The show must go on. How many shows can hifi have? With ours, think regional and small country. It's not a foreign journo magnet. It's not a global stage to launch new models; unless perhaps you're a Schweizer. It doesn't attract international importers. It really is a consumer show for Swiss punters and audiophile tyre kickers who never buy anything. Showing up is about good will and cheer for the hifi cause. By now in its 7th go'round, many Swiss brands who initially attended—Boenicke, Colotube, darTZeel, Ensemble, Goldmund, Nagra, Piega, Rowan, soundkaos & Co.—no longer do. They must have compared cost of attendance to business gained. They must have concluded that not going kept their accountant happier without stalling the order desk. Meanwhile others come back faithfully year after year, into the very same rooms no less. Basement, end of hallway? Nubert. Check. The Biel Suite on the 3rd floor? Avantgarde Acoustics. Check. Breakout room 1 in the basement? Importer Audiosphere GmbH for Bel Canto, Jeff Rowland, Rega and Trenner & Friedl. Check. Is their math happier? Or does attendance for them simply equal cost of business like payroll and keeping the lights on? One thing is certain. If you are in Europe, the biggest stage is Munich in May followed by Warsaw in November. In that august company, October Zürich (which isn't even proper downtown Zü but Regensdorf) does so not factor. But fear not. Factor-so-not didn't prevent me from hearing the siren call of the Kii Three; or whatever new stuff the Eversound crew in Schaffhausen might bring (I was hoping for the companion sub). Plus, my domestic boot vendor Mac in Zürich was going out of business. He had a storewide 35% off if cash sale announced a week prior, via email to his customer list. I'd just rescued it from my junk mail folder before the daily delete. A quick peek into his online shop netted a killer Mexican-made black Cayman pair with box toe I'd left alone a year ago as too dear. Only one pair remained. In my size. Clearly most desperate too for a good caring home. Oy veh. My bleeding heart twitched. So did the creaky wallet. I'd see the man at 10:00 sharp on Friday morning. I'd congratulate him on his imminent retirement, chew the fat, get booted up, then head over to the Mövenpick hotel in Regensdorf. I'd mine some hifi discoveries whilst spreading my own bit of good will and cheer on behalf of our team. Check. Of our Swiss contingent, Activ Audio, Credo, Eternity Jo, Eversound, Illusonic, Klangwerk, Manufacture Le Son, Merging Technologies, Pawel, PSI Audio, ReQuest, Soulution, Stenheim, SwissCables, Thorens, Vovox and Weiss would be there. What a game of checkers.

About checks and balances. I recently had a chat with a local horologist, about 'made in Switzerland' and watches. He categorically declared any watch retailing for less than CHF1'500 at best only partially made here. Didn't that conflict with the 70% local materials mandate for such branding? It's 70% of the overall value not materials origin, he explained. Even though fine watches are his life, he was in total accord. Things had gotten way out of hand, pricing riddonculous, CH branding circumspect. Hifi freaks acknowledge that his industry is far from alone. That's why the new Goldmund Job INTegrated ($1'699 worldwide incl. remote and 384PCM/DSD64 DAC) is such a defiant phat middle-finger salute up the assinine, all from just two blocks down of the Rolex HQ in Plan-des-Ouates outside Geneva. If you thought 'made in Switzerland' was categorically out of reach, fear not. There are exceptions, even in hifi. In general though, I'd concur. Our stuff is positioned from more upscale to outright luxury. If that isn't you, just say no. Easy! With our scene properly set now, what stood out at the 7th annual HighEnd Swiss as seeming particularly desirable, tasty, plain weird or just freshly minted? Active, bubba. Active. That was the massage and message. About speakers; and what not to do. Remain passive that is. First the bad news. After selling 170 pairs from their first production, the Kii Three is backordered until Q2 of 2016. No review from yours truly then. About ominous rumblings in the wake of RMAF 2015 in Denver—some forum posters had gone very negative on the Kii Three exhibit—our Down Under contributor John Darko had emailed in: "Hey SE, just saw your comment about RMAF attendees being less than impressed with the Kii. I found them utterly superb, even though my drop in to the room was over and done in 5 mins. Plans to return later that day were nixed by panel attendance. I'd rate them as one of my faves of the show which hopefully I'll get to writing about at some point this week."

Having spilled plenty of ink on this already, here and for John's site, I'll merely add that the Swiss showing reinforced my prior Munich impression. This is the speaker the Devialet Phantom was hyped to be but didn't live up to. It's €10'000/pr, 6 drivers and 6 x 250-watt nCore per side, plus A/D and D/A converters and serious DSP engines to create directional bass. In short, it leverages all current technologies in the smallest possible form factor to net full-range response with plenty of adjustments. About the Denver show, CEO Chris Reichardt confided that they'd made a change to the system on the second day which worked a lot better. Presto, mystery solved. If you need a full review breakdown already, refer to the superlative writeup in Audio. The English translation is provided on their website. If you're still passive, it'll leave you crying!

Activating the active glands in the dark murky bassment were PSI Audio with their AVAA C20 Active Acoustic Velocity Absorber aka room-mode cancellation invention Shown in the Klangwerk room (PSI supply class G amplifier modules for their active speakers) Markus couldn't—cough!— explain any of the real tech at work except to say that it included an 8-inch woofer and mic. When asked whether it was an implementation on the old Nelson Pass idea subsequently commercialized by Spatial's Blackhole, he'd never heard of either. Those products were based on real-time in-room bass measurements via the microphone to emit a counter-phase LF signal and attenuate room modes. The Rives Audio PARC did a similar thing, albeit as a fully analog three-band precision equalizer. To study up on the Swiss corner box, click here for the PDF.

PSI also had some of their active studio/mastering monitors set up with Merging Technologies' NADAC converter to reinforce the motto that active does it a lot better. Dynaudio sang the same tune. So did Avantgarde Acoustics. If you aren't a legacy audiophile who is committed to the olden ways just because; or a poor reviewer forced to tolerate separates purely for work reasons... get with the program. Consider fully active DSP-controlled speakers. You'll get better results, a lower box count, a less caloric less tangled cable salad and a lower bill. What's not to love? No more hardware swaps, that's what.

On newly minted Swiss brands, I discovered Ricardo Cruz's Nervine company in the Stenheim/Manufacture Le Son room. Because Ricardo specializes in vinyl and phono stages, I knew that I'd be sorely out of my depth. I'd merely embed a link here for those more knowledgeable in the vinyl arts to pursue. Forthcoming from Stenheim but not quite ready for this show yet is the Alumine 5, a 120kg dual 10-inch one-box 3-way tower styled like the Reference models but scaled down in size. Chatting with Stenheim's Jean Pascal, we covered the 'made in Switzerland' lie. He duly informed me that in Geneva, they'd just created a new logo/decal for really made-here watches (which naturally will be of the painfully expensive sort). I suggested that Pascal try to get one of those certificates for his speakers. He didn't think the idea outlandish at all. Whilst their drivers and crossover parts are naturally outsourced, all the metal work and assembly are done in Valais to be a true Swiss-made product. Come to think of it, that's been true for 6moons for nearly 7 years now. Did that make us any better? More exclusive? Perceived differently? More expensive? Where's that decal?

Also Swiss, also new and also not quite ready yet was Daniel Weiss' pending replacement for the DAC 202. Not only will it sport his new logo but a seriously beefed-up DSP engine to include various EQs, vinyl mode and more. Sporting a 1/4" headphone port, one might even suspect that some form of advanced crossfeed circuit will be included. Volume remains in the digital domain but there are four coarse analog gain adjustments to minimize digital attenuation.

Having a brand-new center channel, Credo Audio showed center stereo instead of home theatre. Very resourceful, that.

Finally, Final Audio Design had let their new Hope X headphones out of Pandora's box, all from Japan. These shiny cans were sourced from an Astell&Kern AK240's balanced output to rise the sun in the land of the overcast (such as Switzerland was on this day). Despite the heavy-metal optics, the Hope wasn't unduly massive, very comfortable in fact and really impressive off a portable albeit posh source. A future review or two on the brand seem called for. On the way home, I saw an already abandoned car on a freeway on-ramp, hood popped, engine ablaze in a raging fire. Passing by in moving traffic, I couldn't have done squat had destiny decided to explode the burner's fuel tank just then. I don't know whether it did blow up once it vanished in my rearview mirror. The fire was certainly serious and well underway, all occupants safe as evidenced by four open doors. Hopefully nobody got hurt or died there subsequently. Apparently I was supposed to do this gig a bit longer still. Okay then.