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In 2013 the Polish Audio Show celebrated its 17th birthday! Where many other national shows had to face their demise, Adam Mokrzycki managed again to attract enough exhibitors to fill 104 rooms spread over three hotels in the center of Warsaw. With our experience of last year's show still fresh in our minds, we were happy to accept an invitation to attend this year’s edition again. The show organization runs like a well-oiled machine. Setup and breakdown times for exhibitors are tight but doable. We heard no complaints from exhibitors of feeling under undue pressure not even on Sunday when the show closes at 6pm but rooms should be cleared by 8am the next morning. That’s hard work no doubt but helps to keep the event affordable for exhibitors and visitors alike.

A sign that the show is finally recognized as important by the international audio industry was the presence of some big names in the audio world. Of course there's the commercial aspect of being present and helping the local distributors. But if these ‘names’ thought it worthwhile enough to travel to Warsaw, that was an endorsement as well. Not only based on this but also size and professionalism of the organization we—and we're not alone—think that after High End Munich the Warsaw Audio Show has become the number two show in Europe. Congratulations to team Adam!

At the show there was a chance to meet not only Marantz ambassador Ken Ishiwata but Sven Boenicke, Lars Kristensen of Nordost and Raidho, Armin Krauss of Avantgarde, Keith Martin of IsoTek, Tellurium Q’s Geoff Merrigan, Yair Wahal of Zingali, MSB/Synergistic Research’s Frank Vemeylen and vinyl guru Wally Malewicz - to name a few who made the effort to come. We won’t bother you with our travel experiences from Amsterdam to Warsaw but the latest ‘service innovations’ which the airlines have come up with do make flying an adventure again. Once at Warsaw Chopin airport it was a short drive to the Jan III Sobieski hotel, the main venue where we had a comfortable room. A room in a show hotel is always great because it offers plenty of possibilities to meet with the exhibitors after hours. Adam made sure we had our badges in time so we could start the next day fresh and all set.

From last year we learnt that show weekend coincides with the Polish Independence Day. Cross-town traffic could mean detours and long waits so we started with the rooms at the Bristol Hotel which is near said festival area. The Bristol Hotel is a classic landmark recently renovated to its former grandeur albeit with a modern touch. If you fancy a classy hotel for a cultural visit to Warsaw, book at this grand old lady. Before show time a substantial queue had formed already in front of the show entrance with people waiting patiently in the morning sun. The first large salon we entered had the front wall lined with a large McIntosh Laboratory system rigged for vinyl. Speakers on duty were a pair of Rockport Atria and cables were from Transparent Audio, making this an all American party. The signature turquoise glow of McIntosh was not unique to this room. Throughout the show several other setups included one or more items from this brand.

The room next door housed a static display of Thiel loudspeakers and various McIntosh gear to offer the visitors a good chance to get up close and personal.

The Moniuszko room that was filled to capacity and emptied the adjacent hall had a lot going on.

The new Wilson Alexia loudspeakers were fed by a pair of impressive Audio Research Ref 750 monoblocks that in turn got their input from MSB Technology’s Signature Data CD IV and Diamond DAC or an Aurender music streamer. Synergistic Research was responsible for the cabling together with Shunyata. When we visited Frank Vermeylen demonstrated the workings of the Synergistic Research Acoustic Art resonators. He played a piece of music with one of the resonators mounted to the wall, then the same piece again without the resonator. As expected this demonstration caused disbelief and confusion in the audience combined with lively discussions but nobody could deny the effects of the resonators.

In a room fully lined with curved and perforated diffusers, the new Dynaudio Evidence Platinum barely fit in. The 1.94m tall 8-driver ported 3-way is the top of the Dynaudio line and for the show combined with the best from Ayon Audio. A pair of Ayon Orthos XS with their array of 10 x KT88 tubes per side running in class A delivered the necessary voltage to drive the 89dB 4Ω-rated speakers.

As source they had an Ayon CD-T or alternate S5 streamer. For analog duties the visually matching Transrotor Apollon combined with the equally matching Ayon Polaris III preamp. If someone were to ask us, we'd suggest to limit the amount of diffusers in the room which together with the many human bodies deadened the performance unnecessarily.

More vinyl glory was in the RCM room where a choice of 3 turntables could feed the RCM Theriaa phono stage. A Feickert Firebird with Moerch DP-8 arm and Miyajima Takumi cartridge; a Kuzma Stabi M with matching 4Point arm and Benz Reference S cartridge; or a Thales TTT-C with Simplicity arm and Miyajima Kansui cartridge... to asses them all would have taken a full day. Speakers for the task were Gauder Akustik Arcona 100 while Alluxity supplied the pre and power amps. Germany's Gauder worked under the Isophon brand until 2013 when the company assumed its owner’s last name. Alluxity from Denmark is the brand of 21-year old Alexander Vitus Mogensen, son of Hans-Ole Vitus.

For close encounters of the Wilson kind we squeezed into the next room where the Sophia 3 coupled to Audio Research for amplification, here the Ref 75 power amp and Ref 5SE preamp. Sources were a choice of AR CD9 or streaming Mac Mini.

Ancient Audio built on the success of their small active Oslo speakers. Initially designed for studio use, the popularity for home use begged for a different version. This year Jarek Waszczyszyn presented the Master Oslo. Slightly bigger than the Oslo, the Master sports a new driver with even better specifications. This driver’s quality also warranted an overhaul of the sound processor, amplifier and power supply. With still minimal dimensions and a small active subwoofer, Jarek managed to get a big (enough) sound from a very small system in a packed room.

ESA of Poland demonstrated with their Neo 3SE loudspeakers coupled to a Marton Opusculum Reference, a 30wpc class A power amp (250wpc in class B) and the work of Marek Cleat as another example of a Polish product virtually unknown elsewhere. From the Avid turntable Janis Joplin made a welcome appearance. With this room we were on the edge of the discovery of this year’s biggest show trend: room tuning. Here the panels were by Nyquist.

On a static display in the hallway sat a large sample of Furutech products.

With the rooms in the Bristol covered, we moved on to the next hotel, the Golden Tulip. Just like last year the Bristol’s transport facility took us there in comfort. At the Golden Tulip eight large rooms on the second floor had been signed for the event. The rooms in the Golden Tulip all have flower names and the first we visited was Krokus and the temporary domicile of JBL. With Mark Levinson electronics, JBL became a sort of Siamese twin. On demo were the JBL Synthesis 3900. The audience loved the performance of some heavy dance/trance tracks at almost danceable SPL but remained politely seated.

In the Dalia room minimalism and art went hand in hand. A ‘simple’ Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC combined with Sveda Audio Dapo active monitors. Originally the Dapo was designed for pro studio use but along the way demand for home use led to a Home edition. Fully active and adjustable, the 3-driver 2-way in its high gloss finish comes ready to play. Just connect the Mytek DSD DAC and for less than €5'000 you’re all set. Of course a source is still needed. For the Independence Day occasion Arkadiusz (Ark) Szweda brought a pair of red and white Dap monitors in the colors of the Polish flag. Above the speakers a huge projection screen of the playlist helped listeners identify the music playing. With very little other visual distractions, the décor of the room had more impact. The art project Musicians in Batik by the Mamut workshop of the Przasnyszu municipal cultural house presented all manner of musician portraits done in classic Indonesian batik technique. The painting is first made with wax on cloth, then the cloth gets dyed and later the wax removed to reveal the original background color. Ark was as enthusiastic about the art as their speakers. A matching subwoofer is on its way.