedl Isis speakers with Reimyo electronics and Harmonix cables.

Another great presentation was made by Eter Audio, a Kraków-based company. They had one room in the Sobieski and one room in Bristol, and both of them presented a completely different – but praise-worthy in both cases – sound aesthetic. In the Sobieski, Accuphase was the king, together with the beautiful vintage speakers from Spendor (enriched by the presence of the company’s owner, a remarkably pleasant man), while the Bristol hosted Gerhard Hirt and Ayon products (with the Spheris III line preamplifier leading the whole parade, in my opinion), as well as Transrotor (namely, their Artus turntable which costs over half a million zlotys). It was nice, musical, and simply enjoyable.

Last, but not least, we have a company that made a special impression on my memory – the Polish speaker manufacturer, Pylon Audio. After listening to their Pearl 25 speakers, I knew that I was dealing with a very promising company – they sounded amazing and didn’t cost the equivalent of a small hosuehold, which made me decide to follow the company’s latest releases. And let me just say it out right – it was totally worth it at the Audio Show. Their products (the aforementioned Pearl 25 and Sapphire 25) literally divided and conquered all the other products, showing a stylish, classy, and heart-grasping sound. Apparently, Pylon is meant to manufacture their own converters in the near future. After what the lads have presented in Warsaw, I can hardly wait to see what they’ll come up with.


We celebrated “High Fidelity’s” 10th anniversary with our readers. The Audio Show, where many of them were planning to make an appearance, seemed like the perfect occasion to do it. As we’ve mentioned before, there were three events planned: Hans Theessink’s concert, a comparison of the analog tape, LP and audio file, as well as the chance to listen to 1st generation copies of analog tapes on Stellavox tape players.
I don’t believe I’ll be wrong if I say that you thoroughly enjoyed what we prepared for you. All of the aforementioned events were very popular, and the tickets to Theessink’s concert disappeared quicker than those for Jack White’s concert (which the whole “High Fidelity” crew attended soon after the show, at Stara Zajezdnia in Kraków, on 12.11.2014, at 10.30 PM).

Hans played the guitar, sang, as well as played the harmonica with a mic connected to the same amp as his guitar.

The concert was marvellous. Hans is a real bluesman and on the first day he played for as long as he was inspired to do so, meaning two and a half hours, including a break. He surprised everyone with this, and when he asked for a short break after the first hour (during which he signed albums and tapes), part of the audience left. As it turns out, many people expected a short concert, like the one given by Antonio Forcione two years ago, and they had planned something else for the rest of their evening, unaware of the sheer scale of the concert (time-wise). But the vast majority had a brilliant time, singing along with the artist, clapping until their arms hurt, and shouting along.

Before the Sunday concert I had a conversation with Hans and he told me that he was delighted by the audience’s reception and planned an even longer set for Sunday. We were unfortunately forced to ask him to cut his setlist short, due to the entire Audio Show ending. Saddened by this, he asked to give all the “High Fidelity” readers a special shout-out and thank them all for a very warm welcome.
And if we’re talking about this – it turns out that he’s a true audiophile, familiar with many audio brands, systems, and the entire terminology. What’s more, he has already read the review of his album which was published in the November’s editorial, even though it was only released in Polish at the time.

The Krakow Sonic Society on tour brought an equal amount of smiles to people’s faces. The Nagra IV-S was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Dirk and Birgit Sommer, with Dirk also having a go at being DJ, playing back the LPs, which contained the very same material as the tapes, on the Transrotor Artus turntable that cost (including the cartridge and phono stage) over 600,000 zł. Audio files were presented by Gerhard Hirt, the owner of Ayon Audio and manufacturer of all the other electronics.

The four musketeers in Nautilus’s room, right before the first KSS show: (from the right) Gerhard Hirt/Ayon Audio, Jochen Räke/Transrotor, Wojciech Pacuła/“High Fidelity” and Dirk Sommer/Sommelier Du Son/

Comparing tapes and LPs resulted in an almost unanimous opinion: almost everybody believed the tape to be the superior medium. Most mentioned a lightness, smoothness, freedom and general naturality of sound. The LP’s sound seemed to be more “artificial” or “manufactured”, not quite as light and resolving, and a bit veiled. Despite that, all the listerners agreed that the LP sounded amazing. I have to admit that my heart supported those who favoured the LPs, especially their superior vividness, i.e. a better tangibility of all the instruments on this medium.

Comparing the LPs to audio files was a mirror reflection of the previous comparison, except the “supreme” medium turned out to be the LP, in this case. But here, too, people pointed out certain superior qualities of the file sound, which were lacking on the analog discs. The most important differences included bigger dynamics, lower noise level, and less veiling. The sound was clearer, but also more contoured. It also lacked the analog tape’s “charm.”
Another very interesting comparison was that of the same track, converted from a master tape into two different file types: the PCM 24/192 and DSD. The participants took an A/B/A blind test and pointed out the sound that they preferred. As far as I remember (and if I’m wrong, I do apologize!) majority chose the “B” sample, which turned out to be the DSD file. The latter seemed more natural and reminiscent of the analog tape’s sound.

The room that “High Fidelity” prepared together with Lutz-Precision/Analog Arts, the sponsors of Hans Theessink’s arrival in Poland. There are Stellavox SP9 tape players and an MG-HiFi turntable on the table.

And, finally,’s room, in which Lutz-Precision/Analog Arts, the sponsor of Hans Theessink’s concert, enabled the visitors to audition master tapes. The source was two Stellavox SP9 tape players, as well as a turntable manufactured by the German company MG-Hifi. They were available for free auditions using Sennheiser HD700 and HD800 headphones, driven by the Eternal Arts Tube Headphone Amp. The version presented at the show was modified and was named the KHV Professional II – Lutz Version.

Sommelier Du Son
Analog Arts


It’s obvious now that the Audio Show has become the centre of attention of the European audiophiles and audio press. Now all that’s left to do is improve whatever can be improved, as well as keep up what is already great. This is why I initially wanted to write a mini-guide for any beginner exhibitor to setting up their own exposition, which would help them make it through an event like this. I also wanted to point out the most common mistakes made by exhibitors as well as answer some frequently asked questions. But that would require me to divide this report into even more parts, which is something I didn’t want to do.

But all you really have to do is take a look at the best rooms and the more popular systems of the companies which achieve highest popularity and have a full room of an audience, year after year – because their audio gear sounds GREAT. It doesn’t take many brains to notice that most of the rooms which have been rewarded had some sort of acoustic treatment, be it passive or active. If there weren’t many acoustic treatment accessories, the company usually tinkered around with the speaker positioning. It’s also useful having a sense of constructive self-critique, which many lacked. These expositioners would stand there, proud of themselves, while their speakers produced some uncorrelated noise that pretended to be music.

But I promised to leave out any tips and advice. The Audio Show 2014 is in the past, now, after all. Yet another record has been set, and another batch of great experiences has been lived. Below, in the gallery (over 100 pictures!), you will find a rollercoaster ride through all the AS’s rooms. The photo order follows the order in which I toured through the Audio Show. I wasn’t able to get to all the rooms, and I didn’t find all the rooms worth documenting. But it’s worth checking out what I did have enough time to see.

I’d like to warmly thank all of the people who contributed to making the Audio Show the amazing exposition that it was. I also send my greatest regards to all of those who contributed to the success of the events and panels organized by “High Fidelity”. And most of all, I’d like to thank all of you who have been reading this magazine, every month. There are another exciting 10 years ahead of us!

Post Scriptum

This is the first part of my report from the exposition. On December 1st you’ll be able to read the next part, written by Bartosz Pacuła, the editor-in-chief of “Music To The People”. It will also contain a short piece written by our translator, Andrzej Dziadowiec, as well as Marek Dyba’s report from the closed displays prepared by FM Acoustic and Audio Tekne.

  • The system presented by the Łódź-based company Audiofast: Wilson Audio Sasha 2 speakers, Dan d’Agostino Integrated amplifier, and the Vivaldi front end system from dCS (sans up-sampler). The voltage was filtered through Synergistic Research’s Galileo LE PowerCell.
  • Our friend and member of the Krakow Sonic Society, dCS’s marketing manager, Raveen Bava.
  • A system in which a Zontek turntable and Linnart electronics play the main part. The turntable is equipped with two arms and cartridges: the Ortofon Windfeld and Lyra Dorian. The phono preamplifier: Pre Phono Linnart P1. Preamp and monoblocks from Carry Audio, the Harbeth Super HL5 Plus speakers, and Sound Box acoustic treatment accessories.
  • The Pre Phono Linnart P1 phono preamplifier next to the same company’s SP-01 line amplifier.
  • The system in ESA and Intrada room: the Avid HiFi Volvere turntable with the EMT TSD15 cartridge, the Avid Pellere preamplifier, the Mastersound Compact 300B amplifier, the ESA Credo 1 Illuminator speakers, and acoustic room treatment from Nyquist.
  • A beautiful system: the Mark Levinson No.585 integrated amplifier/DAC, the Mark Levinson No.512 SACD player, and the JBL K2 S9900 speakers. Cabling from Cardas, rack from ROGOZ.
  • A DSP chip, the heart of the P-3 processor from Ancient Audio.
  • Jarek Waszczyszyn next to Ancient Audio’s new component: the P-3 processor. It’s a signal corrector, DAC and preamplifier in one.
  • Hi-Fi Club system, with the massive Avior speakers from Rockport Technologies. Weight: 100 kg.
  • The Nagra IV-S with a special add-on that allows you to play back wide diameter tapes. It changes the tape player from a single-motor to triple-motor unit.
  • The second sound source during the KSS’s show: the Transrotor Artus turntable with the ZYX Omega Premium cartridge.
  • Mr. Jochen Räke with our translator, Andrzej Dziadowiec.
  • A source change – moving on from the LP (Dirk Sommer, in the middle) to the S-5 Ayon Audio file player – Gerhard (on the right side).
  • Jochen Räke/Transrotor in the middle, Robert Szklarz/Nautilus on the right, Andrzej Dziadowiec/“High Fidelity” on the left.
  • Dirk Sommer talking about LP pressing technology.
  • The system we used for all comparisons: the Transrotor Artus turntable, ZYX Premium Omega cartridge, Ayon Audio’s Spheris III preamplifier, Ayon Audio’s Crossfire Evolution amp, Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Mezzo speakers, Siltech Double Crown cables, Base rack.
  • After the first demonstration…
  • The tickets to KSS’s show disappeared in a matter of seconds.
  • Naim Label stands for both fantastic sound and very interesting music – on CDs, LPs, and files, too. During the AS2014 they had physical formats on sale.
  • A new Asus converter, the EONE Muse MkII, with Ultrasone headphones.
  • A system made up of solely new devices: the Arcam CDS27 file and SACD player in one, the Arcam C49 preamplifier, and the P49 power amplifier. Speakers: the Monitor Audio PL200.
  • This could be a big hit: Arcam’s first-ever file and SACD player in one, the FMJ CDS27.
  • This was an amazing demonstration: the Naim Muso all-in-one system, which sounded like a standalone, big system. People demanded to see the back of the speakers because they couldn’t believe their own ears.
  • One of the most expensive, if not the single most expensive system at the show: the Focal Utopia Scala V2 speakers with the Soulution 701 monoblocks and Soulution 725 preamplifier. The monoblocks stood atop custom-made Franc Audio Accessories isolation boards.
  • The Czech-based Indies Production label – some really interesting music here, I’ll definitely have to investigate further.
  • The Sound Project Model1, a headphone amplifier with regulated load impedance and transformer output. The VU-meters’ backlight color can be changed via remote control.
  • To me, this is one of the most important comebacks on the Polish market: after many years, Artur Mierzwiak is back with his company, Sound Project. Pictured is his Sound Project Model1 headphone amplifier, the Audeze LCD2 headphones, the Exposure 1010 CD player, and Sound Project Special cables. Artur is standing on the right side, behind the Graham Audio speakers.
  • The return of Technics, with two product lines: the Reference R1 and the C700. The former includes the SE-1 amp, SU-R1 file player and SB-S1 speakers.
  • The SE-R1 amp with its characteristic VU meters. Technics introduced them for the very first time in 1977, in the SE-A1 amp. The SE-R1 has a built-in D/A converter.
  • Audio System prepared a really cool system, which included: the Audio Physic Cardeas Plus speakers, Van Den Hul electronics and cables, the Acoustic Signature Thunder turntable, the Van Den Hul Crimson cartridge, and the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition rack & isolation boards.
  • The Sveda Audio Dapo active speakers with Wombat subwoofers. The signal from the computer was processed by the Mytek Manhattan DAC. The system also included HIS mass conditioners made by the Polish company Paanaudio.
  • The Boenicke Audio W8 are small speakers with an incredible sound. The system, prepared by Living Sound, also included: the Sanders Sound Systems MAGTECH power amp, the CAD file transport, the CAD 1543 converter, the PurePower +3000 conditioner, and PAD Luminist 25th Anniversary cables.
  • The Sanders Sound Systems Magtech power amplifier was designed to drive Magnepan speakers, which are a very difficult load. But it turned out to be beneficial to the Boenicke speakers, too.
  • This wonder has already arrived at my place and is waiting to be auditioned. Demonstrated for the very first time at the High End 2014 show in Munich, you could also give it a listen in Warsaw. And it was definitely worth it! It’s a tube amp on EL84 tubes, with a tube preamplifier and D/A converter, headphone amp and phono stage, which accepts pretty much every DSD, DXD and PCM format that exits at the moment. Add small stand mount speakers to the mix, based on the legendary BBC LS3/5 monitors. Everything is housed in a bamboo enclosure; a member of the grass family which is several times harder than wood.
  • Zeta Studio presented some remarkable-looking speakers this year, the Zeta Zero, as well as a new model – temporarily called the Zeta Zero “Orbital”, which resembled a caged Ninja warrior, rocket, or Muslim woman.
  • The Wilson Audio Alexia were driven by the latest Audio Research Galileo GS150 two-piece amplifier, with the Aurender W20 server as a digital source, the MSB Select DAC and the MSB Signature Data CD player.
  • The Audio Research Galileo GS150 is a prime example of how to combine the retro style of the 1950s with a modern approach to tube technology. The large VU-meters are definitely attention-grabbing.
  • A complete system from the Japanese company Robert Koda: the K-15 preamplifier (on top) and the hybrid, three-piece K-70 Gen II power amplifier. It’s beautiful, truly beautiful!
  • I wanted to show SoundClub’s room in its entirety to turn your attention to the sheer amount of hard work they put into preparing it. The Acoustic Manufacture acoustic panels placed on three sides of the room, as well as a limited number of seats because of it, translated into a wonderfully refined sound.
  • The base of SoundClub’s system were these Marten Coltrane 2 speakers with ceramic woofers, and midrange drivers, and a diamond dome tweeter. To the side you can see one of the Tenor Audio 350M monoblocks, driven by the Line1 preamplifier (also from Tenor Audio). The monoblock was seated on a custom-made board from Franc Audio Accessories.
  • SoundClub’s system also included power cords and power strip from KLB Sound. The rest of the cables were supplied by Jorma.
  • GrajPudła changed their name to “Holophony.” They are still based on old, paper cone drivers, often half a century old. The speakers in this Polish room were driven by the Audio Akustyka Primus amp.
  • Hans Theessink’s concert is about to start – I’m just welcoming everybody here, in the spirit of “High Fidelity’s” 10th birthday.
  • The first track of the evening, and the first guitar.
  • The guitar and harmonica were connected to a tube amp. The signal was picked by a large-membrane AKG 414 microphone. Another one of these microphones was pointed at the guitar’s box. Only then did the signal get to the mixing table. Many thanks for the WONDERFUL mixing!
  • Thank you, too!
  • The Albedo Aptica speakers with the Crayon Audio CFA1.2 amplifier and the ISOL-8 Integra power conditioner. The source is the Lumin S1 file player. The rack is from Solid Tech.
  • New stuff from Hong Kong: the Wow Audio L1/M1 two-piece amplifier. Simply marvelous workmanship.
  • The Trilogy 925 amp – the newest of the new – the first unit to ever be manufactured. A PIN had to be inputted to get it to start.
  • One of the systems that got an award from us: the Trenner&Friedl Pharoah speakers, the Trilogy 925 integrated amp, the ISOL-8 SubStation HC conditioners for the integrated and ISOL-8 SubStation LC for the rest of the components. The ISOL-8 Reference power cables. The Trilogy 907 turntable preamplifier, The Funk Firm Little Super Deck turntable with The Funk Firm FX and Achromat arms, and the ZYX R 100 cartridge. The Tellurium Q Black Diamond signal and speaker cables.
  • Premium Sound presented a very refined system, which included: the Lumin T1 file player from the D1 server, the Audia Flight Three integrated amp, the Audia Flight Three CD player, the Audiobyte Black Dragon DSD converter and the AudioSolutions Rhapsody 80 speakers, alternately with the AudioSolutions Guimbarde. Additionally: the ISOL-8 Axis conditioner and XLR Tellurium Black Diamond interconnect.
  • The Lumin T1 (seated on Acoustic Solid support platforms) atop the Hegel H160 amplifier, which could be heard on Saturday, past 3 PM.
  • The Pełne Brzmienie room, no. 707, was dominated by the Systemdek 3D Precision turntable + Audio Origami PU-7 12
  • Under the turntable itself you can see the Triode TRV-EQ3SE turntable preamplifier, and right next to it: the Art Audio Argento integrated amp that uses EML 300B XLS tubes. The speakers were the ART Loudspeakers Alnico 8.
  • The number of events this year was incredibly high, it was very difficult to attend all of them.
  • A collection of Polish headphone amplifiers, including the Citrone and SWS Audio.
  • Artech has been manufacturing both network cables and network panels for years.
  • MJ Audio Lab’s well-prepared room, with Acoustic panels. There were three systems set up within, with (from right to left) the PMC Twenty.26, Bryston Mini-A, and PMC Twenty.21 speakers. The systems used Bryston electronics.
  • Fonica’s latest new product: an inexpensive turntable. It’s not certain how much it will cost nor what it will be called. It is equipped with the F-02, mk3 arm.
  • The F-02 arm, in mk3 version, in its transport box. Its components are either anodized or plated with gold.
  • Mr. Philip Swift, the owner of Spendor, tells me about the differences introduced in the new version of his flagship speakers from the Classic series.
  • An award-winning system, with the Accuphase DP-901 transport and DP-58 acoustics corrector; the Leben CS-1000 amp and the Spendor SP-100R2 Vintage Edition speakers.
  • JAG’s system – this time they presented amps with classic, metal fronts, as well as tube-based file players.
  • This is one of the most beautiful presentations, with a brilliant message: listen to the music! As part of the 75th anniversary of Blue Note, Voice – in cooperation with Universal – prepared a playback of this label’s vinyl remasters. The system included: the Sonus faber Olimpica III speakers, the PRE60 Primare preamplifier/file player, and the A60 Primare power amp. The turntable is the Pro-Ject Xtension9 with the Ortofon Quintet Black cartridge. And that’s what I like to hear!
  • The three musketeers: Gerhard Hirt/Ayon Audio, Dirk Sommer/Sommelier Du Son and Wojciech Pacuła/„High Fidelity”.
  • The second day of KSS’s shows; we could not manage to fit in more people.
  • One of the recordings offered by Lutz-Precizion on LPs and tapes is a performance by the Polish marimba player, Katarzyna Myćka.
  • The LP product lineup – LPs and analog copies of master tapes.
  • JPLAY’s system with Auralic electronics: the Aries streamer, the VEGA DAC, the Taurus PRE, the Merak monoblocks, the Kawero! Chiara speakers, and a Leading Edge rack and acoustic accessories.
  • Amare Audio & Audio Philar system with the Amare Musica Trinity amp, the Amare Musica Deforest preamplifier, and the Amare Musica Diamond Music Server. The speakers – which somewhat resemble Marten Tenor designs – are the Amare Musica Etna prototypes. The DAC is the Mytek Manhattan. The rack and boards are from Audio Philar.
  • One of the best-sounding rooms: the Equilibrium Ether Ceramique speakers, the Atoll ST200 file player, the Atoll Gamme PR400 + Gamme AM400 amp, Equilibrium Tune cables, and a power supply by ENERR.
  • The room of with the RP8 turntable and electronics from Rega; all of it was set up on Monolith Audio boards.
  • Probably one of the most-expected premieres: prototypes of the new version of Altus speakers from Tonsil. Each one of them weighs 50 kg, the crossover uses Mundorf M-Cap Supreme capacitors, and a pair of the Altus is supposed to cost around 5,000 zł.
  • ElinsAudio’s great amp with an Accuphase player and Dynaudio C2 Platinum speakers. Unfortunately, the speakers had just been unboxed.
  • Just next to it you could find another formidable Polish manufacturer: Abyssound. You can see their prototype integrated amp and phono preamplifier on the table. The system included the Infinity vintage speakers.
  • room. The speakers: Tomek 50177; the amp (a Naim clone): Tomek 1685; the Robertus DAC: Tomek 1685; the Noje turntable: Piters1966. And, to top it all off, the Husaria phono preamplifier: Ahaja.
  • Gigawatt and Sevenrods’ room, with the Audiovector S3 Super or Audiovector M1 Signature speakers. The source and amp were the Perreaux ECD2 CD and E160i, respectively. The signal cables were Sevenrods ROD4 RCA + Sevenrods ROD4 SP. The power supply – GigaWatt PC4 EVO/LC3 mkIII HC + LC3 mkIII.
  • Together at the Audio Show for the very first time: electronics made by an Italian company, Lector, and speakers made by an Israeli company, Morel. 2N-Everpol will be the distributor.
  • Beautiful products in a great arrangement. The Lumin T1 file player with the Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 integrated amp, interchangeably with the Capri preamplifier and the Model 125 monoblocks. The speakers were the Raidho D1. It’s worth noting the incredibly well-prepared rack made of natural wood.
  • The Polish-British Friendship Society was represented by Audio Punkt’s room. The Graham Audio LS5/9 speakers and Naim electronics.
  • G Lab Design Fidelity prototype speakers with a new full range driver. They’re driven by the Block amp that received our award.
  • Who says that acoustic treatment accessories are always eye-sores. Acoustic showed us that this is clearly not the case!
  • Goodmans speakers, which we have seen previously in a system with Sugden electronics, here paired with electronics from the Polish company, J. Sikora. The company is back on the market after 17 years of absence. We spotted the Reference turntable and the Reference phono preamplifier (below)..
  • The J. Sikora Reference Turntable came with two Kuzma 4 Point arms.
  • Unitra is currently a conglomerate of several manufacturers, who offer their products under this legendary brand name. Pictured here are the Fryderyk turntable, made by Ad Fontes; the Edward integrated (tube) amplifier; and the ZGWS-R-301-CO speakers from Pylon Audio.
  • The “Italian” room: the Diapason Astera speakers, the Aqua Aqoustic Quality CD transport, the Aqua Aqoustic Quality D/A converter, the Art Audio Conductor preamplifier and the Wells Audio Innamorata monoblocks.
  • The Power Station power strip from the Polish company, Audiomica Laboratory.
  • The very minimalistic presentation of Franc Audio Accessories’ isolation feet looked unreal. You could see the new finishes.
  • A very pleasant system put together by Q21 salon: the Amphion Argon 3L speakers, the Hegel H160 amp/DAC, and the Hegel HD25 converter. The room’s acoustic adaptation was done by Acoustic Manufacture.
  • An inexpensive, but truly great system: the Audio Physic Classic 20 ND Gloss speakers, the BC Acoustique EX-332D integrated amp, and the BC Acoustique EX-622 CD player. 
  • Another prime example of the fact that you don’t need to be a millionaire to listen to music on a very high level: Voice’s room. The Pro-Ject RPM-1.3 Genie turntable, Pro-Ject CD BOX RS + Pre BOX RS Digital CD player, the Pro-Ject MaiA amplifier, and cables from Cardas.
  • Polish products (with McIntosh components): the Tatami Audio Glasba speakers.
  • Many audiophiles had been waiting for these speakers, their incredible appearance captivating their attention. The Vivid Audio Giya G3 were driven by the Cary Audio CAD-211FE amps.
  • The ADC Pentoda with a hybrid amp from its “silver” line. 180 Watts power output, gain stage on 4 x PCF 82, and current stage on 8 x V-Mos. The speaker system, with all its advantages and immense sound, allows you to change its configuration based on your own needs. It’s characterized by its great impulse response, wide base, and an incredibly effective bottom-range which radiates from the central speaker, with the lower one playing more of a support function.
  • Nomos Audio Fintage brought along a true paradise for “anachrophiles”, it was amazing! The system included the Nakamichi Dragon tape recorder. Pictured is a tower of amps, FM and stereo receivers.
  • The debut of Polish-Swedish company, JR Audio. Equally important to the turntable itself is its arm, where the head is kept at a constant angle to the groove.
  • Hans Theessink signed albums and tapes for us “High Fidelity” folk, too.
  • Hans’s rehearsal before the Sunday concert.
  • Hans Theessink with the article’s author.