High End 2015: Wrapping the Un-Wrappable











An entire month passed since we got back from Munich and our combined efforts produced more than 50 extended show reports, many of which are closer to mini-reviews than a mere system and price tags list with a few pictures. Munich offers so much material that we could probably go on for another month still without covering everything. A show with close to 1000 brands is absolutely insane and impossible to cover so we did our best in providing the best sounding, most extravagant, innovative or down right curious exhibits with our own personal perspective.

Going straight to the point, my Best in Show goes to Lyn Stanley who performed in the Classic Audio Loudspeakers room with Atma-Sphere amplifiers and Purist Audio Design cables. This was the most engaging room of the entire event, attendees simply could not get away once they entered and found Lyn performing live songs from her latest album, Potions, right there in front of them. Fatal attraction. For the record, this room featured the amazing T3.4 speakers from Classic Audio and MP-1/ M60mk3 amplifier combo from Atma-Sphere, and a remarkable analog front-end, with a Feickert-Triplanar-Lyra-Dynavector analog set up, as well as a Weiss MAN 301 DAC/ server.

“Best in show” and “best sound” are distinct categories for this year’s High End Munich; if you followed my adventures then you already know what the almost designated best should have been. The single most impressive set up was the Stenheim One with the four tower Reference Statement speaker system amplified by CH Precision, with analog front end by Audio Consulting and cabling from ZenSati. What was the most expensive and specs wise the most impressive system of the show gave a new meaning in words like authority, extension and visual impact. Part of the system’s performance was left in the imaginative plain as it was fitted inside a small prefabricated room down the ground floor halls which is, acoustically speaking, as inadequate as it gets. Placed in a proper room and with the channels not inverted this extraordinary system would have swiped other contenders from the MOC in a blink. Hopefully next year they will propose something similar in a room of at least 100m² and then I will be able to award them my best sound of the show. For this year my Audio Traveler award remains vacant, other systems performed very well but knowing what sort of potential this particular one could deliver makes comparisons almost futile.

Excellent runner ups were, in no particular order, the Tidal room which added some mid-warmth in the already detailed and dynamic range of speakers with the new Akira model fitted with the exotic 5” diamond mid-range driver; The Zellaton room with BFA amplifiers which offered a convincing dynamic dipole speaker presentation and the perennially great sounding all TAD room which for this year proved thanks to the CE-1 loudspeakers that size does not matter, not always anyway.

Among the various new products the “audiophile on a budget” one I would have brought home was the Auralic Aries mini streamer, a complete solution capable of DSD and DXD streaming with an incorporated ESS SABRE DAC for an astonishingly low price of $399 that will sell like hot bread, as long as they manage to iron out the glitches which affected the first generation Aries.

The other product, a not-so-budget but still far from being unreasonably priced product, and one I would love to review, is Wilson Audio‘s Sabrina speakers. Not sure if it was the wine, the company or the speakers, but that press-only event was huge fun and left me with the idea of a very well-engineered product that will find the way into many audiophile’s listening rooms.

As for the rest, the night action and the Weiss beer, Schweinshaxe and Weißwürste with friends flying in from all around the globe, it is always the best part of an audio show and one I would rather not comment upon as you never know who’s going to read this (for example, my wife). Instead, let me extend an invitation for next year, make sure you come for the crazy four-day Munich show and let us know, we will be showing you the best (or worst depending on the points of view) brauhaus in town!

Aurender is the Proud Sponsor for High End Munich 2015