HIGH END MUNICH 2019 SHOW REPORT AND GALLERY - PART 3
We have all made it to Part Three now and the sheer size of the High End Munich show must now be at least partially realised. In this episode we have inadvertantly bundled a bunch of Canadian brands together. The odd thing is is that we have never really noticed just how many great hi-fi brands come from The Great White North. Just have a look and you'll see what we mean. As well as those Canuck brands the Swiss make a good showing too here. Read on and enjoy!
SME Model 12A turntable
Another High End Munich launch was the SME Model 12a turntable. The £7950 full turntable system looks typically SME, which is no bad thing as far as we are concerned. The central unit is machined from aerospace-grade aluminium and a separate box houses the power supply and electronic control unit, and so mitigating any external interference or vibration.
Sven Boenicke and team was showing the new E2 integrated amplifier (400W in 4 Ohms) which was driving the Basel-based brand's W11SE floorstanding speakers. As if that wasn't enough, also in the chain was the Boenicke C2 DAC which was running 'off grid' thanks to it sipping juice from LiPo cells. A very clean and well-presented room.
Another brand to spot in many of the rooms was Italy's SolidSteel. It's always fun to catch up with Gaetano Conti, and this time he brought his brother along to assist on the typically busy stand proving just how much a family business this is. We have been impressed by SolidSteel's products and currently use an S5-3 rack and a pair of SS6 speaker stands. At the show the company was showing new finish options, in particular, the S3 in walnut was an excellent option for those looking for the rack to fit more naturally in a living room. Also on show was the cool-looking HY series.
It was good to find the Teesdale-based speaker company in Munich as we inadvertently forgot to snap their newly launched Ekstra at the Bristol show where it put on an excellent performance. The company had a static display, but at least we have photos this time. The Neat Ekstra incorporates a ribbon tweeter and uses iso-baric bass loading into its frame. The cabinet features a pair of 134mm bass drive units in the speaker’s bottom section with one driver located on the bottom panel, while the other is directly above. The Ekstra is priced at £3,000.
The friendly Scottish brand was running demos in English and German at fixed times which made it extremely easy to drop into a session we'd fully understand. Additionally, there was whisky and Tunnocks caramel wafers to top-up both essential food groups during a jam-packed show. During the demo, three versions of the Selekt DSM (Selekt DAC, Selekt DAC and Amp, with Katalyst) played through Kef Reference 3 loudspeakers and the benefits of the upgrades on offer shown off using St Vincent's 'Los Angeles'.
Sat beside the prize bottle of The Glenrothes 10-year-old was a Linn Klimax LP12 which was also given a spin during the well-paced demonstration.
MOC saw the launch of the Canadian Totem brand's Elemental Metal V2 floorstanders and Element Fire V2 standmounts. Both of the new loudspeakers utilise the Canuck team's 7-inch Torrent driver.
Vince Bruzzese's demonstration was typically informal and enthusiastic with the speakers sounding very decent at the end of a YBA Signature CD and VTL pre and power amps. The group's Kin Play Bluetooth-friendly powered speakers that we were impressed by in Bristol was also present.
Classé was very much back, and the Montreal-based brand used the Munich show as the European launch of its Delta series of amplifiers which includes pre-amp, power amp and monoblocs with prices ranging between £10,000 and £12,500.
We dig their styling and thoroughly enjoyed how they sounded through the FinkTeam WM4 speakers.
Paradigm and Anthem
Another prestigious Canadian company was making great sounds in the MOC. Paradigm had their Persona 7F on demo. Part of Paradigm’s flagship lineup, the 4-driver, 3-way floorstander utilises beryllium which is stiffer and lighter than other premium diaphragm materials. Also showcased was the new STR Preamplifier from Anthem, which offers a variety of connectivity options as well as automatic room equalisation and bass management. The amp delivers 400 watts per channel, and each channel has a dedicated toroidal transformer and 16 bipolar output devices. The setup included a dCS DAC and Shunyata power conditioner.
More French Canadians but the Quebec team had some speakers to launch - the relatively compact Lakme. The new $11,995 speakers were pushed along by Verity's DAC and AMP-45 power amplifier.
However, the primary system playing in the room featured the brand's Lohengrin IIS reference loudspeakers plugged into their Audio Pro-4 processor and a pair of AMP-60 power amps using Cardas cables and supported by Quadraspire racks.
Moon 860A v2 power amplifier and Dynaudio Confidence
Canadians Simaudio was showing off their new Moon 860A v2 power amplifier. As you have probably spotted, this is the second-gen of the existing 860A which it supersedes. The new mid-range power amp brings with it an improved circuit design at the input and gain stages, new internal bias control, and a new integrated DC coupling filter that allows for better pairing with preamplifiers. The Moon room was another of our favourites, especially when you could grab the Eames-style lounger right in the sweetest of sweet spots. Also, big respect for the range of tracks played in this room throughout the show. We could have easily spent the day here.
It looks like we should be keeping a close eye on Canada as the land of the maple leaf put on a strong show in Munich.
Credo, Van den Hul, VPI and Diapason
If you want drivers aplenty in your loudspeakers, then the Swiss-made Credo Cinema LTM (La Tour Maubourg) could be just what you need. These 1.87 metre-tall filtered 3-way floor-standing speakers use line-array tech. Each side boasts thirty-two 22mm ring radiator tweeters, fourteen high-end mid-woofers featuring a 4-inch Kevlar diaphragm and a low-loss drive and then, finally, four passive 12-inch subwoofers with almost 60 mm stroke. Thanks to their efficiency and linear impedance curve, the Cinema LTM can be driven by practically any decent amplifier.
That said, electronics were The Emerald preamp going into The Excalibur power amp from Van den Hul. Additionally, VPI Industries' Avenger Plus equipped with a VPI Fatboy tonearm and Van Den Hul Black Crimson and Colibri Master Signature carts was plugged into a VdH The Grail SE phono pre. Naturally, the wiring was all Van den Hul too.
Additionally, sharing the room with Credo et al was the wonderfully sculptural shapes of Diapason's Karis Wave loudspeakers although Diapason states that these are more a fully-fledged acoustic instrument, tuned just like a violin. The cabinet is made of aged Canaletto walnut staves and contain SEAS drivers, an 11cm woofer and 19mm tweeter.
Nagra and YG Acoustics
You can never mistake Nagra's reference system for anything else but Nagra. The Nagra reference kit was matched by YG Acoustics Sonja XV Junior speakers and YG's 21-inch Invincible Subwoofer. As well as the Nagra reel-to-reel, analogue was brought by way of an SME turntable. Since first hearing the Nagra Reference line with YG Acoustic speakers we have yet to be dissatisfied by their performance. The dark room may have made photography tricky but the music being played, especially the pipe organ and choral stuff that was putting the system to the test while we were there, did deserve your ears' complete attention. The room was also host to a whole load of audio notables throughout the show.
Avid HiFi Reference Ruby, Integra and Evo
Avid founder, Conrad Mas, had been teasing us on the lead-up to High End Munich as to what he was going to unveil. As it turns out, there was a trio of new items ranging from a low output phono cartridge through to new speakers. Firstly, the AVID Evo loudspeakers are efficient and easy to drive, according to Mr Mas. The design uses trickle-down tech from the brand's Reference line using alternative materials. The speakers are covered in real wood veneers and feature low-iron glass and military-grade aluminium. The Evo range includes the floorstanding Two three-way speaker, and Evo Three 2.5-way, as well as the 2-way Evo Four standmount. Next up was the Integra integrated amplifier. Joining the SIGSUM as the company's second integrated, the 25Kg Integra shares many of the same philosophies in its 110W into 8ohms output design. You get an onboard phono stage, four RCA ins and an RCA out. Finally, the smallest item to debut in the AVID room, the Reference Ruby.
As the name suggests, the moving coil cart utilises a flawless solid ruby cantilever, and modified micro-ridge diamond profile all encased in an AVID designed and built body. Here we had another room that sounded great with a minimum of fuss.
We were getting spoilt now. After visiting AVID, we were presented with the European debut of the Ethos CD player next door. For those too young to understand CDs, imagine a digital audio streaming site where you own the entire albums and don't have to put up with adverts. We still dig CDs and so does Gryphon founder Flemming Erik Rasmussen as he designed the Ethos along with Chief Engineer Tom Moller. Naturally, the high-end integrated disc spinner handles 16-bit/44.1kHz Red Book CDs but can also be connected to external sources up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM up to DSD512. Performing the digital to analogue conversion are no less than eight DACs set in dual differential mode with the digital DAC domain remaining entirely fully balanced. We haven't heard a CD player this good in a while. It is detailed without being analytic with a plentitude of impactful dynamics. We want one. A lot!
Goldmund Prana speakers
Keeping it Swiss for a moment, Goldmund's £67,500 Prana active speakers were on static display duty in one of the halls. They may have an air of stationary robotic guards (especially from the rear), but they have all the tech and top-notch build quality we have come to expect from the Swiss brand. Each of the Prana's 3-way speaker units utilises a built-in 600-watt Telos amplifier based on the company's proprietary wireless system. The cabinets are mounted stylishly on an aluminium Z-frame. Also on the stand were the Logos Subwoofers. Yes, we stroked one.
Apertura, Enigma, Grand Prix and CH Precision
A very cool and calming room amongst all the hustle-and-bustle is just what we needed, and we found that in Apertura's environment. Here they were launching the new Sensa and Swing speakers. In the demo room, we were treated to the team's Enigma MkII loudspeakers being driven by CH Precision electronics and a Grand Prix turntable.
Apertura was founded by Christian Yvon who's resume as an acoustician includes names such as Goldmund, Sonus Faber, Focal and many more. He, along with Eric Poyer, manufacture out of a facility near Nantes, over on France's west coast. Stunning stuff.
Rockport and Absolare
The Rockport Atria three-way speakers feature a carbon-fibre-composite 9-inch woofer, and 6-inch midrange, partnered with a 1-inch beryllium dome tweeter in a constrained-layer-damped enclosure. Behind them was Absolare’s Passion integrated amplifier hooked up to ReQuest Audio’s $15k The Raptor Plus server/DAC. Everything was linked using Echole Infinity cables. We were gobsmacked by how natural this purely digital system sounded. Of particular note here were the natural decay of harmonics and the amount of air and expression where vocals were concerned.
Another item we saw for the first time in Bristol was Design Build Listens' Wand 14-4 turntable, and Munich was an opportunity to not only hear it play for the first time but literally take one apart and have a good look at its component parts (check out the photos in the gallery). In the demo room, the Wand deck was partnered with Gershman Acoustics, VTL and linked by Nordost Valhalla 2 cables. The turntable's over-sized 14-inch platter adds mass and with it gives 20% more inertia. Additionally, its four-layer construction damps vibration and noise transfer. The neat asymmetrical shape of the plinth is designed to disperse noise and vibration. Furthermore, the positioning of the three-point suspension system ensures that the stillest point is as close as possible to the playing arc. There's plenty of intelligent design in this deceptively unassuming turntable.
Constellation's Revelation serious Pictor, Andromeda and Taurus monoblock amplifiers were on show in this great sounding room. Also in the chain was a Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian turntable featuring a Viper tonearm. All of that was fed to a pair of Magico M2 loudspeakers via Nordost Odin 2 cables.
These hand-made speakers come from Hungary. The wonderfully-crafted Concert 120 and Classic 90 were launched in celebration of the brand's 21st birthday. However, the tall floorstanders stole the show. These are the Paganini IV, and Taylor recommends these three-ways to be used in rooms up to 300m2. Also, note how the front of the Paganini IV is carved and shaped like a violin. All the speakers sounded incredibly good, given that this was in one of the smallest rooms in the hall. The system used in the demonstration featured Chord Electronics and PS Audio, and this must rank as one of the friendliest rooms of the show.
Harbeth Monitor 40.2
Beloved British brand Harbeth never fails to delight. At the High End show, it was the Monitor 40.2 loudspeakers taking centre-stage. The €9000 three-way loudspeakers sport the company's own 300mm bass unit, 200mm Radial2 mid driver and 25mm fero-cooled soft dome tweeter. The quoted frequency response is down to 35Hz (+/- 3dB).
Thorens Reel to Reel
StereoNET was again ahead of the curve when we broke the news of Thorens' reinvention of the reel. Perhaps reinvention is too strong, but it fits with the pun. Anyhow, most in the audio world will have noticed that the latest comeback being made is that of open reel or reel to reel players and recorders. Thorens had their newly announced devices in pride of place on their stand. The TM 1600 is based around a newly developed very compact tape drive from Ballfinger.
To keep the whole drive as compact as possible the tape path geometry had to be re-designed hence why the sensors are found between the reels, above the heads rather than below them. It can handle reels up to 10.5-inches with 19 and 38cm/s speeds. If you are quick, you might be able to grab one of the 100 being initially produced at an RRP of €11,999. Among the other kit on show was the TD 402 DD, the first new Thorens direct drive turntable in more than 30 years. The TD 402 DD comes with a pre-installed Audio Technica AT 95VM E cartridge fitted to the new carbon tube tonearm, dubbed TP 72, which comes with a changeable headshell. You get a dampened platter and integrated phono stage for moving magnet cartridges. The preamp can be switched off when required. The TD 402 DD will be available from August for an RRP of €799.
Manger, SPL, Scheu and ZenSati
Gargantuan systems are all very well, but there tends to be something refreshing about finding a system consisting of a pair of components plugged into a pair of reasonably compact speakers. Thank you, Daniela Manger and team for your room. We were listening to an SPL Director Mk2 DAC/Preamp which, considering its size, sports ten inputs covering analogue (2 pairs balanced) and digital which can handle up to 768 PCM and DSD256. Here it was slurping up tunes from a laptop sent to a pair of Manger's active C1 Studio Monitors. Everything was connected by ZenSati, and IsoTek was ensuring the power was as it should be. SolidSteel was in a supporting role.
The other system in the room was more substantial but silent and featured a Scheu Analogue turntable and the pinnacle of Manger's passive offerings, the p2 floorstanding loudspeaker. The speakers feature an 8-inch woofer and the German maker's unique sound transducer while, at the rear, the columns sport a pair of passive radiators. Driving these were SPL Performer M1000 amps.
If you like your turntables German and expensive, then Transrotor will be able to assist. The high-end turntable company can start you off with something such as the Artus from £105,000 or, perhaps, you are more in the market for the Jupiter from €1,899. Equipped with 'cardanic suspension' - a gimbal design that ensures it pivots around a single axis and so giving your vinyl a level playing field - the Artus also boasts a solid aluminium and acrylic construction, a contactless magnetic field drive and a balanced tonearm. Oh, you will also need a solid floor as it weighs a quarter of a tonne.
hORNS, Albedo and J.Sikora
Tucked away in one of the smaller rooms were the lovely hORNS speakers. Upon further investigation, it turns out that this was quite a Polish-themed hi-fi set-up.
Moreover, all the components sounded much better than we were expecting given the room's dimensions.
Surely this was a testament to the hORNS speakers and J.Sikora Standard Max Bronze Edition turntable which was armed with a pair of J.Sikora KV12s. All of that and the Egg Shell Audio electronics were linked together using Albedo Silver cables.
Air Tight and Wolf von Langa
Another impressive-sounding smaller room was presented by Air Tight amplifiers which were showing their made-to-order ATM-3211 monoblocs that use 211 triodes in push-pull mode to power the Wolf von Langa speakers to great effect. The source was by way of Primary Control turntable featuring the company's Field Coil loaded tonearm.
We hope that you enjoyed this episode and are looking forward to Part 4.
As always, there are more photos in the gallery below from the rooms mentioned here.
If you have missed Part 1 or Part 2 of our High End Munich 2019 reports, just click the links:
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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Posted in: Hi-Fi HiFi Show
Tags: high end munich 2019 munich2019 sme boenicke solidsteel neat acoustics linn totem acoustic classe paradigm anthem verity audio moon van den hul vpi industries vpi avid hifi aavik acoustics nagra yg acoustics goldmund gryphon apertura ch precision grand prix audio enigma rockport absolare wand constellation
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