Refining raw drivers is also Sean Casey's beat at Zu. As reported in their preview, his new Druid VI—not a replacement for the V but a hot-rodded higher-priced version—gets a serious makeover on the enclosure build but still adds in-house changes to both its Radian compression tweeter and signature widebander. Our review will tell that tale. With two turntables on rotation, Sean's purpose for coming to shows is, as he put it, "to entertain people". His marketing manager blearily eyeing the bottom line would throw a fit. But then, Sean wears all of the hats. That one's included, hence spanked into submission. Such a focus plus Sean's outside musical tastes make visiting Zu rooms obligatory at any show. At the very least, they will rinse out all the audiophile pap which accumulated in your ear drums elsewhere.

For whom the tubes toil - a play in four acts. From Elrog of Germany, there are contemporary 300B at €1'050 the pair, 211/845 at €1'175 the set or 274B at €450/ea. Under new Thomas Mayer ownership, the company has been restructured as Deutsche Elektronenröhren Manufaktur GmbH. That should require no translation. Jawohl? Bitte schön.

When the truth bites - a tragi-comedy in one act.
This went live with Sven Boenicke's new integrated. It had started life with a class A/B output stage. However, during a subsequent Hamburg audio show, Sven had encountered a proprietary class D design from an unknown German designer which impressed him deeply. Enter the quandary. Should he kowtow to class D's still spotty rep and stick with the safer old bid? Should he enact the sonic pragmatist and pick what sounded best to him, perception be damned? Needless to say, his ears did become the ultimate arbiter and the final e2 combines a no-gain Holborne input buffer with a purist volume control of never more than one resistor in the signal path, a 2:1 ratio step-up transformer for minor passive gain, then a proprietary switching output stage for 400wpc into 8Ω. Phono and/or DAC modules are optional.

As with his speakers, an SE version with sundry invisible tweaks is available. He'd even brought his own powerline filter.

Die Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur aka WIM had updated all of their models with dipole ribbon tweeters standing at attention like the prairie dogs in our prior New Mexico desert digs. The Schubert-era replica piano became part of active live-music interludes by a visiting concert pianist.

Analog Domain showed with the extravagantly styled Jane speakers from not Italy's but Slovakia's Stark Audio. Condemned to a ground-floor cubicle without windows, these speakers were sized just right for the space and looked swell. The bigger stablemate isn't called Tarzan but Emma and just as stylish if even more flamboyant.

Illusonic of Switzerland pulled a Magnepan by hiding their speakers behind an acoustically transparent wall. Scott Faller was using their DSP matrixing to demonstrate straightahead stereo (bypass), enhanced stereo and maximal depth mode. Manipulating his smartphone app, he could call up any mode on the fly. The effects were very easy to hear! I can't know how many visitors appreciated his approach but it was certainly brave to force reliance on one's own perception without the distraction of knowing/seeing what one listens to. Behind the wall was a pair of small active PSI monitors plus active subwoofers integrated via the illusonic.

Here's what's inside that magic box o' tricks.

SOtM's s-PS500 linear power supply can be set to 7/9/12/19V and outputs power via 4-pin umbilical. A special splitter is required to power both the company's sMS-200ultra and tX-USBultra from it. For our forthcoming review of the USB reclocker, I asked for this optional PSU.

The very full-featured Orpheus server here with Meze 99 Classics headphones doubles as analog preamp with analog volume, plays CD/DVD and Youtube video and rips discs. For WiFi agnostics like our household, it comes...

... with a browser interface to on paper at least appear to be a complete solution; without the equally Swiss The Beast's numbnutz €60'000 price tag.

Bespoke from the UK have taken their Stevens & Billington / Music First Audio roots to craft utterly bespoke remote-controlled transformer-attenuating purist passive linestages. The punter has a choice of copper and silver magnetics and any combination of RCA/XLR i/o within the limits of eight available slots on the rear panel. Finish options are virtually unlimited. And to demonstrate their approach, I was - well, approached for a review. As Sherlock Holmes would say, "the game's afoot, dear Watson".

Octave premiered their single-ended KT120 tetrode amp with about 10dB of NFB via big Blumenhofer horns...

... and headphones. With a review booked, we'll leave the juicy details for later save to already say, there are a number of those - including non-gapped output transformers.