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A lovely French/Italian connection happened in the Magnolia room where a full line of Jadis equipment seemed happily matched to Franco Serblin Ktema loudspeakers. A Calliope Reference was the CD source and the setup centered on JA80 power amps with JS1MK4 DAC and JP80MC twin-chassis preamp. The Ktema loudspeaker unfortunately became Franco Serblin’s very last design before the maestro passed away but it remains a statement for his prodigious design skills and legendary musicality.

Even though the looks of the young ladies distracted this gentleman in the software stand, he had plenty of attention from buyers himself to get back on track swiftly.

Room treatments can be done in various ways. One may set up a couple of resonator or diffuser panels, tube traps or as Graj-End did, build a 'room' within a room. His tent was made of long wide strips of damping fibre lit from behind. Entering felt as though breaking into a sacred cave. The intention was to subtract the room from the equation and build a quasi anechoic room for a 'holophonic' sound. Fortunately there was life left. The speakers built with vintage drivers from the 50s and 60s together with an Audio Acoustics OTL amp fed by an Audio gd Master-7 PCM 1704-based DAC from a laptop made acceptable music. Last year Graj-End occupied a large room in the other hotel and played at very low SPLs. Now the SPL were higher and the sound quality was easier to assess but was it really holophonic?

Coincidence or not, just like last year when we entered the Sounddeco room, they played the Hadouk Trio. Only now the massive bass of the live recording was far more present. No wonder. Greg Matusiak explained that the Alpha series of loudspeakers had been completed by a subwoofer. The 270-watt rated sub covers 200Hz down to 21Hz (+/- 2.5dB) and added that spatial information which gets otherwise attenuated from the lowest octave. Input can arrive line or speaker level. Depending on finish this starts at 4'500 zloty or around €1'200. It's an attractive offer with plenty of tuning facilities to match the main speakers. From their wide range of speakers we ought to mention the Omega, a slim 3-driver 2-way that at 2'700 zloty or € 750 would be an ideal partner for the sub.

Another big room but now with a truly big setup had Cessaro designer Ralph Krebs demonstrate the Alpha II—yes, another loudspeaker named Alpha—with a Brinkmann Balance turntable and Swiss Soulution electronics from their 700 range. At the time of our visit the system played quite loud to cause some compression issues which was a pity.

Unlike last year’s sonically disappointing visit to the Zeta Zero room of TR Studios, now setup and room worked together beautifully. There was no hint of the toothache sharpness from the signature three-ribbon Zeta Zero loudspeakers. Designer Tomasz Rogula had brought a wealth of electronics and not only his own Zeta Zero pre and power amps. There also was a D’Agostino Momentum stereo power amp plus a complete Accuphase lineup of CD player, pre and power amps. System source was either digital off an Aurender W20 streamer with a dCS Vivaldi DAC; or analogue from an Avis Acutus with SME arm and ZYX r1000 cartridge. As though all these components mixed and matched to your personal liking were insufficient still, how about a choice of either Venus Picolla, Venus Satelite or biggest Venus Edition speaker models? This room was a true candy store. Too bad we didn't have enough time to sample more of its many possible permutations. Fortunately we made a review appointment for some of these intriguing speakers.

From a big system to a headphone setup would seem like a huge difference but the looks on these listener faces don’t differ much when all is good.

The Swiss are not particularly known for their exuberance or grandstanding. Sophistication and modesty are more likely qualities. Proof for that came from the Boenicke room where a few banners and spotlights formed the entire décor for a setup of McIntosh electronics and Boenicke W10 loudspeakers. No damping panels, no diffusors for acoustic ‘treatment’, just four mysterious Stein Music Harmonizers in a very big space. The W10 loudspeaker might look like a modern classic but is far more. Hidden inside the slim tilted solid-wood enclosure hides an elaborate cavity system which combines a backloaded horn with a transmission line. A contradiction?

Wait until you hear these! Whatever you may think of Harmonix tuning dots on speaker motors, C37 Ennemoser C37 lacquer on cones and sundry exotic tweaks, when combined this cleverly you arrive at a speaker with the smallest possible footprint that delivers the most natural aural images conceivable. This footprint was literally wire suspended to overcome any driver-induced inertia issues and phase variations. We were really stunned by the effortless performance and complete absence of hifi artifacts. The large room was filled with music and devoid of any concerns over imaging, soundstage, dynamics, liquidity, coherence or whatever other audiophile checklist items one could muster. There was just music. Already from this relative brief encounter we will state that if we had to start all over again with assembling an audio system, we'd turn to Sven Boenicke for speakers first. [Our Boenicke show room tour is here.]

Was it déjà vu or nostalgia? Both were applicable as we walked from the Golden Tulip hotel to the main Sobrieski Hotel across the roundabout. Whilst passing a railway walkover, pasted flyers on its fence had an announcement for an Anna Maria Jopek concert. Just like last year her date was well after our departure. We continue then to make do with a few recordings of this wonderful Polish singer.

The Jan III Sobieski hotel as its official name goes offered a total of 87 rooms filled with known and unknown hifi kit. This had us realize how over the past few hours we'd only visited 17 rooms in the other two hotels combined. Fortunately the show closed at 20.00 pm on Saturday so we still had time left plus of course Sunday. We started on the 7th floor and decided to work the show top down in the hopes of not forgetting any rooms. With so many though there's always a chance that we did but it surely wasn't intentional.

We already mentioned that this year’s leitmotiv were diffusers. From the very first room we entered in the Sobieski this continued. Acoustic Manufacture must have been working overtime to equip any exhibitor who wanted them with Ustroje Akustyczne. The large and very large wooden acoustic panels here are made with proverbial Polish attention to detail and are fully salonfähig though not visual avoidable as many of the following photos show. Studio 16 Hertz demonstrated their Canto 3 stand-mount monitors. At 2'890 zloty or ~ €750, there was a lot of musical pleasure on tap. Amplification was via Meixing MingDa EL34 tube amplifier.

Bathing in warm light sat a pair of Polish Avcon Nortes speakers powered by a duo of Triode TRX-M845 monos. Triode was also responsible for the TRV-CD5SE CD player and TRX-1 preamp. The Nortes is a 88dB 3-way with a ribbon tweeter. This room used damping panels from Avcon. In the center the aptly named Leddy acoustic panels had LEDs in their backs to emit a varying color scheme. To its sides you see the Avcon Parrot series of treatment panels.