Further down this hall and in one of the alleys sat the open booth of Music Reality, another Dutch distributor not sticking to the lowlands. Cor Dekker is not a person to be depressed. He always sees possibilities and the silver lining. Bringing his own coffee machine in true Dutch fashion, he managed to set up an international display that made music - in an open booth in the midst of the Zoo. Didier De Luca contributed his latest Eera Tentation CD player which Cor connected to the Czech KR preamplifier feeding the KR Kronzilla DXL monoblocks which in turn fed Von Schweikert Unifield IIs. Besides these three European premiers was the Von Schweikert loudspeaker cable Master Build, a newcomer. A smaller setup was built around the new KR VA880 Anniversary KT88-based integrated amplifier shown in two cosmetic guises.

To emerge from the crowds of the ground floor halls, we went upstairs to the dedicated listening rooms. Music listening that is. Alas, if we noticed some downstairs fatigue already, this same depression and lack of energy continued with many exhibitors and their more expensive rooms here. As we all know, music has a strong influence on our emotional state. So why the fritz play awful music? Srajan already quoted Urs Wagner of Ensemble as saying "I'll play you a cut you all know very well so I won't be playing it for its musical content". We can add to that many rooms on the second floors - but luckily not all. Following our noses looking for truffles, we entered the shared Cessaro | TruLife Audio | TW Acustic room, a fairly big space with a really big system. All three companies and their respective designer/owners were present doing what they enjoy best: play music.

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Ralph Krebs, Velissarios Georgiadis and Thomas Woschnick were simply having fun. We first sat first down with Velissarios and his son and enjoyed various old analogue Blues tracks. Pops and clicks but who cares? The aged raw voices and the slapped and plucked strings on the acoustic guitars all went down to the heart as the sad blues stories unfolded.

In the back sat the Cessaro Beta 1 two-horn system with super tweeter assisted by Basshorn P4 cabinets with 2 x 16-inch drivers. That's per channel to equal many drivers total with a substantial amount of radiating surface. As source the giant three-motored TW Acustic Raven Black Night spun the licorice pizzas.

This is Thomas' present meisterstück and combines everything he has learned over an almost full life of building turntables. Besides having probably the most powerful and cleverly built motor with a housing that is already a turntable, two motors turning clockwise and the third anti-clockwise while driving the same belt, there is yet another unique feature.

Where Michael Fremer required an entire DVD to teach us how to adjust VTA, with his new arm mount on the Black Night Thomas has now made this esoteric procedure as easy as possible. Beneath the mount sits a 'simple' wheel that enables VTA shifts over an incredible 10mm range - on the fly without hassle.

Then there is the platter. A huge block of solid copper has been machined into a 40mm tall platter that is then bolted onto a 20mm TW secret ingredient platter which acts as the belts' grip too (envision machining copper without getting killed by it flying away). Then there is the bearing. Its construction consists of a 16mm diameter upright shaft that fits snugly into a bronze bearing with a 'material S' washer at the end. The combination is zero maintenance yet replaceable if need be. So much for the two extremes of the setup. At the far side sat Thomas' motor controller in charge of keeping the three motors synchronized and at the correct pace within extreme tolerances. Amplification of course had to come next. TW Acustics provided the phono stage but from there on out it was TLA all over.

With their main business in the transformer industry with from huge to giant and back to small trannies, it is perhaps no surprise that any component juncture where a capacitor can be replaced by a transformer has been attended to by these Greeks. From the multi-boxed preamplifier to the giant monoblocks, it was transformers, transformers and more transformers. The humongous 833 power tube drew all the eyes but one should not forget its musical capabilities. Driven by a 300B and in combination with the best circuit design and components, this monster had been fully tamed into behavioural meekness. With anode voltage capabilities up to 3000Volts and a max output of 1600W when sufficiently cooled, this valve is a Herculean challenge to all designers. In the new TLA Reference amplifiers, Velissarios proved he is not only unafraid of high voltages, he knows how to properly harness them. In combination, the turntable, amps and horns here were the most musical of the show. We sat down, closed our eyes and went with the flow. [Incidentally, M&H's commentary here and elsewhere was conducted entirely independent of my own, with separate listening sessions and visits to the respective rooms and booths. If certain mentions seem virtual duplicates, it simply means we responded alike - Ed].

While leaving the room, Thomas used the opportunity to show us his latest ‘literal’ baby, the Raven .5. This smallest of all present TW Acustic turntables has all the ingredients of its older and bigger siblings at a friendly price. With the same base construction, platter and bearing materials, motor and arm mount, everything has simply been scaled back to the essential dimensions. On top of this, yet another family feature has been preserved, namely upgradeability. The motor can be externalized and a second arm mounted in the vacated opening. We predict Thomas will get soon busy when this .5 hits the market.