The return of a legend? Before laying down lazy tracks for Dublin airport, my show started with Roy Johnson of Green Mountain Audio. "It has been far too long since you heard from me. Now I am back to work full time, putting the fruits of research into new products. When the US economy collapsed, I lost many small retailers and decided to make my company very much smaller to survive. All that is for the most part behind me. The first new model is Eos RX, the world's first ribbon-tweeter two-way with a 1st-order crossover. No ribbon tweeter has ever been able to survive a first-order circuit's low-frequency rolloff until this one specially designed for us by Raal. Eos RX will have an MSRP of $6'495/pair and is big brother to the soft-dome version, Eos HX at $4'995. A new reference three-way with this ribbon is coming out perhaps in September. I think of its style as Art Deco for the 21st century and women like it very much. Called Miro after the artist and moulded from synthetic stone, final colours are up to the customer and applied by the former head painter of Bentley Motors who now lives here with his wife. He also worked for Ducati then Cadillac. Miro replaces Calypso which Paul Candy reviewed." Of course for someone to return, they first have to be gone. I hadn't know of Roy's business travails and was thrilled to now hear that he was back. Needless to say, reviews for the Eos RX and Miro have already been booked. Their website hasn't been updated yet so give Roy some time to catch up with the marketing stuff.

I also caught up with Philip O'Hanlon of On a Higher Note distribution who'd flown the same Dublin/Munich Air Lingus passage. Having switched his Luxman and Vivid representation for Gryphon, after a 15-year hiatus of the Danes' presence in the States, US customers once again would have full-service access to this legendary Scandinavian brand. Things were off to a brilliant start indeed. With Munich temps of up to 26°C and no rain, they continued. Celebrating sundry holidays over show weekend, the locals around the Marienplatz were out in full force wearing traditional Wies'ntrachten of Lederhosen and knee socks for the gents, Dirndls for the ladies and the effects of copious beer consumption in full swing.

With an 8-tonne bell in a downtown belfry ringing in 6:00 on the dot, I was up early in my usual Schlicker digs and after some freshly squeezed juice and Brötchen mit Räucherlachs from the stands in the Viktualian Markt behind it, chestnut trees in full bloom, a super-nice Afghani immigrant in a brand-new €100'000 Merc took me to the M.O.C. In mostly alphabetical sequence, here's what caught my eyes. Joe Skubinski & Sons showed off their Abyss Diana cans in black, white and coffee. Like Meze's Empyrean, the ears pads are magnetically affixed and the cups and integral grills machined from solid aluminium blocks.

From start to finish, right to left, the following display painted that picture. What it didn't show was the clever slider array below the head band. Rows of invisibly embedded tiny magnets have just the right force to stay/move easily without ever wearing out or jamming. Despite portable petiteness, this isn't an ultra-efficient planar to sing loudly right off an iPhone. But then a ~€3'500 positioning rightly assumes that target customers will use a proper DAP like Joe's display Sony. The Diana was built like a Marine but styled like a princess to hit all my looker marks. I had a first hit.

Aequo Audio's Ensis in synthetic black stone and Apple wood veneer held court in front of one of Hall 4's new super cabins which were quite the improvement over the atrocious sound cubicles still very much in effect elsewhere in the four ground-floor halls. Inside...

... were the temporary HQ for the new Stilla model previewed in detail here. Though without any signage or catalogue listing to be invisible on those fronts*, Ivo Linnenberg had contributed his new Widor stereo amp which will feature later in my report. With its review booked already and Stilla's in progress, we'll learn more elsewhere. Because at the onset of my prowls my usually reliable ceiling flash had gone not on the Ritz but fritz, I had exposure issues. Here and there I managed to compensate with inbuilt flash and using one hand as deflector. Other photos sadly bear witness to shooting without a proper flash. Uncle Murphy and the luck of the Irish.

* I subsequently asked Æquo's Paul Rassin on show regulations in this regard. "A 50/50 financial share of the cabin with accessories like furniture, power and Internet would have been half of €18'000. As formal co-exhibitors even at a three-way split, this entitles a company to formal catalogue listings and in-cabin promotional materials. If companies merely provide gear or a small monetary contribution below the co-exhibitor level, show management forbids banners unless one of the listed exhibitors also distributes that brand. We had extensive contact with Ali Ibrahim from the HighEnd Society about these points. This meant that we could allow neither Mola-Mola nor Linnenberg in-cabin banners though we tried." That's useful intel for makers who hope for enhanced visiblity beyond just providing hardware loaners. Unless there's sufficient fiscal sharing to be considered co-exhibitors, no can do. Those are the show rules.

I ran into lanky John Devore whilst we and the other barbarian hordes laid siege to the M.O.C.'s entry doors. Properly Germanic, show personnel was naturally rigid about not letting anyone in before 10:00 unless you were an exhibitor with the right badge. John was prowling the lay of the land for next year's attendance. Catching up, I learnt of the planned rise of the super ape. Not a new movie with gun-toting chimps, it'll be a hot-rodded orangutan, specifically a Devore Fidelity O/96 with AlNiCo magnets, bronze baskets and assorted chicanery to push the existing model into no-prisoners land. There might even come companion active outboard woofers of the same diameter as the main driver, albeit tuned for just LF service below 30Hz or so. That was still up for discussion.