Abbingdon Music Research at the Top Audio Show: Milan - Report

The Show season kicked off as AMR for the first time, attended the Top Audio Show in Milan courtesy of ProAudio Italia, its Distributor for Italy.

The Show ran from 13th - 16th September (inclusive); a 4-day show (9.30am-7pm) which is most unusual. According to the organisers, the total number of visitors was 20,000: to put this into context, the Munich Show has 12,000 visitors and the VAD Show has 8,000 visitors. We believe each Show organiser has its own method of calculating the number of visitors, so despite a very large attendance, we would put it more or less en par with Munich.

In the ProAudio Italia room - the brands on display were AMR, Analysis Plus, Coda, Definitive Technology, PBN Audio, Modwright, The Funk Firm, Raysonic and Triode.

The main system used for the lion's share of the time consisted of:

AMR CD-77 Reference Class CD Processor
ModWright 9.0 Preamplifier
Coda Poweramplifier
PBN Audio Montana Reference speakers
cabling by Analysis Plus
Lovan stands

While the rooms are typical of most hotel rooms and despite the fact that no room treatment was utilised, we were pleased to have managed to create good tunes to attract visitors. We attained very good quality sound as illustrated by one very peculiar incident:

A local Internet-based reviewer came by the ProAudio Room and played several of his disks. Nearly all in the room noticed the left channel "distorting" - after several minutes of checking, double-checking and triple-checking, we were unable to diagnose the fault in a room packed full of eager listeners. It took a full five minutes for us to work out that the disk was at fault; it had been burned by the reviewer and had been incorrectly recorded! The most surprising comment from the reviewer was that he had used this disk in other rooms and had not heard the same!

Overall, over the course of the Show, we noted several unique characteristics of the attendees:

More than the average number of Italians love valves. The beautiful Triode amplifiers distributed by ProAudio attracted more than their fair share of attention. Visitors were also intrigued by the 6-valves within the CD-77. We were told that this is a reflection of the culture of Italian people in fine looking and in this case, sounding components.

With the central location of Milan in North Italy, we noted many visitors from other EU countries from France, Spain Romania, Scandinavia and even Russia.

As for speakers, the larger they are the more attention they attract.

CD is the focus, little interest was shown in vinyl as a whole. Most rooms demonstrated exclusively with CD players.

Many attendees purchased passes for the duration of the Show.
the first day, they went through all their preferred rooms and then on the 2nd and 3rd days, they spent much more time in their preferred rooms.

The "other halves" were surprisingly engrossed by the tunes made by the rooms. At other Shows, we note most women looked like they have been subjected to torture!

The organisation of the Show was well handled, traffic flowed well and there were little, if any bottlenecks. It was widely publicised that there will be a Top Audio Show in Rome (South Italy) to capitalize on the huge success of the Milan Show (North Italy).

We noted many very young children accompanying their parents which can only be a good thing for the future of 2-channel music. Admittedly, there was more than the fair share of plasma and projector brands at the Show.

There was a higher than usual percentage of music labels selling predominantly CD-based classical and jazz music.

New friends made were Michael Fremer of Stereophile who spent a fair amount of listening time with the main system spinning one of his vinyl to digital CDs. Michael was in town showcasing his "Practical Guide to Turntable Setup" dvd. (

Ray Kimber - of Kimber Kable who showed us his new mobile DSD burner, very cool indeed!

Lars Kristensen of Nordost who attends virtual every show without fail.

We very much enjoyed meeting Peter Norbaek of PBN Audio ( We must congratulate him on his very successful strategy to not acclimatise to the local time by staying awake, hence his attending the bar on more than one occasion. He also brought aling with him only a few disks, but they all managed to capitivate listeners in the ProAudio room.

In the evening, we were treated to dinner at the "Trotter Restaurant" (address: Via Rembrandt 56). Trotter is Italian for "Horse" as it is located close to a horse racetrack (there are numerous photographs of racehorses on the wall so no surprises there). It is a fabulous restaurant located very near to the San Siro stadium (soccer stadium for AC and Inter Milan). The service and atmosphere and most of all, the food was excellent.

Credits for the photographs goes to Bedy, who runs his user "momolo" on this Romanian audio forum:


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