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Other favorite rooms. Istanbul's Kerem Küçükasian of Absolare showed with Rockport Technologies' $100.000/pr Altair II speakers fronted by his own Absolare Passion 52-watt 845 parallel single-ended monos with Sophia Electric 6SN7 and 845-T Nature Series valves ($37.500/pr). Those were driven by his Absolare Passion single-ended preamp with Mullard 10M 12AU7 ($25.000). $50.000 worth of analog data came from a Steve Dobbins Kodo The Beat with Reed 3P tonearm, Lyra Atlas cart and Allnic Audio H-3000 phono stage. $65.000 worth of digital data came from a CEC TL-OX transport feeding a MSB Diamond DAC with Femto Second Galaxy clock and Power Base. Cables were Echole Obsession Signature, mains filtration came from an Absolare Bybee Purifier and Torus isolation transformer.

Knowing of my fondness for Turkish music, Kerem surprised me with a meandering Hüsnü Senlendirici clarinet solo taqsim followed by a Fahir Atakoglu song from the Iz album performed by bass player Levent Yüksel who also is a fabulous singer. The combination of ultra accurate full-bandwidth speakers fronted by the buxom 845s in a matured circuit made for a very big spacious smooth slightly sumptuous sound. Only with a massive crescendo on a female vocal demo track did the amps betray some compression. I could have abused this system by listening to my two show sampler CDs which I'd culled from the below playlist beginning to end. But not only were there other rooms to see, one simply can't hog any one system, abuse the host's hospitality and clean out the room with music nobody else appreciates. As you can see, I too had burned a track from Iz albeit one featuring songstress Sezen Aksu.

The leather-clad Absolare electronics with their very clean lines are manufactured in the US. Based on this audition and a prior Echole/Absolare visit to Istanbul a few years ago, they are definitely worth a follow-up listen by buyers looking for this type of amplification and power.

AURALiC didn't deal in blue-tinted air but perhaps they were lit up by the three Blue Moon awards I'd bestowed on their Merak monos, Vega digital processor and the Spanish equipment rack in use. I'd actually set my camera's white balance to the wrong value, hence this strange color shift. But never mind, this system of affordable electronics from Hong Kong driving YG Acoustics' upper-crust new Sonja flagships demonstrated that money alone never does all the talking. A second system around the same Sonjas fronted by Qualia electronics downstairs was clearly outshone by these class D monos with their linear power supplies and Lundahl input transformers, fully balanced Taurus preamp and Vega digital processor with Archwave/Sabre engine, 24/384 PCM and 64/128 DSD.

This room nearly didn't happen when bureaucrats in Beijing who'd forced Xuanqian Wang to prepay for his flight and hotel accommodations subsequently denied his visa. This inexplicable embargo was only lifted in the very last moment to have one of AURALiC's two owners actually able to attend. A good thing too.

On trends one spots or imagines to, the Artesania Audio Exoteryic rack I know so well from my own system and prior review not only housed Xuanqian's front-end gear but was to be found in a large number of other exhibits. I didn't keep track but would estimate 10 rooms which relied on this properly engineered vibration attenuation design from Spain.

Whilst the entire aluminator speaker design concept practiced by Magico, YG Acoustics, Stenheim and Crystal Cable conflicts with personal headspace a bit particularly when metal is bolted together like planks as wooden panels would be glued—the thin-walled energy-shedding tonewood notion appeals far more; if metal, why not organic curves like Everything But The Box from Bulgaria does?—I enjoyed this system for its speed, ease and clarity. Where the room's layout ran afoul was with its headfi section. Those who wanted to explore AURALiC's headphone amps were in permanent conflict with those who wished to hear the speakers. When Xuanqian accommodated headfiers by seriously attenuating the main system or muting it altogether, walkers-by in the hallway likely felt disinclined to enter since nothing seemed to be going on inside. Such can be the logistical challenges for a multi-tasking exhibitor. Back to AURALiC, besides Metrum's Hex their Vega processor is my favorite DAC for sane coin whilst their $5.000/pr Meraks were so close to the purely stock NCore 1200 modules in the then $9000/pr Acoustic Imagery monos that the AURALiCs got the award. With Bruno Putzeys' own Mola-Mola Kaluga monos priced at ~ $15.995/pr, the Meraks seem to be the current hot buy in high-power class D. Like the Red Sonja character, this showing with the Sonjas certainly suggested both beauty and force.

The Auris Audio brand from Serbia's Milomir Troŝić was a complete surprise. On the first day his speakers were 7-year old DIY Fostex-based widebanders hidden behind the black curtains to disguise their modest origins and finish. Once Pär Engelholm of the eponymous Swedish speaker company heard the setup, he immediately made available one of his 92dB efficient Solo M speakers. This lifted the sound from promising to truly impressive.

With circuit consulting and transformers from Trafomatic Audio's Sasa Cokic, switch-mode power supplies for the heaters and overall circuit architecture from Milomir's own engineers—his main business is the HCP d.o.o which specializes in cash registers—and curvaceous MDF casings clad in red leather, the €17.000 monos and matching €4.000 preamp were not only a sight to behold but sonically potent.

By sitting its speakers halfway in the room, this setup threw enormous depth whilst the big-tube SET monos did scale, space and layering like you'd expect. Here I spent one evening past 6:00 o'clock cruising through my playlist for an hour which I'd also dumped on a USB stick. This was chill-out reward time for a day of primitive loud hifi sound. Milomir loved these tracks and copied them to his laptop presumably to play the next day. A good time was had by all hanging around. This extended to a subsequent dinner with a full Serbian delegation. The chosen place was Mongo's, a Mongolian-style BBQ on Oberanger 28 opposite the Angerhof around the corner from the Marienplatz. I recommend it highly. Vegetarians are accommodated, the bomb sauce wasn't as hot as it reads and even the deserts were something else.