This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

When we received an invitation from organizer Adam Mokrzycki to visit his Audio Show 2012 in Warsaw, we were pleased but at the same time had no idea what to expect. We had never been to Warsaw let alone the audio show. The only reference we could find was Srajan’s report on the 2006 installment of the event which had been very positive. In our emails with Adam he explained how the 2012 edition was already the 16th iteration and that there had been a steady growth not only in exhibition rooms but attendee numbers. This year no less than 75 rooms were booked and spread across three hotels. The main location was the Radisson Blu Jan Sobieski, with location N°.2 just across the street at the Golden Tulip. The third was the Meridian hotel Bristol a short ride across town, with courtesy transportation available between the Sobieski and Bristol of course.

from Wojciech Pacula's show coverage

A short 90-minutes flight from Amsterdam Schiphol brought us to Warsaw Chopin airport which is very modern, spacious and light. Even better, it is only a few miles from the city. Our bags appeared amazingly quick on the belt and we were met by Adam’s wife who took us to the hotel. Check in was just as swift and pleasant as everything else in Warsaw thus far. We’ve stayed at plenty of hotels where an audio show was being held and always there had been people scurrying about with boxes and soldering irons. Not so here. It was as though the show were to be held elsewhere. There was only a glimpse of activity at the other end of the hall on our floor but that really was it.

After unpacking in our clean, spacious, recently refurbished and very quiet room located at the inner round of the hotel overlooking the courtyard, we went downstairs to check out the restaurant. There were plenty of choices even for us vegetarians and the portions were more than generous whilst the service was exemplary. Over a delicious dinner we discussed how to 'attack' the show as we wanted to visit every room and get a sound impression. Next we hoped to discover as much home-grown product as possible. Recently we’d encountered many surprising brands from the Baltic states, Serbia and Hungary. Now we wanted to add Polish audio gear. This was our chance.

We decided to first visit the Bristol and Golden Tulip and then work our way from the top floor of the Jan Sobieski downhill. Fortunately on Saturday as the first show day, hours were from 10AM to 10PM while Sunday’s hours were 10AM to 6 PM. Eighteen hours for 75 rooms across 3 locations? Tight but not impossible.

Saturday morning we picked up our badges to be identifiable as prasa. With the badges we received the Polish show catalogue. As we don’t speak Polish, that was a bit of a challenge. The written language looks a bit difficult with plenty of packed consonants but if you compress those into a single letter, many words begin to make sense.

When you remember that a (przed)wzmacniacz is a (pre)amplifier, kolumny are loudspeakers, lampowy are tubes and gramofon is a turntable, you can find your way around. On the other hand, everyone spoke English. When we got into a taxi to bring us to the Bristol—the shuttle bus was starting out late—we saw a very long queue of attendees around the corner of the hotel. Ditto at the Bristol where even the spiral stairs leading to the second floor (US, first floor elsewhere) were packed. Fortunately for us our prasa badges helped us skip the line without eliciting any negative reactions from the people still waiting. Only the word ‘sixmoons’ was heard.

The first room to see was loaded with acoustic panels - large ones with intriguing if not psychedelic hole patterns. Visually attractive or not, the room did sound very damped. Next to Avantgarde Acoustic Duos with matching XA amplifiers, a wealth of Ayon gear flooded the equipment rack where we took note of the Ayon S5 network player and Eris phono stage. Of course Armin Krauss of Avantgarde Acoustic was present to play his favorite vinyl. A common thing at this show according to him is the closed-door demo. Presentations are given at certain times. Once in progress, the doors remain shut. Very civilized! 

Vitus Audio electronics from Denmark joined Estelon loudspeakers from Estonia. The XB model uses Accuton drivers and Kubala-Sosna internal cabling with very impressing results. The same mid/woofer we would see later again in a stand mount and with equally stunning capabilities.

Downscaling is one thing, to really go mini in a maxi way another. Here Ancient Audio presented the Studio Oslo, a miniature active monitor. In combination with a dedicated small subwoofer this dwarfish set was more than capable of filling its room with music. Ancient Audio owner Jarek Waszczyszyn demonstrated not only with a laptop feed but also from a mobile phone. He made the point that the Studio Oslo had plenty of sound pressures at hand. The sound quality of course was harder to assess with such sources. A second setup demonstrated the use of the mini speakers in a near-field setting.

Wilson Audio Sasha for output, dCS Vivaldi as source and Dan D’Agostino Momentum to amplify all connected with Shunyata and Synergistic Research cables made for an impressive system that clearly pleased the audience.

ESA of Poland showed their new model Neo 3SE loudspeaker when we visited the jam-packed room. With the help of a beautiful Nagra VPA amplifier pair the audience was treated to a comparison between a vintage Hendrix LP and a remastered version. Guess which version won hands down?

More Wilson speakers now in Sophia 3 version played with Audio Research amplification from a MUSA music server. Shunyata cables and a Synergistic Research Powercell power conditioner were also on hand.

From an anteroom with Thiel loudspeakers displayed together with a Harley motorcycle, attendees were allowed into the adjacent room where Thiel CS2.7 connected to a full VTL combination via Transparent Audio cabling. This was a big room and the setup during our visit had a hard time getting it going.

This marked the end of our tour through the Bristol hotel. Time to mosey over to the Golden Tulip. We left the hotel through the main lobby and appreciated the grandeur of the premises. The friendly doorman offered us a taxi which appeared to be the hotel’s own limo. From the Bristol to the Golden Tulip was a fixed rate and only slightly more than a regular taxi. In hindsight it was a very good idea to visit the Bristol on Saturday. Sunday happened to be Polish Independence Day which meant lots of people in the streets including riots and thus it was very hard to get across town. We however whizzed comfortably to the Golden Tulip one day before.