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Organizer: AUDIO VIDEO SHOW s.r.o.
K Červenému vrchu 845/2b
160 00 Praha 6 – Vokovice

Place: Hotel Don Giovanni Praha
Vinohradská 157a | 130 20 Prague 3

When: 08.03-09.03.2018


aybe, as my son Bartosz said, each show should be of a certain size, the right one for each of them? That is to say, every one should find a formula that works best for it - and by "it" I mean people visiting particular show. Because, as it seems, the formula of the Prague Audio Video Show, the one organized by two people, Daniel Březina (editor-in-chief of the Hi-Fi Voice internet magazine) and Petr Žaloudek, works perfectly in its form - as a cozy, easy-breeze event, where exhibitors come to with their devices at eight in the morning, just two hours before the opening.

Daniel Březina, the man behind the Show himself!

As I wrote in a coverage of the previous edition, the first of which the "High Fidelity" was the media patron of, it is a small, local, one could say "pocket-size" event, perfectly serving the interests of local producers and distributors. However, the logic of growth is different and the two-day show in Prague will continue to grow. What can be seen from this year's edition, clearly bigger in every respect than the previous one, viseted by over 2,500 people.

Audio shows, after all, have their "cycles" and character, resulting from their evolutionary adaptation to the time when they take place. The evolution of these "organisms" is a sequence of minor and major changes, leading from point A to point B. It starts innocently, usually from soem some form of agreement between several dealers or distributors, who together organize something like an extended "show". In one place, almost always in a hotel, they book a dozen rooms and, within one, maximum two days, arrange presentations of the systems they prepare.

If the idea catches on, next year, several more companies join them, thus enlarging the exhibition area. This is also the moment when someone has to take care of some publicity, organization of the Show, etc., because the collective management at this stage becomes ineffective. In this way a new body is formed, the so-called organizer, that quickly becomes self-reliant. Very often a given person or group of people originates from the journalists' environment, because it is them who are best able to promote the exhibition among people most interested in it. The downside of this approach is closing the event in the audiophistic ghetto.

If everything goes well, within a few years the exhibition becomes a more or less local event - and at this stage is the Show in Prague today. This is probably the most democratic moment, because the exhibitors still have an influence on many decisions, including the prices of rooms, and yet the event is already managed by specialists. The show of this type is very "human" in the sense that you can see all the presentations in one day, sitting in most rooms for as long as you want, in the meantime sipping coffee or beer. If necessary, you can even go back to your chosen room and sit there until it closes.

But the evolution can not be stopped. It is therefore highly probable that Audio Video Show Prague will be even bigger next year. It will still be a show for the people. And then? We will worry about it when the time comes.

| The Show

This year, the exhibition at the Hotel Don Giovanni was spead between three floors with an additional room on the 11th floor. On paper, it seemd quite similar in size to the last one, only this time the third floor was occupied entirely by it. And since Don Giovanni is quite a lare hotel it takes a lot of time to visit it all. The presentations took place in small and very small rooms, with a few exceptions. Small rooms force the use of small speakers, usually stand-mount, but several companies went with larger ones: Allegro Audio, Metaxas, Amarock Studio and Spendor, IBD Czech with Fischer & Fischer speakers, or Partner with Coladral columns, to mantione just a few.

This year there very clearly much more visitors than last year.

The sound of systems from the group in question fluctuated from "very, very bad" to "perfect" (names given in accidental order), which shows the role of experience in such events, the “sense” of the room and finally matching a system to a room. Interestingly, for example, sounded a system consisting of Zingali Zero stand-mount loudspeakers and Cyrus electronics, and a representative of the latter company, a Pole by the way, was in the room. For the first time outside Poland, a "regular" version of the Pylon Emerald speakers was presented togather with Leben electronics and the Ayon Audio player.

I'd like to mention also another premiere, the new Buchardt Audio S400 speakers, still in the prototype stage though. These are still small, stand-mount speakers, but with a large passive transducer on the rear. The presentations of the Hungarian company Allegro Audio and the Czech Sroll proved that systems with large speakers can perform remarkably even in small rooms. The first of them presented a series of integrated amplifiers driving large Chario Sovran speakers. In turn, Sroll played using speakers and electronics of their own production. Let me add that I also liked the presentation of Elfton loudspeakers Vigo.

The distributors who had larger rooms at their disposal had the most to say, and the systems presented in them were the most expensive ones. They resembled what you can see and listen to at the Campanile Hotel in Warsaw during the Polish Audio Video Show and also in Munich during High End Show. Despite the better conditions in these rooms achieving good sound was not so easy either. There were some presentations, however, that attracted the largest group of listeners.

As always, one of them was the one with Sonus faber speakers and McIntosh electronics. This year the mighty MC1.25KW power amps drove huge towers - Aida; the presentation was prepared by EP Audio. Next door one could enjoy the performance of the new Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2 paired with Rotel electronics; the system was prepared by Eurostar. The Tykon, a distributor of Estelon XB loudspeakers, did a good job too, driving them using Audia Flight Strumento No. 4 amps, that received signal from a fantastic, two-box emm Labs TX2 + DA2 SACD Player.

I should also mention a world premiere of the Xavian Prometeus, driven by Italian electronics by Norma Audio. The biggest impression, however, was made by two systems – one prepared by RP audio and the second by Perfect Sound Group. The RP audio's one consisted of Audionet Planck (+ Ampere power supply) CD Player, Stern preamplifier and four Heisenberg power amps (in bi-amping mode) that drove Vivid Audio Giya G1 Spirit. The second one included Accuphase electronics and new Tannoy Legacy Arden speakers.

The special „acoustic” spot – standing in the opposite sides of the lobby one could perfectly hear what the person on the opposite side said.

Any particular trends or tendencies? To be honest, it was an agnostic event, because next to a large group of headphones, with presentations prepared by Gothic, BaSys CS, Voice and Ketos there were video presentation - which did not interest me, but attracted a lot of people. But the overwhelming majority of the presentations were rooms with classic stereo systems. So if I was to point out any trend, it would be it. Because in the role of sources for the systems almost all the currently popular choices were present, apart from reel-to-reel tape recorders, i.e. CD players, SACD players, streamers, turntables, computers and even smartphones.

The only thing I missed was a stronger presence of small producers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary - to stay within the CK Monarchy. An exhibition is, after all, an ideal platform to showcase your ideas, even if they are still at the prototype stage or even DIY. For each of them, a small table and a good description on the wall would suffice - such a group would greatly envigorate the Show. The participation fee could be symbolic for them. I am sure that some room could be found for this type of micro-presentations.

| Catalog

I have emphasized this part with a separate subheader, because exhibition catalogs accurately reflect their type as well as the hierarchy in a given market. The Audio Video Show 2018 exhibition catalog is titled "Audio Video Magazín" and has been prepared extremely thoroughly. This is one of the most beautiful directories from the audio exhibition I know. Which does not mean that it is without flaws.

It was prepared by four people, including Peter Žaloustek. It contains short, one-page presentations of selected products that visitors could listen to during the exhibition. The materials are prepared either by one of the editors or based on company materials - this is marked in the footer. There was no information about the systems that these products would be part of, but it did not cause me much trouble, because the full-page advertisements are also a good source of information. 4000 copies were prepared for the Show.

The problem, at least for me, was the lack of systematic information, i.e. a list of exhibitors, brands and rooms. And this is the very basic information for this type of event. If I could suggest something to the organizers, would be supplementing the catalog for the next year with this information, it will help visitors find what they are interested in.


Finally, I wanted to name a few systems that I liked most this year. The choice is obviously perfectly subjective, but based on several visits to these rooms. Because this is a small, intimate event, there is a lot of time to listen to what you are interested in - at different times of a day, suing different music and with a smaller or larger number of listeners in the room.


Exhibitor: Ketos

System: Dynaudio Consequence UE loudspeakers, Bittner Tonmeister LX preamplifier, Bittner Tonmeister 500 power amplifier (mono), Rega 8 turntable + Apheta MC cartridge, Meridian 128 file player/DAC. This system sounded extremely dynamic and baanced. Although it seemed to me that for such an expensive system the sound should be much more resolving and selective, but by the end of the presentation I learned that the source of the signal was Tidal. Considering the source the sound was perfect!


Exhibitor: Voice

System: Audiovector SR3 Arreté loudspeakers, amplifier/streamer I35, Cardas cables, Rogoz Audio rack. This system took me by surprise. At first, I thought that we were listening to the Chord system, placed on the same rack and, I must say, it was quite good. Maybe not for the prize, after all we are talking about a Blu-II + Dave CD Player, but there was nothing to complain about. To my surprise at some point I learned we were actually listening to an inexpensive system, consisting of an integrated amplifier and a file player in one, the Primary I35. As I found out, the files were played from the NAS drive, not from the internet, which may have influenced such a good result. Bravo!


Exhibitor: Sroll

This is the only system that we awarded both, in 2017 and 2018. Same as lats year, it was well-thought-through in every detail, also when it comes to acoustics of a very small room. This time, we listened to new speakers controlled by the company's USB Servo DAC and the A.D. 2018 Lyric integrated amplifier. It was a deep, uncolored sound, particularly enjoyable, activating both pleasure and curiosity in us. Mr. Luděk Šroll, the owner of the company, knows what he is doing and apparently he has a "patent" for a good sound, which was confirmed by the crowds who wanted to listen to his products.


Exhibitor: Perfect Sound Group

The new Tannoy Arden speakers are the perfect gift for those who think that "classic" equals "good". In my opinion, the world is more complicated, but in this case I would turn a blind eye to it. The system, in which the E-470 integrated amplifier combined with the A-47 power amplifier (in bi-amping) from Accuphase drove the above mentioned speakers, with the signal provided by the DP-470 CD player from the same company and the Tyr and Frey cables by Nordost delivered a large, beautiful, really "classic" sound that I accepted as it was, because I just didn't feel like trying to find any weaknesses in it, I just wanted to listen to the music. It was a perfect example of how much more than the simple sum of its elements can be obtained from devices that could be called "mainstream" in our industry.


Exhibitor: Eurostar

However, you can go even further towards the mainstream and still achieve an equally fascinating sound. Here come the Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2 loudspeakers with Rotel electronics, i.e. the RCD-1572 Compact Disc player, the RT-1572 line preamplifier and the RB-1590 power amplifier - all with the InAkustik Referenz Selection cables – performing at their best. Somewhat direct, almost aggressive sound of Bowers was well-balanced by the warmer and more creamy sound of Rotel, creating a dynamic but at the same time warm presentation. Despite the huge room in which the presentation was conducted, the bass did not disappear, and the midrange was most part of the performance.


Exhibitor: RP audio

The Audionet Planck Compact Disc player with an external Ampere power supply, Stern preamplifier and four Heisenberg power amplifiers (in bi-amping) from the same company have partnered with the impressive, eye-catching Vivid Audio Giya G1 Spirit loudspeakers. I heard them in Munich in the system with CH Precision electronics and TechDAS turntable and both presentations were equally interesting. The one in Prague showed these loudspeakers from the warmer side, less nervously and detailed, but better integrated. Again, the Planck player has shown that it is a masterful digital source.


Exhibitor: Elfton

The Elfton brand is quite young because the company was founded in 2016. Its specialty are loudspeakers with proportions characteristic for the 1960s and 1970s - see Harbeth. The Vigo stand-mount speakers I listened to played in a simple but nicely composed system that included a Line Magnetic tube amplifier, a Chord Quest digital-to-analog converter and a computer as a source. When I listened to this system for the first time, it did not really interest me with anything. It was only after the second and third approach that something "clicked" in my mind and I already knew that it was just a different presentation than constructions aimed at the present - less unambiguous, not so intrusive, gentler but extremely musical. p>


Exhibitor: Allegro Audio

Flow by Allegro Audio is a young brand, owned by a Hungarian distributor of such brands as Chario, YBA and Rega. Along with the large Chario Sovran loudspeakers, their biggest amplifier One delivered a fantastic sound, perfectly matching its wooden front - creamy, deep, slightly dark. The devices are built very solidly, but with flair - it's worth taking a closer look at them.

| Summary

The Pařížská (Paris) Street is probably the most expensive address in Prague, at least when it comes to shops. Not the most impressive one, because this privilege is shared by the representative Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) and the Na Příkopě shopping street, but surely the most desirable. On one hand, it goes straight from the old town square (Staroměstského náměstí), and on the other it reaches the Vltava, the Čechov bridge. Itstarts with the Rolls-Roys salon and ends with the Cartier. Along the way, one passes the Fendi, Burbery, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Acne, Miu Miu, Cloe boutiques and other equally exclusive places.

The thing is that in the side street, leaving Pařížská Street, there is a place for the Bang & Olufsen showroom. And that's the way people from the outside, who have some idea about design, fashion, and who are looking for something new, can see the audio industry. In turn, we know well that the excellent design and interesting innovative technologies of this company do not reflect the spirit of the perfectionist audio industry – The shows such as the Audio Video Show in Prague do that. It's obvious that we, audiophiles, could use more formal sophistication, I wish for less sectarianism, it would be good to be more attractive to people who want to listen to music, and are not fully prepared for audio challenges. But it is what it is.

Looking at the Prague exhibition, it can be said that among ultra-classic proposals, i.e. huge, rectangular speakers, tubes, weighing 50 kg and more amplifiers, there are also many attempts of the traditional audio companies to enter the market, whose leader is B & O. Perhaps the answer to this demand is the marriage of these two views. Because you can see that people WANT a good sound - at the exhibition I saw not only men in their forties, but many young people and even more women. The latter were often followed by guys who accompanied them with a similar attitude, as they had had while assisting in shopping for fashionable clothing ten years ago. When it turns out that the high-end audio is a place for everyone, we will be where we should be.

  • One of few music-stands – there were not so many this year.
  • GPO Retro is a British brand owned by ProTelX. It offers integrated audio systems in a retro style. Picture presents system called Bermuda – a turntable, amplifier, but also a function of recording the content of vinyl records on a flash drive in mp3 format.
  • Xavian presented new loudspeakers, model Prometeo (the outer pair). Four 175 mm woofers in the bass section, one of the same diameter for midrange and a 29 mm tweeter – it's a large, 3-way system in a beautiful wooden cabinet.
  • Retro style is back in its full glory – this time by Klipsch and Heritage, a headphone amplifier with DAC. It features both, balanced and unbalanced outputs.
  • Colin Pratt – Chord Electronics – presents to Bartek (High Fidelity’s News department) some tricks, his D/A Mojo can do with wireless module called Poly.
  • Power products by German Mudra Akustik – solid, well-thought-through, reasonably made. A classic engineering.
  • Meters headphones by Ashdown Engineering attract attention with VU-meters. Picture presents the OV-1 model.
  • Two fantastic mono amplifiers called Heisenberg are current Audionet's flagship. Combined with Vivid Audio loudspeakers they sounded great.
  • In an expensive system consisting of Gryphon, Audionet components I found also inexpensive sources by Advance Acoustic, such as CD Player and X-Stream 9 streamer.
  • EAT turntables. In the front the C-Major model. There all share the same, low profile and sophisticated tonearms.
  • Since the room with Acoustique Quality loudspeakers was permanently crowded I couldn't properly listen to them. If it wasn't a case this could be one of the best sounds of the Show, because the system based on Arcam's electronics – CDS27 player and C49+P49 amplifier – as well as the EAT Forte turntable sounded really convincing. Photo presents Passion loudspeakers.
  • Powerful Elac Concentro loudspeakers with Devialet Expert 1000 PRO amps. The source in this system was relatively (compared to other components) inexpensive Elac Miracord 90 Anniversary turntable. The sound from Leonard Cohen's record I listened to - wonderful.
  • A novelty for me that I saw for the first time, the Oracle CD250 CD Player. So far I associated this brand only with turntables.
  • Dan D’Agostino and the beautiful Progression Stereo power amplifier.
  • The system featuring Estellon XB performed in a large room and yet it delivered an enjoyable, engaging sound. It worked with AudiaFlight Strumento No. 4 mono amplifier and emm Labs TX2+DX2 SACD Player.
  • It's a source I would love to listen to! A two box SACD Player prepared by a man who was one of the pioneers of this format.
  • One of the most complex systems with Sonus faber Aida speakers and McIntosh electronics.
  • One of the best kept secrets of the audio world – the beautiful, inexpensive, complete system KEF LS50 Nocturne. These are wireless active speakers featuring special finish prepared by an artist, Marcel Wanders.
  • RD Acoustics, with high sensitivity loudspeakers and a characteristic acoustic treatment, QRD67, on the wall behind it.
  • A fantastic tool – a box with all the tools one needs to set up tonearms and cartridges. Prepared by Clearaudio.
  • That's the first time I saw this model of Kaiser Acoustics loudspeakers – Furioso Mini. It featured in a system combined of Aurender A10 but with an external D/A converter Maximus Thrax Audio. The same brand made Dionisos linestage and Spartacus power amplifiers.
  • One can't confuse Metaxas & Sins products with any others – an image of organic shapes, resembling a liquid metal android, an opponent of the main character in the second part of Terminator movie, stays in one's mind for a long time. The latest project by Mr Kostas Metaxas is a reel-to-reel GQT №1 (Georges Quellet Tribute), based on his favorite Stellavox. In Prague however, the Aria DAC was used as a source.
  • In Vienna Physix's room with horn speakers I noticed a little, sweet SD-33A CD Player by Chinese company Wasami – a top-loader, tube output, and so on.
  • As usual, one could count on great sound and a friendly hug in the Grandinote's room - Max, its owner and designer in one person, this year presented the same system that we saw in Warsaw, ie with the Mach 4 speakers, Shinai integrated amplifier and the Volta file player. It delivers and incredibly dynamic, energetic sound, and yet sweet - fantastic!
  • A prototype of the new loudspeakers prepared by Danish Buchardt Audio (we reviewed other model not so long ago), the S400. One may notice a reversed configuration of drivers and a horn in front of a tweeter.
  • Looking at the S400's back one could see a large passive transducer shaped after stadium, once popularized by the KEF company.
  • The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO model refers directly to the legendary DT 990 Pro studio model. However, it is a modern design that sounded really well.
  • Pioneer SE-Master 1 is a system combining headphones and amplifier with DAC function. I listened to the music from Tidal and it sounded really good.
  • Quadral presented good-looking speakers from Platinum + line (on the left)..
  • Sennheiser knows, how to make a good-looking product – a very nice box with a display and knob is the GSX 1000 headphone amplifier.
  • I saw these for the first time – the „regular” version of Pylon Audio Emerald loudspeakers. In Prague, they were partnered with Ayon Audio CD-35, Perpetuum Ebner PE 4040 turntable and Leben CS-1000P amplifier.
  • Perpetuum Ebner PE 4040 – it's not a coincident that this machine resembles Thorens from 1970s…
  • Zingali Zero loudspeakers worked with a complete Cyrus system. The system delivered well balanced, enjoyable sound. The Cyrus representative told me, that they use a special impedance matching circuit in their class D amplifiers, which eliminated the biggest weakness of this type of amplification.
  • The British Neat Acoustics loudspeakers in Poland still do not enjoy popularity they deserve despite the high performance and advanced design. Picture presents model called Iota.
  • Amarock Studio, a distributor from Ostrava presented Spendor D9 loudspeakers together with VPI's Scout turntable and Voyager phonostage, combined with Pass and Naim Audio electronics. All cables from Nordost.
  • And lat but not least, a true gem – a working Revox B795 turntable a tangential tonearm and direct drive.
  • See…
  • …you…
  • …next…
  • …year …
  • …in Prague…
  • …!!!