If the room is not cooperating sonically, you must tweak it. Why not use the mattresses, thought Aspen Amplifiers. Though not scoring high on looks, it worked well.

Audio Alternative demonstrated with the Vandersteen loudspeakers.

PS Audio rented a big room as the company's offerings are expanding. Next to the new Power Plant Premier used in many rooms throughout the hotel, PS Audio was showing their new CD transport. Though Paul McGowan and his team hoped to have the transport ready, it appeared a crucial part wasn't. Hence only the mechanism was on display. The wood-topped transport could eat a CD and spit it out again but not make any sound yet.

Also in the PS Audio room was Boston Audio's latest in the form of a layered graphite and aluminum equipment base. Here it was used under a laptop that acted as music source. With all the mechanics going on in a PC, isolating it was definitely a good idea.

Avatar's room was of course fully loaded with Acoustic System resonators, diffusers and Sugar Cubes since Darren and Bonnie Censullo are the US importers for this product. For electronics, Avatar used the Abbingdon Music Research CD-77 CD player and AM-77 amplifiers they also import. Because the hotel lacked a proper ground, the CD player required an extra wire to the bathroom's water pipes for grounding. Once that was in place, the new Acoustic System Tango loudspeakers did what they do best: play music. We had pre-sampled the Tangos in various versions in Acoustic System's Paris workshop a few times and here it was made clear yet again that it is a very fine loudspeaker indeed.

Solely based on designer Franck Tchang's concepts of manipulating air pressure and tension, the Tango's insides sport various tiny holes, some venting into the room and -- is it a surprise -- there's even a resonator built in. The AMR line of electronics was to be found not merely in this room. The firm's Vincent Luke was present and together with Darren seeded the AMR player wherever possible and to good results. Being successful also has its downsides. Many exhibitors asked Darren to tune their rooms. The F16 fighter and part-time Delta 757 civilian pilot was almost literally flying between rooms to optimize setups for fellow exhibitors Jeff Catalano of Highwater Sound, Laufer Technik (two rooms), Escalante Audio and The Lotus Group (two rooms), leaving many of his own demonstrations to his wife Bonnie.

Tyler made it clear what room we were in.

Another trend besides being openly baffled was a greater concern for cosmetics. Many brands finally reached the conclusion that a dull black box isn't mandatory. Take Redpoint's room where a very nice Model D turntable was gussied up in a wonderful pink. It was an experiment they warned but let it be production we say. Please. In combination with another eye-soothing make, Studio Electric, a ModWright LS-36.5 with brand-new dual-mono outboard power supply, Mod-righted Transporter plus Art Audio's Vivo 300B push/pull amp, this was eye candy on top of ear candy.

A Transporter with rectifier tube sticking out? You bet, courtesy of Dan Wright. There's more glowing bits inside.

The parting shot shows the side-firing woofer of the Studio Electric 3-way loudspeaker.

More colors can always be spotted at Blue Circle. Speakers here were from J.M Reynaud in his second room (new model with Volent twin ribbon) while Gilbert's first room showcased his own new loudspeakers.

Audio Concepts brought in hard-to-photograph black loudspeakers. The sub was in beautiful wood veneer. The sound, as always, was very attractive.

Advanced Ribbon Technologies had one of the best-smelling rooms. The smell of blonde wood was all over. No wonder too as they had their in-wall ribbons on display embedded in a fake wall. With many US houses built of wood, this idea wasn't bad. They've developed a technology that enables wall-mounted ribbons to cover a 140Hz to 20Khz response.

Over at Gill Audio, the big Daedalus Audio Reference loudspeakers with Art Audio amplification made us sit down for a while and play some of our CD. We just closed our eyes to shut out the blue lights and all was well.