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Held in the lake side castle of Greifensee just outside Zürich, April 4 and 5 2009 saw the fourth installment of the Klangschloss event which translates simply as Castle of Sound. Organized by Markus Thomann, the proprietor of Swiss loudspeaker house Klangwerk of Zürich, it's an opportunity for Swiss audio makers and importers to show off their wares in a public forum that's not a store front or the very expensive HighEnd Munich show. With per-day room fees from CHF 140 to 650 -- as a Stiftung or foundation, the castle routinely rents its rooms for public functions -- participation is cost-effective and the location by the lake a valid ruse to attract couples in search of some weekend fun, not just hard-boiled audiophiles [click thumb nails for 1000 x 750 images].

That location alone does not overcome ingrained habits on both sides of the fence, i.e. exhibitors and attendees, was displayed in poor sound, questionable music choices, presentor's ignorance on how to engage visitors and, at least during our stay, a serious shortage of the fairer sex. But as we'll see, exceptions to these tired old rules existed too.

Opening hours were 10:00 to 20:00 on Saturday, 11:00 to 18:00 on Sunday, with a Sunday Jazz Brunch hosted by the duo of Daniela Larkin (voice) and Max Frankl (guitar). Participating audio brands listed in the mega postcard programme included Acoustic Solid, Aesthetix, Apple, Audionet, Avantgarde Acoustic, Benchmark Media, Brinkmann, Burmester, Fischer & Fischer, HRS, JPS, Klangwerk, Manger, Meridian, Musical Fidelity, Nordost, Ortofon, PSI Audio, Quad Musikwiedergabe, Rega, Sonos, Sooloos, Swissonor, Thorens, Transrotor, Usher, Vita Audio, Wadia, Wavecontrol, Weiss and WSDG. Three formal presentations included WSDG's Dirk Noy's Active Absorbers - new room acoustic solutions?; Weiss High-End's Daniel Weiss' Audiophile satisfaction from hard drive, is it possible? and Digital Source's Andreas Kolbe's Proper ripping and storage of music. The exhibitors
were spread out over nine rooms and four stories. Entrance fees were CHF 10 per day or CHF 30 inclusive of brunch.

Above is Schloss Greifensee as seen from the cobble-stone yard in front of it, with the house at left displaying typical Germanic Fachwerk, i.e. exposed wood bracing.

As this sign explains, the castle is a center for seminars, workshops and celebrations. Nine comprehensively equipped rooms of various dimensions and "filled with character and modern conveniences" are perfect for presentations, exhibits, cultural events, banquets, weddings and more.

The access bridge doesn't exactly span a full-blown mote but shows that such fortified structures all had the necessary defenses to sit out attacks, sieges and perhaps the occasional home front revolt.

Registration was casual and without tickets or stamps. This reflects the very trustworthy nature of the Swiss. Store keepers can leave deliveries unattended outside for hours without fearing theft. Ikea can run a self check-out where customers scan their own items, then pay by credit card. Many restaurants around Lac Leman leave chairs and tables outside overnight without locks and chains. You can buy a used car and wait to pick it up until the registration papers have been issued without being asked for a single frank of deposit to 'prove your commitment' and 'hold the merchandise'. No monies exchange hands until you take actual possession. Being truly civilized has very definitive advantages for those fortunate enough to experience it.

Here is the far end of the ground floor 'bistro' where visitors could enjoy refreshments and where, presumably (we attended on Saturday) the brunch was held.