One of the hazards of attending too many high-end audio shows is what I call Exhibit Room Redux. That’s when an audio journalist walks into a room and sees the same exact system that was reported on at the last show. Just a month ago I covered AXPONA 2022, and when I covered High End 2022 in Munich I realized that I was going to succumb to this phenomenon. What am I going to say this time that’s different than the last time?
It’s not the exhibitor’s fault that I’m a busy bee, darting from show to show–especially if they’re doing something special that needs to be covered, even one more time. Fortunately, I’ve been able to fight against Exhibit Room Redux while reporting on both AXPONA and High End 2022 by exploring the differences between the two shows.
Here’s an interesting example of Exhibit Room Redux. At AXPONA 2022, I reported on the Joseph Audio and Doshi Audio room and it wound up being one of my Best Sounds of the Show. That’s not a big surprise, since I love the sound of these brands together and usually focus on them for my show wrap-ups.
At High End 2022, however, there were a few subtle changes. First of all, there was no Jeff Joseph in the room playing incredible music that I’ve never heard before. Nick Doshi can still run a room with the best of them, however, showing off his $44,000 USD monoblocks with $44,000/pr USD Joseph Audio Pearl3 Graphenes. Also, Jim Aud’s Purist Audio cables filled in for Cardas.
Third, the rooms at High End 2022 sounded much better than the rooms at AXPONA 2022. The rooms at Munich are not usually known for their acoustics, and there’s an almost insufferable amount of bleed-through between adjacent rooms. Despite all that, I heard better sound in Germany than Illinois. That means while I loved this room at AXPONA, I loved it even more at the MOC, and I stayed longer.
Focal Naim was another example of Exhibit Room Redux. This room was one of those huge display rooms, a combination of static displays and a rotating demo of the various systems in the room. You know, just like at AXPONA 2022.
Still, Focal Naim was able to introduce a few new products at High End 2022 such as new system bundle comprised of the Focal Aria K2 926 speakers with the Naim Uniti Star all-in-one in Ash Grey, with Naim cables, for $10,999. As Focal Naim states:
“Made in France, the new Aria K2 926 loudspeaker is equipped with Focal’s iconic K2 Power cone. This aramid fiber cone provides dynamic sound and high-power handling, as well as giving the loudspeaker lots of character. Made in England, the Uniti Star all-in-one player truly makes the most of the loudspeakers’ performance qualities and lets you manage your music simply and smartly across its multiple sources – streaming platforms, CD player, TV, turntable, etc.
“This system is available in an Ash Grey finish, a finish taken from the Utopia line, the jewel in Focal’s crown. This is the first time that Aria K2 926 is presented, and with a harmonious Naim all-in-one player making this offer unique and exclusive.”
It was worth Exhibit Room Redux just to revisit the SPL gear from Germany in the Focal Naim room. While I was in Munich, the folks at Focal Naim were trying to arrange delivery of the SPL Performer s1200 power amp to my house for review. I saw the SPL gear at AXPONA, and I was intrigued enough to ask for one of their newer products.
And here it was, waiting for me when I returned from High End 2022.
The Gryphon room featured the same static display in Munich as they had in Chicago, with one important addition–the new Eon 2 loudspeakers. This immediately seemed like my kind of loudspeaker, a relatively small and compact two-way floorstander with an outstanding pedigree, not to mention fit and finish.
At AXPONA I made arrangements to review The Gryphon Diablo integrated amplifier. At High End 2022, I was asked if I’d consider reviewing the Eon 2 as a package. You know my answer. Just look at this gorgeous thang.
The Exhibit Room Redux phenomenon was strong in the Credo of Switzerland room, so much so that John McGurk of AudioShield Distribution jokingly told me, “Same system as in Chicago. You don’t even need to come in here!” It was pretty much the same system with EMM Labs, Van den Hul, VPI, and more, but the room was different. Again, this system sounded even better than in Chicago, and I kept returning to this room over and over even though it was located at the top floor of the MOC, also known as The Sauna.
Those Credo Cinema LTM speakers ($170,000/pr USD) were even more engaging than before–Michael Kraske of Credo told me that someone hinted that he wasn’t charging enough for them.
There was another reason to ignore the Exhibit Room Redux and venture into the Credo room–both John and informed me that instead of the Credo speakers I’d planned to review, I’d be getting a pair of the Credo EV 350 monitors that I enjoyed so much in Chicago. That’s exciting news, at least for a two-way bookshelf nut like me. Those 350s are crazy good.
As you can see, Exhibit Room Redux isn’t the problem I thought it would be–there’s always an excuse to head into a familiar room just to note the changes, get a little bit of news or even just share a beer with good industry friends.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from HIGH END 2022, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.