Warsaw Day Two: Exotica

The GMG power conditioner from Czechoslovakia, produced by Peter and Pavel Geryšer.

"Focus on the unusual, the exotic," editor Jim Austin counseled by email. I didn't have to look very far. If Day One of the Audio Video Show 2022 in the huge Stadium was dominated by major brands, Day Two in the Radisson Sobieski Blu Hotel was filled with unusual speakers and electronics from small companies based in Poland and other European companies. Hardly any have a US presence, and many are searching for the right distributor to get them beyond the Polish border.

Which is not to say that exotica was totally absent from the Stadium. Take the eye-catching orange of Gato Audio components from Denmark (above).

But it was mainly in the Sobieski that one found beauties such as this offering from Sound Design Atelier from Ukraine (above).

When I asked the exhibitor, who designs Rush loudspeakers, what it was like to be one of four or five high-end audio companies operating in the middle of the war, he replied simply, "It is a war, but we work."

Muzgaudio, who products are handmade in Poland, offered up this diminutive eye-catcher that threw a surprisingly big soundstage.

Here are a few other gems, spied in rooms so full that all I could do was squeeze in far enough to take a photo and then escape before I risked being crushed to death by men far taller and wider than I.

Manron speakers, made of birch wood, resided in one of numerous rooms that played Diana Krall at various times throughout the day and night.

Szemis Audio loudspeakers, developed in Warsaw to match perfectly with Kondo Electronics, are a derivation of a classic Snell design. These new babies boast 93dB sensitivity. Playing spacey music by Jean-Michel Jarre and Jennifer Warnes—yes, it was "Famous Blue Raincoat"—they sounded very clear and extremely open. If I'd had the time, I would have made a short video with the designer, the Kondo importer for Poland, whose words were as captivating as the sound.

Catch this speaker from AVcorp Poland.

Popori Acoustics electrostatic speakers from Hungary, mated with 72 Audio electronics, also from Hungary, are claimed to descend with solidity to 20Hz! I didn't have a sound meter in hand, but the low notes of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, played on what sounded like a very mighty organ, certainly shook the room. Impressive indeed.

Here are some more:

Art Audio 211 parallel single-ended amplifiers from Tom Willis of Scotland, which made fine sound with ART speakers from Poland.

Sisound loudspeakers of Poland struggled valiantly in an impossible, one-of-a-kind room that came saddled with a huge air circulation shelf that extended directly over the speakers. What a shame. The design looked so promising that I hope I encounter these speakers—again under better circumstances.

What didn't catch the eye in the system that included Flow by Allegro electronics from Hungary, Way cabling, a Weiss 501 DAC, Franco Serblin loudspeakers, and a Japanese server whose name escaped me? The sound was gorgeously clear and relaxed; it truly flowed. Most impressive.

Thanks to Ciarry Audio loudspeakers, again from Poland, the airy sound on a Tacet Die Röhre—The Tube LP of baroque music was a breath of fresh air.

Italy's Grandinote may be a more familiar commodity, but the solidity they offered on rock music blasted at top volume was a major achievement.

Not everything looked exotic on the surface. But when a quiet young man from Taiwan demonstrated the sound of the Silent Angel N8 Pro X network switch from Taiwan, and let us hear the sonic difference with and without the unit's external clock, I marveled at the system's soundstage width and depth. The company also makes two DACs.

And it wasn't just speakers and electronics that caught my attention. Take this GMG power conditioner from The Czech Republic (top). Produced by Peter and Pavel Geryšer. It produced exceptionally open and color-saturated sound from one of many, many systems that included Lumin music servers. Peter explained that every outlet has its own dedicated transformer. I can't speak to the design per se, but I do know that the system delivered some of the most solid and colorful sound I heard on Day Two.

RH's picture

Thanks for the show report(s) Jason!

I love seeing all the exotica. There are so many wild speaker and audio component designs in Europe/Asia etc that we in North America tend to be unaware of. It's like another world. Every time I see one of these exotic designs I immediately want to hear them, to see what they sound like.

ottjan@gmail.com's picture



JRT's picture

There is significant difference.

In the article you used the phrase, "...from the Ukraine...".



I bring this to your attention because I believe that it was inadvertent, and that you are conscientious about this sort of thing.

Anton's picture

I was just thinking of buying some gear made in The Canada vs. some made in The France.

But, there's more to it than that...

It gets complicated. "Ukraine" translates to "“borderland(s)."

If one were to assume that word to be a plural, then adding an article would be appropriate. Is it "Bordelands," or "The Borderlands."

In fact, this is a debate that might skew along age lines: Since the country's independence in 1991, style guides recommend Ukraine (as in “a musician from Ukraine”), without an article. Previously, the most common usage was the Ukraine (as in “a musician from the Ukraine”).

Then, if we really wanted to go for it, we could discuss the actual name of this country and whether the "The" is part of the name, or even if "America" is included in our nom de guerre!

(All meant in fun, not being pedantic.)

Jason Victor Serinus's picture


kg's picture

There’s no such country as Czechoslovakia for about 30 years now.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture


ottjan@gmail.com's picture

Loudspeakers: Elfton Elevator

Power filter: GMG Power Harmonic Hammer Exclusive

Digital source: Melco N1A/2

DAC and Preamplifier: Lumin P1

Power amplifiers: Kinki EX B7 with GMG Power tuning

all Cables: AAI Assoluto

Pads and rack: AAI

YouTube video:



CG's picture

"Focus on the unusual, the exotic,"

It's interesting how Stereophile has changed over the years.

At one time, the aim of the magazine was to inform readers on how they might attain the most realistic musical sound from their home audio systems. That included information on how recordings were made, what some great recordings might be, new gear and what was special about it, what the science behind the sound was, and so on. Of course, reviews were a big part of that.

That has evolved - I think that's the right word - into where Stereophile is now a journal more focused on the exotic and sampling what that gear might sound like. Kind of like The Robb Report but for home audio. Sure, there are exceptions to that, but I think it's fair to note how the skew is now compared to a couple decades ago.

I'm not saying that's wrong or not what the readers want. I don't have insight into that. Just an observation on my part...

Anton's picture

JA2 asked Jason to do something a little different this time....at an international Hi Fi show.

Where did he venture too far afield? (Plus, nothing really unusual or exotic, wouldn't you say?)

This show coverage has now taken them away from their core mission?

CG's picture

I apparently didn't make my point clear enough.

Jason did what he was asked to do. Can't very well fault him and I didn't.

But, I'd disagree that he was asked to do something different this time. Over the years, the magazine has veered more into exotica and sampling that exotica than talking about how to get your own system to work better for you. There are exceptions, of course, like Kal's review recently of a Topping preamp. Take a look at what's discussed and what's reviewed for yourself.

And, I'm not just talking about the price of the gear, although that often is part of the equation. It's the general trend. If you read a magazine like Car and Driver, they have reviews of very exotic cars like Bugattis and Ferraris, but they also give just as much space to VW GTI's. Both are interesting in their own way. The VW is certainly more practical, at least if you live in an area where there's pot holes in the roads and you get snow. But, the others show what can be done with an unlimited budget. Stereophile used to be similar in philosophy, but it doesn't seem to be so much now.

I'd just say that this is an example of the direction the magazines have taken. (Not just Stereophile.) A part of the hobby has drifted entirely toward the exotic, often with not so much connection to better sound. That wasn't the case previously, but perhaps that's the market that Stereophile and some other magazines find interesting and worth pursuing.

Jason merely provided a quote stating as much.

Hey - it's their business, not mine. I'm just a potential consumer of equipment and reading material offering an observation.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Folks. We are getting caught up on a single word and making a mountain out of a molehill. Does everyone really need another show report about Wilson, Magico, dCS, d'Agostino, Audio Research, CH Precision, YG Acoustics, KEF, PS Audio, AudioQuest, Simaudio, Nordost, VPI, Gryphon, Lyra, Ortofon, etc etc etc? This was a show in Poland. We've never covered it before, and it showcases a ton of equipment - many tons in fact - that's not available in the U.S. Hence, we've tried to give you a taste of the big wide wonderful world of audio that exists beyond the brands imported into the U.S.

Which is not to say that the best sound I encountered on Day One at the Stadium wasn't in the more sonically manageable small room that the Innuos Statement NextGen music server shared with Wilson Sasha DAWs, a Rossini Apex DAC, and a Gryphon Hydra. This set-up avoided the sonic pitfalls encountered by larger speakers in larger rooms. Does that mean that these brands are "better?" Of course not. It just means that careful set-up in a manageable room retrieved stellar sound from excellent, well-matched components.

So, please. Stereophile has not changed course. It has simply provided a wider window on the wonderful world of high-end audio.

CG's picture

Jason, you just emphasized my point.

"Does everyone really need another show report about Wilson, Magico, dCS, d'Agostino, Audio Research, CH Precision, YG Acoustics, KEF, PS Audio, AudioQuest, Simaudio, Nordost, VPI, Gryphon, Lyra, Ortofon, etc etc etc?"

My answer is no. It's not interesting to read about, and I'm not the kind of guy who constantly is buying new audio gear just because. (Or new cars, new wives, etc.)

However, my real point is that for most people all of those companies produce exotica. OK, AudioQuest has a wide range of products and VPI does, too. But, generally it's exotica. Where do you even go to listen to or buy such gear?

I happen to live in an area where I could actually visit the McLaren, Bugatti, Ferrari, Bentley, and other automobile exotica dealers and look at those cars. I suppose that if I really felt obnoxious, I could perhaps wangle a test drive or ride. That's not possible for many of the audio brands you listed. What's that say?

Look back at old issues of Stereophile from the 80's and 90's. There was a very wide range of equipment discussed.

I'm not whining about the lack of lower cost products featured in Stereophile. Nor am I trying to say that low cost gear is just as good or better than more expensive gear, which seems to be a common internet argument.

I'm just making an observation about the general focus of the magazine. This could reflect what people want to read about or what products these same manufacturers find they can sell in adequate volumes to work for their business.

At one time, at least every other issue of Stereophile had a comment something like, "Don't buy wine by the label. Same for audio gear." The entire publication industry centered around home audio seems to have abandoned this idea along the way. But, if that's what the readers want, great!