Here we are again... Last year we were so impressed with the Warsaw Audio Video Show in Poland we decided to return for the Weekend of 8th - 10th November 2019. What is now referred to as the 2nd biggest Hi-Fi Show in Europe is located in 3 venues. The PGE Nardowy Stadium occupied 2 floors of the Eastside and one floor on the West. One more than last year so the show is definitely increasing in size. There were 7 floors of the Hotel Radisson Blu Sobieski fully occupied and the 1st floor of the Hotel Tulip, just across the way from the Sobieski.
This year it was just the two of us, Mark Hibble and myself, Nick Lucas in attendance. We caught the 8.55am flight from Stansted on Friday, although it was an hour late in departure we still had plenty of time to see all the Stadium rooms. The first port of call was the fabulous Francuska 30 Cafe & Bar for some fine coffee and Croque Monsieur, just across the way from the Stadium.
Entrance to the show over the 3 venues for the entire weekend was 60 Zloty (£12). Incredibly reasonable. Armed with our show bracelets we started on the Eastside. The Stadium residences were the larger brand names and larger polish dealers showing their wear. It has an incredible high-end feel, with names such as Panasonic, Technic, JBL, Sonus Faber, Gryphon, Pioneer, and Sony to name a few. Most of the top rooms were large, some had the backdrop of the football pitch and the stands which looked pretty impressive.
After an hour or so we were struck with the level of detail the exhibitors had gone to in their rooms, all immaculately presented. Not all were playing music, such as one of the McIntosh rooms, that played an interesting documentary about their factory on a big screen with samples of their products circling the room.
Great to see Grzegorz from Cube Audio who was demonstrating his new Neuaphar Mini Monitors with Subwoofer, awesome sound. We discussed the idea of developing a speaker kit featuring their lower cost Fc8, 8-inch full frequency drivers, so watch this space.
Fyne Audio was displaying their vast range of speakers, great sound at a very reasonable cost.
We noticed the abundance of VU displays and general turn towards the vintage look of the 70-80s hi-fi with a minimal twist.
Records were being sold and a large area devoted to headphones had queues of people having a listen.
There we ran into the guys from Feliks-Audio, a Polish company that specialises in valve amplifiers, although they do make standard amps, they were showcasing the large array of beautifully crafted headphone amplifiers. Great to hear that they use Hi-Fi Collective to source their audio-grade parts.
The following are photographs linked to our first day spent at the Stadium:
Nick and Mark planning the day ahead at the Francuska 30 Cafe & Bar
Large display of Tetkron Copper top plate amplifiers
Beautifully crafted McIntosh 2152 Amplifier
Grzegorz from Cube Audio proudly showing off his Neuaphar Minis
Technics equipment, showing amazing use of the VU display
The Headphone Zone
Gryphon certainly know how to make multi-driver speakers, see the stadium in the background
Some of Fyne Audio`s loudspeaker range
Piotr Feliks from Feliks-Audio
One of the many Feliks-Audio headphone amp
The great importance of shows like the Warsaw Audio Video Show is it gives the opportunity to meet up with customers and suppliers. The show itself doesn`t show case "audio components" companies but it does attract them. So as far as Hi-Fi Collective is concerned, we meet up with several.
After the Stadium visit, we took an Uber to our Airbnb, a £42 a night, 2 bedroom apartment on Marszalkowska Street. A trendy region of Warsaw that boasts many cool bars and cafes. A quick freshen up and out again to meet up with Jantzen Audio, namely Michael Jantzen and his girlfriend Dalia at the Orzo Bar and Restaurant. We have worked with Jantzen for many years, they specialise in loudspeaker components, capacitors, resistors, wires, connectors and the like. It was great to have a catch-up with them and have a few beers, watching the night-life of Warsaw grow busier and noisier. A nightcap at Plan B and we were ready for bed.
Slightly blurred picture of me, Michael Jantzen, Dalia and Mark after our night on the town
We awoke Saturday morning ready to hit the hotels starting with the Sobieski. We took advantage of the vibrant Cafe scene of Warsaw having a quick breakfast at the Ministerstwo Kawy Cafe, masters at pouring a seriously good espresso.
The Ministerstwo Kawy Cafe
The Raddison Blu Sobieski was a pleasant 30-minute walk from the Cafe and we arrived just in time for our first appointment with Krzysztof Andrzejewski, the CEO of Milflex SA.
We have been working with Miflex for a few years now. After a tip-off by a Polish customer of ours, we started selling their copper and aluminium foil capacitors with great success. You will now see their range being sold by many DIY Hi-Fi shops throughout the World. We discussed the idea of taking on their power supply capacitors and stocking a range of Wima-like compact rectangular capacitors so look out for those next year. It was great to meet Krzysztof a man with much experience and wisdom.
Krzysztof from Miflex SA, capacitor maker extraordinaire
On with the show. The Sobieski was very busy, lots of footfall, mainly Polish people which further illustrates how buoyant the Polish Hi-Fi market is. The hotel was reminiscent of the olf Penta / Heathrow shows of the 90s. A majority of the rooms were occupied with Polish manufacturers, exhibiting their range of equipment. Valve equipment outweighed the solid-state and so there were so many loudspeaker makers. Mark and I whizzed around the 7 floors of the show, chatting to customers and meeting new ones. we were so impressed with the enthusiasm and standard of the Hi-Fi. Here are a few photographs of what we saw.
The Polish Hi-Fi press - Magazyn Hi-Fi
On the first floor, there was a mix of various Polish Hi-Fi Magazines. I did notice an absence of the British press milling around, perhaps I missed them but it would have been good to have seen them. There were also lots of record sellers and some of the larger Hi-Fi makers such as Struss Audio, Taga Harmony and Pylon.
Akkus loudspeakers - This is a new venture from Witold Akkus, a supplier of ours who makes the copper-clad Pathaudio resistors. they are in the process of making their 15W loudspeaker resistors and for electronics, their 2W version. Look out for the those at HFC.
NCS Audio Reference One Speakers - Mark having a chat with Norbert from NCS. Norbert explained that he had received a pair of the new Duelund Mylar RS capacitors from us just days before the show. He had managed to fit them. Mark's view was the new Reference One was amazing and brilliant value for money.
Art Loudspeaker DRAM 12 - Great to see Derek Dunlop from Art Loudspeakers, Scotland. Also on demonstration were Art Audio UK`s Argento 300B SE integrated power amplifier. Beautiful sounding room.
The Lab12 room - Here I am pictured with Efstratios Vichos from Lab12 from Greece. Showing off their Suono 25W Class A Power Amp.
Lab12 system set up
Muarah Audio with Cube Audio Loudspeakers - 2 polish hi-fi makers join forces, also showcasing a unique prototype anti-vibration table by Synco Sound (net weight 340kg)
Manron Hi-end Audio - A family run business from Poland. The amplifier in the picture uses the huge GU-48 valves providing 100W single-ended power, with a price tag of 39550 EURO including tax. It had a bold dynamic sound.
Jerry from Falcon Acoustics, UK - Using seats without backs in the centre, Falcon had two systems set up. Interesting way to do it. One end showing their new BBS Classic 15 and the other the new HP80 floor standers.
Line Magnetic - We found many examples of Line Magnetic equipment been used in numerous rooms, brilliant sound and fabulous industrial styling
Remton Audio - Czech Republic - For us, being component sellers, it was interesting for us to see equipment with the lid taken off, displaying the insides. As you can see here, Remton have used the Mundorf EVO oil capacitors and Sowter (UK) transformers.
Hagto Audio - Norway - A Norwegian distributor who also manufacture their own speakers, Trym, as featured here.
Haiku-Audio - Polish maker of Hi-end valve, hybrid and solid-state amplifier, showcasing their new 6500 amplifier. These guys are fans of the Miflex capacitors - good to know.
GMP Tech - Further reinforcing the popularity of the single-driver speaker, GMP Tech were showing off their range of speakers. Note the "old school" styling of the Leben Amplifier.
Aida Acoustics Loudspeakers with Fezz and Muarah Audio - We were struck with the beauty of the speakers and their room layout, fabulous sound.
VEXO Amplifiers - Italian valve amplifier makers showcasing their new amplifier
Engstrom`s Arne Amplifier - The beautifully designed ARNE, fully balanced 300B integrated amplifier on proud display.
Adams Amplifier - Adams, who specialises in valve equipment also makes custom designs such as this Piano themed amp.
Lucarto Audio - Wonderfully styled Hi-Fi makers from Poland
Christian and Armin from Mundorf - We had a great meeting with the boys from Mundorf. We have been the UK distributors for Mundorf for many years now. An incredibly popular maker of capacitors, resistors, inductors, connectors, and wire from Germany. They are celebrating their 35th year of trading with the launch of 2 new lines of resistors, the Mresist Ultra Film resistor and the Mresist 10W wire wound and also their new paper copper foil inductors. Keep up the good work.
Mundorf`s new VLCU paper copper film inductors
After 6 hours at the Sobieski and our business card pile much depleted we headed over the road to the Hotel Golden Tulip. A much smaller affair with 8 large rooms showcasing the very high-end level of systems.
The Ayon Room - To illustrate the sheer size of the rooms in the Tulip. This room carried an amazing punchy sound that filled the room with ease.
The Ken Kesler talk - Ken has been involved in hi-fi for many many years, mainly as a review and consultant. His talk was fascinating as he traced his love of Hi-Fi from his first hi-fi purchase in 1968 to the current day.
So that just about wraps it up, folks. A truly brilliant show. Word is getting out too! I did notice a few groups of English chaps milling around, a large group were actually sat close by us in the bar at the Sobieski while we were chatting to Mundorf. Sorry guys we should have come over to say hello. Let me know who you are if you read this. For Mark and I, we had some good food near our Airbnb and caught the Sunday midday flight back to the UK.
So get planning for next years show I am sure you won`t be disappointed.
Happy DIYing, Nick Lucas