Where Brussels is only 1.5 hours from our hometown of Rotterdam, Paris adds another 2½. With no real borders to cross -- the border between Holland and Belgium is a mere a sign -- the transition from Belgium to France requires merely slowing down a bit. The further south you go, the faster you can go. Speed limits are for the most part 100km/h in Holland, 120 in Belgium and 130 in France. Rotterdam to Paris, door to door, takes 4 hours sharp.

Each year, the 'Haute Fidelite' magazine is the host of a small and cozy show in the Sofitel St. Jacques in the southern part of the City of Lights. In France, haute fidelite is different. Haute fidelite is serious, dammit. It is not something to be taken lightly. When you sit in and listen during a show, you listen for a complete vinyl side or at least 5 tracks on a CD. And when you listen, you listen attentively. And the music is often classical, even with a tendency towards heavy classical.

Laurent Thorin is the editor of the magazine and the organizer of the show and this year, we once again had to congratulate him for his work. On 4 levels, 29 rooms participated and the lower level housed static displays. Like last year's show, many exhibitors occupied the same rooms to thus be well aware of all the quirks that would be encountered. The overall sound therefore was good and we did not hear any of the otherwise nearly ubiquitous excuses that the room was responsible for this or that sonic failing.

Here's a picture of attendants listening to Atoll and Elac.

As he manages every year, Todd Garfinkle of MA Recordings found an excuse to escape his Tokyo home and sell some excellent CDs in Paris. After the show, his European stock of CDs was substantially diminished. The French like good music, not just wine and baguettes.

And speaking about good music, the quatroconcentric Cabasse La Sphere in an almost science fiction like blue-illuminated room with two of these alien monster eyes proved the saying that the French don't have gas but ideas!

Down on the floor in the front of a particular room was a Nagra set and except for the music, the room was quiet as a mouse. All seemed to be mesmerized by the music and drawn into a different dimension. Even if they only dreamt about owning a Nagra one day, they sure had a very pleasant time listening.

Serious interest during the whole show was expressed for the work of Franck Tchang, the man behind Acoustic System. Here his distributor explains what the resonators, the small gold, silver, brass or platinum bowls, can do for acoustics.

A lot of attention was directed at David Manley - yes, the David Manley.

We said it before, Duevel is omnipresent and omnidirectional. Here in Paris, the local distributor dared to set up a pair of Planets in a large room and he was right. As minute as they seem, the Planets can fill a room with a pleasant musical sound.

Melody is getting more and more attention in the market. And from what we heard here in combination with the WLM Diva dual-concentrics [above], for good reason. A sweet, well defined sound rich in dynamics emerged from their 2A3 tubes.

And then there were the new NuForce S-9 loudspeakers together with a stunningly beautiful Pathos Endorphine CDP.

Lowther, Voigt anyone? This was DIY heaven. Music from a Michell ORB SE with SME arm. And look at those external crossover coils.

Audio Valve from Germany brought an OTL headphone amplifier.

Wanted to build your own horn speakers? Step right up!

Zu was following us around, it seemed. Even in Paris one could listen to the big Definitions, here with Pass Labs amplification. On the walls of this room and on the speakers, one could spot the magic touch of Franck Tchang's resonators. The sound of this exhibit was one of the best of the show already.

Haliaetus showed and demoed not only their revolutionary Firebird loudspeaker but also the more affordable Blackbird, the latter with a more conventional housing, not the fiberglass reinforced composite that makes the Firebird expensive. Also on display was a transparent Lexan model that demonstrated the turbulences which exist in typical ported enclosures and which Haliaetus overcomes in their designs. More on these loudspeakers soon - we currently have a pair of Firebirds on review.

Sorry to say but Final played the wrong music -- Hugh Masekela's you-know-what -- but they were at the show and the attendees were enthusiastic by what they heard from the 1000i electrostatics.

A real radio from Cayin and a tube amplifier from Sansui. It seemed we were swept back in time.

The really big guys were also present in Paris and the Quadral Titans in their crème disguise might have looked harmless but could be brutal.

More big guys were there in the form of Aerial and JBL Synthesis but they were being driven gently and sounded sweet enough.

New Zealand's Plinius with French Jean-Marie Reynaud combined fine and were able to play pleasantly in a large room.

When it's show season and you want to cover more than one, you're always in a hurry. Only days after the Paris show there loomed the Denver Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in the US. What to attend is always a matter of choices based on available time, budget and other practical matters. We decided to go to Denver and quickly headed back home to pack rather than stay on in Paris for a few more days. Just like the previous year, the Salon Haute Fidelite was a pleasant affair. Nice people, lots of interesting products and hey - it's in Paris. How could one go bloody wrong?