Audio Block is a German/Sino joint venture and their DS AX3-DX3 DVD / 120wpc receiver combo with HDMI, USB and 2 iPod inputs sells for a monstrously low €499. Their audiophilia for everyman slogan clearly is no empty lip service.

As announced in our sneak pre-show visit to Serge Schmidlin, Audio Consulting premiered their triple-decker battery-powered phono stage with Jean Hiraga loudspeakers and also showed the new USB DAC.

From the land of perfect risotto and gelato stems Audio Nemesis with electronics and now also speakers.

Audio Physic held court in their usually precise fashion -- listen to the grass grow is their new tag line -- but also joined the bling brigade with a custom finish suggestion for their new Cardeas model.

Audio Resolution from the Slovak Republic showed some very ambitious cylindrical loudspeakers with slanted woofer tops called Ellipse. This fully active 3-way includes a 24/192 D/A converter and comprehensive provisions for impulse response, phase and amplitude corrections. I did say ambitious? Very!

For the skinny on German speaker brand Audium, read our review on their Comp 5 model.

Avantgarde Acoustic's Holger Fromme hammed it up for a camera interview to not have time to talk me through the G2 versions of his hornspeakers which include exchangeable wood trim, a new rail and base system and exchangeable horns, i.e. primarily cosmetic items.

I, ahem, hate pointing fingers but just as last year, the big Trio/Basshorn rig systematically destroyed all the good will the former US importer Jim Smith created for hornspeakers in general and for this brand in particular - by making absolutely terrible sound. From prior ownership of the pre-Omega Duos, I know perfectly well what these speakers are capable of. But never mind that. Esoteric and Audio Aero demonstrated it at the very same event. Should somebody be taking lessons perhaps?

This isn't about the pen being mightier than the sword or being cavalier and spitty with words. It's about respect and consideration for those who spent time and money to attend. End of spleen vent.