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COVERAGE | EXHIBITION

AUDIO VIDEO SHOW 2019

Date: 8-10.11.2019
Venue: The “PGE NARODOWY” STADIUM | RADISSON BLU SOBIESKI HOTEL | GOLDEN TULIP HOTEL

Organizer: ADAM MOKRZYCKI SERVICES
ul. Bolkowska 2D | 01-466 Warsaw
POLAND

info@audioshow.pl

avshow.pl

POLAND | Warsaw


The AUDIO VIDEO SHOW is one of the most important exhibitions focusing on sound reproduced at home – not only in Europe, but also in the whole world. It took place for the first time in 1997. Since the very beginning, it has been organized by ADAM MOKRZYCKI who has been connected with the “Audio” magazine. The 23rd edition of the exhibition has just ended.

o you know what the music and the book industry have in common? Well, even though they are considered to be niche, they attract a lot of people. Obviously, when it comes to clicks on the Internet, “a lot” is a relative concept. For a popular YouTuber, several thousand clicks are something usual. However, this is an element of mass culture, while music and books are something special in it, something that attracts the most interesting people. If that is the meaning of “a lot”, it appears to be something really big, as it is influential. It is we (I think of myself both as a reader and listener) who permanently shape culture and everyone lives within culture, whether they want it or not. Anyway, this is the way I see it.

Comparing reading to listening, at least from a general perspective, has been something equivalent to me for many years. What I am referring to, though, is reading good literature and not chaos produced for Internet users on countless portals, and listening to music the way it should be listened to, i.e. using high-quality equipment. Today, the number of people who “read” is the highest in history – it is enough to look at people on trams, buses or even on the street. The number of people who “listen” is also the highest. However, it is almost always superficial reading and listening, and thus it is shallow.

One could learn that we are legion first during the 23rd International Book Fair in Krakow and then the 23rd edition of the Audio Video Show 2019 exhibition in Warsaw. These are, at least for me, two complementary events – first, they are contemporaries and, secondly – see above. They also developed in a similar way, growing out of their previous locations – both a few years ago and now. Over 75,000 visitors at the fair in Cracow is an impressive figure, just like several thousand people during the three-day event in Warsaw.

This year, both events were special to me. The Audio Video Show 2019 became the venue for celebrating the 15th anniversary of our magazine. On this occasion, we organized as many as five meetings with you and, together with the hifistatement.net magazine, awarded the STATEMENT in High Fidelity international awardfor the first time. However, also this year’s Book Fair was exceptional to me. It is because the event witnessed Olga Tokarczuk’s triumph. Even though the writer did not meet her readers at the venue, as there was not enough space for such a meeting, her presence was really tangible.

Looking outside, a view of the pitch of the “PGE Narodowy” National Stadium. In the twilight – one of the most expensive systems at the exhibition, with the mbl 101 X-treme loudspeakers

For me, it is not only a reader’s joy, but also personal satisfaction. It is because Olga Tokarczuk’s works, especially her novel Prawiek i inne czasy (Primeval and Other Times), were one of the three topics of my doctoral dissertation in which I wrote about a special type of literature that was then written by Olga Tokarczuk, Stanisław Stasiuk (Dukla) and Wiesław Myśliwski (Widnokrąg (The Horizon)).

I have even more satisfaction due to the fact that when I proposed the topic at my Alma Mater over twenty years ago, everyone shook their heads, saying it was not “valuable literature”, “it is too early to deal with it” and I should write about some old stuff, or “handling it is a waste of time”. It was only thanks to the stubbornness of my thesis advisor that I retained my thesis topic: Literatura współczesnego apokryfu (The Literature of the Contemporary Apocrypha). So, even though I have not contributed to Tokarczuk’s Nobel Prize in any way, it is also a little bit “mine”. Let me put it this way (a little New Age style and à la Paulo Coelho): if you believe in something and have something to say, it is worth being stubborn.

| GLOBALIZATION

It is similar with the Audio Video Show exhibition. Its success is the success of the whole industry, but it has been possible only thanks to the stubbornness of one man, Adam Mokrzycki, who has been organizing it since the very beginning. In 2015, we published our first interview with Adam on the subject of the exhibition in “High Fidelity” (more HERE). What mattered then was the change of the exhibition’s logo and name, and the first edition of the event in history at the “PGE Narodowy” National Stadium. The changes were risky, but from a time perspective they have not only proved to be important, but simply necessary.

A system prepared by the Audiofast company, with Dan D’Agostino Progression monoblocks and the dCS Bartok file player as the source

It was fully revealed this year. One of the features of the last few editions of the Warsaw audio (and video) exhibition is its global character. It has been said for a few years that it is the “second audio exhibition in Europe after the High End in Munich” – an it is true. The exhibition in Munich, organized by the High End Society from Wuppertal, is a place for business meetings and thus it performs a similar role to the one that has so far been played by the City of London. This is why it is a nodal point (more about the history of the High End HERE). However, the exhibition in Warsaw has developed its own model that its organizers are praised for by manufacturers and visitors – it is a meeting place for music lovers.

Here we can also sense Adam Mokrzycki’s stubbornness. Even though he made the “PGE Narodowy” National Stadium the main arena of the exhibition, he has retained its audiophile spirit by turning the party up at the Radisson Blu Sobieski Hotel, with the support of the high-end wing of the Tulip Hotel. Thanks to the fact that the exhibition has its own individual character, is a mass event and is well established on the map of audio exhibitions, it has become an important player. It was all well summed up by Johann Graham, Vice President of Export Sales at Nordost Corporation, during our supper together (more about that in a moment). She said that “the Audio Video Show is now the third most important audio event in the world”. For Johann, the most important exhibition is the one organized in Hong-Kong, as it is the largest, the second most significant one is the Munich exhibition, as it is a business node, while the third one is the exhibition in Warsaw, as it is the centre for music.

It was impossible to miss that and, this year, Mr Stefan Dreischärt, the Managing Director of the High End Society, the organizer of the exhibition in Munich, officially came to Warsaw. As he told me, one of the aims of the visit was a meeting with Adam Mokrzycki. It is because the people who prepare the High End exhibition would like to propose some kind of a partnership. That would be a network of events in different parts of the world, having a common image and marketing. With time, smaller exhibitions might probably join the network.

The extremely beautiful Gryphon CD player – Ethos

The intended aim would be to coordinate activities in order to make our industry more recognizable, as well as give assistance to manufacturers and distributors. Time will show what comes out of it, as God is in the detail. However, the idea is interesting and it shows the current position of the Audio Video Show. Even though stagnation is lurking on the horizon (that’s just the way it is) and although this year there were not as many visitors as last year, the exhibition in Warsaw is on top.

| WHAT I WILL REMEMBER FROM THE EXHIBITION

What a “peak” exactly means is: a lot of exhibitors, equipment and visitors. Since I started writing coverage from the exhibition around seventeen years ago, I have always tried to enter every room, listen to every system and talk to every manufacturer and exhibitor who has had anything interesting to say. It is no longer possible. So, I will not pretend that I went everywhere and heard everything. I will not even try to show you “as many systems as possible”, as I am not able to do it. Firstly, there are too many of them and, secondly, I devoted most of my time to conducting workshops for you.

What I can and want to do, though, is tell you about a few places that I remember. I will divide this part of my coverage into three smaller ones. I will start with a few words on the STATEMENT in High Fidelity award that I have already mentioned, tell you something about the “High Fidelity” workshops and, finally, mention a few products that have stayed in my memory.

| STATEMENT in High Fidelity

STATEMENT in High Fidelity is an award that Dirk Sommer and I have been talking about for two years. What we had in mind was an award that would be different from the existing audio awards and more informal, and would express our affection and appreciation. The idea is that two companies are nominated for the award (each editorial team selects one) and we subsequently consult our choices with each other. Everything is based on trust, but I think we are doing quite well. The hifistatement.net magazine does not award any prizes at all and our common award is its first and most probably the only initiative of this kind.

The team of the 1st edition of the STATEMENT in High Fidelity awards (from the left): Dirk Sommer (hifistatement.net), Robert Hay (Audioquest), Johann Graham (Nordost), Alex Graham (Nordost), Wojciech Pacuła (“High Fidelity”) | Photo: Plan B (Birgit Hammer-Sommer)

Anyway, the 1st edition of the STATEMENT in High Fidelity awards took place during the Audio Video Show 2019. The awards were given to:

  • AudioQuest | NIAGARA 1000, 5000, 7000, TORNADO, THUNDER, NRG-Z3 |TEST|,
  • Nordost | QPOINT |TEST|.

Though we had not agreed upon that, both awards were given to cable manufacturers, but not exactly for their mainstream products. These were, however, innovative products that are going to become the point of reference for others. It is because AudioQuest mainly made its mark with conditioners that Dirk Sommer bought for his system, while Nordost – with a device for limiting the effect of RF and EMI interference on audio equipment. I liked the QPoint a lot, but I did not decide to buy it.

Wojciech Pacuła („High Fidelity”), Johann Graham (Nordost) and Alex Brady (Nordost) | Photo: Plan B (Birgit Hammer-Sommer)

It is only due to the fact that I thought: since one QPoint device has done so much good, then perhaps two will do even more, and if I place them under every product, their effect will accumulate. That is why I have already made an appointment with Alex Brady (International Sales & Product Trainer). He is going to bring me a large set: four QPoint devices, a dedicated line amplifier and QKore products that are used to establish artificial ground in the system. We have a whole day for that and I will let you know as soon as I know something.

We also have news for you in connection with the reward. I mentioned earlier that the exhibition was attended by Mr Stefan Dreischärt. One of the points on his agenda was also a meeting with me, as well as with Dirk and me. He had planned to meet me as he wanted to invite “High Fidelity” to join the High End Society and talk about how he may help our magazine contact manufacturers from all over the world. The meeting with both of us pertained to the award. Mr Dreischärt liked the idea a lot, so he suggested that we also give this award during the High End exhibition in Munich. Why not – we replied – and so it looks like there will be two editions of the award – the “Warsaw” and the “Munich” one.

Robert Hay (Audioquest) and Dirk Sommer (hifistatement.net) | Photo: Plan B (Birgit Hammer-Sommer)

| “High Fidelity” WORKSHOPS

DOUBLE BASS & PERCUSSION | I met you as many as six times this year as part of our “High Fidelity” workshops. However, that was a special edition of the exhibition – it is only possible to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our magazine once. On Friday, together with the GIGAWATT company, we invited you to a join a conversation on the sound of double bass and percussion in audio recordings. The main theme was the new Oleś Duo album entitled Alone Together, released under the patronage of “High Fidelity”. Our special guest was MARCIN OLEŚ himself.

The system that we used to listen to music

What I had prepared for the workshop was a historical overview of how the two instruments have been used – with an emphasis on double bass – showing how our way of thinking about them has changed and how their sound has changed. We started with Nat ‘King’ Cole’s album Penthouse Serenade and finished with Peter Gabriel’s So. It is because the three last examples were from rock albums. The meeting was very informal and it seems to me that you could also feel it. Let me add that the system was really decent – it consisted of the enormous Acapella Apollon loudspeakers and the new Marton Opusculum Omni 1 amplifier. Our source was the Ancient Audio Lektor Prime player.

Our guests – i.e. you. You can see Marcin Oleś and Dirk Sommer on the left

ANALOGUE TAPE vs TEST PRESS vs LP | On Saturday, you and I, together with the SOUNDCLUB company and ADAM CZERWIŃSKI, a jazz musician, drummer and the owner of the AC Records label, had the pleasure of listening to two albums (twice!): Piano Sketches (Dudkiewicz/Niedziela/ Orzechowski/Stankiewicz/ Tokaj/Wyleżoł) and Groovoberek by Map & Krzesimir Dębski. We compared analogue “master” tapes with lacquer discs that were used to make LP record, then with test presses and, finally, with ready-made LP records.

The differences between each of the stages were enormous and it is a miracle that the end result, i.e. a vinyl disc is such a magic medium. Your preferences were clear, as most of you, but not everyone, preferred the tape. Some of you pointed out that vinyl sounds more pleasant, in a more “human” way. Others thought that the sound of tapes lacked vividness and space. Anyway, almost everyone’s second best choice after the tape was the LP record. Adam also told us about his experiences with colored vinyl discs. As he said, every color “sounds” different. He thinks that colorings have an effect on the mechanical properties of vinyl – each in its own way. That is why transparent vinyl without the addition of any coloring is the highest level of initiation for him.

It was easy to capture the differences without getting tired thanks to a system set up by the Soundclub company. At the beginning of the signal path, there were: the reel-to-reel Revox PR99 MkIII tape recorder and the Brinkmann Taurus DD turntable. Amplification was provided by Air Tight electronics, including the ATM-3211 monoblocks that we gave our award to. They drove the extremely beautiful Marten Mingus Orchestra loudspeakers.

VINYL: ANALOGUE ORIGINAL vs DIGITAL REMASTER | Sunday was the busiest day for me, as I held two meetings – each of them was different and both had required long preparation. At 10 o’clock, thanks to the RCM company, I was able to share my reflections concerning contemporary vinyl reissues using digital remasters with you. I prepared a set of records for this purpose, including original analog editions and contemporary digital remasters, as well as contemporary remasters of the same album – a digital and an analog one (all of them on LPs).

I was not prepared for that – I thought that the listeners would consider analog to be a better option. From one voting to another, however, a different truth has been emerging – listeners are divided on the issue, almost fifty-fifty. The digital versions were praised for their detail, pureness, clarity and dynamics. Those who preferred the analog versions thought that even though they sound darker, they are more natural, more “physiological”. These are, in my opinion, important observations, as most contemporary music is digitally recorded and it is important to be able to skillfully deal with this signal.

Tomek Pauszek (on the right) and the winner of a mini-competition with the album that he won. It is Tomasz Pauszek’s double concert album, released to celebrate his 20 years on stage.

As skillfully as TOMASZ PAUSZEK who celebrated his 20 years on stage during the exhibition. He was our guest (and mascot) during the workshop. The opening track was his composition from the new album entitled 20 Years Live with a recording of his concert, with such excellent guests as: Józef Skrzek, Krzysztof Duda, Władysław Komendarek or Przemysław Rudź. It seems to me it sounded really cool, thanks to the Vitus SIA-030 amplifier that we gave our award to this year, as well as the new Gauder Akustik Darc 140 loudspeakers.

50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ECM RECORD LABEL | Already at 12 o’clock, in a room with an entrance around five meters away, we had a meeting with music produced by the ECM company. I did not know that yet then, but one of the most important people I mentioned in my presentation, a sound engineer, Mr Jan Erik Kongshaug, had died five days before. In spite of that, the meeting was a monument that he had erected for himself thanks to his recordings – one that we only could admire. It was hard not to take delight in the sound of original LPs. Their digital versions sounded equally good, though.

When we voted, the UHQCD version received the highest number of votes (more about this technology HERE). There was not a SACD player in the system, as it probably would have been a SACD played from the DSD layer. However, its CD layer was already not that good. This showed us something important – if we do not have a SACD player and do not plan to buy one, let us select the best CD editions, not hybrid SACDs. Let me add that I had a reliable companion who assisted me during the listening sessions – it was Gerhard Hirt, the owner of Ayon Audio. It was possible thanks to Robert Szklarz and the NAUTILUS company.

To tell you even more, there were the Lumen White White Light Anniversary Diamond loudspeakers, the Ayon Audio Vulcan Evolution and Conquistador amplifiers, as well as the top-of-the-range Ayon Audio line and turntable preamplifiers in the system. The LPs were played using the amazing Transrotor Artus turntable (600,000 PLN). The digital discs were played using the inexpensive Ayon Audio CD-10 MkII CD player. The comparison and your votes demonstrated that digital recordings are not losing their position at all, even in such an unequal fight.

| THE BEST THINGS

The fact that I did not see much during the exhibition is confirmed by the number of images on my camera’s memory card. I usually take 800-900 photos at such an exhibition and I choose about a hundred of them. This time I captured fewer than 250 images. However, since I did hear and like something, below you will find a few products that made the greatest impression on me – ones that I can recommend to you. Among them there are the four systems I used to listen to music with you during the workshops.

It is a surprising, but also an extremely successful combination – the vintage, legendary Sonus faber Extrema loudspeakers with My Sound Cube amplifiers in bi-amping, and Metronome Technologie and emm Labs (DV2) digital sources. At the same time, it is a debut of the new Finite Elemente (Koris) company distributor.

|1| Loudspeakers: Falcon LS3/5A | Alto Audio AA R101 FR | FRAM Midi 120 | Audiovector R3 ARRETE | Avatar Audio Numer 2 BAMBOO | YG Acoustics HAILEY 2 | Revel 226 Be | Harbeth Super HL5 PLUS |

|2| Amplifiers: Archus Audio PRIMUS | Simaudio by MOON 860A v2 | Moonriver Audio MODEL 404 | Soul Note A-2 | Struss Audio ULTIMATE |

|3| Sources: Gryphon Audio ETHOS (odtwarzacz CD) | J.Sikora RV12 (turntable arm) | emm Labs DV2 (DAC) | dCS BARTÓK (DAC) | Primare NP3 (odtwarzacz plików) | PS Audio DIRECTSTREAM MEMORY PLAYER + DAC |

|4| Other devices: Final D800 Pro (słuchawki) | Fulianty Audio ST-18 (wzmacniacz słuchawkowy) | RCM Audio BIG PHONO (przedwzmacniacz gramofonowy) | Nordost QKore (sztuczna masa) | Stacore ROLLER (anti-vibration platform) | Sennheiser MOMENTUM (Bluetooth headphones)

I sincerely thank those of you who devoted their time and attention to the workshops I conducted. I also bow to the manufacturers and exhibitors I was able to meet. See you next year!!!

  • The two-piece Gryphon Kodo loudspeakers seen from the back.
  • On the table there are the Bluetooth Sennheiser Momentum headphones (ready to use).
  • A home cinema system with the Sennheiser Amebo soundbar.
  • The cover of the October issue of “High Fidelity”.
  • Fantastic sound from a Mark Levinson system with No. 5804 amplifier, No. 5101 multiformat player and the Revel 226 Be loudspeakers.
  • A novelty from the JBL company, the HDI 1600 loudspeakers.
  • The Fyne Audio F703 and F1-12 (the larger ones) loudspeakers – the company is run by people who have left Tannoy.
  • Another nice home cinema system with a soundbar – this time it is the Harman/Kardon Citation device.
  • The cover of the November issue of “High Fidelity” and an invitation to a workshop with ADAM CZERWIŃSKI.
  • Waiting for the workshop (from the left): Mr YUTAKA “JACK” MIURA (Air Tight), Adam Czerwiński (AC Records), MACIEK CHODOROWSKI (Soundclub) and Wojciech Pacuła.
  • Prize-giving: the award for the best recording goes to Adam Czerwiński and records from his AC Records label.
  • A system where the relatively inexpensive Moonriver Audio Model 404 amplifier drove the costly Wilson Audio Yvette loudspeakers. The source was the multiformat Aurender A30 player.
  • The Moonriver Audio Model 404 amplifier and the Aurender A30 player.
  • This sounded really great – the Cambridge Audio Edge W amplifiers in bi-amping with the Audiovector R3 Arrete loudspeakers.
  • The cover of the April issue of “High Fidelity” with the Cambridge Audio Alva TT turntable.
  • The Nordost QKore – an artificial ground system for the whole system.
  • The Simaudio by MOON 680D file player with a D/A converter, with the Nordost QPoint on it and a line amplifier next to it.
  • TERRY MEDALEN from the Primare company next to this year’s August cover of “High Fidelity” featuring the Compact Disc CD15 player.
  • Terry again – this time with a new file player, the NP3 model. It will cost a little over 2,000 PLN.
  • A system from the Voice company, with the Audiovector R3 Avantgarde loudspeakers and electronics from The Chord Electronics company.
  • The J.Sikora KV12 (Kevlar!) turntable arm.
  • Very cool sound from the Harbeth Super HL5 Plus loudspeakers, with Vincent and MBL electronics.
  • Sonus faber Extrema – one of the loudspeaker models on the market that are the most difficult to drive.
  • In the Mytek company room, one could take part in a workshop prepared by PAWEŁ GORGOŃ, regarding the secrets of D/A converters design.
  • An invitation to our workshop. Next to it there is MICHAEL FREMER himself, the Editor-in-chief of the “Stereophile” magazine.
  • I had not heard so naturally played classical music for a long time. It was thanks to the Avatar Audio Numer 2 Bamboo loudspeakers and a new amplifier (a prototype).
  • An invitation to our workshop and the cover of the March issue of “High Fidelity” with KARL-HEINZ FINK.
  • A new Stacore platform – the Roller model.
  • The enormous Thrax Spartacus 300 monoblocks, with eight 300B tubes per channel!
  • A new transistor (!) amplifier from the Slovak Canor company, the AI 1.20 model.
  • A new Struss Audio amplifier, the Ultimate model.
  • A new Marton amplifier, the Opussculum Omni model.
  • An overview of Pylon Audio loudspeakers: (from the left) the Diamond, Jasper and Ruby series.
  • A nice Haiku-Audio presentation with the Klipsh Heresy III loudspeakers.
  • An OTL headphone tube amplifier – the Fulianty Audio ST-18.
  • Great, isn’t it? – It is the Line Magnetic tube amplifier.
  • JAREK WASZCZYSZYN with the cover of the September issue of “High Fidelity”.
  • A unique system – almost all of its elements, except for the vintage turntable and tape recorder (Telefunken M10), have been made by the Polish TR Audio company.
  • A very nice, though minimalist (and perhaps thus so nice?) system prepared by WK Audio, a manufacturer of anti-vibration platforms and power cables.
  • The excellent looking Egg-Shell Tank amplifier.
  • A system with the Audionet Ultra Watt integrated amplifier and the YG Acoustics Hailey 2 loudspeakers.
  • These are the new Trenner & Friedl loudspeakers, the PIA model. They were accompanied by unique monoblocks – the WestminsterLab Rei.
  • It is a system with the Falcon 3/5A loudspeakers. The photo shows its electronics – a Lumina player, Fidata server and the Lumina AMP amplifier that wonderfully drove the little loudspeakers from the UK.
  • After many years, the products of the Swedish Bladelius company are on display at the Sobieski Hotel again. They are characterized by perfect craftsmanship.
  • This is another product I had been waiting for – the new Japanese Soul Note A-2 amplifier.
  • Tentogra, the Gramy model. The Oscar model with the number 0001 standing next to it is owned by Jurek Owsiak who decided to auction it.
  • A new brand on the Polish market – Charles Martin and two new loudspeakers. Their creators: MARCIN NIEDŹWIECKI and KAROL GOLIŃSKI, known from the AudioPhase company, are standing in front of them.
  • A system from Slovenia: the Audio Stability Primus amplifier and the Audio Alto loudspeakers.
  • New passive My Monitors loudspeakers (with an arrow) – we tested their active version which is standing on an active subwoofer in the photo.
  • The fantastic Dynaudio Confidence 50. On the wall there is a ProTone shelf and, at the same time, an acoustic-shaping element.
  • A system with ellinsAudio electronics and Acoustice Quality loudspeakers, used to present AC Records label tapes.
  • The new MT-1 EVO turntable made by the Polish Muarah company.