The Other Milano 2023 Audio Show

Hotel Melía looks like a cool, hyper-modern whale’s mouth ready to swallow us.

Inside, it’s a cool hyper modern man cave. Males walk around like a tribe, women are young and placed strategically near the entrances in mini-skirts, handing leaflets that will be littered in a short while when a dustbin is found.

The corridors are corked by groups of distributors, dealers, traffickers of possibly anything, all assertive and laughing and talking loud, around whom a meagre procession of middle-aged, balding, sad-looking sods sneak to reach the next room, the next bad sound, the next time Diana Krall’s voice will come out, as boring as a sonic wallpaper seen a thousand times, of some boxes.

A few young men looking out of place and carrying a perplexed girlfriend by a firm hand go from room to room as if trying to understand what it’s all about. She must have noticed the average age. An even fewer business women talk even louder and act even more man-like. If one doesn’t look like a potential buyer, distributor, seller is invisible. Men stand on the threshold of their rooms luring the visitors inside, offering unique listening experiences the way they could be offering you a girl or a drug. Everyone of them swears it’s all about music, not HiFi.

A tall, slender young woman in a minimalist dress walks the corridors ignoring the procession of sods like me suggesting that this is what it’s all about. And it probably is. Eyes are glued to buttocks then moved to amps and speakers and you can’t tell the lust from one another.

A young man is trying to win the attention of a guy in his sixties who’s exploring an audio rack kneeling on the floor. He talks like a machine in a petulant voice, desperately rehearsing the speech he thought would be effective. Nothing can stop him, but the kneeling man is totally ignorant of him. Others are proudly ignorant of those who stop in front of their stalls looking at cables, valves, accessories, things of indecipherable nature that are sure to transform your listening experience. They don’t even seem to care if something will be sold. They read. They are there for some misunderstanding. They don’t belong to the Fair.

Still hip-looking, old mandarins of jazz walk an inch above the carpet and seem to pass through normal men who are, apparently, immobilized at Dire Straits and perhaps even the 1812 Ouverture. They know.
A young woman at a stall selling books and CDs of classical music is wondering, in a pleased sonorous voice addressing a colleague, if there’s one, just one, who understands anything about music.

Pink Floyd seem to dominate the exhibition the way Beethoven’s Fifth dominated last years’. Female voices out of audiophile recordings, intended to stir the remaining libido of sods like me, float in the air. It’s the most boring, predictable thing imaginable. Only JBL, in a regurgitation of Roughness’s Pride, is blasting The Dark Side of The Moon at a deafening level, trying to make older guys’ teeth fall. There’s a cue outside, waiting to be admitted to the sanctuary.

And then, the peripheral nostalgia department.
Old Revox tape recorders, Epicure speakers and even a glorious pair of AR6s, in the same exact state of AR6s never drawn out of the garage in the last sixty years. Tube amps just about to fall apart like Jake’s and Elwood’s car in front of the tax office. Things that challenge time, things that challenge credulity. The Audio Limbo of those designs that never reached heaven but neither deserved hell.

By the main door a tall Russian girl whom I superficially know suggests that I resist until lunchtime and, implicitly, have a hurried meal with her and my friend the dealer, her boss. I want to go home. She curls her lips in a fake sulky face. She’s half my age and the last sixty minutes have aged me twice mine. I’m off.


Beautifully written. Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe at a Hi-Fi show?


The best compliment I’ve had in years. If you mean it… I love Chandler!

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I endorce the compliment. My congrats. It is the most anthropologic hifi exhibition reportage I ve never read.
My congrats Max, most probably, not only as a musician but as a novel writer as well you’ll deserve a lot of success


I was reminded reading it of the Yeat’s poem politics.

How can I, that girl standing there,

My attention fix

On Roman or on Russian

Or on Spanish politics,

Yet here’s a travelled man that knows

What he talks about,

And there’s a politician

That has both read and thought,

And maybe what they say is true

Of war and war’s alarms,

But O that I were young again

And held her in my arms.



Yes of course I meant it. I did seem Chandleresque to me.
I have read all his novels.

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And I did too. When I read Michael Connolly’s Black Ice I was surprised - but not too much - at how it reminded me of The Long Goodbye in plot and tone…

Well thanks, indeed! It’s a true report, not fiction…
My visit lasted 1 hour. It took me longer to get back home.

The only think that I regret is that I was really wishing to have your opinion about nac332 and nap250. I already told you that I trust a lot your opinion

I only stayed a few minutes in the Alta Fedeltà room. It was always crowded. Sorry.

The little I heard was precise, smooth, extremely listenable and focused. The sound you’d expect from an excellent system but without too much ‘HiFi’ - something Naim dispensed with a long time ago. If I may dare a comparison - based on a superficial listen! - a New 200 I often hear at Alfredo’s and a New 300 system as I heard it at the show are a little like moving from a warmer, richer 200DR and a totally perfect NAP300… With added transparency, immediacy, clarity.

For what it’s worth…

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Flattered… Thanks.
Or flattened?
really, cool, appreciate it.

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I m thinking about moving to 332/250 and I hope to be a good move from from SN3
From your description I think that it will not be a mistake

Really thanks

To my ears the new series has retained the best qualities of Naim’s tradition but is ‘fresher’, more modern and transparent.
By what I remember of the SN3, yes it will be a significant improvement; but it won’t bear a close resemblance to the old Classic series.

It wouldn’t make much sense if a complete redesign wouldn’t include a newly thought voicing, no?
Best with your choices!


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Thank you for a lovely, lyrical description, creating a wonderful picture ! And, as an aside, it confirms to me I have made the right choice in never having attended such an event!

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Munich was different… But not much.

Really thanks Max for your extremely clear and to the point explanation.
My best

Reminded me of this. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Dear Massimo, I’m following you here, although we could also talk to each other once.
Like once in Milan there was the Top Audio show, at the Quark hotel.
Neither of us had gray hair.
But it was, then as now, a place to sell, through superficial and crude contents, as fairs have always been and as you have clearly crystallized in your post.

If you want, we’ll meet again to listen to some music, here are the Quad 2812 and the Naim. Not for all tastes, but it always has its reason…

Take care, bye, Maurizio

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Dear Max I really apologies to keep leveraging on your opinion but I admire you a lot.
What do you think about connecting 332 with 250? Do you think that the gap with 350 will be huge?

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well thanks! I will undergo surgery the day after tomorrow, hope to be back home by Saturday or Sunday…
As soon as I am back and in one piece, I’ll visit my friend audio dealer; he has all the New Classics in his store and finally I’ll be able to do some listening.

More than happy to oblige with some impressions!