"My country is really fucked up." That was the soft-spoken Misha of Trafomatic Audio commenting in one unguarded moment on the state of affairs in his native Serbia now that he had been to Germany and Austria for a reality check. Having visited Serbia for a RoadTour last year, I wholeheartedly agree. And I was just a tourist. What it must be like to live and work there day in day out as a small-time entrepreneur defies imagination and sanity; at least if you've been spoilt by a smoothly working infrastructure as we have it here in Switzerland for example.

That's what makes the 7-model deep launch of WLM Acoustics so flabbergasting. When was the last time a valve audio brand launched fully mature with a phono stage, USB DAC, remote-controlled preamp, EL34 and EL 84 integrateds, EL34 stereo amp with input transformers and equivalent EL34 monoblocks? Frankly, I can't recall a single precedent. Now add the Serbian connection and the fact that all this transpired over six short months. In our scheme of things, that's practically from zero to hero overnight. This deserves a very unique achievement award. Though we don't have one at present, I'm working on it. Seriously!

As reported previously, WLM Acoustics is a European joint venture between Sasa Cokic of Trafomatic Audio and Hannes Frick of WLM Loudspeakers.

Hannes Frick upholds industrial design and global marketing duties. To demonstrate that successful exhibits aren't the result of happenstance, Frick submitted the following drawings.
"We leave nothing to chance" he quipped. That included fall-back provisions to counter unforeseen eventualities.
"Hannes did not like my gloss-black/gold scheme of the Trafomatic Audio Experience Reference paralleled 300B monoblocks. So he carefully designed his look around Macassar enclosures with aluminum covers and controls. Until his Russian importer saw a photo of those monos on 6moons that is. Suddenly I received an urgent e-mail from Hannes. He needed a gold/black Sonata. Desperately. His Russian importer wanted nothing else." Sasa Cokic chuckled. "Naturally I obliged and Misha did a tremendous job cooking up a very special metallic paint for the top cover."

"Our landsmen from Solaja Audio and Raal Ribbon stopped by the exhibit. Dragan Solaja was clearly surprised. "How did this happen?" You see, last year nobody knew about this venture. Hannes contacted me after your RoadTour Serbia which published in September 2008. We've worked extremely hard ever since and seeing our exhibit with Hannes now must have come as quite the shock. Only another Serbian could really appreciate all the challenges involved."

But electronics weren't all that was new in this room.

The Austrian home team of WLM Loudspeakers had cooked up the 2-model Stello line to become the new entry point into their product range.

With Chris Feickert of Dr. Feickert Analogue on the controls, the puny new Stello monitor awed showgoers by filling a large space with very high but completely undistorted non-compressed SPLs. The secret of course was the big Duo 15 subwoofer in the back of the stage and an active crossover which relieved the minis of sub 80Hz stress. Trick or not, this showing was bloody impressive and made far better sound than many a blinged-out overpriced set elsewhere.

The only item not yet full production in the above shot were the Adagio monos. Upon delivery of his first pair, Hannes decided on altering the cosmetics. The final monos will turn the chassis sideways and mount all transformers and chokes above deck in three discrete cans. Never mind though. I still reel from this absolutely massive rollout of value-conscious valve audio that's neither designed nor built in China. Hats off to the newly minted WLM Acoustics. As far as new brands go, this was the most exciting discovery at Munich this year. Cheers to the Serbians!