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Top Audio & Video 99 reportage - Milan (Italy)

Part 3

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[Italian version]

With this third part our reportage from the Milan Top Audio & Video 99 comes to an end. We have still some room left for other interesting Italian and international products plus comments, ramblings and...conclusions.
As usual, please forgive us if something has been left out of this reportage. Actually, while being quite longish (especially when compared with what the competitors usually publish...) we simply don't have enough time and room (not to mention will :-)) to mention everything seen at the Show.

The (HiFi) Show must go on...

Nightingale, breathtaking looks & finish from Italy

You probably already know Nightingale products from Italy. If not, you MUST know these simply outstanding tube amplifiers!!! Pictured here you can see the ADM 20 integrated amplifier, with a claimed output power of 20 watt (@ 8 Ohm) in class A and an eye-catching metallic green finish (no, airbags are not available yet!).
There was even a smaller Armonia integrated painted in an attractive shocking-pink paint.
If you thought the Pink Triangle turntable was too "sexually" pervert, well think again!
Anyway, these integrated amps are very nicely built: for example, you won't find input connectors nor cables in the rear panel of the ADM 20 amp. Why? Simple, they've been hidden behind a bellissimo small door in the front of the amp, there at your left.
The cables simply run BELOW the amp and reach the RCA connectors in the front. As a result, nothing can be seen: no cables, no connectors, nothing at all. The solution, besides having a very high WAF factor, is very reviewer-friendly too! Very sano!

[Concentus speakers]
The Nightingale set-up & Concentus dipole 'speakers

The whole set-up consisted of Nightingale amplifiers and power conditioners (yes, they make pretty fine AC conditioners, too) while the loudspeakers were these pretty unusual fully dynamic dipole called Concentus.
Normally dipole loudspeakers make use of planar drivers or membranes, while the Concentus uses just traditional dynamic cone drivers, even for the bass range. So, actually, there's no cabinet, just a beautifully finished wood vertical panel that supports the woofers (4 for each speaker), the midrange and the tweeters.
You may know that, this way, the woofers are free to irradiate both towards the listener and the rear wall. As you can imagine this can cause very serious phase problems as some frequencies can easily be cancelled. The most important thing to care about with dipole 'speakers is -hence- room placement so to find a perfect balance of the bass range extension and presence.
Well, it seemed the guys at Nightingale had been able to solve this problem, since the bass range sounded well balanced. Certainly I'd be very curious to test these 'speakers (and the tube electronics, too...slurp!) into my listening rooms.

[Zingali family]
A family album picture for the Zingali 'speakers crew

Here's a family picture for a small group of Zingali loudspeakers from Italy. These 'speakers are already very popular worldwide thanks to some prestigious award they have earned and for their nice-shaped solid wood tweeter horns.

[Micro Zingali]
Mine is still bigger... :-)

There were some breaking news at the crowded Zingali room: as you may argue from the pictures, Zingali has decided to offer the sound of his famous horns to a wider "audience", designing and building two sat + sub complete systems. The bigger one (not so big, actually) makes even use of a D'Appolito configuration with a diminutive wood horn for the dome tweeter.
Easy to hide almost anywhere, these micro sats are aided by an elegant subwoofer that can be placed in a way that nobody can see it :-) Remember the Bose Acoustimass idea? Well, these Zingali systems seem to follow the same principle. High WAF, invisibility coupled with the sound of high quality drivers.
So, when I was thinking to have already seen the smallest two-ways satellites in the World...I've discovered something even more diminutive, here at your right. Just to give you an idea of the pocket (not kidding!) size, I've placed a CD cover on the top of the Zingali satellite.
On the floor you can see the dedicated (and nicely finished) subwoofer.
I'm not sure if Zingali is willing to become a serious competitor for Bose or if, more seriously, he is trying to offer the same kind of sound of his big horn-equipped loudspeakers to more audiophiles with serious WAF and "room" problems...
It is a pity that I haven't been able to test listen them, since everytime I visited the Zingali room, only the bigger system, with Overture-series large floorstanders, was playing...

[Finite Elemente table]
Finite Elemente table...simply stunning

You know A.R.T., the makers of the Q-Dampers, Squalan oil and fancy cables, already reviewed here on TNT-Audio. They are also the Italian distributors for Audio Physic loudspeakers and Finite Elemente tables and stands.
The table shown here is a fully-configurable system that is simply stunning: you can decide everything, height, distance from the shelves and the shape of the X which acts as shelf. Yes, as you may detect from the picture, these tables don't make use of standard and traditional shelves: no, a wood X structure does the job, so that you have less vibrations and more air surrounding the electronics.
The whole structure, made up with aluminium legs and wood "shelves" is very light and hence able to minimize the energy storage when hit by waves and airborne vibrations from the 'speakers.
The look is just of the "hate or love it" kind, a cool mixture of high-tech and classic style that can be easily placed into any kind of furniture.
And I thought our DIY TNT FleXy table was the simplest table around :-)
The Art room was highly appreciated by visitors and reviewers, mostly thanks to the Audio Physic loudspeakers from Germany. I can still remember a pair of diminutive bookshelf 'speakers at a recent Rome Audio Show that were stunning for the bass performance. Here at the Top Audio & Video Show the ART organizers decided for a large floorstanding model. After having tested several ART accessories and cables, now we hope to tell you something more about Audio Physic loudspeakers.

[Clearaudio Master Ref.]
The Clearaudio masterpiece

Amazingly turning into one of the Audio Reference rooms, there was this analogue art masterpiece, the Clearaudio Master Reference, a beast with three motors and a triaxial tangential arm.
Connected via Pass amplifiers to a pair of smallish Pro AC Tablettes, the beast proved that the LP has still so many things to say, even during this highly-digital era.
During one of our visits, Mr. Clearaudio has showed the importance of having a CLEAN vinyl in order to get the best performances from the old medium. He cleaned a new (yes, new) LP with a VPI disc-washer.
Good Music & friendly and passionate people were the key ingredients for a successful demo.

For you lovers of the big-bucks American sound, the Audio Natali room was showing a reference system with top-of-the-line Krell electronics (amps, preamp and CD player) and Wilson Audio floorstanders, connected via massive Transparent cables.
Not connected, but still very fascinating, there were the latest goodies from Audio Research and Theta digital, too. An Oracle turntable was available for the analogue addicts to dream of.

Live events, reviewers & comments

Many seminars were scheduled for this 99 edition of the Top Audio & Video. Among these, a debate between two opposite (?) parties: those who just love Music and simple hardcore audiophiles. Well, probably because of the lack of time or of the endlessly - already - debated topic, the debate never took off so there you had the chairman unsuccessfully trying to light the "fire"...
For us, the topic is simply a nonsense: he who really loves Music should try to listen to it in the best way he can. Records are records and we have to play them even if the recording isn't all that audiophile...there's nothing we can do about it. Period.

Are you really asking me which was the best and most attractive event of the Show? No doubt about it, it was the live show by Antonio Forcione and Sabina Sciubba!!! He is just a guitar wizard while Sabina is a wonder for the ears and the eyes: a warm and sensual voice that was simply amazing. The whole concert was a must-see event, I must confess that when Sabina has started to sing Caruso (an Italian song) my eyes were filled with tears. Enough said. Oh well, you can buy the records (by Naim Audio) but the live experience is something you MUST...live.

[Steven Rochlin]
Steven, as in 1998. Now fatter :-)

Quickly becoming an event himself, Steven Rochlin is an usual sight in Milan. We've spent some fun time together, talked about audio, fast cars (hey Steve, I'm going to buy that 220 hp monster!), nice women and bike training sessions :-)
Yes, the picture here shows Steve as handsome (?) as he was back in 1998, now he has earned some pound, to say the least :-) so I humbly suggested him to follow my example and become a hardcore bicycle racer...
More seriously, Steve is a real volcano and besides his World renowned Enjoy the Music web site, he has now created a whole new online magazine devoted to HiFi...so he has become a competitor! I like competitors this good, actually! You can start to browse his nicely written magazine at www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine.

You may want to have a look at the nice reportage published by the US online magazine Soundstage!

And now for some final comment on the Show. I should admit it has been a low-key edition. Few real audiophiles, too many visitors were interested in audio/video explosions and bullets, and the overall feeling has reflected the situation of the HiFi market here in Italy (Europe?).
It seems everyone is just waiting for the next big event to "move" the sales (DVD, SACD, whatever) and nobody seems really enthusiast about his job.
I've listened to many comments from visitors, even from several TNT-Audio readers, and the (sad) feeling was the same.

So let me just invite everyone (audiophiles and manufacturers) to not give up, maybe we all need to ask ourselves where do we want to go today :-)
Good Music needs good HiFi, not explosions, earthquakes and twisters, IMHO.
As for us, we promise to let our Passion for Music flow from this humble spring named TNT-Audio. Our access statistics say it is still plenty of audiophiles out there so, smile, even if you're not on a candid camera!

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© Copyright 1999 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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