Mark Levinson the brand had teamed up with bright orange-is-the-new-black Wilson Audio Sabrina single-chassis speakers.

Audiomaat had brought Metrum and Harbeth plus lots of wooden accessories. Despite their somewhat messy presentation, the sound was full and enjoyable.

Isotek demonstrated with and without the power regeneration of their Titan One. The power at the conference center is known to be, er, variable so the demo was convincing. Loudspeakers of choice were Castle Avon 5 transmission lines.

Like turntables, headphones were wildly popular.

Then an old Philips radio juiced up the next room with a Marantz set at the other end.

Connaisseur AV are a huge Danish A/V distributor who not only cater to domestic dealers but many other countries as well. In the Netherlands alone they have at least 18 dealers. Think what you will of large conglomerates, at the XFI show this distribution giant filled many a room. Here we heard a Gold Note turntable combined with Gold Note electronics and Gold Note XT7 loudspeakers for a complete Italian affair that made our mouths water. Was it lunch time already?

We went Dutch again with daudio. Having already reviewed their dipole W1 some time ago, now we experienced their new S1 loudspeaker. Two 15" woofers combine with their signature floating tweeter and dipole midrange. Rated at 30–22'000Hz and 87dB, the 125 x 45 high x wide but only 27cm deep speakers are easy to place and operate. A nice detail were the woofers' double magnets for the best free-air control possible. Electronics too were by daudio, the N1000 nCore-based 500wpc power amps augmented by a Merging Technologies player with Roon integration and Merging Power external power supply.

McIntosh remain super recognizable with their signature green accents. Here the American electronics combined with Italian Sonus Faber Serafino speakers.

We spent considerable time in the next room. Here Wilson Audio Yvette speakers were at the tail end of a very special electronics chain we have come to love over the years: Zanden Audio. To celebrate the arrival of their latest 9600 Mk2 KR845-based monos, Kazutoshi Yamada had flown in from Japan. Yamada-san is not only a very keen electronics designer, he records and produces many live events, too.

It also was one of the few rooms which not just exhibited gear and played music but had full entertainment. Zanden distributor Ben van Leliveld is a gifted causeur able to transform a simple album track into an event by adding background information and personal passion. [In the photo, distributor Kees Wijnberge with Yamada-San].

On both days, the room was filled to capacity. The amps use a fixed-bias fully balanced push/pull circuit with tube rectified power supply. The valve array consists of KR845 x 2, 5687WB x 3, 5AR4 x 1 and 5R4WGB x 2. After demoing with the Wilsons, the set was changed to Magico S5 MkII. These three-way floorstanders use a 26mm diamond-coated beryllium tweeter, a 152.4mm graphene-coated Nano-Tec midrange and two 254mm aluminum-cone woofers. Response is rated at 20Hz–50kHz with 88dB sensitivity. With the Zanden monos' 60 watts in pure class A and an additional 40 in class B versus Magico's published recommendation of at least 50 watts, the Zandens should have been driven quite hard. Yet the magic of tube amplification came through again. In this room the Zanden even at modest output had full control over the Magico to fill the crowded thus heavily damped room with what might have been the best sound of the event. [With Wilson for ported and Magico for sealed flagship speakers, these seem to have been very strategic hardware alliances to demonstrate that mid-power tube amps designed properly are fully suitable to such loads - Ed.]

A big rig in a large room had vinyl played from a VPI Titan while digital duties were taken care of by a Metronome Kalista by way of a CD transport and DAC both with their separate power supplies. Vitus Audio from Denmark amplified the source signal and fed it to the Gauder Berlina 4-way loudspeakers.

Another pair of Gauder loudspeakers, the Berlina RC7, played with Alluxity from Denmark, a brand run by the Vitus designer's son. Their Media One streamer with built-in DAC fed the Pre One preamp and a pair of balanced Power One amplifiers on a Franc Audio rack from Poland. Here again the exhibitor played to our Dutch royal color of orange.

Intermission time for live music! Being a member of the press has it benefits. We could get into the auditorium before its doors opened to secure a nice seat in the front row. The concert with its four numbers was of course far too short but a showcase for Eric Vloeiman's mastery of the trumpet. This was our highlight of the entire show. Take a good look at Eric's trumpet. Near the mouthpiece sits a resonator that improves the harmonic richness of his timbre.

Van Medevoort are still going strong and our Dutch brand introduced their new vM DD5.2 and vM DD9.2 loudspeakers. This brand is one of the few who design and build for the pro recording industry all the way to the consumer at home. That means microphones, cables, mixing consoles, studio monitors, then all the source equipment, cables, amplifiers and loudspeakers for the home.

Quad were another household name who in a tiny room demoed their Artera Play and Artera Stereo CD player cum DAC and stereo amplifier. Speakers on duty were the big ESL 2912.

Böhmer Audio were new to the Netherlands and introduced the Wavelet, a preamp with built-in room correction based on 'psychoacoustic principles'. Amplification was in the hands of ModWright while Endeavour Audio E3 loudspeakers on IsoAcoustic Gaia feet excited the room air. [Bel Canto incorporate the Böhmer room correction DSP engine in their new Black EX range - Ed.]