If you're a Commissario Montalbano fan, you'll recognize Mimí Augello. If not, say hello to Kroma Audio's smallest new entry called Mimi, a front-ported 2-way with a chemically welded Krion enclosure on a Krion/tankwood perch [€6'850/pr ex VAT]. Unlike the dual rear-ported Julieta reviewed when this Granada boutique first launched, this should be far easier to integrate into smaller rooms. Its performance in a rather large space from a Hiquphone tweeter and ScanSpeak mid/woofer was very good. Olé!

Now we get to Ivo Linnenberg's underexposed Widor stereo amp in a pre-production casing. "Sheer output power was not my design goal. In fact, Widor has somewhat less than Liszt. The lateral Mosfets of my Allegro/Liszt models (or Goldmund, Nagra, Bakoon) sound incredibly fine because they are ridiculously fast and linear. Very low and particularly linear capacitance between drain, source and gate is the main reason. With most if not all other Mosfets, this capacitance unavoidable in any semiconductor is extremely voltage dependent. That introduces much unwanted distortion especially in the high frequencies. But there is a drawback with these lateral versus vertical Mosfets and bipolars: not being as low impedance. That makes it difficult to build a brute-force amplifier with these very fine parts. To cut a long story short, I wanted to address this with Widor so I doubled up the output devices, used fully regulated supply rails even for the output stage, incorporated a beefier driver stage, used 240'000uF of storage per channel (twice that of Liszt, quadruple that of Allegro), employed a new fully discrete input stage as part of the so-called instrumentation amplifier and increased the quiescent bias current leading to larger heat sinks." Upon loaner receipt, we'll see some sibling rivalry in action against our Liszt monos.

Lumin had their new €12'000 ea. X1 flagship streamer and matching 160wpc class A/B Amp.

The 'smaller' Living Voice room with half their 6-tonne gear ran off Engström Sound, not Kondo.

When I asked designer Kevin Scott whether I was imagining it or had the Kondo electronics indeed that indefinable but tangible edge of organic breath and dynamic expressiveness, he told me that I wasn't hallucinating. Due to sensory overload, that came later. Becoming critical at these august levels is of course december-icy perverse. With much of the active displays in the convention centre's upper tiers representing the Roman Empire during Caligua's rein—mega excess, inevitable collapse just around the corner—these LV rooms were beautiful examples of ultra-pricey systems which actually deliver commensurately. In hifi, such sure things are rare.

's new baby DAC will shortly spawn a matching phono preamp and headphone amp. These minis should all price < €500 for occasions when Caligua and his horse are long since in the ground and rotted to the bleached white and brittle dry bone. Metrum's Cees Ruijtenberg explained that his D/A converters now have an MQA option for those who want it whilst those who don't needn't pay for it. Market demands simply forced his hand to succumb to fashion dictates.

Finally meeting Aqua Hifi's industrious designer Cristian Anelli in a hallway was a personal hero moment. Amongst other things, I asked whether tubes were still feasible enhancers at the level of his best Formula xHD model. In other words, could they improve its performance? "No" was his decisive answer. Not at that level. Then he confirmed how sonically impactful his new FPGA code for the xHD upgrade had been to show how firmware coding has become an essential new skill for cutting-edge digital designers. His partner admitted that Cristian was already working on an exciting new project but even with a not-for-publication promise, refused to say anything more about it. "Top secret" was the motto.

Meze's Empyrean was originally slated to limit to 500 units. Known for their models below €500, boss Antonio Meze didn't anticipate that they could sell more units of a €3'500 planar flagship. However, demand has been such that the sanction lifted. Once in final production, there'll be two magnetic ear pad sets included. At the show, they had three to determine the most popular voicings. Didn't know that pads impact the sound? Think of them as the walls of headfi's virtual room. They can be more or less lossy, more or less reflective. Swapping ear pads if they're magnetized is the easiest way for an end user to change a headphone's voicing. Swapping out cabling is next. As Antonio confided, visitor reactions made it rapidly clear to him that most audiophiles don't favour 'flat' but a more exciting fun (slightly coloured?) presentation.

WIth their serpentine and circular trace sections powered by different motors, the Empyrean's diaphragm apparently behaves like a quasi two-way, albeit without any electrical crossover. Like the Abyss Diana, the very decorative outer grill is machined from solid aluminium. Meze tried acid etching thin foil but couldn't get the desired exactitude.

Because Antonio enjoyed the reviews we did on their 99 Classic and Neo models, a pair of these should probably hit County Mayo in the not-too-distant future.

Nagra held court in a new far larger room and setup maestro René Laflamme of audiophile label Fidelio Music had sneakily opted for dual Wilson subwoofers with a 30Hz low-pass for just a skoch of subliminal space enhancement. That worked a treat. Playing master tapes on open reel-to-reel didn't hurt, either. If you've got it, flaunt it. Let others complain of unfair advantages.

My focus of course was on the static display of the Classic PSU with up to three ultra-cap powered outputs.

The real trick of this optional deck is that it will also boost the performance of legacy Nagra gear like their older phono stages, CD player and preamps to give those a new lease on life. That it won't do a thing for my nearly all-white hair isn't its fault. In our family, graying begins at 30 including the women. It's in our jeans.

As director of marketing Matthieu Latour explained, the PSU's tech lifts directly from their flagship HD Preamp...

... and more accurately, its massive outboard power supply of which certain boards share verbatim. My upcoming review will test the PSU's promise with the already reviewed Classic Preamp.