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Munich High-End 2017

  • High End 2017: Dr’s wrap up and awards

    July 9, 2017 // 1 Comment

    Another show, another great show actually. It is useless pointing out how good of a show Munich has became in recent years. This is the place to be for everybody, starting from emerging realities and young designers all the way to established brands and legends of this small industry of ours. No exception this year either, and I did notice than more and more US strongholds are moving towards the German city after the debacle that has been the latest Vegas CES, nowadays focused on cell phones [...]
  • I could see his lips moving but I couldn’t hear a word the guy next to me was saying. We were in the Silbatone room at the MOC for High End in Munich, and I had gone the aural equivalent of snow blind while taking in the massive vintage Western Electric horn system that was playing. Prior to attending High End I had read, and heard firsthand from friends, and associates that the big WE horns that Silbatone rock there were a must see for me when I went. They were right, and hearing them, [...]
  • This is it. This is my last horn-loaded loudspeaker room writeup from High End 2017 at the MOC in Munich. Some of you will lament this, other rejoice, but to both camps I say this: Listen to horns, it may just change you forever. I don’t deny that horn-loaded (or throated)  loudspeaker systems can be very fussy when it comes to amplification, and room placement, they also sometimes require extensive crossover modifications – especially if you covet the vintage variety (just ask the [...]
  •   I spoke with Lyn Stanley before the show, she was gentle enough as to tip me about this event, she would be playing lacquers in the EAR Yoshino room with legendary designer Tim de Paravicini. The system consisted of EAR top of the line electronics paired with Rockport speakers and Tim’s turntable with a My Sonic Lab MC cartridge. Lyn and Tim went through the details, explaining how difficult and expensive is to produce a one step vinyl record, omitting several passages (mother copy [...]
  • Bigger is not always better and you can ask Michael Schwab of Zellaton for the matter. As soon as I entered the room I could not but notice that the speakers sitting in the middle of the room were less than half the size of last year. We decided to go smaller I was told. Bold move? maybe. Great room? No doubt! The Zellaton Stage speakers were exquisite, no sign of grain on voices, very subtle nuances were coming out on cellos and violins, bass was more than adequate, especially considering the [...]
  • High End 2017: WAY Cables…. slip them on

    June 24, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Coming to Munich was an opportunity to find things that we don’t see stateside in the USA. WAY Cables was one my discoveries at the High End 2017 show. WAY Cables based in Belgrade, Serbia has been making cables (interconnects, digital & power cables) for 4 years. What drew me in was their appearance. I hadn’t seen anything like this in the past. The outside of their cables is pure cotton, providing a soft colorful sleeve to the pure silver conductors on the inside. Basically [...]
  • Down the hall there was a cosy booth with all things Soundsmith, including Peter Ledermann and his trusted director Chris Sommovigo. They invited us in for a listen, the lure was the 7th generation of the notorious strain gauge cartridge, which is actually more of a system as it requires its own specific electronics. On this occasion they brought the top of the line Signature 810 pre-amp which features “the SG function plus 4 line inputs & tape monitor, front panel “touch” [...]
  •   The TechDAS demo was among the salient moments of the entire show. You were in Munich but you’ve skipped it? You can turn off your browser now, you won’t enjoy finding out what you missed. Center stage belonged to Hideaki Nishikawa, legendary designer of the TechDAS turntables. During his demo we heard the most interesting music selection of the entire show ranging all the way from Bernstein & Gould to Shinji Tanimura, including a rare Japanese lacquer pressing. All this [...]
  • It was early on day 1, we had planned our route and I was ready to experience the High End show.  We entered the Vitus room on the 3rd floor, home to Vitus electronics, the VPI Titan turntable, Gobel High End Epoque Fine speakers, Purist Audio Design cables, a Studer Revox A810 reel to reel player. The rooms in Munich are typically bigger then in US shows, and Vitus space looked inviting and was perfectly lit.  It was screaming, sit down, relax, and drop the needle. The best part of a high [...]
  • High End 2017: Stenheim, VTL and Wadax

    June 20, 2017 // 2 Comments

    Bumped into Luke Manley of VTL while walking down one of too many Munich corridors. Hey Luke, what’s up? Have you listened to our room Yeah, the VTL – Albedo one? You’ve got to listen to the other one too, the Stenheim one. He was almost dragging me down the floor and this can only mean one thing, manufacturers know when they’ve got game. Or they are trying to waste a poor reviewer’s precious time but this was not the case. The room was built around [...]
  • MSB always puts on a great room, and we’ve been hypnotized in the Newport Show 2016 MSB Room and at CES 2017 MSB rooms. MSB to date has products on both ends of the spectrum.  On the ultra high end you have MSB Select DAC. On the almost come down to earth side, you have the MSB Analog DAC which provides a marvel of performance at its price. At the High End 2017, MSB announced a new little brother to the MSB Select DAC, known as the MSB Reference DAC. The MSB Reference DAC is a [...]
  •   A complete stack of Esoteric’s Grandiodo line of supreme products stimulates my salivary glands like few other pieces of gear. Long time fan of the Tokyo based brand launched by TEAC thirty years ago, Esoteric has been a leader in digital audio playback and currently produces a complete line of electronics including flagship monos and a linestage pre-amplifier. Add the supreme double chassis SACD transport and monoblock DACs for a rig that screams built quality, attention to detail [...]
  • High End 2017: A High-Fidelity Photo Essay

    June 17, 2017 // 1 Comment

    The shock and awe of High End at Munich to someone who has not attended previously is palpable.   This is the mother of all shows in my books, because to me it stands heads, and shoulders above so many others due to the inherent cultural, social, and continental panache it exudes. Just the sheer mix of men, women, teens, couples, children, and families who flock to the MOC’s halls, rooms, and atriums to see, and hear all that Europe, and the world has to offer to the acolytes of high [...]
  •   Audeze keeps pushing the limits of personal fidelity and after the successful launch of the iSine series it was time for a similar form factor but flagship model. Enter the LCDi4, what Audeze considers as a scaled down version of their reference LCD-4 headphones, only far more portable. At 12gr per side this is indeed, truly portable. Heavier than most in ear headphones but still very credibly portable, at least that was the impression with the hook going above my pinna. The i4 was [...]
  • High End 2017: Kharma! (finally)

    June 15, 2017 // 2 Comments

      Kharma has never been on my radar. Besides being wayyyy out of my league I have always considered the company to be more of a luxury proposition than a true high end audio manufacturer. I’m in this hobby because I enjoy music and showing off was never a goal, not even a secondary one. This year Kharma sent me back to school. First of all the room and especially the new Enigma Veyron-4 speakers sounded damn good. Airy, open and coherent like never before. System consisted of [...]
  • High End 2017: Reaching for the Abyss

    June 14, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Going deep, abyss deep has been a trademark for JPS Lab’s/ Abyss Joe Skubinski, designer of the absolute flagship headphone for years. The AB-1266 has been among our favorites here at Part Time and I could not possibly lose the opportunity of wrapping my ears around (or better inside) those new drivers marked as φ (Phi). Speaking with Joe I got to learn that certain advances made for the Diana model, mostly concerning the magnetic trace layout, were tested on the 1266 driver and they [...]
  • I felt like I was in candy store. Everything looked colourful, mouthwatering, and sugary… the sound was also drawing me into the sweet spot for an extended listening session. Another room of horn delights was having it’s way with me at High End in Munich. This time it was Tune Audio who was demoing the premier of the gorgeous three-way, horn-loaded Avaton loudspeaker with giant Elysium 250 TL-based mono blocs that looked like old-time gum vending machines by Trafomatic Audio [...]
  • We’ve all heard the phrase, pictured it in our minds, or seen a commercial based on it. Like waving a red flag at a bull. That’s what the Nagra room in the 4.2 Atrium level of High End at Munich felt like when I walked into it. The massive, Arrest-Me-Red Wilson Alexx loudspeakers fronting the impressively curated Nagra selection of pre-amps, phono stages, CD player, DACs, and mono-blocs (HD DAC, Classic Preamp, VPS, MPS power supplies, etc.) were pleasurably agitating every listener [...]
  • There were so many horn loudspeaker manufacturers at High End in Munich this year that a lesser horn addict than myself might have succumbed to horn fatigue. But not I. I would feel strangely energized as the day wore on, and when I came across another exquisitely monstrous horn set-up in one of the Cessaro rooms surrounded by well-heeled men, and women furtively caressing the colourful spherical horns I knew I had to take some time to listen. This system was fronted by an upgraded TW [...]
  • Garth Powell, a lifelong audio engineer from AudioQuest keeps attendees on the edge of their seats as he discusses AC Power.  We always enjoy his wealth of experience and compelling demonstrations.   This time, AudioQuest was announcing the availability of the UK & Euro versions of the Niagara 7000, Niagara 5000 and Niagara 1000 power conditioners. The AudioQuest Niagara 7000 is a staff favorite at Part-Time-Audiophile, being awarded our Best of 2016!  To learn about the technology [...]
  • There is a reason why so many companies are launching virtual ground boxes, these units simply work. As always it depends on the system, if you have a very simple one with no ground loops and no EMI/RFI noise you might not need one, but then again I have never met anyone lucky enough to be immune from such gremlins. Nordost’s QKORE line consists of three models and during the show Denis Bonotto demoed all three with a system consisting of Audio Physic speakers, SimAudio electronics and [...]
  • I can tell when I get to speak to smart people and Damon Von Schweikert with Leif Swanson gave me that impression, of knowing what they are doing and better yet, knowing that brute force is not the answer to everything. But they brought in a humongous pair of speakers with a gazillion drivers you might say, and you would be right. Here’s the thing, they managed what Stenheim couldn’t do last year, make excellent sound in a room with remarkably bad  acoustic behavior.   Last [...]
  •   Aubergine?   That was the closest colour match I could think of to describe the large, tasty Sphera horns that Azzoline Audio – the creation of Frenchman Chuck Michlin – was showing off with Thomas Mayer’s bespoke tube amplification at High End in Munich. The pairing seemed tailor-made for each other, as did Martin Brenner’s (Vinylista) gorgeous, modified Garrard 301, and 401 idler-drive turntables which were pressed into service as analog sources. A pair of [...]
  • Auralic is bringing some new innovations to elevate their already great digital streaming offerings with the introduction of the G-Series.  We tracked down Wang Xuanqian, CEO & President of Auralic to get the low-down and give it a listen. The new G-Series is an addition to their current product line-up and it is composed of 4 new components: Auralic Aries G2 – Streaming Transporter  ($3900 USD & available in Sept) Auralic Vega G2 – Streaming DAC ($5700 USD & [...]
  • High End at Munich in the MOC is an A-List affair with thousands of people swarming everywhere constantly, and millions of dollars in ne plus ultra gear oozing cabling as thick as my thigh out of every nook, and cranny for the masses to ogle, and touch with sweaty hands. Not so in the Kondo Audio Note room. Here an air of genteel tranquility reigned, and everyone who came in the room seemed to bow their heads ever-so-slightly in recognition that they had entered a slow zone of sorts: [...]
  • Horns. Big, beautiful, Western Electric horns. Unless you’ve heard the behemoth 1920s Western Electric horn systems for yourself it’s difficult to convey their ability to hold you enthralled in their presence. It’s a transformative listening experience to hear a system designed for a 3,000-seat theatre, and in a very real sense I would compare it to time travel. Despite being in a large, cavernous room with about a hundred other people at High End in Munich, when I shut [...]
  • I’m an unabashed fan of Vincent Brient’s totaldac DAC/Streamer designs. The French electronics engineer, and wunderkind behind the bespoke, discrete R2R ladder DAC components he has founded his company on is a soft-spoken man who let’s the sonic strength of his work speak for itself. But he is not someone who, after years of perfecting his designs is content to sit back, and enjoy the fruits of his labour. A case in point is the d150 loudspeaker ($40,400 USD, $52, 800 [...]
  • True high end stands for silly prices, feel free to move along if you have issues with that. For those who care this was a rather interesting and must admit well sounding room. I have never been a huge fan of Göbel, not only because of the steep prices, clearly out of my league but mostly because Oliver Göbel insisted on bringing those humongous bass towers consisting of 16 drivers that simply wrecked havoc on Munich’s rooms. Standing waves a go go and the sound was a so so for several [...]
  • It has become extremely rare to find upper floor rooms that cost less than a Lamborghini so this year’s pairing between Alluxity and Joseph Audio was more than welcome, and for a good amount of reasons. Aesthetically the Alluxity electronics (Pre One, a pair of Mono One power amps good for 200Watts/8Ohm each, almost doubling down to 4 and 2 Ohms and the very interesting Media One music server with internal DAC, HDD and DSD256 capabilities) were eye popping in glorious metallic orange and [...]
  • High End 2017: Living Voice indeed

    May 27, 2017 // 1 Comment

    Living Voice UK has been literally stockpiling raves, year in- year out in Munich, and 2017 was no exception. This time around we auditioned the smaller, affordable speaker system Vox Palladian with matching Palladian Basso external subwoofers for a total of 450.000 GBP (that’s 580.000 of the good ol’ “whatevers” currency, and if you care to know more then you, just like me, cannot afford the “affordable” Living Voice system). Electronics were provided by [...]
  • High End 2017: Estelon introduces the Lynx

    May 26, 2017 // 1 Comment

    Estelon has been on a hot streak for years and 2017 was no exception, they introduced a new, all in one speaker system called the Lynx. The Lynx offers an M-T-M configuration with two 5″ midrange and a 1″ tweeter enhanced by a 10″ woofer, all wrapped under a gorgeous, sci-fi cabinet. During the press conference there was one point that intrigued me the most, the system does not pack an amplifier. I had to ask Andrus Aaslaid, chief technology officer of Estelon for additional [...]
  • He sat there, eyes closed, with an almost beatific expression upon his face as music flooded the demonstration room. He sat there, brows furrowed, lips curled into a barely-contained sneer as music flooded the demonstration room. Both men were sitting next to each other, and looking at them you couldn’t help but wonder what it was they were hearing that elicited such markedly different reactions to the same song being played. Welcome to the world of audiophiles where every cable swap, [...]
  • Ypsilon Electronics had yet another great room in this year’s show, this time with Wilson Benesch latest speaker design, the Resolution ‘P1’ Silverstone. The system consisted of Ypsilon Hyperion Monoblock Power Amplifiers Ypsilon PST-100 MKII Valve Preamp Ypsilon VPS-100 Valve Phono Stage Ypsilon MC26L Step Up Transformer Ypsilon CDT-100 CD Player Ypsilon DAC-100 DAC Wilson Benesch also provided the truly stunning R1 Carbon HIFI Rack which if it works as good as it looks it should be [...]
  • Tidal Audio from Germany put on an outstanding presentation at High End in Munich, and Dr. Pangiotis Karavitis, and I took part in an invite-only audiophile press event for a private listening session while there. Company CEO, and chief designer Jorn Janczak was on hand to discuss not only the massive, top-of-the-line La Assoluta loudspeaker, but the brand new Camira DAC, and Ferios monobloc which builds on the current Impulse Stereo Amplifier. I’ve spent time with big Tidal systems [...]
  • Turntable, turntable, turntable, turntable, turntable, turntable, turntable. DAC, DAC, DAC, DAC, DAC, DAC. CD/SACD, CD/SACD. Reel-to-reel. This would be my count if I had to choose a ratio at the High End Show in Munich this week for analog, and digital sources. There’s no doubt in my mind that the turntable is still the medium of choice for manufacturers to showcase their equipment. The DAC/computer is next, with CD/SACD significantly lagging in numbers behind that, and the sudden [...]
  • You can now upgrade your AudioQuest DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red to include support for MQA with a firmware update. We’ve upgraded a few of our Red Dragonfly’s over at Part-Time Audiophile today, and encourage you too as well. The process takes less then 5 minutes, and then you can enjoy a little MQA + Tidal Masters using the Tidal desktop application on your computer. Upgrade instructions: Install the AudioQuest Device Manager application. You can download it from here.  It [...]
  • Tweaks are aplenty in this industry, some that work, and others less so. But when it comes to reducing vibration, I have been a longstanding believer. At T.H.E. Show @ Newport, HRS introduced the Vortex feet.  I was impressed at the impact that they had on various T+A components in Sunny’s High End Audio Video room during some quick listening. Newport peaked my interest, so I naturally had to try Vortex feet under my Dan D’agostino Stereo Momentum amplifier which rests on a HRS M3X [...]
  • I felt small. I’m six-foot-two-inches tall, but making your way around The High End Show at the colossal MOC in Munich can be a humbling experience in spatial ratios. While some system set ups were of the manageable living-room size, many were of the gargantuan variety that would require dedicated listening rooms, and a most tolerant family, spouse or partner to accommodate: the Silbatone room would require a separate home.   The throaty roar that these altars to high fidelity [...]
  • Rough cab ride, broken computers at check-in, badges in hand, and we’re ready to conquer the world’s largest audio show.  The map is intense, and Panagiotis Karavitis enlightens us with pro tips.  Start on the top floor of Hall 4, work your way down and across the 4 exhibit halls. No pressure, and just 8 hours for me to soak up the show. First room, first stop, the VPI / Vitus / Pure Audio Design room.  It was the European debut of the VPI Titan turntable. Two arms, killer [...]
  • High End 2017: Munich mayhem on opening day

    May 19, 2017 // 3 Comments

    As much as I’d heard about the High End Show in Munich none of it really prepared me for the level of polish, and professionalism that the event exudes. This is an order of magnitude different from anything I’ve encountered in North America. The closest would be the Montreal Salon Audio, but in Munich it is on a scale that one must experience to truly appreciate. This level of controlled audiophile chaos is intoxicating. Then there’s the demographics. Even though Thursday is [...]
  • Pass Laboratories has announced a pair of single-chassis components, just in time for Munich High End. From the press release: Munich HIGHEND Show, May 18, 2017 — At Pass Labs, we don’t change our products unless we feel that the changes are significant improvements over previous versions. Because of this we see typical product life spans of seven to eight years. We are constantly working on and listening to new things and increasing our knowledge of circuits and components on sound. [...]
  • You know what’s exciting? New stuff. Especially when that new stuff is from a beloved brand. Today, Harbeth, is announcing a nifty-new thing — the latest update to their amazing line of “studio monitors”, the M30-series. The M30 is a two-way stand-mount speaker, and for a very limited time, Harbeth is selling a super-special secret-squirrel edition with some nifty audiophile upgrades. Pricing will be announced shortly, but if they follow the recent trend, the new40th [...]
  • High End 2017: The Arrival

    May 18, 2017 // 3 Comments

    The big Benz shoved me back into my leather seat with a gentle, yet urgent insistence as it surged ahead on the autobahn. A quick glance at the speedometer confirmed the car was edging towards 230k/ph. The video-game like effect of weaving through traffic at these speeds was both surreal, and terrifying, but looking out the passenger window the world seemed strangely serene. As I glanced at my watch the second-hand sweep seemed to slow, and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity [...]
  • Press Release from McIntosh Labs — two new products being announced! Links and photos below. Binghamton, NY – May 18, 2017 – McIntosh, the global leader in prestigious home entertainment and ultimate-quality audio for over 65 years, is proud to announce two new products at this year’s HIGH END Show in Munich: the MA8900 Integrated Amplifier and the MCD350 SACD/CD Player. Each product combines the best-in-class audio performance of the legendary McIntosh Reference System with the [...]
  • dCS is celebrating their 30th Anniversary (1987-2017) and are bringing some surprises across their model line at the High End Munich 2017 show. First, allow us to introduce the Vivaldi One, a limited-edition digital music player. Limited to just 250 uniquely numbered pieces, it puts an integral CD/SACD transport alongside the latest dCS Ring DAC in a single chassis, together with network streaming functionality. All of your favorite inputs / formats are all ready to start making some [...]
  • High End 2017: It’s Time

    May 17, 2017 // 0 Comments

    It’s that time of the year, when crazies from all around the globe gather up for the annual drooling competition and obviously Munich is the place. The High End show 2017 opens up on the 18th of May and Part Time Audiophile is all over it. Besides your truly who will be covering the show for the fourth year in a row, Rafe Arnott and Mohammed Samji will also be offering their distinct look on the numerous demos. There are some rooms and exhibits that are already high on our to do list but [...]
  • AURALiC hit my inbox today with some big news regarding their current lineup: it’s changed dramatically. The company is unveiling the new G Series ARIES G2 streaming transporter ($3,899 USD, $5,295 CAN),and VEGA G2 streaming DAC ($5,699 USD, $7,740 CAN) at Munich’s High End show this week with availability by September this year. The all-new SIRIUS G2 upsampling processor, and LEO G2 Femto Reference Clock are scheduled to hit by the end of 2017. This signifies a couple of different [...]