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Had this September not come, there wouldn't have been a hifi show in Helsinki. September seems to be for audio shows what April is for falling in love - and not just in Helsinki but in Milan, London and who knows where else.

The venue for the HIGHEND 2008 was the same Radisson SAS hotel in the center of Helsinki as the previous year but the hardware supply was better, both in terms of quantity and quality. Failing to participate at the Munich spring show no longer is a big deal. Generally speaking, what stood out positively in Munich was fairly well represented in Helsinki. That included Avalon's Ascendant and Eidolon Vision speakers with Unison Research and Condrad-Johnson amplification respectively. No complaints about the sound in either case.

That applies to the mighty Mark & Daniel Apollo II which were hooked up to a complete set of ASR electronics, the Basis Exclusive phono amp and the driver stage of the Emitter 1 Exclusive being battery powered. The output stage of the Emitter 1 grabbed AC from a power-decoupling unit by Italian Corfac.

WLM's La Scalas sounded promising commanded by Manley Mahi monoblocks and controlled by Red Wine Audio's Isabella preamp and a Sugden 21 Series 2CD, all connections made with Zu cables. What makes the La Scala special, more than has been acknowledged, is the cone tweeter. There's no inherent reason why cone tweeters wouldn't work. On the contrary, the principle makes technically much sense. Basically, dome tweeters dominate because they're cheap to manufacture. Some past cone tweeters were excellent but their quality was uneven. Since the performance of a cone tweeter depends directly on how the cone behaves, the principle sets certain requirements for the manufacturing process and quality control. With modern production techniques, cone tweeters can have a future again.