My second full day of coverage for High End 2019 in Munich was a bit of a roller coaster, exacerbated by my inability to keep my phone on a network for more than a couple of minutes. I’d stop and try to find a new and willing network, get on wi-fi, receive tons of messages and texts, take a couple of steps and lose everything. People were trying to find me and that led to a few missed opportunities, but I still managed to have a few enlightening experiences when it came to new products in high-end audio.
Some of the best sound I’ve heard so far at High End 2019 was through a pair of headphones. I wandered into the dCS booth in the downstairs hall and wandered into a small room containing several listening stations, each one equipped with a dCS Bartok DAC/headphone amplifier ($15,500), a pair of headphones, cabling by WyWires and streaming capabilities via Qobuz. Each station featured a different brand of premium headphones, suited for individual tastes. I chose a pair of one of my faves, the HiFiMan HE1000s ($2450), and I spent way too much time exploring some very amazing European electronica as well as a few favorites. If I had this rig I might not ever leave home–the sound was so enveloping and pure and relaxing. Wow.
I’ve covered Tidal Audio at several shows over the last few months, and I’m impressed by the detail and realism of these beautiful and expensive German loudspeakers. Usually I’m treated to a single pair in a room, but in this case I walked into a room with a static display of every single product Tidal makes, including amplification. It stopped me in my tracks, all that beauty in one spot. It was a mostly static display, with just a couple of systems playing music at very low levels, but this was meant as a superb visual presentation that was almost as pleasing as a listening session.
Other highlights at High End 2019 included some time with Joseph Audio‘s new Perspective 2 loudspeakers, which have been re-designed around SEAS’ new graphene drivers. Here’s another pair of diminutive floorstanders that can energize a large room just as well as a giant megatower.
Just when my day was getting a little frustrating with the lack of technological cooperation, I ducked into the Purist Audio Design/Zesto Audio room a spent some quality time listening to wonderful jazz records from Count Basie and Gene Ammons with some of the nicest people in audio–Jim Aud and George & Carolyn Counnas. And I experienced yet another supremely satisfying set-up from Peter Ledermann of SoundSmith.
Perhaps the High End 2019 highlight of the day was meeting one of the great BBC-monitor designers, Derek Hughes of Graham Audio. I gushed foolishly about how I entered this hobby because of my love for British hi-fi thanks to designers just like him. Graham Audio is starting to make a huge impression in North America, and I wouldn’t mind spending some more time with a pair of Mr. Hughes’ speakers–hint, hint.
Sunday is the last day of the show, and hopefully it will be a little less frantic than Saturday. Still, High End 2019 has been an exciting experience and I’m going to be a little sad when I head back to the US on Monday.