Another journey East to what is to my mind perhaps the best audio show in Europe at the moment. Adam Mokrzycki and his team do a fantastic job running the show which is set over three days and three venues; two hotels and the National Stadium. It’s a short walk between the Radisson Blu Sobieski and Golden Tulip hotels and there’s regular and free shuttle busses between the hotels and the stadium. That said, Ubers and taxis are cheap as chips should you prefer to make your own way between venues, bars and restaurants. 

At this time of year Warsaw is bloody cold, but the people of the city are warm and welcoming and the food (I’m vegan and have never seen a city with such choice) is equally welcoming, plentiful and cheap. Flights to Warsaw are regular from the UK and elsewhere and so the Audio Video Show Warsaw really should be on any audiophile’s or audio lover’s agenda – just make sure you wrap up warm if you plan to walk about the city. We’re on our third annual pilgrimage now and we’ve already got the show in our diaries for Audio Video Show 2019 and can’t wait.

So, here is the first round of what we thought of the show. We do try to get in every single room so expect this to take a few days to get everything live. We hope you enjoy the coverage, but if you have any comments then feel free to comment on our Facebook Page.

We like to do each show we cover in a methodical manner and so for Audio Video Show Warsaw we had a spot of lunch in town (the show opens at noon on the Friday through til 8 pm) and then headed back to the Sobieski, took the lift up to the top floor of the show (there are seven floors and the ground floor to cover) and so our Warsaw adventure began.

Muarah Audio

Polish brand Muarah were showing off a full range of their amps, preamps and accessories, including their Precision Speed Controller which we featured in this part of our coverage of last year’s show. The main thing that caught our eye this year was their MT2 turntable that comes with an adjustable tonearm base that allows for tonearms from 9″ to 12″ in length. With the arm the turntable comes in at 14 000 Zloty (around £3000) with an arm or just under 10 000 Zloty (Just over £2000) without the arm. The MT2 is also available supplied with the Jelco SA 750 arm. 

Speakers in the room were the Italian brand Nime Audio design speakers with their unusual and I think attractive design. You can read more about Nime Audio Design’s latest speakers in this article. 

Cube Audio

Grzegorz Rulka and Marek Kostrzyński head up Polish brand Cube Audio that design and manufacture their own wide-band drivers and horn loaded loudspeakers. The full range speakers shown are the new Nenuphars that utilise the company’s 10″ drivers and cost 16 000€. The company are working on a 15″ wide-band driver, yes 15″ that can be seen displayed behind the main rig. Amp on the day was a Tektron 45 SET amp delivering a massive 1.5 Watts a channel. The DAC will be recognisable to many as being from Lampizator. This set up delivered a big open sound that was fast but had deep bass too – claimed response is down to 30 Hz. Also shown is a static display of Cube Audio drivers.

 

8mm Audio And Lampizator

Their speakers are made of made from carefully selected Lithuanian oak and boast an Art-Deco design and sport a “precisely modelled waveguide shape”. Their crossovers are custom designed and feature custom made ultra purity copper, double baked coils, high precision premium grade capacitors and resistors. All the components are mounted on a silver tracked custom PCB plate.

The model used at this year’s show included: Silver super caps, Silver coils, Silver pleated internal wiring, Beryllium high frequency drivers

The two models of speaker are the PIU and the PIU Mini costing 14 750€ and 8200€ respectively. This system gave a very lifelike, open and airy presentation, and even though this was only the third or fourth room we ventured into it was already becoming apparent that the standard was going to be very high indeed. 

Sky Audio

The speakers in this room were big dual concentric numbers (Tannoy Golds from 1969 in new cabs) and the acoustic panels were by Zig Zag but the main event was Sky Audio’s OTL (Output Transformer Less) power amplifiers delivering 100 watts a channel and able to deliver to speakers down to 2 Ohms (7500€ a pair) – Tim Paravicini’s EAR 912 made up the preamp. The turntable is the Tentogra Oscar using a Kuzma Stogi S 12 VTA. Cartridge was a Phasemation pp-1000 with all cables by Cable Super Sound Device.

Studio High-End

Studio High-End were demonstrating Art loudspeakers and a Systemdek turntable, both from Scotland. The speakers are the £36K Drams which are the biggest speakers in the company’s range and were launched a couple of years ago. They sport a 15″ driver allied with an 8″ mid driver with Alnico magnets and a papyrus cone with tops being dealt with by a SEAS Alnico and diamond tweeter. Internal wiring is all silver and there is a silver cap on the tweeter.

Not to be confused with the Art loudspeakers are the monobloc amps, phonstage and preamplifier – strangely by a different company called Art Audio. The amps are based on 300B output tubes (I do love a 300B tube) and when playing Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía’s Friday Night In San Francisco produced a big, big sound that was fast and lithe. Also in the room were CD player (La Dua) and DAC (La Scala) by Aqua Acoustic Quality from Milan, Italy.

 

Audio Anatomy

What a cool name for a distributor! In this room we had electronics and speakers from Auris along with ZenSati cables. The main amp you can see is the Fortissimo from Auris which delivers 100 Watts RMS in class A/AB using 4 KT120 tubes and 4 ECC99 tubes. DAC is the Auris D2D offering PCM 32bit/348kHz and DSD Native codecs. Speakers are again from Auris and are the company’s Poson 8 model, a four way speaker using Beyma 8″ bass and ribbon tweeter along with a mid driver from Fountek which is built in accordance with Auris’ specification. Interestingly round the back of the speaker is a back loaded tweeter and 3D switch aimed at increasing the “atmospheric-spatial distribution” of the sound. This was a nice sounding system that did sound airy and open. 

Audio Anatomy 2

In the second of Audio Anatomy’s rooms we had the pleasure to hear Manger Speakers, Audio Flight Electronics (FLS1 preamp and FLS4 amplifier) and a Scheu turntable fitted with an SME 302 tonearm. The whole came together as a lovely sounding system with bags of detail, tight bass but what particularly impressed was the clear and detailed top-end coming out of the Manger speakers. 

Audio Note UK

Up until perhaps the last three or four times I’ve heard Audio Note UK at shows I’ve not been impressed but since then I’ve really enjoyed their rooms. At Audio Visual Show Warsaw Audio Note UK were playing their DAC 2.1 X Signature, OTO Phono SE Signature amp through a pair of AN E speakers. Music playing in the room was classical piano and there was a real feeling of being in the room, though it was a little quiet for my taste. Looking at my notes they say “Could’ve listened for hours”. 

Super Sound Device
A new name to me and from Poland, Super Sound device had the SE PP60 amp costing around £13 500 playing. The amp uses GU50  (a radio valve not often used in audio) and 6N8S valves to give out a healthy 60 Watts of power. It uses TELTO transformers, Khozmo 64 step attenuator with an IR remote, Nichiconm WIMA and Jantzen caps with all the PCBs being made in Poland. Each channel has an independent power supply.
The DAC is the ST-DAC-1 uses 6N16B tubes and is based around the 24-bit Burr-Brown PCM 1794 chip. There’s an onboard SSD drive and computer connected to the DAC board via USB. Inputs include 2 coaxial, 1 optical, 1 USB, 1 LAN and 1 WiFi whilst both RCA and balanced outputs are available. Price for the DAC is around £4000.
The speakers are modified Focals.
This was another good sounding room with an airy presentation.
Audio Hungary/Qualiton
The name should give away were these amps originate from and they are very good indeed – we own one of their A20i amps, which despite its relatively small size weighs a ton. However, the amp pictured is the A50i which gives out 2 x 50 Watts and is based around the KT 120 tube.
The speakers are the Qualiton (also Audio Hungary) SV 40s on solid oak prototype speaker stands. The speakers use Satori drivers and cost 4 200€. You will also spot the Qualiton phonostage on the rack.
Audio Alto Speakers
Here we have an open baffle unit featuring 15 tiny drivers per speaker allied to a bass unit and as one might expect from OBs the sound itself was very open. The nattily titles AA LA17 OB MKII – Sound Projector System aims to cause minimal sound reflections and resonance and its shape is such that the sound is directed to the listening point – hence the sound projector tag. The bass unit has 2 subs per side and can be controlled in passive mode by an external amp or when in active mode by a built in 400 W per side amp. Inside each unit is a digital audio processor where you can change filter settings to match speaker to room.
The preamplifier you see is the AA Anniversary 10 Tube Preamplifier that is a dual mono, Class A balanced design. each channel has two matched EH 6922 tubes in there and caps and resistors are all said to be of “cost no object”. 
My Monitors and Bryston
Bryston will be a name known to pretty much everyone but My Monitors was a completely new one on me. We were unable to speak to anyone or get any information about the active monitors but they looked fabulously well made and sounded great. Active monitors do seem to be gaining more traction with audiophiles, and this does mean that the urge to box-swap constantly is naturally abated. Active speakers also make sense in many other ways too and are often used in the studio environment with good reason.
Gravelli
Now here is an interesting product that I found nice and detailed but Linette found a little harsh in the top end. They did certainly have a steely sound on the guitar track that was playing and bass was impressive for such a small cabinet. They are clearly an “audiophile-lifestyle” product made in the Czech Republic and costing 12 000€. The speaker cabinets are made from polymer concrete which is moulded in one piece and available in Anthracite, Grey and Sans colours with a variety of front panels being available for customisation. The speakers sport what the company are calling “BMR Technology”  which they expanded on saying “The result is that a drive unit operates like a piston at low frequencies but becomes a bending wave device at high frequencies. Thanks to the bending wave operation, the drive unit demonstrates wide dispersion even at high frequencies” – basically the BMR driver uses not a cone but a flat membrane.
Driver compliment is a 5″ long throw unit assisted by a 7″ passive radiator (both side mounted) whilst on the front of the speaker is a 4.5″ wide dispersion BMR with vented coil. Both bass and the widebander are powered by 100W amps that are situated in one speaker – preamp and DAC are also built in – so plug and play.
Dynaudio and Octave Electronics
I have a soft spot for both these brands and it’s good to see and hear them playing together at this year’s Audio Video Show Warsaw. The speakers are the Dynaudio Contour 30s, their mid sized offering from the Contour range. The speakers each sport two of the new 18W55 18 cm woofer with large voicecoils and an asymmetric spider, 28mm Esotar soft dome tweeter as well as a curved cabinet. The 2nd order crossover uses Mundorf caps and a new layout.
The turntable you see is a Transrotor Crescendo Nero but it was an Accuphase CD player running when we went in the room.
The power amp on top of the rack is the Octave Audio RE 320 which uses KT 150 tubes to give 2 x 130 W in high power mode and 2 x 75 W in low power mode. The preamplifier is the Octave Audio HP 700 with external power supply that you can see to the left of the rack. The preamp is a clever bit of kit in that it is modular and you can customise to suit your needs.
Whilst we were in the room they were playing a track by Bruce Cockburn called If I Had A Rocket Launcher that had been recorded in a small radio station using just two microphones. This sounded brilliantly intimate even in this room and I’d have loved to have stayed here much longer than show conditions permit.

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