First things first, the bigger and more expensive systems sounded better. Don’t be fooled, there is no cutting corners to audiophile sound. That said, a “real life” system can get you there (or almost) at maybe 1/10 the price tag of the more expensive ones. The difference between my favorite system of the show (the Horning/Lamm to be more precise) and say, the best value for money (Tsakiridis Devices/Geometric Harmony) lays in the details, or what I would call the finesse of the delivered sound.
And I don’t want to get interpreted in the wrong way, as at a certain price range there is no best or worst system. It comes down to minor tweaks, a better interaction with the room’s acoustic properties, a musical piece that showcases the systems virtues and last but not least mine and yours personal taste.
Some interesting stuff missed my previous posts on the show but a couple of mentions should be done, even in extremis.
The single most impressive piece, though on static display, was the Ikeda 9 Musa U cantilever-less cartridge. Hand crafted jewel by Isamu Ikeda, I found myself just drooling looking at it for several minutes.
Not all systems live up to the expectations and I was deeply disappointed by the mismatch of Aries Cerat transformer-coupled amplifiers with some local speakers. This was not a technical mismatch, more of a price discrepancy between some amazing (and amazingly expensive) electronics and “mere” entry level speakers. I was told that there was a last minute failure in the speakers that were meant to be paired with and they ended up with what was available at the time.
One of the winning factors of the show are the local importers and distributors who do their best even during the economic crisis. They show their affection for this business/hobby/passion. And since this is a relatively small show, with 5000 visitors estimated this year, they are always open for a talk. Just check the local Joseph Audio importer, George Kopsaftopoulos, showing some well deserved love for the amazing Pulsar.
But the Athens Audio Show is much more than that. Being a national show, and of a small European country, it ends up being more of a meeting point and enormous chat room than a mere hotel venue stuffed with goodies. Heart of this show is the local community, frequenting forums (like the one I’m an habitué, the Greek AVCLUB), spending months waiting for the show and then months discussing about it, till the next year’s Athens Audio show arrives.
So, till next year….