Zagreb AV Show 2019 Show Report
This year's 24th Zagreb AV Show has gathered in one place at the Sheraton Zagreb Hotel 24 exhibitors from Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia spread their wings on 496 sq meters and their audio/video systems were presented among the numerous LPs (almost 2000 of new and greatest reissues). Unfortunately, due to the reconstruction works in the hotel, not all required rooms and venues were available at the time for the Show, so when it comes to room reservation, the organizer (hifimedia magazine) applied first-come-first-served principle. Therefore, some of the well-known names in local and regional A/V industry missed the Show. Still, in spite of this limitation the atmosphere was nice, and feedback from the exhibitors and visitors is very good.
Although the Show featured a lot top-of-the-range TVs and audio devices designed for intimate and personal music listening in the form of headphones and associated electronics, besides those, a lot of heavy artillery was presented by the top names of the world of high-end audio. Not only were domestic and foreign distributors and manufacturers daring to show top-class audio, but they have also been diligent and dedicated to making them sing in less than ideal conditions. I'm happy to report this year many of exhibitors achieved more than acceptable sound in hotel rooms.
And this, my friends, is maybe the most striking feature and achievement of this year's Show. Namely, I have not heard a bad sound anywhere, in contrast to what has been seen at such shows. There were indeed some really impressive and fascinating moments that paid off the effort and knowledge of the people who set these systems up.
At the beginning, the road took me to the Rotary Audio room, Croatian distributor exhibiting McIntosh, dCS, Sonus faber, Shunyata, etc. This particular room has not been previously available to exhibitors, but this year it proved to be a good environment for Rotary Audio. In a relatively large room, the guys set up four-piece source dCS Vivaldi, along with McIntosh amplifier system consisting of the C2600 preamplifier (9,000€) and MC1.25KW monoblocks, yours for 31,500€ (yes, their name is their nature – the number in the name means output power).
The sonorous Sonus faber Serafino speakers (a bit less than 20,000€) have been converted the sound to air pressure in the room, and the most impressive REL subwoofer Serie S even more. Tradition associated with Sonus faber is particularly noticeable in their Homage line of speakers which somehow gives way to classical and retro charms. In this very room, tradition was easy to taste, too. In the room we met nice and friendly guy – Liam Davison, chief of export operations at dCS. In a short conversation, we learned that the Vivaldi system was by far best by the dCS. In four boxes, with retail price around 85,000 GPB, this top model gets the customer all he/she needs for the ultimate digital sound, whether from spinning disks or network. SACD / CD transport, Upsampler, DAC and Master Clock, are the members of the dCS digital crew.
dCS' Upsampler makes all the input signals twice as dense and upsample them to the 2DSD resolution, also features a network player, and uses the latest generation of their own dCS Ring DAC. The whole system is licensed to MQA formats. Analog front end was Kuzma Stabi R turntable with 4Point 9" tonearm and CAR 40 cartridge. Shunyata Denali Hydra delivered clean power to sources.
The sound of this system proved to be extremely fast and open, detailed and expressive in the high-end, with a powerful bass and a huge soundstage. The acoustic guitar on live recordings is really nice and slightly aggressive, as much as needed actually, firmly goes through the mix and occupies a good part of the stage. All in all: rich, great, striking and monumental, very natural, sound form this rather expensive system. Not so clean upper bass will be attributed to the inadequate hotel environment, with rather lumpy wooden walls.
In the same room, the silent presentation was on silent display was the RS200 – wireless McIntosh music center, which in the company's catalogue is featured as a Lifestyle device.
In the hallway of this room, Dacco presented a comparably modest system consisting of Vincent, Emotiva, Furutech and Parasound electronic with Focal Kanta No. 2 loudspeakers.
Local distributor Audio Dream were presented with a "simple" system, which occupies a relatively small real estate, but at the cost of about 700,000 HRK (95,000€), it hints the goals and the potential hidden in this system. Hidden potential emerges suddenly and converts to explosive dynamics, threatening to blow you away from the first row chair.
With volume up, you really don't want to sit close to the system.
I do not know to what extent the Bryston 28B3 monoblocks (ca. 27,000€) contribute to final impression as Canadian manufacturer's flagship amplifier, or is it rather PMC's monumental pair of Fact Fenestria loudspeakers (it was actually regional premiere of the flagship for Croatian and Slovenian market). It is the top model of the PMC (54,000€), 170 cm in height and 80 kg weight of wood, aluminum and other staff, which can use Bryston's 1000W at 8 Ohms and 1800W at 4 Ohms to a good measure. Hungry, with four bass drivers per channel, located in the transmission line, surely can use every watt amps can provide.
To the total system price Naim NAC N-272 contributes only with a rather small portion (4,600€) but took several roles – as a pre-amplifier and a network streamer with built-in Internet radio. Atlas Mavros i Atlas Ascent were the cables in the system.
Guys form Audio Dream set up a system that sounded monumentally but intimately when needed, to which dome midrange driver contributes a lot. Still, the enormous power of transistor amplifiers coupled with huge speakers sometimes over saturated the room, which was not able to handle the huge potential of the system. On the other hand, the iron fist in silk gloves was the main line of this system's sound and the impression it left behind.
Harbeth P3ESR 40th Anniversary speakers were also featured on the margins of the main system's, presented as the loudspeakers that follow the steps of the legendary BBC 3/5 monitor. The simplicity of the system was further emphasized by simple sound source in the form of Naim Uniti Atom, a comprehensive device in a simple and functional case.
In the early 1980s, the UK company Cyrus Audio, a sister company of the very successful speaker manufacturer, was founded. The company introduced its two integrated amplifiers - Mission Cyrus One and Two in 1984. Both devices have dominated the market for affordable (budget) Hi-Fi amplifiers for years, with headaches in the competition. After a long time, the company recently decided to return this icon to the market, of course in a more modern and more powerful version. The home audio distributor Audio Dream has also decided to present its budget Hi-Fi system consisting of the Cyrus One integrated amplifier, its optimally adjusted speaker Cyrus ONElinear and the Rega 2 turntable.
In Intek's room, two "Brexit" systems were presented, perhaps as a parody of the extraordinary British exit strategy. The Brexit I (Hard Brexit, anyone?) system consisted of Aurender A10, ATC CDA2 sound source / preamplifier (3,300€), 150W output power stereo channel, P1 model (3,000€), ATC P19 speaker (3,000EUR) and REL T7i sub system. Alongside the Shunyata Denali 6000S, Russian Powergrip network filters are also presented, for which Intek claims to be among the best of its kind.
The "simpler Brexit II" (is there anything like that possible?!?) reduced the size of electronics and increased the speakers - for a total of 3,000€, one can enjoy the beautiful sound of Audiolab 6000CDT (500€) and the 6000A amplifier (800€) together with the stand-alone Quad S5 speakers (1,700€).