Another tube-based manufacturer making his presence felt at the show in a big way was Zanden Audio. Kazutoshi Yamada, Zanden's CEO and chief designer, was on hand to answer any queries on the official world premier of the Zanden 9500 845 push-pull monoblock power amplifiers.

As with other Zanden products, the 9500 sports a handcrafted polished chassis and is rated conservatively at 70 watts per channel. At the show, RTL Audio was using an iLungo single-input passive preamplifier with a modified CEC-based CDP as a transport. A prototype external clock generator (Zanden seems to be bursting with prototypes) said to have a 0.005 ppm rated oscillator was present as well! The industry standard is usually between 5-50 pm! This Zanden clock generator was still under wraps, literally, but functional and part of the active system.

The paralleled 845 Zanden Audio amplifiers were driving Jürgen Scheuring's Ascendo System Z, albeit a version customized for the Singapore market. Gone were the bulky steel frame and tall tweeter housing. Instead, the 3-way design now had the ribbon tweeter housed in a more compact but heavy enclosure mounted on parallel steel rails. Time-alignment is achieved by moving the enclosure along these rails. Ascendo also used this opportunity to display their prototype System C5, a bookshelf design utilizing a dual-concentric 165mm/6.5" woofer with a coaxial tweeter.

Making a rare appearance at the show was the reclusive Singapore-based LothX Audio firm, this time only with the 94dB BS-1 -- not some other, more bovine product version -- a 2-way bookshelf design [left] that was pressed into 5.1 home theater service. High-sensitivity loudspeakers make the job of an amplifier a lot easier, especially Japanese AV receivers. An unusual design to make its appearance at the show was Norh Loudspeakers from Thailand. On hand were the flagship Norh Model 9.0 in a solid marble enclosure and the cute Model 4.0 ceramic 2-ways in Celadon Green. The latter was being driven by an equally petite hybrid integrated amplifier from Jolida, I kid you not. Jolida also displayed their flagship 'Music Envoy', a 211 push-pull monoblock tube amplifier going for a cool US $10,500 for the pre-power combo.

Making their debut in the Singapore HiFi scene were Tenor Audio electronics and Kharma loudspeakers. The Tenor 75Wp are 75-watt monoblocks using 6C33 power triodes in an output-tranformerless OTL configuration. Partnering them were the beautiful Kharma Ceramique 3.2F floorstanders, as well as Audio Research gear consisting of the Reference-2 all-tube preamplifier and the CD3 CD player. Wiring was compliments of the unique fluid-damped Purist Audio Design cables.
Also making their debut at the ISSE was Mainforz Audiotech, a relatively new player in the audio scene of Singapore. They showed a highly modified Philips DVD963SA and equally comprehensively upgraded Marantz PM4400 integrated amplifier. The combination was producing good sounds via a pair of Tannoy Monitor dual concentric loudspeakers with the additional help of an unusual supertweeter. The latter is based on a Heil AMT tweeter in an omnidirectional housing [right].

Quad has been the purveyor of High-End audio long before the term was coined. Making its world debut were the Quad II Classic monoblock power amplifiers based on the classic Quad II of yore. The newer rendition sported friendlier speaker binding posts, RCA inputs and a protective cage. Not much could be gleaned from the exhibitor but if my guess is correct, the new Quad II Classic should sport a pair of EF86 pentodes and KT-66R power tubes alongside a GZ32/5V4G rectifier. Its bigger brethren, the II-40, were there as well as the QC24 tube preamplifier. Sadly, I doubt that Quad will be relaunching the Quad 22 preamplifier to match the II Classic. Missing from the reunion were the ESL-series electrostatic loudspeakers. In their place instead were the award-winning Quad 11L 2-way bookshelf and the 22L 2.5-way floorstander, each beautifully finished in high-gloss lacquer [left].