Round up the usual suspects in the usual place. Anyone comparing this year's coverage to last year's will agree. Casablanca's famous line quite applied. Event organizer Markus Thomann of Swiss loudspeaker house Klangwerk once again rented the country castle over the second April weekend and many of 2009's exhibitors returned, some even in the same rooms to temporarily transform the quaint venue into Klangschloss Greifensee or the Sound Castle on Zürich's lake.

With three to four rooms on each of the three upper stories and one on the ground floor, this do's scale is so compact that walking it takes 20 minutes. To see it all is no challenge. It's the faintest of breezes compared to the gale force assaults which Guangzhou, Munich and Las Vegas deliver. Attendees can spend quality time in each room rather than hustle like mad across the equivalent of multiple football fields while still missing things they'd earmarked. The score in Greifensee isn't variety. It's intimacy including sound leakage from neighbors. Well, there was no audio when this castle was originally built.

While the charming Swiss location with its limited number of exhibits arguably would have lent itself to a show of force for purely Swiss audio, Nagra, Soulution, Piega, Boenicke, Audio Consulting, Orpheus Labs, Da Vinci Audio Labs and many other domestic players small and large didn't participate. The event that bags them all in one place will likely be the HighEnd Swiss show organized by the Munich HighEnd Messe team. The first installment thereof was last October in the Regensdorf Mövenpick hotel and very promising.

No audio show however small is complete without vinyl grab bins and Greifensee had its own. For CD/SACD the Swedish Opus 3 label stood by.

Quad Musicwiedergabe's refurbished or from-the-ground-up rebuilds of Peter Walker's classic Quad electrostatic panels provided ambiance.

Swiss importer Montana Audio had left Wilson and Krell in the shop and instead brought the broad-shouldered big Sonus Fabers or alternately conventional—non electrostatic—MartinLogans. Electronics in the active system included Audio Research and Cyrus while a vault-like two-box Pass Labs XP-25 phono stage sat quietly in a window.

Note the use of a painting to balance out an asymmetrical window bay on the left side. It was acoustically invisible to low frequencies of course but likely somewhat active higher up. And it added a bit of color and decorum. Audiophiles focused on technicalia routinely overlook that the recipient of all their attention is a human nervous system. That takes in far more than just sound. Whatever makes us feel comfortable, relaxed, expectant and happy should be supported by a listening area's decor, feel and vibe. Otherwise we end up doing a lot less listening than our considerable audio investments should warrant.

Zürich's Hifi Sulzer had set up a rig around Burmester and Atoll equipment and for speakers selected Magnepan and Audio Physic models.

Playing compelling tunes at engaging levels mindful of the neighbor's demonstrations is one core rationale for such events. You might be surprised by how little of that is routinely done however. I thought of the textbook refusal of so many copper flicks: "I'm getting too old for this." Of course someone attending a hifi gig for the very first time might come away with a very different impression. No longer wearing those stripes, I'll simply say that we arrived before 11:00 and were out an hour later. In fact, Ivette bolted ten minutes into it to browse for books in a little old lady's store across the way. After lunch, we headed back into town where we'd spotted a Saturn media store where there hadn't been one last year. Alas, its grand opening was still a few weeks out. Back in the castle meanwhile...
...a flyer in Hifi Sulzer's room promoted a Swiss company I'd not heard of before - CRTech of Toffen. They offer Christian Rohrer's patent-pending footer for hifi components. This includes loudspeakers. For decades hifi pundits have of course championed floor coupling to 'sink' vibrational energies into the floor. A rethink of this premise has certain audiophiles now prefer decoupling particularly for speakers and subwoofers.

CRTech's descriptions indicate a device belonging to the decoupling class. This replaces and effectually inverts traditional spikes. The exploded view at right shows the ingredients. The secret weapon is the weight-matched damper element. It will have to be a special viscoelastic.