If you’re still using the term “Chi-fi” as a pejorative, you should spend some seat time with this system from ESD Acoustic. This was one of the largest systems I’ve ever seen at a high-end audio show, even at Munich, and I was sitting in one of the largest exhibit rooms I’ve ever visited, at least twice as large as those big ballrooms you find in the US. In fact, there was almost as much space behind the massive ESD Acoustic horn speakers and system from China than in front of it.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
As you can see, ESD Acoustic specializes in humongous horn speakers and low-powered amplification. But that’s being almost dismissive once you near these veritable works of art and examine them closely. This incredibly complicated system inspired sheer awe among the show attendees, and it attracted some of the biggest crowds in Munich.
How did the ESD Acoustic system sound? Well, with horns this big you need to calculate the proper distances between your ears and the room boundaries. But once you locate that perfect vortex of pleasure, the sound becomes unusually focused and specific and downright natural. Solo instruments were no larger than in real life–a common problem with big horns, in my opinion–but the ESD Acoustic system was able convey the music in the proper space. The size of the horns came in handy, however, when it came to capturing the room boundaries of the original recording venue. One live recording, in fact, gave me a very clear spatial estimate of the exact size of the performance space. I could almost see the crown moldings and the buttresses.
Not everyone can house a system like this–obviously. (One of ESD’s clients is billionaire Jack Ma.) But ESD Acoustic also presented a number of smaller systems in static displays scattered throughout the room. But everyone who entered the room headed straight for the big horns and soon, like everyone else before them, jaws dropped and heads slowly moved from side to side in disbelief. This is the reason why you need to go to the Munich Show at least once in your life–you’ll see things like this that you won’t see in the US.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from Munich 2023, 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.
Also don’t forget to check out our latest collaboration – a solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800g of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top which also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.
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