This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below
In no particular sequence to continue with my improvisational theme, here are other exhibits or displays which caught my attention. Gabi and Edwin van der Kley aka Mrs. Crystal Cable and Mr. Siltech had a new baby. Their Crystal Cable Minissimo speaker stays loyal to the existing Arabesque range's tear-drop or comma cross section but advances this state of their art with the chosen enclosure material.

Unlike the industrial glass of its biggest siblings or the bolted-together aluminium facets of the smaller one, the €10'000/pr munchkin is machined from a solid block of aluminium particles suspended in resin to avoid all vertical seams and create an 'anechoic chamber' geometry on the internal walls. Made in Germany, this composite matrix material creates stressed-member strength. Like steel bridge supports loaded under tension increase in rigidity, so do the micro metal filings in the resin according to test-bench maestro Edwin. Measuring this enclosure's impact on noise and distortion versus the previous metal model with bolted panels, he reported a significant reduction of these already low effects for the Minissimo. Once again their resident Comsol modeling software was used to visualize the air-flow and pressurization behaviour of the final shape and determine the optimal port size and location.

As the photo shows, this port fires down. Edwin had experimented with loading it into the stand's thickest leg instead to generate additional cubic volume for what is a compact enclosure to begin with. As good as the idea might have seemed on paper, the sonic results were better this way. Software modeling, hard measurements and critical listening must always work together to keep each other in check.

This speaker will be available in five designer colors. Here it was driven from a forthcoming cube-shaped integrated amplifier still hidden behind the curtain—yes, this hifi power couple have always had a 'closing room' as do Gryphon and other professionals—so its Devialet-ish cube remote took pride of place between the new monitor speakers instead.

Not having reviewed a Crystal Cable product in far too long, I signed up for a pair of these when Gabi has a pair to spare. In the course of our conversation, the Dutch couple revealed how they weed out the all-talk-no-walk distributors. They insist on prepayment. Only pros with cash flow willing to get financially invested may apply. That's as logical as the fact that reviewers ought to own their own equipment—and to do a proper job of it, multiples in every category—to be just as invested. Some high-profile reviewers take pride in owning nothing. I happen to think that even an apprentice carpenter owns his own tool belt whilst the master carpenter owns 10 different hammers, 30 screwdrivers and so forth. This refers back to the discussions I had with John Darko, Ralph Werner and the Pulsion Audio folks.

Here now is the unmarried Xuanqian Wang of AURALiC—his marital status is mentioned only to explain how this high-energy individual manages to keep a busy schedule of international trade-show attendance whilst manufacturing and producing in Hong Kong—showing off their new Aries wireless 32/384PCM/DSD128 USB bridge. For full details refer to our prior feature.

Unlike prior kit from them, the Aries relies on plastic covers to keep manufacturing costs and final pricing down. Not. As US-based PR man Bryan Stanton explained, "the case is plastic as their traditional metal cases would block the WiFi signal and Xuanqian wisely wanted to avoid the ubiquitous black plastic pencil antenna sticking up the back."

The big news from Korea's Kang-Su Park and his Allnic Audio Labs brand was a full DHT system. From the elephant dong massive double-decker KR Audio power triodes in his monos to the phono stage, DAC and preamp, the signal path of each component in this range only consists of direct-heated triodes.

Lest you protesteth too much about there not being sufficient such valves available to make a go of it, quite so. Eunice Kron of KR Audio in the Czech Republic was commissioned for three new tubes not previously available in their catalogue. Hint to other manufacturers: if you're tired of using the same old current-production bottles as everyone else, have your own minted. If Allnic can, why not you? Asking their global marketing manager David Beetles from Hammertone Audio on what kind of volume requirements this took, he told me "fifty of each obviously with hopes for higher numbers in the future".

I stopped in the Pathos Acoustics exhibit really only to chase down status on a long-promised review loaner of their Logos MkII hybrid integrated with USB DAC. I'd have plenty of one-on-one time with it in my digs. Their sales manager had emailed that he'd send the unit in a few days a good month ago.

As it turned out, he had - to their Swiss importer as agreed upon upfront. That chap was simply to dispatch the unit to yours truly. Except one lame Paul Sissener of Sistrade Sàrl had held on to it for a month without informing Pathos or me. He forgot that professionals with busy schedules create slots to handle loaners in a timely manner; and that when those loaners don't show up as promised, it creates havoc all around (and readers are left wondering whether we're asleep behind the wheel when in fact we have no gas in the tank). After Enrico Fiore of Pathos met with Paul at the show, I had delivery confirmation for the Tuesday following. That was a lovely fringe benefit of entering this room.

Whilst there I ogled their gorgeous Musiteca music server with valve output stage and huge touch-screen display. That was a thing of beauty.