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EternalArts showed this gleaming headphone amplifier in Sennheiser's booth on the main floor.

Chris Feickert had his new Woodpecker table in the Avantgarde Acoustic exhibit.

Focal's split-spine Utopia demonstrations always draw crows but I wonder how many visitors took note of this very clever Bird system too. It combines three different stand/wall-mounted models (4", 5.5" and 2 x 5.5" two-ways) with a small active 6.5" woofer whose enclosure also incorporates the necessary electronics for the speakers and can be placed flat, vertical, horizontal or fixed to a wall with the integral Polyfix system. Focal's app combines with multi-pin iDevice transmitter sockets for wireless Kleer remote from an iPod, iPhone or iPad. Dubbed Power Bird, this electronics module includes a wireless Kleer receiver, infrared remote sensor, pre-set active crossover, polarity inversion and bass level adjustments, 2 digital inputs and three analog inputs. Built-in power modules are 2 x 35 watts for the main speakers, 1 x 80 watts for the woofer.

The super-imposed center image below shows the energizer module for the Utopias' field-coil woofers. The unity-gain preamp to the right is the P130 by KR Audio which runs the company's proprietary KR 5 output tubes.

Klangwerk's very attractive active Ella model has undergone small cosmetic and performance changes since last year.

Lindemann from Germany showed with what I took to be their own two-way monitor though it doesn't yet show on their website. Also new from them is an XMOS-based asynchronous 24/192 USB DAC.

Manger—whose driver's operating principle many a competing speaker designer has admitted to not fully understanding—showed off their active reference monitor.

Mårten Design speakers from Sweden were hamming it up with Einstein valve electronics from Germany.

Ed Meitner's new ma 1 dac with 1 x USB, 1 x AES/EBU, 2 x Toslink and 2 x coaxial digital inputs sat on silent display. This model is not from the EMM Labs catalogue but the designer's new brand under his own name. A second converter model and CD player are forthcoming.

Here are some skirts-up shots of French Micromega gear.

Swiss stalwart Nagra showed a 60th Anniversary Edition of their Nagra 6 flash-card 8-channel recorder.

Peachtree Audio's importer had brought the not-so-petite musicBox and new DAC.iT models. The nude box is a Nova.

This micro system from Pro-Ject seemed ideal for dorm dwellers and aspiring 'philes short on space and budget.

German import house Sintron not merely handles Thorens but also owns the Vincent and T.A.C. Audio brands. Speakers were from Tannoy.

Soulution showed with gleaming white Ascendo speakers and Cyrill Hammer did a demo for me of his SACD player's laser vs. USB path. Because this model was designed three years ago, its USB implementation is patently outdated. This was clearly apparent in the comparison. Streaming data sounded sharper and cooler, the optically read data warmer and rounder. "That's the sound of higher jitter" was Cyrill's apologetic answer.

Soulution's forthcoming USB-to-S/PDIF converter [ca. €3.000] will address this shortcoming around a customized XMOS platform. I suggested their very talented engineer also investigate Swiss-based Archwave AG. Their dual-core 500mips Sanctuary chip was recently exploited by AURALiC's ARK MX+ to terrific effect.

Swiss Stenheim combined their Alumine monitor speakers with Devialet's stunning D-Premier mounted to the wall.

For those desirous of turning their iDevice into a mobile measuring system, Synthax from Germany has the solution. Their CHF 119,- MicW i456 and higher sensitivity i226 microphones plug directly into the headphone sockets and can display various measurement modes as well as accommodate location recordings.

Richard Vandersteen's new Trio model is a slim-line three-way with 8-inch passive radiator/coupler.

To round things out, Laurence Dickie stood for me next to his latest Vivid Audio Giya 2 to show just how compact this futuristically fashioned design really is.

And that now concludes my quickie coverage. The proliferation of audio shows is a relevant sign of the times. Manufacturers are eager for more business. Traditional retail venues are suffering. This makes for fewer opportunities to reach potential customers. Regional shows like this very well organized HighEnd Suisse fill this gap. For newbies such events can become veritable wide-eyed kid-in-a-candystore encounters. For veterans the underlying small print of sub optimal setups, neighboring sound pollution, unfamiliar ancillaries, audiophile pabulum and such tempers some enthusiasm of course. As anyone who has done a few of them knows, shows really aren't places to come to any firm conclusions. Shows instead are places to tease and promise, to sow white seeds of curiosity and perhaps even those black ones of discontent (if anything there sets wildly higher standards than one currently enjoys at home). Due diligence to investigate how any of such promises might translate always remain for afterwards - at a friend's place, in a dealer's showroom or preferably in one's own home for a weekend audition. If these two pages contained anything to start you researching a brand or model you hadn't heard of before, they'll have served their intended purpose.