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I'd seen Swiss electronics/speaker firm Rowen last year but never understood just why I'd never come across them anywhere prior to moving to Switzerland. They only sell in this country. That also explains their pricing which for apparent build quality and features seems very reasonable given that nothing is outsourced. "Our customers are essentially our dealers so we've eliminated one layer of middlemen" explained the owner's son and vice director Pascal Aebischer. They also run import firm Dynavox to bring into Switzerland and Germany NAD, PSB, Myryad and Dali. "If we did export with Rowen, we'd have to raise our domestic prices to match. This we did not want so we only sell domestically."

While this admittedly does leave out the majority of our international readers, how about a dual-mono amplifier which delivers 65 watts into 8 ohms and one kilowatt into 0.5 ohms; can be bridged to 240 which into half an ohm then nets 3.500 watts; and sells for CHF 6.490? Now add that it is fully balanced, avoids all feedback and offers a negative output impedance to eliminate cable interactions. Say hello to the Absolute One at lower left.

Rowen's very best preamp with massive top-class Mundorf capacitors sells for CHF 4.990. Hmm. Here too a personal visit to the facilities seemed called for to investigate this unusual business model closer. Ditto for Orpheus Labs whose strategy manager Tallant Fabien in the Boenicke room explained how this brand operating out of Yverdon les Bains in Switzerland has restructured over the last few years. There now are some very exciting very upscale new Privilege products in their catalogue. Next RoadTour perhaps?

MusicWonder's Andreas Heggendorn presented another Swiss company with a complete front-to-back solution under the tag line "The Third Dimension". Their Twins front end processes digital files directly to end up with four active DSP-filtered channels of class D amplification per side with digital impulse response and room correction plus precise drive-unit matching. Their unfortunately named Hooter speaker runs a sidefiring 38cm woofer with dual voice coils and on the front an airmotion tweeter with 17cm midrange. This speaker contains no passive filter elements at all and thus requires the company's own Twins processor.

Also from Switzerland was the Brentford AG, a company specialized in custom computer solutions including media center applications.

Where most consumers end up with Mac or Windows-based computers that are simply repurposed for audio or audio/video, Brentford offers one-up services to create truly purpose-designed music machines. This static exhibit was shared with Daniel Mayerthaler Assembly, another Swiss multimedia hardware/software solutions specialist.

ActivAudio Swiss Technologies continued the homegrown loudspeaker theme - including Integra Möbel A/V furniture with built-in speaker modules. Their room was too busy so I simply grabbed a few brochures to provide the necessary links to get your online research started.

From Germany came Wall Audio with their Opus 34 and Aura all-tube machines. Where the Opus 34 runs with KT88s, the Aura is unusual for enclosing 6C33 triodes with E88CC and 6H30 inputs and drivers in the company's deluxe receiver-type enclosures. Offering 15-watt output in class A mode which can be switched into eco-mode class A/B, the Aura sports servo bias for the output tubes, delayed HT power supply start-up, tube overload protection, V-Cap Teflon-Tin foil signal capacitors, internal silver ribbon wiring and a claimed frequency response of 10Hz to 80kHz.

Another new company/product discovery for me was Angel Despotov's Analog Domain Audio GmbH of Germany (perhaps not coincidentally situated on the Johann-Sebastian-Bach Strasse of Vaterstetten). Their Calysto amplifier is a 550/1100-watt into 8/4-ohm muscle monster with 336.000uF of capacitance and a "massively parallel complementary current-gain arrangement" on the outputs.

The Calysto benefits from the company's DXDrive™ invention which is described as a custom hybrid IC that controls operating bias without having to rely on the usual thermal tracking sensors on the output transistors. "Bias is sampled directly and dynamically maintained at the optimal level regardless of temperature, supply voltage or momentary load variations".

Specifications for the Calysto model include 1.55Vrms input sensitive, better than 129dB of A-weighted dynamic range, switchable 26/32dB voltage gain and peak output voltage of 67Vrms with a 1Hz to 100kHz full-power bandwidth and output noise below 35uVrms. Shipping weight is a gargantuan 94kg. Besides solid technical specs, this company also offers a very wide palette of finish options, most of them high-tech coatings.