Symphony, a Warsaw-based company, introduced the V8 floorstander, priced at zł4400/pair in Poland, which seems very low based on the sound and build quality offered (the price translates to about $1225). The V8 is a two-way design with an MDF-based cabinet, a 1" SEAS tweeter, a 7.1" Dayton woofer, and Jantzen Audio speaker terminals. The sensitivity is rated at 86dB (1W/m) and the impedance at 8 ohms. Probably the biggest surprise was the sound -- it’s shockingly good for the price.
Italian manufacturer Gold Note offers a wide variety of audio electronics, speakers, and turntables. From top to bottom, the stack on display in Warsaw included the CD 1000 CD player (zł16,800), which incorporates a 24/192 DAC with USB, coax, and optical inputs; the P 1000 preamp (zł25,500) with five XLR balanced and five RCA unbalanced inputs; and the PA 1175 power amp (zł21,200), rated at 175Wpc in stereo or 350W in bridged mono.
Trenner & Friedl kept most of the inner workings of its new Taliesin speaker (€70,000/pair, including VAT) concealed. “We prefer not to show the technical things,” chief designer Andreas Friedl told us. The bottom cabinet contains an 18" woofer. The top cabinet, which is decoupled from the bottom cabinet, contains a 1.75" compression tweeter feeding a horn, and nestled coaxially into the cone of a 12" midrange. On top is a small AMT tweeter, crossed over at 15kHz, to add ambience and compensate for the tweeter horn’s narrower dispersion. The crossover is built into the bottom plinth, which is itself decoupled from the speaker enclosures.
Polish manufacturer Fezz Audio offers a line of beautifully made tube amps at modest prices. The newest model, the Alfa Lupi (zł3490), delivers a rated 10Wpc from four EL84 tubes running in push-pull class-AB configuration. It has three unbalanced RCA inputs.
Aurelia, of Finland, has replaced its Cerica loudspeaker, which was a stand-mounted design, with a full-fledged floorstander called Cerica XL. Like the original Cerica, the Cerica XL is a two-way design. But it now has not only a much larger cabinet; it also has larger woofers -- 6.5" versus 4" across. The hallmark of the original Cerica . . .
. . . three tweeters nestled into a unique waveguide, remains the same. The tweeters and woofers cross over at 1500Hz. Coupled with the two woofers, this unique driver configuration allows for exceptional imaging properties -- in all the demo tracks, vocals on the soundstage were placed with extraordinarily high precision. To tune the high frequencies, there’s a switch on the back to boost or cut. When it becomes available in early 2018, the Cerica XL is expected to retail for €9000/pair.
Amare Musica’s Poland-built Brave Diamond integrated amp (€6000) is rated at 50Wpc. The quartet of 6550 tubes run in push-pull configuration (although the company’s website says KT88s are normally supplied), and transformers wound with silver wire provide the raw AC power for the amp. Three unbalanced RCA stereo inputs are provided. A remote control is included, and the front display shows volume level as well as tube hours.
Poland’s Fram Audio showed three different active speakers at the Audio Video Show. Left to right, they are the Mini (zł2999), Midi (zł4999), and Maxi (zł7999). The Mini has a single 12cm (4.7") active driver, the Midi has one active driver plus two passive radiators, and the Maxi has two active drivers plus four passive radiators. We heard the Minis and the Maxis, and both delivered impressive bass for their size, with the Maxis’ passive radiators pumping furiously back and forth to get out the low notes in an EDM tune the company played. The secret to the sound . . .
. . . is an internal DSP chip in each speaker that allows tuning of frequency response while also making it possible to precisely limit the power going to each driver, allowing the deepest possible bass without the risk of damage. The DSP drives an internal amp: a 120W amp for the Mini and Midi, with a 240W amp for the Maxi.
Canada’s Tri-Art Audio showed a cool line of small components dubbed S-series. Like the company’s other products, the S-series are clad in sustainable, dimensionally stable Chinese bamboo, soaked in Albertan hemp oil and wiped with beeswax. The S-series SPDIF DAC ($365) actually takes USB input in addition to S/PDIF coax; it’s named SPDIF to differentiate it from the S-series Portable USB DAC. A front-panel switch lets the user select from three different digital filters. The S-series also includes a Bluetooth receiver, an FM tuner, and . . .
. . . this fascinating Power Bar/Tube Buffer ($500). Inside is a GE NOS (new old stock) 5670 tube, connected in parallel with the AC line through one of three different resistors. (There’s also an internal supply to power the tube’s heater.) Using the tube as a parallel buffer on the AC line is said to impart tube-like characteristics to the sound of any connected component. On the back . . .
. . . are a beefy power switch and a knob that selects one of three different plate resistor values, to determine the intensity of the tube effect. An upward-facing socket allows connection of an audio component or an outlet strip.
The S400 (€1600/pair) from Danish manufacturer Buchardt delivered impressive sound and surprising bass for its size. The silk-dome 19mm (3/4") tweeter sits inside what the manufacturer described as a “horn/waveguide hybrid,” which increases the tweeter’s dynamic capabilities as it controls treble dispersion, and allows a relatively low 2kHz crossover frequency. The 6.5" aluminum-cone woofer . . .
. . . is augmented by a 5"x8" passive radiator, tuned to a resonant frequency of 33Hz. The woofer and radiator combine to give the S400 far more bass than one might expect from a speaker standing just under 14.5" high.
Luxman’s new L-509X (€10,000) is the first integrated amp in the company’s line to feature the same white power meters used on its separate amps, signifying its elite status. The power amp is a class-AB design rated at 120Wpc into 8 ohms or 240Wpc into 4 ohms. An MC/MM phono stage is built in, and the front panel offers an old-school touch: bass, treble, and balance controls.
Slovenia’s Ubiq Audio showed its first amplifier, the UBQ, which is available in two different versions: a stereo power amp (€20,000) and a stereo digital integrated amp (€33,000). An analog integrated amp is also in the works. The UBQ is rated at 300Wpc into 8 ohms, 600wpc into 4 ohms. Under the hood of the digital integrated . . .
. . . is an MSB Analog DAC enclosed in a metal case. The DAC offers six digital inputs and one analog input. Unusually, the UBQ offers separate subwoofer outputs on Neutrik SpeakON connectors; these are paralleled from the main speaker outputs.
Muarak’s MT-2 turntable (zł10,900 with 12" tonearm) looks like a nice product on its own, but what’s unique about it is its optional PSC speed controller (estimated zł5000), which will be available in January. The controller allows manual or automatic speed control. To monitor the speed of the turntable, the PSC uses . . .
. . . a gyroscope-equipped speed sensor mounted on the turntable that communicates with the PSC through a radio signal. Using this signal, the PSC can automatically adjust its speed to maintain a precise RPM.
The Eryk S Concept Wind and Fire system (€20,000) comprises the Wind speaker and the Fire integrated amp. The Fire amp uses class-D circuitry, is rated at 200Wpc, and includes a Wi-Fi receiver for compatibility with streaming services such as Tidal, as well as a Bluetooth receiver and analog inputs. Each Wind speaker . . .
. . . incorporates a single side-firing 30cm (12") woofer and a front-firing 10cm (4") full-range driver. Each wall of the semi-labyrinthine enclosure is made from a glued sandwich of five 1cm MDF panels, contributing to a total weight of 80kg (176lb) per speaker.
Audio Hungary’s Qualion A15 SE amplifier uses the 6C33C tube, a dual-heater triode originally developed for military applications. “In Poland they call them ‘devils,’” Audio Hungary’s Stanislaw Tomera told us, referring to the glass points on the tops of the tubes, which do indeed bear a resemblance to Satan’s horns. Each of the class-A monoblocks is rated at 15Wpc. The price is still being set, but a pair is expected to sell for about €9500.