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Sound and Vision Show, Vienna

by Dave Ayers




As the name suggests, "Sound and Vision" is not a pure hi-fi show, but also includes a considerable amount of AV equipment. Austria being the home of so many great composers (who mentioned Falco?) pure music reproduction is still the main theme. The show is centred around dealers, and even most of the single manufacturer displays were tied to a particular shop. This year´s Sound and Vision was not a particularly large show, Bristol was bigger, but there was a good range of high-end gear on offer, even if one demonstration was given with the speakers out of phase. The UK presence was led by Naim, demonstrating their new NBL speaker on the end of an all Naim active system. Naim have been carting this demo all around Europe for the last couple of months and getting a good reception. I found myself really enjoying the music in their room.

The KEF Maidstones were also on show, although with little in the way of fanfare. The Linn dealer was demonstrating their Dolby Digital set up with a large projection screen and a Stomp DVD. Interesting. Heco had a huge array of speakers on show, but none were operating while I was there. Avantgarde were demonstrating the now familiar Duo horns. Vinyl source was the Clearaudio turntable, but bizarrely, the CD source was a Philips Laser Disc player as transport, attached to an Audio Note DAC. Hmmm. Vienna Acoustics, who have recently arranged a UK distribution deal with Henley Design, were demonstrating their top of the range Mahler speakers. These large speakers sounded promising given the confines of their small and crowded demo room.

But for me, the most interesting part of the show was meeting Herr C37, Dieter Ennemoser.
His C37 theory relates to good sound being produced by components that resonate with a pattern that matches the resonant frequencies of bone at body temperature. When you consider the internal workings of the human ear, this is not as crazy as it sounds, and the theory has actually been developed from research into the lacquers used on violin bodies, and their effect on sound. The results were in evidence through a number of different products. Firstly a lacquer that can be applied to most items in the reproduction chain, especially speakers.

The theory has also been applied to the construction of components, such als amplifiers, with composite materials that will give the same C37 resonant pattern at higher temperatures. On show was his 300.000 schilling Archaeopteryx loudspeakers, which are fully C37 compliant. These 100db efficient 2-way cabinets use an 18 inch bass unit crossing over to a heavily modified AMT tweeter at 3kHz (really!). These speakers had the most dynamic drum sound I have heard since I last listened to a pair of Klipschorns. Absolutely frightening! I want to hear more.

Also on show was a CD player built into two violin bodies, and a machine for running in violins. The other main C37 product was the new valve being manufactured by Vaic for their ampifiers. These have had their internal structure modified and shaped to produce the C37 signature. Vaic already use the C37 lacquer on their speaker cones, and there certainly seemed to be a buzz around. Expect to hear more about C37 in the near future.

The other notable thing about Sound and Vision that you definitely do not find in a UK hi-fi show, was the presence of AV software dealers selling NTSC Laserdiscs and Region One DVDs. Admittedly pricey, these discs could be bought without interference for any bully-boy tactics by Hollywood´s private police force FACT.
It´s also possible to buy a Region Two version of the Fifth Element here, although the English soundtrack is only in Pro-logic. So much for the "Common Market".