High End Stockholm 2018

Rooms that I remember. The best of the best.

What makes something a highlight at a HiFi Show?

Sonus Faber Serafino together with Audio Research electronics, would that qualify as a highlight? Martin Logan & Anthem? KEF Blade & Elektrokompaniet? Totem & Gato? Vienna Acoustics & AVM? Q Acoustics (Concept 500) & Musical Fidelity? All these and many other  first-class systems made their best at the Stockholm Highend 2018 in February.

And certainly: they could all be highlights. But it’s not highlights I’m keen on reporting this time but rather “something extra” that drew my attention, and made me think. Such as Aido Audio’s (from Sweden) Deep Space 1 loudspeaker and its architectural design, and style directly from the 1970’s.

The 9000 euro/pair speaker features four 10-inch woofers and a single coaxial mid/tweeter  in an all open steel enclosure. Five of the holes are reserved, 8 free. The sound had its strong sides such as the quite clearly arculated bass.

And what a nice source they had: Thorens TD 124 the EMT 929 tonearm on the deck connected to the McIntosh C2600 preamp.

This system I remember because it so idiomatically represents highend audio: Marten speakers with their characteristic ceramic drivers, a series of Totaldec digital devices, and best Valvet amplification money can buy supplemented with Bibacord’s rather unique cables. Smart. Clear and obvious. Obvious even without listening.

The Avantgarde Trio Luxurous Edition system made a solo guitar sound big as the wall behind it! Keeping the volume level on the right level dictated by the recording is an art of its own.





This huge room leaves lots of space behind the speakers. Many superlative massive speakers have been presented here over the years, but this year something was different: Vienna Acoustics the Music didn’t produce bad room modes.

This was my first encounter with the Pbn audio’s M2! 5 speaker with two 15-inch JBL 2235H woofers and the JBL M2 horn & JBL D2430H compressor driver combo for frequencies over 900Hz. The filter slopes 30dB per octave! A rather interesting and well-behaving case. The amplification was by Viola Audio Labs.

This room I remember simply because nothing had changed from last year. Why to fix something if it works?

This elegantly colorful system consists of the Red Dot design award -winner Estelon YB loudspeakers and the trendy Alluxity electronics by Alexander Vitus Morgensen.

This brave speaker comes from China.  The forefather of the Line Magnetic speaker is not Western Electric 753C from the 1940s or some other WE model from the 1950s (as the presenter thought) but the Iconic speaker introduced by Lansing (Jim Lansing and John Blackburn) in 1937 with a 15-inch / 1600 ohm field coil woofer (the Model 815)  and the Model 801 compressor driver with a 1.75 inch aluminum cone and 4000 ohm electro-magnet bolted to the 808 multi-cell horn (4 x 2) for frequencies above 800 hertz. The 102 decibels sensitive The LM-812 Iconic is just like the Lansing Iconic  except that the 38 cm woofer is now 46 cm and the crossover frequency 600 hertz. With the LM-88iA amp the sound of the system had a great potential!


A rarely seen Glantz tonearm by Masataka Hamada. The spotted arm is the S-Series 12-inch MH-124S, made of pure steel and fastened with friction. To experience the “original pure sound of Glantz” with this particular arm would cost something like 7500 euros.

From year to year one of the most rewarding rooms at the Stockholm Highend Show is the one by Perfect Sense. And the room did not betray the expectations this year either. Or what would you say about this? The C.E.C. CD transport, CAD DAC, Verter turntable, Mola Mola  amplifier, and Boenicke speakers. And a fine sound as a bonus.

This neat, minimalist system from this world encompasses Wilson Audio’s cute orange Sabrina in combination with the Sugden Audio Masterclass IA-4 integrated transistor amplifier. The power output is 33W per channel, all in pure Class A as it has been since 1967 (a single-ended push-pull configuration with an active load allows a significantly greater load current than the bias current). Orange is trendy.

The new and much waited Technics SL1000-R is unquestionably handsome, and will certainly cause a strong desire to own among some crowds.

This one I remember because I expected to meet the new Magico A3 but the S3 it was, spiced up with Dan D’Agostino Progression series pre and amplifier, and …

… Shunyata Sigmas in between.

Buchardt Audio from Denmark has raised a lot of interest in the Swedish audiophile circles in past two years. This time they demoed 2000 euro/pair S400 Prototype.

What stopped me by this selection of IsoTek’s power conditioners was Tom Jones’ whose singing I stopped listening to.

Is a widebander with a subwoofer a widebander? This hot question was discussed in the Voxativ’s room, where the Voxativ Zeth speakers were performing together with a 10-inch, 96dB sensitive, ripole Voxativ Z Bass sub. The driver (AC-Zeth) is specifically designed for the Zeth and does not have to be filtered at all in this configuration.

Zeths were fed by Voxativ’s 12 W single-ended 211 amplifier.

JBL 4367, the classic 2-way horn speaker with the 75mm JBL D2430K compression driver. Originally designed for large auditoriums, the SPL of the horn was over 140 decibels. The horn of the 4367 is less sensitive with a double-membrane, dual voice coil and dual Nd-magnet. The 15-inch JBL 2216Nd woofer did good job in following the speed of the horn.

The JBL 4367 was powered by Mark Levinson’s electronics, the VPI enhanced No 515 turntable on top.

KTH equals two young men building loudspeakers around a coaxial element. This one is called Riemann 8, and is suitable for both home and leisure. The grill is removable and available in various colors.

A few years ago, Guru Audio from Northern Sweden received much attention in the audio land with its phase-linear mini loudspeakers to be placed close to the wall. Is it now time for another coming? Here are the Guru QM10two and the Guru Junior in good agreement, both on new wooden tripods.

VoxTonus is a fresh one-man single-loudspeaker company making the 12.5cm wide, 32cm high active (dsp 15W + 30W) Nano-Pi. The labyrinth inside mimics the inner ear and makes the loudspeaker behave as if it were a bass reflex, transmission line and sealed enclosure together. The woofer is 90mm bamboo-coned with a neodymium magnet, the tweeter is a ceramic 25 millimeter with an aluminum waveguide.  Nano-Pi’s  performance is strictly tied to the size of the listening space. Best results without a subwoofer are obtainable in rooms about 14m2 in size.

Lukase Audio’s RAW12 loudspeaker is easy to remember from the speech that the manufacturer made for the wine he is refining on the south coast of Gotland island. On the side table the CEntrance portable DAC and Acoustic Imagery’s ATSAH 500 power amps did their best in reproducing organ music from the smartphone.

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