Playing to the dichotomy of fugly but great sound, Audio Sphere's Enzo Nolli, Swiss importer for Jeff Rowland, had set up a vinyl-fronted rig ending in Trenner & Friedl's Isis. Except for lacking handles and hinges to open in the front, those struck Ivette and I as two fat refrigerators which the Austrian makers clearly expect will set up shop in domestic living rooms. Oy. Whilst dimensioned according to golden ratio proportions from multiplex Birch Ply, these 120 x 50 x 35cm 3-way sarcophagi with horn-loaded compression tweeter would never be allowed in our digs. Which actually is too bad. This room made our second-favorite sound. To produce this type of sock'em slam and density absolutely requires a big woofer. At 15 inches per side, the Isis complied. "Raise the Pharaoh" in a nod to The Mummy would be a suitable alternate to the old "Rock the Casbah" motto.


The third-most impressive (re)discovery was Grimm Audio's LS1 with installed—and remote-defeatable—upfiring sealed subwoofer between its svelte legs. Housing multiple Bruno Putzeys class D amps, DSP engines and DACs, these wide but shallow beauties in caramelized bamboo or white Corian put the full range without any sonic anomalies into a pathetically small hotel room. Marja & Henk had already done the honours years ago on a formal review. Yet hearing these put to shame much else which was condemned to play in the same-size rooms. This had me ask importer Christian Wenger of InConcert Audio for short-term review loaners. I'm not sure whether it'll happen. Again, it'd be way-delayed double dipping. Just so, such a clever solution to complexity and audiophile voo-doodoo deserves a revisit. The Weiss server by the way wasn't even in use. The MacBook and speakers made for the complete system. The LS1 is the audiophile Antichrist and a saint for it.


As they have each year, the indomitable folks representing Avantgarde Acoustics had once again set up the Germans' triple stack of paired bass horns and Trio but also brought the compact Zero.1 here moved to the sides to give the big guns a chance at putting bombastic spectacle into home hifi.


Also as they've done each year, Nubert again were at the end of the basement's cul-de-sac in their big suite to show off what Germany's direct-selling Polk Audio offer for the money. Here they had augmented the active system with two very big subwoofers for a very professionally conducted demo.


Taking a cue from Dynaudio's book, Nubert call themselves Ehrliche Lautsprecher. That's honest loudspeakers, not Germans don't lie - but close enough.


A very rare sight representing the domestic manufacturing contingent otherwise in such short supply was Harry Pawel's Elektra monitor with rear-firing passive radiator. Because this model will undergo a cosmetic overhaul for 2015, Harry was absolutely not interested in a review of the current iteration. So I left him my card with a "you know how to find me if interested and when the time comes". Listeners remembering Ensemble's PA1 have already crossed paths with Pawel Acoustics. Attending HighEnd Suisse for me is primarily about supporting home-grown gear. Seeing how most Swiss makers have given up on this expensive show, that purpose has mostly been squashed. Hence our double-tasking mission to drive up to Z├╝rich also in a hunt for quality Western boots. After living in New Mexico for years to fancy this footwear above all others, Switzerland is not an easy place to hit top booty.


Harry Pawel by the way handles Stax headphones for Switzerland. His CHF5'850 SR-009 range-topping electrostat run off the CHF3'275 quad-tube SRM-007t II sounded exceptionally good.