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With the first two floors covered and having recovered after a short intermission, it was time to move on. 'Covered' of course was a euphemism. Truly covering the vast amount of lovely items on display which make our hobby so enjoyable can't be done over the relatively short period of any show or the amount of time we could dedicate to each room.

Those who have the youth own the future. That went literally for the Audiothlon room where a proud father and his sons had a great time listening to a set of Accuton Ether Ceramic two-way speakers and Atoll 200-series electronics.

Abyssound occupied two rooms and in both the love of vinyl ruled. The first room not only had vinyl spin on a Linn Sondek LP12, there was vinyl on sale too. Second-hand vinyl in Holland is very affordable but in Poland prices hit the ceiling. Look at the price tags in the above photo where a zloty is €0.25. That said here the black stuff was really black gold. It had that ‘something special’ of analog music playing a room. Abyssound’s ASP-1000 preamp fed the matching 80wpc ASX-2000 amp. Speakers on duty were a pair of Raidho D1.

Decibel opted for a simple setup around ATC. This British company has professional and consumer divisions and they offer electronics and loudspeakers for both. From the consumer series the room had Entry speakers in combination with the SIA2-150 class A/B integrated while a laptop played source.

The award for worst-ever sounding room goes to—drum roll—Tonysound. Both electronics and loudspeaker were of Polish design. The omnipolar loudspeakers are 142cm high and 40cm in diameter. Trim had gold plating. Bi-amping was provided by Tonysound’s latest products, four matching tube monos built around the 6C33C-B. Why the special mention? The equipment looked good, the concept behind it was eminently feasible too. But when we entered SPL were so high it was impossible to take any stable picture. The below is the least blurry we managed. We had to exit almost immediately. We love our hearing dearly and take great care with it. When people turn up the volume to really dangerous levels, two things are wrong: the person in control of the volume and the listeners who sit and endure such a stressful ordeal.

Sony demonstrated their VPL-VW1000ES video projector. The reason we mention this 4K-type beamer is only that we were impressed by how a projector mounted at table height in a small room could throw a wall-covering picture at ultra-high definition whilst the distance between projector and screen was only a few meters.

Say Meridian and you think Sooloos and DSP-equipped loudspeakers. At the show the latter were present as the M1, the front end was a Control 15. Streaming audio is here to stay and for many will very quickly replace spinning digital media if it hasn't already. But just as with all emerging technologies, the first baby steps aren't easy. With streaming media there are many formats lossless or not to contend with, the need for a home network and associated computer smarts to set everything up in working order. With the clever little Media Source 200 additional zones are installed in a jiffy as long as you can connect an Ethernet cable. That's the extent of the complications. As one of audio streaming's pioneers, Meridian have coped with all known difficulties on your behalf and came up with an all-in-one set'n'forget solution that still impresses.

A look at some professional gear from Focal was possible in the MBS room where stuff that DJs like was happening. Here was no cable cleanliness or any other dress code in evidence but there was music and at decent levels no less. Apogee’s Symphony I/O processed the digital output of a Mac running ProTools. With the active Focal monitors, nothing else was needed.

Fully unknown to us and still so after an entirely unsuccessful Internet search was the Radion Audio gear in the next room. We wonder whether our mention here will do anything to help them out of such obscurity.

The second Abyssound room dedicated itself to investigate or better reveal the differences between digital and analog playback. Linn’s Klimax processed hi-res digital input from a laptop or McIntosh CD spinner whilst a Linn LP12 did the honors for analog. Amplification was of course by Abyssound. The final touches came from their new speakers. We made arrangements to assess Abyssound products in proper depth in an upcoming review.

If a hifi room is green or glows so, Naim must be near. The combination of their signature green lighting and the hotel’s orange headboard made for a very ‘70s appeal. Is it any coincidence that Naim was also founded in that era?

Light effects galore were in the next room as well. Bathing in blue light a grand Acoustic Solid turntable sat atop a rack filled with a Plinius Toko digital player, Hiato integrated amp and Koru phono stage. A pair of Magnepan 3.7 excited air from the signals the Plinius stack transmitted via a loom of MIT cables.

Last year we were impressed by the Akkus Redwine 71 stand-mounted monitors. Though we found this year’s room a bit overdamped, the speakers still did their trick of providing a solid low-frequency foundation that seemed to contradict their size. The midband was a bit held back but we thought that was due to the room’s overly heavy treatment. Did you know that putting a Mac Mini on a damping platform can be beneficial? Here it was.

Jplay demonstrated their latest software player together with the new JCAT computer audio transport accessories. These are USB and CAT5 cables but there's also a prototype of a PCI-to-USB converter card. AURALiC were provider of choice for the DAC, pre and power amps by way of the Vega, Taurus Pre and Merak. To complete the set, Kaiser Acoustics presented their Chiara speakers.

The best things about audio shows for us are the new discoveries, the things you hadn't heard of or read about before never mind listened to. For us Ardento was such a novelty. On active display was a duo of 300B-based amplifiers, the Solo and Dual, of course all SET and transformer coupled. Their looks were clean and as we are now used to with Polish craftsmanship, the finishes meticulous. Another interesting design was a DAC with a tube-based output stage, here around an E88CC.

The cherry for us were the Alter 2 loudspeakers. With them Ardento have combined a Fountek ribbon tweeter with a Sonido widebander and large 15” Eminence woofer in an open baffle. Yes, whoopsy daisy! The sound was delightful even in a jam-packed room standing at the very back. Here the best of many worlds combined to make one helluva good sound. We hope to hear more from this special brand.