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Live music of course is always best and an over-the-top performance an extra welcome after rooms playing more or less overgrazed audiophile music. Isn’t it so much more fun to use Lyngdorf electronics and the big Focal Stella Utopia EM speakers to play progressive electronic music? This room handed over its stage to Władysława 'Gudonisa' Komendarka, an instrumentalist and composer of electronic music encompassing numerous styles and fusions. An impression of Wladek’s performance can be seen here and from there many other links open up. The crowd here liked the performance and forgot all about hifi.

The next suite was playground for Acoustic Zen and AbysSound. Robert Lee’s three-way Crescendo transmission-line speaker is the smallest Acoustic Zen using a horn-loaded ribbon tweeter. AbysSound’s 80wpc ASX-2000 was in charge of power amplification. We have heard Acoustic Zen loudspeakers quite a few times and were always impressed by the immense control and dynamic character of even their smallest model. At the time we visited here this specific character was surely missing.

Graj-End is a Polish company that manufacturers cables and loudspeakers. Their concepts are based on the glory days of tube amplification and Alnico/paper drivers. Rated at 94dB the Grajpudła speakers are said to be ideal partners for low-power SET amps. At the time we visited the Grajpudła Number One connected to an Audio-Akustyka amplifier—with tubes of course—and the system used an Audio-Akustyka DAC tool. The drivers were vintage and from the period of 1940 through 1960. The 20” woofer uses an ultra-light cone of barely 5 grams according to the manufacturer. Next to the MDF version shown there’s also a hardwood cab on offer. Graj-End does not believe in revealing further tech specs other than a 4-ohm impedance and response of 30 to 40.000Hz.

The latter figure won’t come from a vintage driver but a ribbon super tweeter whilst bass extension gets assist from a dedicated bass-reflex woofer enclosure. The cables were Grajkable.

The Audio-Akustyka Gem amplifier was a 13/10wpc pentode/triode design working the Russian GU-50 tube with tons of iron to hit the scale at no less than 34kg. A single ECC83 covered input duties. The DAC was a tube-modified simple Sony player with overhauled internal wiring, power supply, output stage and bypassed digital filter. A total of 6 x ECC81 sat in a kind of dinky rear seat. With such fine specifications on tap the performance meeting us seemed not on par. Classical music played at very low volume but for us lacked the necessary grip and involvement.

The last room had JBL and Mark Levinson again with a guided tour and strict opening hours. As the presence of a pair of JBL Everest DD66000 speakers loomed large for a domestic premiere, the Polish distributor did his utmost to host a grand affair for it. A large speaker needs a large room must have been the thinking. Electronics were Mark Levinson the company's CD player N°.512, preamp N°.326s and N°.53 power amps. The Everest is a JBL statement project and incorporates lessons learned in the company’s long pro and consumer history. The bi-radial compression horn driver on top uses a 10cm beryllium diaphragm with an edge-wound 10cm voice coil. Two 380mm pulp-cone Aquaplas-damped woofers take care of the lower mid and bass frequencies. Crossover points are 150 and 700 plus 20.000Hz for the super tweeter. The filter uses a 9V battery-powered bias circuit, impedance is rated at 8 ohms and sensitivity is a high 96dB.

This crossover circuit is a special affair. In fact it consists of four separate circuits, one per driver. With it comes the possibility to fine-tune the speaker to a room and given position within it. Each of the twin 38cm woofers is crossed over at a different frequency to create uneven response for the left and right drivers. These features definitely stem from a pro heritage as does the wide yet shallow cabinet geometry. The demo was conducted by a presenter who favored telling his audience what they would—or rather should—hear. That said, the tracks chosen more had the character of sound bites than actual music played long enough to sink in and render a proper impression of this system. In our perception this setup of electronics and speakers didn’t perform at its best. It seemed not fully broken in - or perhaps the crossover settings were not yet optimal for the space.

With only three of 75 rooms somewhat disappointing, this really was a tremendous showing. We learned a lot and most striking were the many Polish companies we had never heard of which offer such well-designed well-made products at very realistic pricing. Next we saw that there is a future for high-end audio. We'd say that based on our guess the average age of visitors to this show was around 36 – a full one or two decades lower than the average of any other show we’ve ever attended. Was it just coincidence that show organizer Adam Mokrzycki’s age was 36 as well? He clearly knows not only how to organize a well-oiled event, he also motivates exhibitors to attract exactly the desired audience. Adam was exemplary for a particular Polish mentality we encountered everywhere - very hard-working with enormous enthusiasm and zero complaints. Is it any wonder that the Polish economy is presently the only flourishing EU market to show actual growth?

For us Warsaw remains unexplored territory. We only witnessed a few glimpses of this city whilst moving from one hotel to the next. From their lobbies we gathered a few info cards and based on just those tiny samples of what Warsaw has to offer culturally and culinarily, we must try to return soon. And yes, Poland will be visiting us even sooner as we’ve made arrangements already to review some Polish-made products. We are really looking forward to that. Adam, thank you for organizing this fabulous event and having us visit!