Sons et Sens 2013- Swiss High-End Audio showcased

By Norman Williams

Welcome to the Norman Williams Mono & Stereo exclusive report from Sons et Sens 2013- Swiss High-End Audio. Thanks Norman for the effort! 

"On the weekend of October 11 to 13, the now annual event took place for the third year running. However, this time it left the relatively secluded confines of the Aigle Chateau for the chic accessibility of the aptly Grand Hotel Swiss-Majestic, located in the heart of downtown Montreux, a lakefront town synonymous with music and festivities."

Almost all the famous and less famous Swiss brands were represented, with the notable exceptions of Goldmund, darTZeel, Piega, Revox, FM Acoustics and Heil AMT. Indeed the following weekend had the Munich run Zurich High-End show being staged in Regensdorf and it’s a credit to Sons et Sens that only Weiss, Klangwerk, Soulution Audio and Vovox showed for both events and only Revox elected only for Zurich! 

Now, to be clear, Sons et Sens is not your run-of-the-mill Audio show. This event combined multiple sensory stimulations, given that it featured cocktails, gourmet dinner (by reservation), wine and chocolate tasting and an art exhibition by Fall’Art (Myriam Machi). Al this in addition to a traditional audio showcase and big screen video displays of past festivals! Truly a feast of sound, sight, taste and artistic appreciation – an appeal to all the senses.

In their own words: “The organizers will go beyond sheer auditory pleasure. Not only will high quality Swiss manufactured audio equipment be presented, but visitors will be transformed in an ideal environment allowing further discovery in the fields of wine, food, art and music - thereby awakening all of the senses.“ 

The impressive list of Swiss Audio participants follow:


Now with those details as a backdrop, I will try to give a sense of the Show from my admittedly limited time spent attending on Friday, when the audio showcase portion of the show show ran from 3pm to 7pm. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to make it there before 5pm but the good news is that there is abundant parking at the Railway station facing the Hotel, so logistically the location could not be more ideal.

There were 15 showrooms and I was really only able to spend extensive time in 2 while visiting another 2 very briefly. My flawed plan of attack was to visit my must see rooms which included the Wave40 speakers and the Rowen speakers with the much ballyhooed (LMT ) Linear Motion Technology mid/tweeters. I say flawed because there were other new to me rooms that would have made the must see list if I was better informed beforehand. 

I first went to the SoundKaos room, as I was invited by Martin Gateley to come listen to his Wave40 speakers (driven by Holbourne electronics), after we communicated online and had told him my impression of them from Zurich 2012 was not great. Admittedly he was out in an open area in Movenpick Regendorf Congress hall, not at all conducive for good sound. Furthermore he assured me that he made improvements to the speaker design and that I would find it a much more satisfying experience. 

Martin was spot on correct, as the Waves turned out to be a very heartstring pulling, emotionally involving transducer, particularly suited to acoustical (vocals and instrumental), Jazz, Chamber music and a wide range of Classical music. I still did not find them to b the last word in dynamics, but they were clearly not designed for that. Rock/Reggae/Techno would not be the best match in my opinion, not that I tested these genres myself. I came armed with my own demo CDs which cover the usual audiophile stuff, but still represented exceptionally well recorded redbook. Needless to say, this stuff found favour with Martin and his crew and I was allowed extensive playtime to the mutual delight of all in the room, and with a brief conversation with martin, I discovered that my first hour had been spent. 

I next went to try to find the Rowen room, but I did find the Hotel showroom map a bit confusing and ended up briefly in the Swissonor room, the only Geneva located manufacturer present at the show (no Goldmund or darTZeel). After a 1 minute listen and brochure collection, I was off to the Rowen room on the floor below. 

The Rowen room was a similar experience to the SoundKaos room, in that my demo CDs were well appreciated and time sped by in that room, as I had no good opportunity to slip out….pity as Illusonic was just exactly floor below Rowen. The Rowen speakers were perfectly delightful and the LMT is all they claimed it to be. The Passive P10 was outshining the Bi-active S10 until William adjusted the totality of the S10 using the knobs at the back of the speaker and voila, the overall superiority of the frequency range balance of the S10 shone through and caught up and possibly passed the performance of the P10. 

The Illusion room was a regrettable miss, because it would have been wonderful to be treated to a full immersive stereo experience with high-end gear from the likes of Stenheim, Audio Consulting and Nagra (all loomed with Vovox cabling). I would have also loved to hear the the Tron and Eternity Jo tube amps, as well as the rising electronic star: CH Precision of Lausanne. 

After the audio portion of the show was over on Friday, I was able to briefly met Jean-Pascal Panchard and promised that if he sent me pictures (I had not taken any), I would do a write up for the show on Matej’s excellent WebZine ( and as he fulfilled his part of the bargain, I am doing my part now. 

I hope that next year I will get an official invite from Jean-pPascal to this very enjoyable show and I will come armed with my camera and notebook and be far more disciplined about my time allocation.











Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..