by Keijo Tanskanen

I decided to write a separate article from the three open doors events that I attended at the Helsinki HighEnd & Hifimaailma 2007 HiFi Trade Fair because the open doors events and the main event proved to be difficult to compare with each other due to the differences in the speakers’ room compatibility, the acoustic treatment and the represented music pieces, not to mention the relaxed atmosphere at the open doors events. I naturally spent much more time at the open doors events than in any room at the main event. This is why I have a bit more to write this time.

The first stop: Soundworks

We (Olavi Eloranta and I) arrived at the Soundworks’ open doors event early on Saturday morning. Mr. Petri Mutanen had made a friendly gesture by agreeing to meet us just before the official opening time. Petri had worked a lot in order to set up the system. He had brought his Avantgarde Trios to the office and adjusted them fully the evening before! Petri informed straight out that he wasn’t totally satisfied with the sound because the speakers did not have enough space and because the front end wasn’t a best kind, even though he thought that it was sufficient enough. We spent almost an hour in listening to several music samples – all belonging to the main genres of music: Rock, jazz and classical pieces were used. The sound was excellent although there were a couple of slight flaws especially in the vertical soundstaging and in the tonal refinement. The dynamics and the speed were tremendous and the control, accuracy, and transparency were excellent. I was convinced that this system could produce quite a rhythmical heaven! I told Petri that he didn’t need to worry about the sound. The sound was surely good enough! Regardless of the initially excellent sound experience, I however began to think whether Trios might give even better results in a more suitable listening room. We agreed to visit Petri’s own listening room in the near future in order to make a more accurate evaluation. As I mentioned before this stop took us an hour to make, which was certainly too much when considering our tight schedule for the day. But because the sound was as good as it was we did not dare to leave earlier!

The system consisted of the Pathos Endorphin CD player, the Audionote Meishu Line 300B integrated tube-amplifier which drove Avantgarde Trios. The used cabling was Audio Note interconnects and Audio Note and Avantgarde speaker cables. An impressive set up!

The second stop: Audiostar

After the visit to Soundworks we went to Audiostar. I was a bit ashamed because we arrived late but this did not seem to disturb our hosts! We were also lucky because the Audiostar’s office was still lacking visitors, which meant that our discussions and the listening sessions could be carried out in peace. Mr. Jari Kaistikainen had built a system, which consisted of the best products that Audiostar was able to come up with for the trade fair. Jari told us that they were currently looking for a more expensive speaker brand but so far no decisions had been made. So, this time the Accuphase electronics had the Ensemble Figuras as its companion. The cables were also from Ensemble. We listened to a couple of well-known CDs and were surprised about the results. The budget-class Ensembles functioned very well and they did not cringe to the expensive front end! I had the pleasure to listen to these speakers last spring in Tampere and the listening experience was very similar to the one today. Both times the sound was accurate, transparent, and dynamic which lead me to think that the Accuphase and Lindemann equipment remind each other at least in some aspects. It may be that the soundstaging features opened a bit better this time. As a whole, I had very positive feelings after the Audiostar visit. Let’s hope that I’ll be able to get acquainted with the Accuphase brand in more depth in the near future!

The system consisted of the Accuphase DD-500 CD player, the C-450 integrated amplifier, Ensemble Figura speakers, and Ensemble cables; A very reasonable High-End system. Only the thoughts of bigger and even higher quality speakers left some room for doubt.

The third and last stop: Hifi Guru

After the busy day there was still the evening left! I arrived at the Hifi Guru showcase approximately at 5 p.m. and stayed there for over two hours by mainly discussing interesting audio issues. My very late arrival meant that the catering services were already minimal. So, Guru recommended that the visit could be repeated the next day! I followed the advice, and in the end I was able form a more thorough opinion of the each presented system!

Hifi Guru presented three speakers: the new Sonus Faber Elipsa, Acapella Fidelio II and Magneplanar MG-12. The Fidelio IIs were driven by the Mastersound integrated tube-amplifier but the Elipsas and the Maggies were driven by the Burmester mono-blocks. The customers could listen to both vinyls and CDs because Guru had connected the Burmester CD player beside their Clearaudio vinyl players. From this followed that there were plenty of alternatives, which I bet provided a great deal of goodies for every visitor’s taste! The Elipsas sounded very much like the Stradivaries; the tonal excellence was more than obvious, the timing was excellent, and the entire system functioned without any remarkable flaws. In fact, the Burmester’s front end and the Transparent cables seemed to have just the right personality for the Elipsas. Guru had made the decision that it was time to try a different kind of a speaker set-up. The Elipsas were placed very wide apart and the axis of the speakers crossed clearly before the seats of the listeners. As the result, the listeners were able to hear fairly acceptable soundstaging features. This seemed to work well enough, even though the instruments that had been panned fully to the left or to the right channel were heard from a too strange direction. The Maggies gave a natural and a wonderful sonic picture and the sound was, without any surprises, pleasant and universally applicable. We also listened to the Fidelio IIs for a while and once again it was really an impressive listening experience! This speaker will never stop startling! Although, the bass range was very limited and superbly dry, Fidelio IIs can definitely produce right-sounding results with huge soundstaging features. Once again, Hifi Guru managed to offer plenty of good music complemented with excellent sound. Apart from the sonic delicacy, there was also something for the empty stomachs!

The Hifi Guru’s equipment:

Burmester 001 CD player
Burmester 035 pre-amplifier
Burmester 036 monoblocks
Sonus Faber Elipsa speakers
Magneplanar MG-12 speakers

Mastersound Compact 845 integrated tube-amplifier
Acapella Fidelio 2 speakers

Clearaudio Performance and Master Reference vinyl players

Burmester 038 power filter
Acapella Fondato Silenzio bases
Transparent Reference MM cablings, except Transparent Ultra MM speaker cables with Fidelio 2s