We went to the "audio district" of GuangZhou—in China, all shops of similar character tend to group together, so the audio district is where all the hi-fi shops are. Actually, they're there twice: many store have display showrooms in the central mall and listening rooms ranked along a nearby alley.
"Tannoy is updating its line without abandoning its strengths," the suave Tannoy rep explained to me. "Listen to this recording of Salvatore Accardo. It's an old analog recording and it may be a tad too warm, but you could listen to it for hours."
All the way across town from the audio market is the area where used equipment and parts are sold. Many small shops are specialists, such as this transformer kiosk. Not only can you buy thousands of transformers, but you can pick up plates and wire and roll your own.
I walked into Usher's room, where the $8000 (USD) Dancer II Beryllium held pride of place. I thought the sound was a little small and every so slightly forced, but I loved the rhythmic tautness and drive. "Not the best sound I've heard today," I thought, "but not too shabby."
Show organizer Matthew Zhou is what we call an audio lifer. He wrote for hi-fi magazines for three years, penned a newspaper column on the high end for three years, has put on this show for 13 years, and has hosted a three-hour Sunday radio show on music, hi-fi, and sound for 16 years.