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D: Dali from Denmark with Meridian electronics.

As is customary for such shows, big firms paid for big presence, in this case Denon's exhibit on the main floor.

EAR Yoshino was another room to use subdued lighting and focus attention on the ears.

Still, the clear/black acrylic Baset-Toni Ice Tower stand from distributor D.M.L. Audio was eye-catching.

Eventus Audio very smartly decided to demo its smaller models. Instead of overloading the room, those impressed attendees by exceeding expectations for bass reach and control from their size. What you don't see are the 'anechoic' guts. Stacked slice construction of the enclosures allows for wildly irregular inner walls which mimic the spiky wall treatment of anechoic chambers. This creates predetermined break-up for the drivers' rear radiation. What you do see below are the flawless lacquer skins which are available in a number of strong designer colors.

Importer Extreme Audio's room presented the seriously slanted 3-way M. Acoustics Stage 2 speakers with ESS AMT Heil tweeter, a 5" ceramic midrange, custom 8.5" Morel woofer and external crossover. The huge amplifiers whose name I didn't catch certainly did justice to the room's name tag.

"The show ain't over 'til the fat man blings." AudioGamma's Fatman exhibit by TLAudio epitomized iPod gluttony on tubes.

The present lineup goes well beyond the original single model which raised memories of Dared. If tubes are cool and sound good, what better way to spread that gospel than to package them with the iPod?

Never able to topple MartinLogan in the US, Final Sound from Holland occupies its own electrostatic niche nonetheless.

The biggest new product launch was Focal's new Grand Utopia range comprising three models which the current Sound by Singer newsletters describes as follows: "In 2002, Focal JMlab introduced the Grand Utopia Be ... the only transducer using a 100% pure beryllium tweeter. Now, 6 years later, Focal has created the Grand Utopia EM, the only speaker in the world to employ an electromagnetic (EM) woofer. Reintroducing a concept first pioneered in the 1930s by Bell Labs, Focal has replaced the limited magnetic force available from a conventional woofer with the virtually unlimited and completely flexible force which electromagnetism affords. Until the Grand Utopia EM, this 'ancient' technology was seen as being too complex to employ in home audio speakers... The external electromagnetic power supply uses a signal recognition system and offers 6 electrical adjustment levels for a delivered power to the 15 ¾" woofer of 9 watts to 90 watts, permitting virtually unlimited control of the speaker/listening room coupling...

"To ensure further that the Grand Utopia EM would be equally at home in rooms of any size and acoustic properties, Focal has incorporated a ... system of adjustments for infrabass, bass, midrange and treble which permits the user to achieve the refined personalization of sound required by the specific listening environment. Though its 1,458 possible adjustments may seem daunting, in fact, the Focal Grand Utopia EM can be optimized for room acoustics in a few minutes by following the computer generated table of settings supplied with the speakers which describes which adjustments are to be used in a given acoustical setting.

"The Grand Utopia EM's spinal column hints at its ability to be easily mechanically adjusted by turning the supplied handle so that the tweeter and midrange drivers can be set precisely for any distance between listener and speakers. Turn the handle and the upper 4 enclosures spread out or contract as required to achieve perfect focal distance between you and the sound..." The Scala Utopia is the matching 3-way tower, the Diablo Utopia the luxury monitor of the range.

If rumors are true that the Grand Utopia EM guns to take on the Wilson Audio Alexandria and occupy the top spot in the luxury loudspeaker segment, we can probably agree that on cosmetics, the French have beat the Americans already.

German Physiks' omnipolar Borderland model played in two different LP Audio exhibits, with the small insert showing the actual light levels on tap (I'm still self-conscious about the graininess in many of my photos, sniff). These German speakers are the probably most evolved specimens to employ the Ohm/Walsh driver technology today and if you've never heard a bending-wave driver before, this would be what you should audition to get the appeal.

Grandinote's magnetosolid amplifiers were news to add to my personal first-timer list.

H is for hotel, with a casual shot of the Quark hotel lobby during a momentary traffic lull.