Sun, Sep 04, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Most expensive hi-fi draws crowds in Berlin

DPA , BERLIN

Gee Sung-choi, president of Samsung's digital media division, presents a giant television said to be the world's biggest plasma display on Thursday at the IFA fair in Berlin. The fair showcases wares from 1,190 exhibitors from 40 countries.

PHOTO: AFP

This year's IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin is a place of superlatives, starting with a hi-fi sound system that rates as the world's most expensive and a plasma display panel (PDP) television that measures 2.5m corner to corner.

The Consumer Electronics Federation of Germany says more than 100,000 trade visitors are likely to come through IFA, which opened its doors on Friday and which runs through Wednesday. Many more members of the curious public will tour the stands.

The last IFA, in 2003, reportedly led to sales of 2.4 billion euros (US$2.9 billion) and the prediction is that the 1,200 exhibitors from 40 nations will do even better this time round.

To see and hear the world's most expensive hi-fi, you have to stand in line for an hour or two.

The hi-fi was assembled on instructions from journalists at a German stereophile magazine, Audio, who asked choice suppliers to contribute their top-of-the-line components.

If you were to buy this sound system yourself, it would cost a cool 933,500 euros.

At the fair, the five speakers, each weighing 300kg, the two turntables, the CD player and the ancillary gear are only on loan from 19 manufacturers.

Once an hour, the public is let into the auditorium and there is standing room only.

Sitting in the front row, fair visitor Michael Dietze, a chemist from Darmstadt, Germany, says it is mind-blowing.

"The sound: it's so crisp, it's amazing," Dietze said.

Bernhard Rietschel, an Audio editor, said, "We've got huge crowds. It seems people love a superlative."

It is the fifth time Audio magazine has assembled a "most expensive" set. The idea came from a former editor who got into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The 102-inch PDP televisions are on show in the roomy pavilion booked by South Korean manufacturer Samsung and rate as the biggest ever made. They regularly have a milling group of wowed people standing in front of them, admiring the high-definition picture.

"It's astounding. You could invite your friends to the movies in your own home," enthuses Timo Tietjen, a maker of advertising films from the German city of Hamburg.

"Even at this size, the resolution of the picture is excellent," he said.

Rated by attendance and square metres of display space, the fair is the world's biggest show devoted to televisions, recording equipment, personal stereos, mobile phones and other consumer electronic gear.

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