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When? 7-8.11.2009


Hotel Jan III Sobieski
Plac Artura Zawiszy 1, Warszawa
tel. +48 (22) 579 10 00

Hotel Kyriad Prestige
Towarowa 2, Warszawa
tel. +48 (22) 582 75 00

Hotel Bristol
Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44, Warszawa
tel. +48 (22) 55 11 000

Tekst: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

Thirteen is a number associated with bad luck. This is the reason, that it was avoided, if possible, in registers and enumerations. But we live in 21st century – a century free from childish naivety, a century full of joy. So we cannot talk about bad luck… But despite that, what I wrote, superstition and fear is deeply embedded into our subconscious, culture, etc., so I heard it from many people, that this show cannot succeed, as it is the thirteenth show. And even when a part of those statements were meant as jokes, I had the idea, that my interlocutors meant it half serious. Now I know what they meant – it was bad luck for those, who did not make it to Warsaw.

This is probably the “richest” show of them all. Even if we find editions as big as this one was, still in terms of presentations, the sheer amount of new, and expensive, gear, and finally, the number of visitors – it was a record. Already last year I had problems in listening to all the systems exposed, this year I also did not manage to do it either, and I am sorry for that. This is the reason, that this year reportage will be even more subjective than usual – as I based it not only on my evaluation and opinions, but it is also a result of pre-selection. What was this pre-selection? Easy – if I was not interested within the first half minute – I left the room. The element, that could draw my attention, could be the sound, a device that interested me in some way, interesting guests (mostly company owners), acquaintances or information I received earlier. Yes – some exhibitors sent me information about the exposed systems, with a few extra words about them, why those should be interesting. And I mean some, not even a dozen. Because in the euphoria, that we could get in during the show, we should not forget about some things, that still remind us of an out-of-the-way locality. I’ll start with those, to add a grain of salt, to this otherwise nicely smelling cake. But some say, that adding salt to a cake, guarantees it to be successfully baked…

The most important problem of the Audio Show is its “local character” and “insularity”. Against the fact, that looking at the amount of foreign guest we could think otherwise, the Warsaw show is exactly that – a “Warsaw” show. First of all there are no foreign journalists. For years, they come only in small numbers, there are two, three, but usually this is more a joke, than a true presence. And we can compare the Audio Show to others in that terms – the Munich High End show is for me the benchmark; because when we compare, we should compare with the best… Anyway – this year Munich was visited by 438 journalists from 48 countries, including me. In Warsaw, in the best case scenario, there could be 20-30 people from 4 countries (unfortunately the organizer does not publish data on that). And if we compare the number of visitors – in Munich, during four days, 13677 people went through the M.O.C exhibition halls (visitors, exhibitors and journalists), while Audio Show was visited by over 8000 people in two days (!). This is fully comparable! This means, that spending per visitor is at least a dozen times, or probably even a few hundred times smaller, than in Germany. This can be called a difference… But to the point – when there are not a few dozen foreign journalists in that crowd, then we have a local show. We need to change that, if we want to lead the Audio Show to the world. This is a job for the organizer and for the exhibitors. The organizer should make a widespread informative and promotional campaign in foreign audio magazines. They usually have sections, where they inform about such exhibitions, and I did not notice any mention of the Audio Show there. Even when I missed something, an invitation to such a big show should be in EVERY audio magazine, at every manufacturer’s web page. This builds the atmosphere and shows the editorial houses, that there is something like Poland, and something like an exhibition there.

But the organizer alone cannot do much. A positive pressure from the exhibitors is also necessary. When in almost every room there was somebody from abroad (mostly the owner), then it means, that they can make a telephone call, write a few emails. This is enough. Then everything runs from itself – information about an interesting show will spread around and will create a positive pressure to just BE there. Of course this will not be as easy as I described. The problem with foreign journalists is, that their arrival is sponsored by certain companies. In Poland we pay for our travels by ourselves (yes, ourselves – the magazines pay us only for the materials, and it is the same amount as for a test), but for example in Great Britain audio companies sponsor such visits. But I just talked about that – the exhibitors have the people around them, who can take care of that. They are for sure interested in publicity, meaning the widest possible distribution of information about their products. This is the reason to talk with them about this topic, ask them and even demand that – this is an opportunity for us all. Just to mention an example – last year there was an “external” person at the Reimyo presentation, and his report appeared immediately afterwards on the web page from the company - Combak .

The problem of “insularity” is much deeper. It is a problem, that the expositors do not understand, that the press “rules”. Some of them still feel offended by journalists, don’t like them, don’t believe them, don’t trust them, etc. And they may be right in some cases! Our circle worked for this, and must bear the consequences. But the reluctance to one or another writer is one thing, and professionalism another. And the latter is a must when promoting brands. So I do appeal to professionalism and approach to this topic without emotions – even when you think otherwise, the press is one of the most important elements of a successful strategy. And might be the key to success. And this can be reached in a different way – through the foreign partners. But there is also a simpler thing, that confirms the show being still quite careless. Like I mentioned, before the show I received a few emails from companies, inviting me to the show, and describing what can be expected there. Yes – a few emails for 69 expositors. This is something strange, because preparing such a communication/invitation takes about half an hour – creating it, writing it and sending it. And in my case this is especially visible – I write the reviews from the Warsaw, Munich and Berlin (IFA) shows for “High Fidelity” and “Audio” yearly, for six years now. So you can get used to it, or contact an editorial house, to ask who will be writing about the show in a given edition. The same case happened after the show – not having the information upfront I asked the companies to send me a list of exposed gear after the show. I received 12 responses. No comments.

The lack of coherent politics regarding the show is one of the most grave faults. Reading what I wrote, I see, that it looks worse on paper, that it looked in reality. The Audio Show is a great exhibition, and just like every other, has its problems to be resolved. But – like I say – it is great. This year the “satisfaction factor” run of the scale – in terms of exposing companies, as well as in terms of visitors. People were more educated, played different music, and not just two discs over and over, and did not comment on the presentations in a dumb way. As if they really cared for the TRUTH, for music, and not building their own ego. Maybe they cooled down in internet forums? Who knows… And there were so many visitors, that you could get lost in the crowd. You could not get inside many of the rooms for hours, the corridors of the Sobieski hotel (and most rooms were there) resembled a metro during rush hours, and this unbearable damp air… This is a subsequent case, when for some reason air conditioning could not be turned on – a massacre! But this is the result of the popularity of the show, its success. Adding the Kyriad hotel to the pool helped the show, but only a little. Sobieski is not fit for such an amount of visitors. I think, that this was the upper limit of the safety margin – some rooms were not accessible due to the amount of people inside. But I was to talk about the positive sides… So I’ll repeat – the Audio Show is one of the most important shows in Europe. Dirk Räke, the head of sales at Transrotor, the son of the owner, told me, that for him it is no.1 in Europe! And he did not tell this from pure courtesy, I can assure for that. The same I heard from the Japanese guests, the head of Accuphase, Mr. Jim S. Saito, who kept telling “Impressive” every time, he entered the Nautilus room to present his products. So it is good already. We just need to make it even better.

Just to not be proofless, I’ll quote some numbers presented by the organizer with his commentary:
“This year the show gathered a record number of exhibitors – 69 companies (in the year 2008, also a record year, there were “only” 68). The number of rooms rented was also close to the top: we had 75 rooms at our disposal, what means only one room less, than in 2008. But because we had two small, 16m2 rooms less, and one big conference room with 133m2 additionally, the surface of the show was over 100m2 greater than last year. Just to put this into perspective – in 2007 we had “only” 66 rooms. The number of visitors was also not disappointing, this was one of the strongest points of the show. This year we had almost 8000 of them (counting sold tickets and over 700 people on invitation), what is an amount close to last few years, and will be hard to beat, due to the physical constraints of the hotels. Traditionally most people were on Saturday. There was also a significant amount of journalists visiting, including three TV stations (TVP2, TVP 3/INFO, TVN – reports from the show aired on Saturday). Equally important to the sheer numbers are the impressions of the visitors – and those were overly positive. I followed the threads devoted to the Audio Show 2009 on three different internet forums, and among the 1000+ posts, I did not find EVEN ONE negative opinion about the exhibition. This is truly exceptional, taking into account the brutal honesty, of which web surfers are capable of.”

And I confirm that – Wojtek Pacuła.

Most information you can find in the descriptions under the photographs, but I would like to grab the opportunity, and point you to some of the especially successful presentations. An exhibition, in terms of sound, is always a lottery, so you cannot build an opinion, on what you heard. Sometimes systems that sounded well on Saturday, sounded bad on Sunday, and vice versa. It was enough, that the power voltage changed a little, and everything changed. The same thing was with the burn-in and placing of the equipment – this needs time, time not available in Warsaw. Despite all that I would like to distinguish some of the presentations, because when something is good, then we should write about that. But this is a personal choice – extremely subjective, and you should add to that, that not in all cases, I could sit down and listen quietly for a moment. But it is worth to try…


Hotel Kyriad

1. LINN. Comparing the top turntable LP12 Sondek with full equipment with the top digital source Klimax, was extremely informative. You could clearly hear, that both ways of recording sound (analog and digital) have their stronger and weaker points. But both were focused, full and coherent. I liked it very much.

2. Jadis with Sonus Faber loudspeakers. This is surprising, but when the Jadis distributor, the company Grobel Audio makes a presentation, the sound is at least very good. And this year, it was extremely tasteful – extremely dynamic, precise and full – splendid!

Hotel Jan III Sobieski

1. In the beginning I would like to turn your attention to the cheapest system – Rega. It is incredible, how well low cost, budget electronics can sound with nice speakers, when there is a good idea behind it all.

2. The amplifier Sonata WLM with loudspeakers from that company. If I saw well, the source of the sound was a file server, but full range speakers and tubes of the new electronics brought us back to early 20th century. And the sound was dynamic and nice. Bravo!

3. The room occupied by Moje Audio and Harpia Acoustics. Another “misalliance” – the source was the Blacknote DSS30 Tube file player, amplified by 300B tubes placed in Manley amplifiers playing with new Harpia Acoustics loudspeakers. Super!

4. The Szemis Audio Konsultant room with Simon Yorke S-9 turntable and Audio Note Jinro amplifier. During the last few years I had the impression, that there is something wrong with the sound. Not this time. The sound was rich, full, fluent and incredibly coherent!

5. The room of the new company 300B Systemy High End, with WHT loudspeakers and Cymer by Elson Silva amplifiers, 300B SE monoblocs, had the guitarist Paweł Ścierański as live performer. Bravo for the idea and the realization!

6. The complete Hoerning Hybrid system for the idea, splendid space and fullness – I need to listen to it!

7. Another complete system – Amparo/Kustagon electronics and Lowthera loudspeakers. Tasty!

Hotel Bristol

1. System with the turntable Transrotor Argos, Accuphase electronics and Dynaudio loudspeakers. Even if it wasn’t a live event brought to the room, it was still SOMETHING!

2. The Hi-Fi Club presentation of Thiel loudspeakers, McIntosh electronics and VPI turntable with Lyra Titan cartridge. Incredibly complete sound, with a lot of music. Once again we could hear, that a cartridge might be most important in a turntable.


1. Magnepan MG1.6 with Jeff Rowland electronics. American classic in good condition.

2. I am sorry for putting all of those together, but they are a part of the trend: Polish products were fantastic!
- Quasarus loudspeakers from Audio Solution
­- Equilibrium loudspeakers
- Absolutor preamplifier
- Gigawatt room
- Avalanche Reference Monitor AVCON loudspeakers

3. Monitor Audio Silver Rx series loudspeakers – much better than the previous series Silver and Gold!

4. V3 loudspeakers from the American company Magico. Incredibly balanced sound without fireworks (coloring) – just like I am searching for.

5. Polish loudspeaker Sensus Audio Air1 – their shape gets on me, but the sound is incredibly free, dynamic and live.

6. Xavian XC Mediterranea loudspeakers, for fitting splendidly into a small room. I think, that this was evenly due to the closed cabinet and the source – the turntable Goldenote Bellavista.

Please accept my apologies, if I missed somebody – this comes only from my shortcomings, and not my bad will. And summarizing, I would like to mention one thing: in the best presentation almost always a turntable or a file player was chosen, and the systems were based on tubes and high efficiency loudspeakers. I do not claim, that this was a rule, and I do not think, that this is the “only way”. Nevertheless I cannot contradict the facts – most probably this is the sound, that appeals to most visitors on the show – a sound, that draws attention, that interests.

So a big thank you to all Friends, Readers, acquaintances for the nice meetings, and see you all next year!

g     a     l     l     e     r     y

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"High Fidelity OnLine" is an internet magazine, published since may 2004, devoted to high quality reproduction of sound and picture. It is a monthly magazine, but the articles are uploaded twice a month - in the beginning of the month and in the middle. The news column is updated on on-going basis, if possible. The main sections are: "Tests", "Events" (interviews, reportages, and similar), "Hyde Park" (user tests, opinions) and "Who asks..." (readers questions and HFOL answers). Articles from earlier issues can be read in the "Archive". Have a nice read!

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