The Paris Audio Video Show 2022

I was intrigued to finally meet and hear the innovative and well-regarded Kora hybrid integrated amplifiers. Although they were exhibiting with Atlantis Lab loudspeakers – a hybrid horn design that might not have been my first choice – the sound was notably quick, incisive and seriously dynamic, suggesting that these neat, compact and understated designs are well worth following up, although ideally under more forgiving and familiar conditions.

The most conventional of my ‘star turns’ comes from T&T Enceintes Acoustiques, with their slim, floorstanding NEL Extreme loudspeaker (€12,200/pr). A tuned up version of the standard NEL (€6,700/pr), the Extreme shoehorns a beryllium dome, upgraded crossover components and cable from established producer Absolue Créations into a further refined and more heavily braced cabinet. I’m going to cheat here, because the sound at the show (based around a top-loading Atoll CD400se, a SPEC Corporation RMP-DAC3EX and M99 integrated amp and a complete set of cables from Absolue Créations) was far from brilliant. But I recently heard an almost identical set up at the home of Laurent Thorin (Editor of VUmetre, a magazine that styles itself rather wonderfully as, Hi-Fi Francophone Non Conformiste), which left me seriously impressed, especially with the sheer clarity and lucid intelligibility of these elegant little speakers. I’m extremely keen to learn more about the company and Pierre Favérieux, the man behind these exquisitely finished and astonishingly responsive speakers – as if one needed an excuse to visit Valence… (

But the best sound on offer in Paris this weekend was once again in the Diptyque room. No surprise after their stellar showing in Munich, what was particularly impressive was that the flagship Reference model (€44,000/pr) not only once again generated such natural, spacious and unforced music – it did it on the end of a completely different and far from exotic system. Atoll electronics are widely recognised as offering excellent performance at relatively modest prices. The system in the Diptyque room drew on their flagship line but even so, the cost is staggeringly reasonable given the way prices seem to be levitating these days. A PR400 pre-amp and a pair of AM400 amplifiers were driven by the ST300 Signature Streamer – for an all-up cost of €16,500. Cabling was provided by Esprit (France’s ‘other’ major cable manufacturer). These speakers continue to impress – and if the Reference is a little rich for your wallet, the smaller models are equally impressive at their far more approachable prices. Large panel speakers once ruled the high-end landscape, before fading from view, bedevilled by a number of different issues. The Diptyque designs have gone an awful long way towards eliminating the weaknesses while retaining or even extending the virtues. What makes it all the more amazing is that the people behind the products are so unfailingly modest and unassuming that they can’t help being embarrassed by all the praise they’re getting. But this is one product line that really deserves the attention, a wider audience and – whisper it quietly – significant interest from beyond the borders of France! (

And The Misses!

At a show that wasn’t notable for great sound, there were plenty of easy targets when it came to handing out the booby prizes. I’m reluctant to pillory the exhibotors en masse as there plenty of valient attempts – which rather suggests that prevailing conditions might have had more than a little to do with the sonic results. However, one system truly eclipsed all others when it came to driving this listener from the room. The previously mentioned Klipsche Jubilees delivered exactly the sort of sound that gets horn systems a bad name, with nasty, shrieky highs and a complete absence of integration. Driven a combination of Jadis JS2 Mk IV DAC, JPS2 line-stage and both JA30 and JA80 amplifiers, what should have been a dream system had turned into a musical nightmare.