Restaurant. Chef. Company. President. Any venture is only as good as its leadership. For the High End show in Munich, that would be managing director Branko Glisovic, board director Kurt W. Hecker and press liaison Renata Paxa. Based on the organizational excellence on display at the MOC, these folks are top echelon professionals. Consider CES in Las Vegas broken by comparison - third class. The Munich team deserves a round of saucy applause. Bravo.

The German show's motto is Der Beste Ton, Das Beste Bild. Best sound, best picture.

If you'd been a veteran showgoer and read what it said behind Avantgarde Acoustic's Nano and Solo horns, you'd have agreed. Mostly. But I didn't hear as much as engage in conversations. Chasing stories between the lines. People stuff, not product stuff. Far more of that than any listening.

To pass travel time, I'd bought a book about a suicide bomber traveling to London. Tough subject, brilliantly balanced narrative. One Brit security agent begins to question his counter ideology, to admit that the unknown Muslim he's chasing might be every bit as courageous, committed and honorable to his cause as the counter terrorism squad he works for is to its defense of the kingdom.

To every story, there's always at least three sides. Mostly more. Same with this report. It's just one take - and that one was motivated by self interest, timing and opportunity rather than any ambition at being comprehensive.

Sensory overload soon induced feeling like a walking dead. And because I suck at names but am good with faces; and because some attendees had their name tags turned around; I routinely didn't know who was chatting me up until a bit later. Imagine all sorts of potential embarrassment. Very un-Germanic non perfectionism on my part. Thankfully other veterans recognized the glazed-over eyes and understood. Gracias, amigos!

And no, Trafomatic's brand-spankin' new 15-watt paralleled 300B SET monos weren't there. I'm cheating by sticking the photos here. And there's reverse cheating, too. Other things we dug up -- Marja & Henk were there as well and contribute photos throughout this report -- were too good to be included. They mandate more investigation to present properly. One is a book-sized patent whose implications should turn speaker listening on its head. Should. There's the small matter of the establishment protecting its turf, funding and the general forces of entropy. Another discovery could end audio reviewing as we know it. Think anyone in the press would mention that? Don't worry. The moons are just the place for it.

Because I'm tube mensch, I couldn't fail to have my tracks stopped by the two Korean outfits Allnic and Emillé, the gregarious Greeks of TruLife Audio and a € 299 Sino EL-84 integrated distributed by a Dutchie. Let's attempt a modicum of Teutonic law 'n' order though and follow Photoshop's alphabetic sequencing of my picture harvest.

Kinda. Ken Stevens of Convergent Audio Technology while inviting himself to an empty chair on our dinner table: "I seem to recognize you from somewhere. Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean." Considering the below mug with audiophile legend Jean Hiraga, Stevens had a point. So no formality. A sports coat is as far as I'll go. And, I lost one of my two ear rings in Munich. A sign perhaps? On real pirates, one Asian exhibitor told me how his euro importer had hijacked the exhibit, changed all signage accordingly and had added a surprise co-exhibitor without asking - while the Asian principal had footed the bill. In full. Upfront. Piracy doesn't just happen off the Somalian coast or in restaurants.

Herr Jäckle of Acoustic Plan was someone I'd long wanted to meet. Kindred spirit and all, Lowther speakers with paralleled active woofers like my Rethm Saadhanas but less cosmetically eclectic. Better looking than Hǿrnings. Unusual hybrid amplifiers with valve voltage gain stages and transistor buffers, too. Solid engineering with a high degree of purity. We shook hands on a future review.

Clever room tuning by Dmitry Valdin of Transparent Acoustic, too. More on that subject anon. But first, a shot of Mr. Jäckle's electronics. He's a front-to-back man, source to speakers. None of it me too. My kinda stuff.

Now to audio kungfucius Franck Tchang of
Acoustic System as hosted by German distributor Thomas Fast who also showed with Abbingdon Music Research, Duevel and Karan Acoustics. Over dinner with Franck's US importer and ex F16 fighter pilot Darren Censullo of Avatar Acoustic, I learned that HP at The Abso!ute Sound had invited the boys over to Sea Cliff during their earlier days. After letting them wait for a whole day while they'd systematically torn out all of his Echo Busters traps 'n' triangles to start from square one and tune the space, the man finally acceded to the pleas of his resident audio slave. "At least listen to one track on one LP, master." "If whatever they did isn't as good as it was before even in one single attribute, my Echo Busters go back in." One vinyl track then mushroomed into an outright listening luv fest and them darn acoustic resonators are still there. A fellow manufacturer told Darren recently when he delivered his own review component. No formal review though on the resonators by HP. Tough subject perhaps, like a walking reputation suicide waiting to explode? Franck to the air in the room: "Do you think I should send him an invoice now?" Darren pretending he didn't hear that. It'd be his department as the US guy. Instead: "Of all of Franck's products I've sold to date, I haven't gotten a single one back yet because a customer wasn't pleased."

I ask Darren and Franck: "Who is using your products now?" Behold, inside their amplifiers. Caelin Gabriel of Shunyata in his factory. Great Western Sound Company. Reference Mods. At shows, Escalante Design, dCS, Abbingdon Music Research, Rethm, ModWright Audio. That's the short list due to my not taking any notes.

Dan Wright and Jacob George are among the newest converts now. And since they were in the same kind of funky sound cubicle as Velissarios Georgiadis of TruLife Audio, I walked the latter over to the ModWright/Rethm room.

He was so impressed with how the treatments had transformed the room above, he wanted to see Franck for an explanation on the spot. Got it right away too. I'm afraid that it's now the detractors who are sitting on a slimmer and slimmer branch primed to fall from grace. Admittedly, this stuff really does mess up your mind. Liudas of LessLoss is still reeling. [Velissarios second from left below.]

This disease has now spread to Franck's Tango speakers and his forthcoming cables. The speakers don't conform to any conventional loading schemes [below]. The upper two superimposed white circles on the back of the speaker point at tiny holes like the one to the left of the photo; the lowest white circle hides a miniature upright slot behind which sit three different acoustic resonators inside the speaker enclosure. There's also a wooden phase inverter disc inside. A slight turn of just a few degrees on that significantly alters the bass performance. To the slide rule jockeys, Franck must look like a major demon - or a sly shyster. Insist on the latter with the folks from AMR, behold or dCS however and you'll become their laughing stock. And yes, this includes some self gratification. After all, we've gone on about this stuff at great lengths and to plenty of contrarious reactions.

Marja & Henk will review the Tangos (a bigger model with a second midrange is already in the works - it'll be called the Highlander unless Franck just pulled my leg) and once the cables are finalized (they'll be cheap), I'm supposed to get a smattering. These solid-core interconnect cables put different metals in series. "What's in the middle doesn't matter. What's at the ends very much does." So imagine a copper conductor finished off with short ends of Platinum, silver and gold. Their sequence is critical as is their relative splice length and the return path is silver. "I use high-temp solder right now during prototyping but I'll switch to a laser later." I predict the forthcoming Acoustic System cables will quite upset the status quo. To those who pay attention. For the patent aficionados, Marja & Henk provide two links now, the first to the original acoustic resonator patent, the second to their automotive application: 1 + 2. If the car connection has you confused, mark my word: this is merely the beginning. Franck's technology has very wide applications and the man is both ambitious and a visionary. In due time when the embargo is lifted, we'll talk more about some of those other uses. They're more outrageous still...