Warsaw Day One: At the Stadium

My trip to the Audio Video Show 2022 in Warsaw, Poland seems to have devolved into an unanticipated journey of protests. First, we almost delayed our pre-show mini-vacation in Paris—bless you, frequent flyer miles and friends—when, in the middle of a Workers’ Strike, protestors were tear-gassed one block from the apartment of our hosts in the Montparnasse District. Then, on Day One of the show, I spent 45 minutes in the cold courting pneumonia as the shuttle bus between the Stadium and the Radisson Blu Sobieski Hotel was delayed due to a non-violent protest in the street near the start of the bus route.

In between, however, sounds were far more harmonious. The Stadium may be a vast, sprawling affair with a less-than-homey air, but inside, its copious rooms, halls, and convention spaces seemed uncannily similar to those at Munich High End.

Between the sounds and sites of familiar brands—one room with Rockport loudspeakers (above) even displayed a quote from John Atkinson on the wall—I discovered a distinctly younger crowd than at US shows and a host of unfamiliar names.

The listeners in the J. Sikora room were younger than I usually experience at US shows.

A major joy involved encountering J.R. Boisclair of WallyTools. (I’d never met him before, but he recognized my masked face from several videos on the Stereophile site.) I may not have an analog rig, but my appreciation for good sound and intelligent, dedicated industry people transcends the false dichotomies of analog vs. digital, subjective vs. objective, and all that jazz that gets in the way of all the good jazz.

Boisclair’s enthusiasm about WallyWorks’ forthcoming submission to AES—which he thought was the first paper on the science of vinyl playback to be submitted to the Audio Engineering Society since 1982—impelled me to videotape part of his rap. [Ed. note: It appears to be the first paper on vinyl playback since 2007. See

“There’s more information to get from the grooves than we normally retrieve, and we can retrieve it using technology available today,” he said near the start of our chat. “We just need to be attentive to matters that have been previously neglected.”

After I cut the video short, lest its size be too long to submit via the internet for posting, Boisclair explained that poor tracking can produce more of the second 2nd and 3rd order harmonic distortion that some vinyl afficionados love. In this case, however, the seductiveness of the sound can easily mask the information that has been lost. “It’s the perennial bane of all audiophiles,” he said. “We don’t know what we’ve been missing until we finally hear it.” Boisclair’s goal, as you can imagine, is to enable us to hear more of everything that makes vinyl a great playback medium.

On to Day Two. For more on the show, see my forthcoming essays in Stereophile.

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