Metronome Technologie from France combines massive bling with solid engineering and high performance especially in its top products like this player Marja & Henk reviewed for us earlier.

Music First Audio from the UK has authored a true cost-no-object ovalicious take on their Passive Magnetic - but more relevant perhaps for mortals, also the latter's expanded version which now (excuse the out-of-focus shot of the rear panel) offers two balanced and single-ended outputs each. And remote control.

ModWright Audio is hard at work at a dual-mono single-chassis transistor amp with ThermalTrack dual-diff output devices. The input stage will be a variation on the Allen Kimmel circuit employed to such good effect in Dan Wright's preamps. Anticipated ETA for the amp is the fall and pricing below $4,000. Showing with Jacob George of Rethm, Dan found himself tchanged too because Jacob, well pre-show, had contracted with Franck Tchang to treat what he knew would be a problem room purely based on size and nearly cubic dimensions. Ask Dan what happened when Franck installed his first three sugar cubes on the right front wall. (Hint: the speaker on that side reduced its output).

Mythos Audio is yet another adopter of air-motion transformer tweeters and, in their top model, has gone to great lengths to mount theirs as dipoles inside a massive layered master structure. The faded overlay shows one side vent for the tweeter. Another one sits at the opposing side. These are breathing tweeters.

Octave could probably be called the German Conrad-Johnson and the characterization wouldn't be too far off. The lineup is comprehensive and based on the small amp I heard in the Rethm exhibit, definitely deserves closer inspection.

Opera from the People's Republic knows all about comprehensive lineups and has added to theirs with this cost-effective turntable. On the subject of which, a fitting byline for this show would have been "the invasion of the turntables". That's how many there were. Yeah, vinyl is dead.

Ortofon too would sign that verdict. Danes don't lie.

Pass Labs showed the new integrated and the expected heavy artillery too. I got caught in the act of attempting to turn around the INT-150 to get a shot of its business end and was seriously reprimanded. I was about to make scuff marks on the display stand. "It's all on the website" was the exasperated reply. Germanic exactitude can - um, cut two ways. But Jacob of Rethm wasn't the only one to express surprise at how nice the Germans were on a whole. Preconceptions. Germany is a big secret for sure. Quality of life is very high. Mention Germany as a possible life or vacation destination however and most foreigners will instantly react negatively. Their loss indeed. My wife only lives because of German surgery. I'm far more appreciative of Teutonic virtues now than I was when I up and left for the US in my early twenties.

Talking about cutting two ways - some people are so bright, their knife cuts five ways. Shelley Katz of Podium Sound is one such enormously gifted individual. His speakers barely scratch the tip of the iceberg. The big subject behind them is Layered Sound to which Katz holds the patents. But that's a story for another day. The show news was the fact that Katz has brought production of his unique panel speakers completely in-house. That includes manufacture of his own drivers now. While the open-floor exhibit wasn't conducive to serious listening, what I did hear suggested significant advances. M&H are on the books to follow up. Here Shelley signs one of his CDs which was recorded with the absolute minimum of post-production splicing. Shelley said that even 'purist' classical CDs routinely have far in excess of 100 splices. Symphonic albums will approach 1000. His Goldberg Variations has a bare handful...

The Japanese Shoji motif on the central speaker is custom but perhaps a harbinger of Podiumesque things to come.

As a happy Saadhana and LS/PS 36.5 owner, the Rethm and ModWright exhibit was a foregone destination. The Saadhana has undergone a minor cosmetic modification. Since the cheeks were replaced with absorptive foam wrapped in raw silks, Jacob wanted some remaining wood to show and the new laser-cut logo is a very classy touch.

With cabling by Serguei Timachev of Stealth -- another audio extremist with products that prove their point -- I asked Jacob whether Dan's modwrighted Transporter had him now ruined for traditional disc spinning. Pulling the Eastern man mystic smile routine, Jacob remained silent but that twinkle in his eye spoke volumes.

His new modular, multiple-degrees-of-freedom equipment stand incorporates enough thinking to go well beyond what a show report could cover so I refer you to a prior feature instead.

The Rosso Fiorentino Fiesole monitor speakers evinced typical italienscher concern for cosmetic detail and an adjacent plexi-encased crossover suggested equal attention on the insides.

"Who was the first one you interviewed for 6moons?" Thankfully my memory is only selectively lossy. "Sead Lejlic of Konus Systems." Mind you, I only had his first name and wasn't even sure how to pronounce it. But pass the test I did. The interview was of June 2002. Sead cracked a huge smile. So did I. A special thanks goes to all the manufacturers who supported my fledging venture from the very beginning, prior to any guarantees of success or import. And Sead was one of the first. So here's a photo of our Bosnian who knows how to live, listen and enjoy. Pleased to meet ya finally!

Mario Dolinar, general manager of Acquisitum Magnum, represents the Audio Epilog speakers from Croatia which run in-house designed and manufactured drivers. Yours truly is booked for the Issa two-way tower while M&H have their sights on the bigger curvaceous sibling. Mario's background in IT formed instant camaraderie with my Dutchies so here's another story awaiting the telling - about what, time and again, prompts perfectly intelligent, reasonable and successful people to venture into the messy market of audio.

S is for tubes - if you're Sherwood. Whoda thunk it? Tubes rule. And it's no longer just EveAnna Manley saying it.

Here's the deal. There's 117 Million iTunes users, most of whom burn automatically to 128bps. And compressed music files happen to sound a lot more respectable when line-level tubes are in the mix. The men behind the $799 Peachtree Audio Decco -- review forthcoming -- feel likewise. In fact, just yesterday did those host an Atlanta Audiophile Society meeting to run their first three demo trax at 128. According to David Solomon, all of the attendees' jaws unhinged when he told them they had just listened to the worst of MP3. Snobbery be gone. And yes, demonstrating the differences thereafter might compel more than one MP3ster to henceforth burn uncompressed. Yet the big message is, don't make those folks wrong for the collections they've already ripped. Build bridges. Give them something to make those collections sound as good as possible. Hence it shouldn't surprise us that Sherwood's DT-307A sports an iPod in on its selector knob. Do you have any idea how many millions listen to music in a home office/desktop environ right now? 'nuff said. Leave elitist snobbery to the high-end to completely miss the boat and complain about its spasmodic demise.