For now our beat continued with big things. Here we have the largest TW Acustic three-motor Raven Black Night table with TW Acustic Phono RPS 100 phono stage. Ralph Krebs of Cessaro once again schlepped one of his larger hornspeaker systems to the city. This time a pair of Gamma 2 equipped with all TAD drivers ended in enormous F4 bass bins. Amplification was via a Cessaro passive preamp into Cessaro 211 tube-based mono blocks commissioned from Greek firm Ypsilon.

Peter Schippers of Audiodata premiered his Austrian-built Art One loudspeaker following the same ideas as the semi-active Master One by using a coaxial mid/high driver with side-firing woofer. The coax supports Peter's notions on phase alignment which he also pursues with his Audiovolver corrective gear. The Art One's narrow footprint enhances dispersion of the frontal driver with a magnesium cone for the mids and aluminium for the tweeter. Also on debut was the Musikserver MS II, a PC-based streamer that now features a more powerful quad-core processor than its predecessor. 

You know when Ken Ishiwata is in da house even when he is not doing the Marantz room. Ken champions a quite unique way to loudspeaker positioning. Toe-in degrees are unusually high and the axial paths from the left and right speaker cross well before the listener.

Another room that demonstrated steep toe-in was Grimm's. At the show the Dutch company premiered their LS1be. This is not merely an upgrade to the 'standard' LS1. It is a complete rethink. Let's start at the bottom. The upfiring woofer now runs on a MFB motional feedback circuit. This good old Philips invention of the '70s has been updated and enhanced by the Grimm team consisting of, amongst others, Eelco Grimm and Guido Tent plus the help of mechatronics expert (this really exists!) Rob Munnig Schmidt who developed their new digital motional feedback with a cone accelerometer to reduce distortion by a staggering 30 times. With much improved bass handling, the new SEAS beryllium tweeter performs even better and its custom waveguide was a joint effort between the Dutch and Norwegians. With so many enhancements, the cabinet had to follow with the new Hi-Macs material. That is a solid acrylic also used by Burmester for their Diva loudspeaker but more commonly known for its use in kitchens and bathrooms. It is a bit similar to Corian. We listened with much pleasure to this LS1be. Compared to the original we reviewed here, the new iteration was a completely different animal and one we are eager to re-review as it were. [The astute reader will know of Bruno Putzeys' later Kii 3 active speaker under a new company umbrella to now give us two very differently styled very ambitious complete such solutions sharing nCore amplifier tech. - Ed.]

We went Dutch once more with daudio. We reviewed their W1 open baffle design with floating Mundorf AMT here. Since then the W1 underwent maturation and big steps forward. In a large space shared with Challenge Records, five speakers made it possible to switch between surround sound and stereo. It might have been the new dbaudio electronics but what we heard here during our relatively short visit was a much more refined sound than what recall from our first review. It still maintained that great spatial feeling from stereo but now was enjoyable across a far greater window across the room. We remember back then preferring to sit close up to compensate for the narrow dispersion at the time.

Nagra are mouthwatering not just visually with their classic even retro-styled design features. We listened to their new Classic INT 100-watt integrated over Wilson Alexia speakers. That's not a combination for the weak of heart. Alexia likes amplifier current and the compact Classic INT obliged. Its 100wpc were the real deal and not just a heady number on a shiny leaflet. 

MSB gear looks simple, is not really cheap but sounds great. The latter is often due to Frank Vermeylen's headstrong ideas about how to get things to sound right at shows. This year's focal point was their Analog DAC. Contrary to other MSB products, this DAC is not file upgradeable. Its designers took as they say the best of their other DACs to build this one. Think 80-bit processing, all DSD formats, up to 384KHz USB and femto clocks. For power, there is an outboard linear unit aka the second pizza box from the top of the stack in the next photo. Stereokonzept of Germany facilitated the speakers. Their Model 3 fitted with ScanSpeak drivers set into a Corian/Birch sandwich came to life in the hands of Frank who chose tracks that suited the speakers and room. This man knows how to demo. Decoration, just like in many other rooms, was by Portuguese company Artnovion. Especially their trippy Sahara W Absorber with a working range of 250Hz to 4000Hz was very attractive and its panels are actually made of wood.