THE BIG HIFI PIG REPORT FROM HIGH END MUNICH 2023

Stu and Lin make the annual journey to the world’s greatest HiFi Show and bring you what they found at High End Munich 2023 in the big HiFi PiG High End Munich 2023 Report.

High end munich 2023 report the big hifi pig report

This year at Munich High End I (Stuart) had been lucky enough to have been asked to do a couple of things by the High End Society and I am grateful and humbled in this respect. However, the commitment to doing these presentations (more on these in a moment) meant that I wasn’t able to spend the full four days going around the show itself, though I think we managed to see everything that was of interest and if you are not covered here by myself and Linette, then Eric or Ben will have covered you in their show reports of High End Munich 2023.

HIGH END MUNICH 2023

High End Munich is the greatest HiFi show on earth, of that there can be no doubt, and this year was no exception. Thursday and Friday were press and industry only days and I really like this idea. It gives the industry an international hub where everyone involved can come, from wherever in the world they come from and get to meet the people they need to in order to fulfill their business goals.

Saturday and Sunday are open to the public and a chat with the most excellent team that organise High End Munich had them mentioning that over 20,000 tickets had been sold. This made for a packed event, but organisation was such that it never felt confused or unmanageable.

We would personally like to thank Manuel, Stefan, and Ali with whom we dealt the most, and for their confidence in Stu and HiFi PiG to deliver what they asked.

I have to tell you about another of the highlights for me at High End Munich 2023 happened whilst chatting to Peter from PMC (an honour in itself!). So there we were chatting about this and that in the PMC room when s bearded guy walked from the listening space and directly past me. You know that moment when you recognise someone but it takes you a while for your ageing brain to kick into gear and retrieve the required information from deep down in the memory banks. Anyway, by the time I managed to process the situation Rick Rubin, the co-founder of Def Jam Records and all-round legend had exited the room and I was too late to say hello. I spoke with Manuel of the High End Society later and it turns out that Rick is a HiFi fan and that he comes to the show as a normal punter and without a special invite…how cool is that?!?!

Al Di Meola High End Munich 2023

SOUNDS CLEVER

HiFi PiG Sounds Clever At High End Munich 2023

This is a fantastic initiative by High End Society whereby a group of four different media entities, including HiFi PiG, had been asked to put together and present a system costing less than €5000. I love this concept and it highlights that whilst there are uber-expensive systems out there and on demonstration at the MOC, there are also more affordable systems that still manage to convey music to a very high level.

Stu presenting his Sounds Clever system

My system comprised of:

Turntable: Technics SL 1500

Cartridge: HANA EH

Amplifier: Cambridge Audio AXR100

Speakers: Fyne Audio F501

Cables: Atlas Equator speaker cables, Atlas Element Achromatic RCA, and Atlas EOS DD mains cables.

Please indulge me and let me explain why I chose this system.

I love Technics turntables and at this price they deliver a consistent product that spins at the exact right speed (they are all direct drive) and sound very acceptable, particularly when partnered with quality transducers like the HANA cartridge. The floorstanding speakers from FYNE are around €2k and are not too huge to not be acceptable in normal sized homes. ATLAS cables will be known to many and deliver great performance at many price-points.

However, whilst I did introduce the system to the gathered audiences over my six presentations what I wanted to convey was that the common denominator in ALL the systems at the MOC was that they played MUSIC and that music is vital to the enrichment of our lives through creating memories.

I chose to play music as diverse as The Carpenters, CRASS, Donna Summer, and Frankie Knuckles…with others thrown in for good measure. None were audiophile recordings BUT all were instrumental in making me the musical being I am today.

One of the things I wanted to highlight in particular was that the amp I chose had both Bluetooth and radio on board. I use streaming every day of the week but it seems that we no longer listen to radio and whilst streaming is great, the algorithm feeds us more of the music it identifies us as liking and in this respect we are no longer influenced by the tastemakers in the form of DJs. I listened to John Peel on BBC 1 as a teenager, and whilst I may not have liked everything he played ( a good thing in itself) he was informed and informing. My advice is that whilst streaming is excellent and the future of audio in the home, please take time to listen to the radio and I particularly enjoy BBC 6 MUSIC for the variety of excellent DJs playing a huge array of styles of music. Broaden your musical horizons! Bluetooth is convenient but gets a bad press for not sounding great – it doesn’t sound great – but what it does allow for is folk to come round your house and share their new music on MP3 quickly and easily and I demonstrated this by playing a tune from my old band Roughneck Sounds from a blogspot page.

After one of the demonstrations I got chatting to a German guy in the audience called Kris and we shared our passion for music and how it had changed our lives. On the way home I received the following email from him which really humbled me and I thank him immensely for it;

“Hi Stuart, I hope you had a good time in Munich and arrived home safely. I´m very happy to meet you. For me your performance was the highlight this year of the High End Show.  What you said was like meeting my brother in spirit. I also visit your website and spend there quite a while. It´s fantastic !! You have a new reader – me !!! Great magazine ”

THAT is the power of music to bring people together and to give nourishment to our lives!

FUTURE-FI

I’d also been asked to take part in a panel discussion to talk about the Future of HiFi along with Michael Fremer from the USA, Ljubiša Miodragović from Serbia and Olaf Adam.

This was a great honour for me!

Stu during the High End Society Future of HiFi panel discussion

I had great fun, despite being a little nervous, and feel privileged to have been asked to speak with such illustrious guests.

CAMBRIDGE AUDIO

There was plenty going on outside the show, including Cambridge Audio exhibiting on a London bus….what a cool idea!

High end munich report

The Cambridge Audio bus

We made a video that will take you around the halls of High End Munich 2023, you can watch it below….

AVANTGARDE ACOUSTIC

So, regular readers will know that we love Avantgarde and that we own a pair of the company’s DUO XD loudspeakers. Walking into their room at Much High End 2023 was a bit of a surprise as we were presented with really compact loudspeakers in the form of the COLIBRI C2, a small horn loudspeaker with a sensitivity of 117dB. It’s a full range concept with 1800cm square bass blades and a 350mm spherical horn. 6.5” driver that goes down to 60Hz. The membrane is very light and very strong magnets and so the bass is very fast. The wide range treble is a 1.5” unit. It doesn’t go mega high but Holger reckons this is not all that important and I think that is pretty accurate.

Holger with the new Colibri speakers

This is a real departure in some ways for Avantgarde, though it’s not the first time they have done a smaller speaker. These are a passive design and with a sensitivity like that you can pretty much use what you want with them. We got a listen to a bit of dubstep with them and they were dynamic and powerful sounding.

Price is yet to be finalised but likely to be 11 and 13K for the speakers on the stand with a sub.

The market for these is people that are into headphones and clubs….I like this attitude and it is an inclusive and younger-based attitude that resonates and is sensible!

And of course the main Avantgarde Acoustic room had the new range of Duo and Uno GT and SD and the Trio G3.

The main system was Duo GTs with a gold horn paired with Esoteric electronics.

AMPHION

Finnish loudspeaker brand Amphion had the European debut of its updated Krypton3X at this month’s High End Munich 2023 show. HiFi PiG’s Lin had a chat to Anssi Hyvonen – Founder and Managing Director of Amphion, about the new flagship speaker, their more accessible products and their pro audio speakers, at their stand at High End Munich 2023.

ADVANCE PARIS

Cedric from Advance was creative director of Daft Punk for 20 years and the Hommage is dedicated to Daft Punk. The price of the main integrated unit is 19,500. I thought this was an interesting concept and certainly something different that couldn’t fail to become a talking point in the homes of those that choose to buy one.

Going forward the Hommage range will be dedicated to bands which I reckon is such a cool idea!

PMC LAUNCH NEW PRODIGY SPEAKERS

13:30 on the first day of the High End in Much we got invited along to the PMC press conference which was rammed. The event was hosted by Phil at Ash that deals with the PR for PMC and explained how he got involved with Professional Monitor Company going right back to the Penta shows of yesteryear and explained how, no surprise really, the recording studios, movie studios, and radio studios that use PMC loudspeakers. So yes, PMC “Makes the Movies”. Indeed, PMC is pretty much seen as the reference for Dolby Atmos. The artists that use PMC was reeled off; Rolling Stones, Kraftwerk…the list was long. And then the  artists that use PMC’s own studios for their mastering: Seal, Yello…the list was long.

high end munich 2023 big report

Ollie Thomas (Commercial Director) then took to the lectern and started off by saying that studio and home speakers differ only in aesthetics. The curtain went up and we were introduced to the new range of speakers “Prodigy”.

The big reveal

PRODIGY is a range of 2, a standmounter and a standmount. Both two ways with shared features. What I found of interest was that they talk about measuring but also the fact that all speakers are ALL listened to.

prodigy1 is a compact standmount speaker, that PMC say is ideal for small and medium size rooms. The bass unit used also features in the PMC ci series, which have become the reference for Dolby Atmos music mixing around the world, whilst the soft dome tweeter is a development from the PMC result6 studio monitors.

Prodigy 5 is a compact floorstander and both models feature the Advanced Transmission Line (ATL™) bass loading found in all PMC speakers.  Complementing the ATL is Laminair. This aerodynamically designed vent at the end of the line controls the air as it exits by dramatically reducing resistance, which increases efficiency and eliminates airflow noise.

Find out more about the PMC Prodigy speakers in our video interview here

The PMC Prodigy range in more detail

The long throw, natural fibre bass drive unit works hand-in-hand with the ATL as a coherent unit. It is fitted with an inverted dust-cap to reduce unwanted high-frequency reflections and the high-power voice coil and magnet assembly deliver high output levels.

The prodigy series is available in a Silk Black finish, with black fabric grilles available as an option.

UK retail prices

prodigy1                           £1,250 per pair inc. VAT

prodigy5                           £1,995 per pair inc. VAT

Optional grilles                £99 per pair inc. VAT

We got a listen to the speakers and despite being at the back of the packed room the bass and dynamics of the speakers were well evident. I can’t really comment further than that but there was a comment from the seated audience that the “imaging was amazing!”

PMC used AVM electronics, they distribute the German HiFi brand in the UK

METRONOME TECHNOLOGIE

Jean Marie Clauzel of High End French HiFi brands Metronome and Kalista was debuting two new products. The first was the AQWO2 universal digital player. The first AQWO has been Metronome’s best-selling product and AQWO2 looks very similar but the new version is 100% new inside, Jean Marie told us that there are no identical parts to the original. It is a CD/SACD player with built in streamer and tube output option “because we love tubes”. The DAC now uses flagship ESS chips instead of AKM making use of the ES9038PRO and has a brand new screen. Retail price is just under 20,000€.

Jean Marie and the AQWO2

The second was from the entry level Classica range, the new Le Streamer which retails under 5,000€. It is Audirvana, Airplay,UPnP and DLNA certified and it is Roon Ready. The main Hi Res streaming services are embeded and it decodes all music formats in their native form, PCM up to 384kHz and DSD up to 256.

Le Streamer with a custom art finish for the show

THE FUNK FIRM AND PINK TRIANGLE

Two legendary names in the world of HiFi and in particular turntables and tonearms, the two brands are headed up by  Arthur Khoubesserian. Not only does Arthur make his own turntables but he is also very focused on how people can get the very best out of their current turntables, which is where his Isolation Bubble Theory comes in. Rather than try to explain this, watch the video below in which Arthur does just that, better than we ever could.

Arthur also put together a sub 5000€ system as part of the High End Society Sounds Clever initiative, in which Arthur took an Audio Technica 120X and AT540ML cartridge, and gave it the Isolation Bubble treatment with the 980€ kit of Houdini cartridge isolation, Cobra headshell, APM mat and Boing feet. This was paired with an Atholl integrated amp, Dynaudio EMT 30 standmounts and Van Damme cable.

Also on show was the new Pink Triangle 7th Heaven Turntable with its personalisable coloured resin detail and Funk Firm FZ tonearm.

Very nice to see Arthur’s attitude to helping people improve what they have, this is the kind of attitude that helps make HiFi accessible to all, which really is what we need to be doing as an industry.

The Sounds Clever system comes in under 5000€

LEVIN DESIGN AND VERMEER AUDIO

Up on the top floor of the show, German brand Levin Design had a fantastic system with their own loudspeakers that had a very oriental look. They were finished in slate with a subtle sparkle, and are a high efficiency design with the tops being 93db and the bass 92db efficient. They cost around 30,000€. They were partnered with Silbatone amplification and the Vermeer Three streamer/DAC/Pre amp that comes in around 14,000€.

This was a really unforced sounding system, and striking to look at …everything complementary to the other components both in looks and sound. I thought it was a real gem of a room.

WOLF VON LANGA AND PRIMARY CONTROL

Also up on the top floor were Wolf Von Langa with their Chicago speakers partnered with Air Tight electronics and a Primary Control Kinea turntable, Gravity tonearm and Air Tight Opus1 cartridge. The turntable with arm and cart is around 45,000€.  We listened to Kraftwerk’s Tour De France and it just sounded ‘right’.

One of those rooms that can be depended on for a very nice listening experience.

GRANDINOTE

The Italian brand were showing the new Grandinote Solo 60w class A amplifier in their system.

The new Grandinote Solo Amp was making it’s debut

high end munich 2023 report

HORNS AND DAVID LABOGA

Always a favourite room, Łukasz Lewandowski from Polish brand hORNS did not disappoint this year, regular readers will know we used to own his Mummy speakers, which saw off a lot of competition. This year he had a stunning pair of hORNS Overture speakers with the Audio Hungary Qualiton A75 integrated amp, and David Laboga cables. If you are looking to dip your toe into the world of horn loudspeakers, you could do a lot worse than starting here.

The speakers had a lovely finish in a softly matt metallic red, very classy, take note, metallic matt is the new gloss in HiFi finishes right now! The room was themed in red and black with the fantastic David Laboga cables. I would have loved to spend more time here.

David and Lukasz had a fantastic room and system

JADIS AND DAVIS

You often find that brands of the same nationality play very well together and this was the case of French brands Jadis and Davis Acoustics.

Jadis were celebrating their 40th anniversary by launching new products at the show, including the new Jadis JA170 monoblocks featuring KT170 tubes. These come in at around 25,000€ a pair and they are signature Jadis with their instantly recognisable styling and gold and chrome finish. The system was completed with the JP80MC preamplifier and JS2 DAC, source was a Roon Nucleus and cables were from Absolute Creation.

The Wall from Davis and the Jadis JA170

When we arrived we got to hear rock music, played loud on the Davis The Wall speakers, which are a new concept, relaunching their Heritage range of loudspeakers. The speakers give a nod to the current vogue of vintage styling for loudspeakers but with a more modern feel. The two hidden woofers guaranteed a powerful sound and this room had a real energy to it, with the Davis and Jadis pairing working very well indeed.

For a more in depth look into the new Jadis products, including the one-off art collaboration you will see in the photos below, take a watch of the video we made with Technical Director Jean Christophe at the show.

Jadis JA170

The special edition amp painted by Toile De Lu

A deeper look inside the Jadis models, which Jean Christophe explains in more detail in the video above.

high end munich 2023 report

B.AUDIO AND DIPTYQUE

Another two French HiFi brands that pair very well together are B.audio and Diptyque. In their shared listening booth in Hall 2 they presented a 100% French listening experience, with B.audio taking care of electronics and Diptyque the speakers, with cabling by another French brand O2A.

The focus of B.audio was on their new, and first, all-in-one integrated amplifier, the Alpha one. It is a high-end dual-mono amplifier with a streaming module and DAC, which features B.audio’s SJR jitter elimination technology.

high end munich 2023 report

After launching their Reference planar panel speaker at last year’s High End Munich, Diptyque launched the new DP140 MK2 speaker, a ‘Goldilocks’ speaker at a very liveable 140 cm height, that would strike the right note in most living spaces.

The pair ran two complete systems. In the first, B.Audio B.dpr EX streaming DAC- preamp and B.amp Mono power amplifiers with Diptyque Reference speakers. The second with the B.Audio Alpha One integrated amplifier and Diptyque DP140 MK2 speakers.

I heard the first system and was impressed with the clean and relaxed sound that was achieved in the sound booth.

We also chatted in detail with Cedric from B.audio and Gilles from Diptyque, you can watch the video here.

OSWALD MILL AUDIO   

I gave OMA a bit of a hard time in my write up of last years High End Munich and so wanted to go take a proper listen to their kit at this year’s event. I first popped in just before my Future of HiFi panel discussion to calm my nerves and my very quick take was that it sounded really rather nice with looks that are certainly very different and which I love. I promised to go back for a proper listen on the Saturday and after setting up the TEAM HiFi PiG promo people, that’s where we headed first.

OMA call it the Departure Lounge and I get this concept and love the creativity which is carried through to their products – just look at the photographs of this set up and you can just about begin to understand the passion and commitment to the products and music that OMA has.

So, how did it sound, I hear you ask. Stunningly dynamic and detailed through that fantastically retro-futuristic vinyl front-end. This was both engaging and had all the right sonic artistry that matched the aesthetics of the products themselves. A female vocal in (I think) Italian came on through the system and it just flowed effortlessly out of the Fleetwood Deville speakers.

Fabulous!!!

Jonathan Weiss of OMA

AUDIO GROUP DENMARK

We had been out with the AGD team the night before and having heard the new speakers in this set up at AXPONA we knew pretty much what to expect…and in that sense, expectations were very high.

A small booth at a huge show like this shouldn’t sound quite as wonderful as this does. Yep, we are looking at and listening to a system that would clear a small country’s national debt, but that’s neither here nor there given we are High End Munich. And this is high-end audio at its best in my opinion.

The Borresen M3 speakers are a lot of money, they are imposing and they do everything I love in a loudspeaker. They are detailed and that bass is so wonderfully tight and deep without having any overhand. SD880 streamer DAC and the C880 Pre and the 2P880 monos..all of which are either brand new or very recent.

Morten from Audio Group Denmark unpacks the new Borresen M6 speakers on Wednesday evening

Aavik 880 models in the M room

Mr Borresen and his creation

Borresen M3

What I thought was very interesting is that Lars was playing Vini Vici (Makes Us Stronger) and there was a lot of heads going in time to the music. Not the usual audiophile reaction and brilliant to see.

I asked a dealer from the Netherlands about his thoughts on the system as he came and spoke to us as we left the room. His exact comments “A clear and powerful sound” and that is pretty on the money.

Another fabulous room!

The smaller X room next door had a lower level system and used the X6 loudspeakers which, I think, are something of a high-end audio bargain. They have a lot of the characteristics of the M3 I mentioned above but cost a lot less. However, the whole of the system comes together to make a whole dynamic and rather splendid experience. Compared to the next door system there is a smidge less refinement but it’s not that most folk would notice.

The X6 speakers are a bargain!

I am a fan of this brand and so I am being a bit gushing, but fandom is there for a reason!

Axxess is the new entry level product range from Audio Group Denmark and the concept, I think, is that this range of products will allows access to this company’s products at a relatively (and it is all relative) lower price. Are there compromises in sound…yes, of course, but those compromises aren’t huge and, again, most many will get in at this entry point and never feel the need to go any higher! In fact, this system with the X3 speakers on the end of it was very much up my kind of street  – presentation-wise; Tight fast and articulate.

Flemming in the Axxess room

SOLIDSTEEL

The Italian brand are one of the best known rack and stand brands, you will them everywhere at shows in different rooms, they had an expansive display on their static stand in the halls.

WESTERN ELECTRIC

The 91E amp is a bit of a revelation for me and I love that this brand is back and back with a product that has clearly captured the imagination of the audiophile buying public. I love a 300B tube and WE 300Bs are the legend at the top of the legend tree.

It’s a cool and very modern looking amplifier that I also like. It would have been very easy for WE to simply put out a boring box with some valves sat atop. It’s not like that at all and is a triumph of brushed aluminium (slightly) brutalist design. I love how it looks and the sound in the room was full and rich.

Preproduction speakers from WE were playing. They don’t have a name and they don’t have a price yet. My expectation is that they will be very expensive!

SONNER AUDIO

We managed to miss out on hearing Sonner Audio at AXPONA so I was determined to get a listen at Munich. In a sound cabin in Hall 1 they had managed to get a really, really nice sound. And for relatively, not a lot of money. The Sonner Legato Duo (10,500€) were paired with Moon River amp and DAC (around 6k) and the Mini SE Pachanko server and PSU which costs 3900€ for the pair. Cables were Oephi. Daft Punk’s Giorgio sounded just how it should, I would really like to try these speakers at home.

GOLD NOTE

Gold Note of Italy had taken an Italian villa and transported it to Munich, a very cool and eyecatching way to display their products. We didn’t get a listen but we have both a phonostage and cartridge of theirs waiting to be reviewed in the coming weeks, so watch this space!

WADAX, D’AGOSTINO AND MAGICO

Magico M6 on the end of D’Agostino monos and pre with a whole load of WADAX electronics…what could go wrong? Not a lot judging by the version of Neil Young’s Old Man by the Wailin Jennies that we got to listen to in this room. Yes, we have uber-expensive kit in here, but hey, if you can afford it why not.

VITUS AND ALLUXITY WITH FOCAL

Massive VITUS AUDIO Class A monoblocs and electronics through a pair of French Focal loudspeakers in a room that was heaving with people was a pleasure to sit down and listen to some blues through for five minutes or so. And they put on the pink lights for us!

This was the first outing at a major show for these new monoblocs despite them being shipped already.

The ST025 is a new streamer board that will be ROON certified pretty soon too.

The full system cost around €330K and was made up as follows:

Acoustical Systems Astellar turntable, equipped with their Aquilar tonearm and Palladian pick-up.

Full system specs and prices are:

Vitus Audio – SM-103 Mk.II: €70.000

Vitus Audio – SD-025: €26.500

Vitus Audio – SP-103: €40.000

Vitus Audio – SL-103: €36.000

Vitus Audio – SCD-025 Mk.II: €26.500

Hifi Stay Mythology Transform X-frame: €40.540

Doshi Evolution Tape Preamp: €35.000

Acoustical Systems Astellar (Turntable): €88.800

Acoustical Systems Aquilar (Tonearm): €11.200

Acoustical Systems Palladian (Pick-up): €9.680

Artnovion Acoustical Treatment (total): €17.000

Lyrec Frida (R2R): N/A

Focal Scala Utopia EVO: €46.000

Total : €331.220

high end munich 2023 report

INNUOS DEMONSTRATON

Before I start this little bit of our coverage of High End Munich I need to give full disclosure and say that I think that Innuos and the their team do some of the best demonstrations in the industry. So with that out of the way I’ll get on with it and describe the process and what I heard.

The kit remained the same and all that changed was the Innuos products outlined below.

Pulse Network player was up first and this can be seen as being the reference or base level I’m working to.

Pulsar was up next and this was immediately a fuller and richer sound overall and with more detail. Not night and day but clearly a better sound.

Back to Pulse and the sound is slightly smaller and less full. Still excellent but different.

Statement, the flagship player was up next and the thing that came to the fore immediately was a reverb sound on the vocal that was less evident on the other two products. This small detail is what you pay for. It’s not leaps in performance that happen in these upgrades, but it is evident and obvious. My choice is for the Statement, please…naturally!

We then got Contact by DAFT PUNK on the Statement The opening sweep/fall of the synth as what I was looking/hearing out for…and it was there in full.

The list of kit in this excellent sounding room was as follows:

INNUOS STATEMENT with Next-Gen power supply (€17,300), PULSAR Network Music Player (€5,499), PULSE Network Music Player (€2,599), PHOENIXNET Audiophile Network Switch (€3,099), Estelon X Diamond MKII loudspeakers (€75,000), dCS Rossini APEX DAC (€33,000), PILIUM Ares preamplifier (€30,000), ISOTEK EVO3 Super Titan and Super Nova power conditioners, and Artesania racks. Cables were all by Kubala-Sosna.

Q ACOUSTICS

The 5000 series of the Q Acoustics were playing when we went into this room. They retail at €1300 a pair and were supported by Cambridge Audio electronics.

The 5000 series of speakers showcases the C3 Continuous Curved Cone™ profile in the mid/bass driver and inherits cabinet and driver technology from the company’s flagship Concept range.

Positioned between the 3000i range and Concept series models, the 5000 family is comprised of the 5010 bookshelf, 5020 standmount, 5040 floorstander, 5050 large floorstander, with the 5090 centre-channel completing the line-up for a home cinema speaker set-up.

5000 series audio innovations include:

C3 (pronounced ‘C-cubed’) Continuous Curved Cone™ design in the mid/bass driver ensures smoother high-frequency integration with the tweeter.

Sophisticated, clean and contemporary design with dark acrylic baffle motif mirrors the minimalist C3 Continuous Curved Cone™ profile.

With a design taken from the Concept series but in a new housing, the high-frequency driver is fully hermetically sealed and mechanically isolated from the front baffle to protect from internal cabinet pressure and resonances from the mid/bass driver.

Ground-up mid/bass driver design delivers increased power handling.

Point-2-Point™ (P2P) internal bracing.

Helmholtz Pressure Equalisers (HPE™) reduces internal pressure and standing waves (5040 and 5050 models only).

Enjoyment of music through a proper 2-channel set up need not cost an arm and a leg and this system proved it. Yes it was compromised in some ways but it played music and Daft Punk’s Giorgio Moroder tune off RAM sounded much more than acceptable and I really enjoyed it from top to bottom.

FINKTEAM AND SOULNOTE

I’d chatted with Karl-Heinz about the new Episode 2 Borgs earlier on in the show and I had been itching to get a listen to them in the flesh…as it were.

Norbert, Karl Heinz and Stu

Of course, I can’t do a direct A/B comparison with the first iteration of the Borgs as it’s a while since we had them at ours for review, about five years, but what ii can report is that they are at least uncoloured as I remember the originals being. Imaging is fantastic and with the air around the tops that only an AMT can bring to the party.

Soulnote electronics

Yuki turntable

That 10.25” mid-bass driver works fantastically with a nylon stringed guitar playing on a track I don’t know sounding as natural as being in the room.

Bass on these is tight and stops and starts on a pin!

Me likey!

Watch the video where Karl-Heinz Fink explains the speaker in more detail.

AUDIOSOLUTIONS

Gediminas from Lithuanian brand AudioSoloutions was showing off his brand new Figaro MK2 floorstanding loudspeakers. These are a complete reworking of the brand’s most successful loudspeaker and they give you a lot for your money. Gediminas has designed them to be luxurious, with configurable finishes and trims, but also affordable. He pays careful attention to interior design trends and that is reflected in the colour pallet and design details.

They also feature a whole load of technical upgrades over the predecessor, with the most significant being the fully functional Cabinet-In-a-Cabinet (CIC) enclosure directly taken from a much more expensive speaker series, AudioSolutions Virtuoso. With the large Vitus Audio monoblocks this made for a striking system. We will be getting a pair to listen to properly later this year which I am very much looking forward to.

Customers can pick from a wide range of colours or go for custom finishes

Gediminas of AudioSolutions

Now find out more by watching our video with Gediminas of AudioSolutions

YG ACOUSTICS

I popped along to the press conference for YG Acoustics as they launched their new Reference 3 line of speakers. YG make their aluminium speakers in Colorado, USA and we got a taste of what the YG Halliday 3.2 could do in a system featuring big Burmester monoblocks and components and wired with Cardas cables. The Reference 3 speakers have a lattice tweeter and ridged waveguide to give a wide sweetspot. They also have new crossovers, yes that’s what the guys in the pictures are holding.

We got a taste of what they can do with a piano piece, but they really came alive with Hackers by Metrik, a proper banging tune that showed off the speed and agility of the YGs.

Also on display were the new flagship subs that come as single, double or triple doses and the new Reference 3 Live models, active systems of two speakers and a control box, you can spot the Live versions in the pictures with the orange logo at the bottom of the cabinet. The brand new flagship Live model is the $240,000 XX3 Live, which I would really like to hear.

This is the kit list of the system we heard:

Two stereo Burmester 218 amplifiers, each bridged to mono
Burmester 077 preamplifier
Burmester 175 turntable/phono pre
Weiss Engineering Helios DAC
Innuos Phoenix Net internet switch
Cardas Clear Beyond and Clear Beyond XL power cabling, interconnects and speaker cables
Artnovion custom treatment installation
Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame rack with Performance Boards

Serious crossovers

YG Lattice tweeter and ridges waveguide

LIVING VOICE

Kevin and Lynn from the UK’s Living Voice brought along the new R80 speakers that made their debut at Audio Show Deluxe in March. 

There were turntables from Grand Prix Audio and Kuzma along with electronics from SJS, and of course, Living Voice brought their own power station.

We very much enjoyed listening to Kevin’s eclectic mix of music, from classical and opera to dub reggae.

Stu interviewed Kevin from Living Voice and you can watch that here

R80 with off board crossover

Rear port of the R80

Filming Kevin and Stu

NEAT ACOUSTICS

British loudspeaker brand Neat Acoustics were using the show to launch their brand new Neat Mystique Classic speaker, find out all about it with the interview that Stu did with Stephen at their stand in Munich.

JAMO, KLIPSCH, PIONEER, HECO, MAGNAT, ONKYO

One end of the corner of this floor had been given over to these brands and I think the prize for effort in putting together the space has to go to these guys. We walked in and then into a labyrinth of rooms and static displays. All the exhibitors pay a lot of money to come to this show and most put effort into making their demonstration facilities the best they can be, however, this went above and beyond with rooms within rooms all set up with a variety of kit. The massive Klipsch Jubilee room was particularly good, even at low volume.

Very cool and very well done!

RAIDHO AND MOON

We are getting into the upper-echelons of loudspeaker design here and I’m a big fan of this brand’s TD6 loudspeakers.

These are a lovely loudspeaker with several innovative features that includes RAIDHO’s proprietary planar Magnetic Tweeter on which the foil is 11 micron thick, which means it is 50 times less mass in comparison to a conventional dome tweeter. This is because there is no voice coil and the extremely low weight of the foil (20 milligrams).

It would be quite easy for a big speaker like this to sound flabby and bloated but RAIDHO have done a phenomenal job here and at Munich High End 2023 the this sounded big, tight, and powerful…but then despite them are a huge loudspeaker, they also look rather fetching. In many ways these are my kind of loudspeakers.

They were paired with Moon electronics and they worked very well together indeed.

Raidho TD6 (and X2t which we didn’t get to hear)

Moon 888 Monoblocks

Moon 780 v2 DAC

Moon 850P Preamp

Plixir Power Conditioner 2 x BAC300 + 1 x BAC400

Source: Windows Laptop using USB output. With the “USB Disruptor” the signal becomes clean from noise.

Nordost Valhalla signal, power and ethernet cables.

FEZZ AUDDIO AND PYLON

The Fezz and Pylon team are so enthusiastic and passionate about music and their products that it is infectious. They also have one of the best put together displays you will find at shows, real attention to detail.

The amps were monoblocs with 80 watts a side and based on KT 88 tubes (€3300 each) and the Sagta preamplifier. Speakers were the Pylon Jade 20 speakers.

This is a relatively low price system but punches way above its price point.

Team Fezz and Pylon

KONDO

OK, so this is massively famous and for many the holy grail of audio and it did sound very lovely playing some clarinet-based jazz. Smooth and dynamic and very natural sounding.

high end munich 2023 report

ARIES CERAT

This is not the first time we have heard these very unusual looking loudspeakers from this wonderfully eccentric brand and whilst they look like nothing else on the planet they sound remarkably correct in the way they play music. I don’t know the title of the track we got to listen to but what I did pull out from this performance was the particularly lifelike plucked strings in the music. We also got to listen to a choral piece that, needless to say, I didn’t know, but that too sounded live and with a huge scale.

Definitely one of the sonic highlights of Munich High End 2023 for me. INCREDIBLE!!!

System details as follows:

Speakers were the Aries Cerat Aurora 3-way semi active horn speaker system. Amplifiers, Aries Cerat Quintessence Ianus Series, 60W TriodeFet Amplifiers, plus Aries Cerat Protos Ianus Series, 20W TriodeFet Integrated Amplifier (Pre-production prototype). Preamplifier Aries Cerat Ageto Ianus Series, Gen 3 Inverted Triode Preamplifier. Digital Source Aries Cerat Ithaka Ianus Series, TriodeFet output D/A Audio Converter. Aries Cerat Talos Signature Tube Phono Prepreamplifier

Taiko Extreme Music Server, Primary Control Kinea Direct Drive Turntable, Primary Control Field Coil Loaded FCL Tonearm, LYRA Atlas Lambda Cartridge. Signal Projects Power Cables and Signal Cables.

D’AGOSTINO

Audio legend Dan D’Agostino chose Munich High End 2023 to launch the new  Momentum MxV Integrated Amplifier.

This is a 200 watts per channel beast of an integrated with six balanced (XLR) inputs and a design that could only be by D’AGOSTINO.

The US-based company say that this new integrated amplifier “Combines the front-end technology from the Momentum HD Preamplifier and the power section of the Momentum MxV amplifiers and that  it delivers Momentum Series performance in a compact framework.”

This kind of product is the stuff of dreams but what would life be without dreams and aspirations?

HIFI ROSE

Hifi Rose announced their new RS130 streamer at High end Munich. I got a chance to listen to their integrated amp and  RS130 through a pair of B&W speakers.

At Munich High End 2023, HiFi Rose unveiled a new flagship network streaming transport designed to act as the “ultimate digital audio source for any high-end hi-fi system”. The RS130 boasts a host of new technologies in a brand-new chassis that shares design aspects with the RS150B design.

HiFi Rose designed the RS130 to completely block digital noise by supporting fibre optic ethernet and USB transmission and employing an ultra-stable, high-precision OCXO clock. It’s also straightforward to accommodate thanks to the wide variety of input and output options, and with Rose OS built-in, it’s also easy to use and enjoy.

Key features of the HIFI ROSE RS130 include:

Front-mounted 15.4” LCD touch-screen

Sturdy aluminium chassis with ventilation built-in to the ROSE logo

New ethernet network connectivity supports SFP protocol

Support for fibre USB transmissions

Ultra-stable, high-precision OCXO clock built-in

Linear power supply with high-capacity supercapacitors

Dedicated SSD for audio caching built-in

Support for external master clocks via 50Ω and 75Ω terminals

USB, Coaxial, AES/EBU, Optical, HDMI and I2S Output options

Support for Tidal, Apple Music, Qobuz, Spotify, Roon Ready, Rose Tube and more services.

Clearly HiFi Rose are a very popular brand and whilst their amp’s design split opinion with its somewhat steampunk aesthetics, there is no doubt that those that like it absolutely love it. Sonically this system (playing Take 5) was clean, precise, and dynamic. The cymbals at the end of the tune faded away into nothing with a wonderfully natural reverb. Masakela and Coal Train followed and I couldn’t help think that this room was like a greatest hits of the audio shows around the world. Very cool!

HiFi Rose had a huge stand with different listening booths and a large display

DEVORE FIDELITY

OK, so John and I speak less about HiFi and more about watches and cameras when we get together but that’s not why we are at the MOC. However, we still spoke mostly about watches, but I did get the chance to get a listen to the OBaby speakers which I think we will get to review very shortly.

high end munich hifi pig report

John and Dahlia from DeVore

The booth was set up very nicely and the speakers are an absolute delight to listen to with an unforced and natural sound.

Front end of this system was the Wand turntable and arm.

FALCON ACOUSTIC

We didn’t get a listen in the Falcon booth but they will be exhibiting at Cranage hall for the North West Audio Show next month so we will hear the new speakers there.

GIK ACOUSTICS

One of THE most important parts of your system is the room treatment, we use GIK at HiFi PiG Towers, as always they had their full range on display at the show.

LITTLE FWEND

Little Fwend is an automatic tonearm lifter, the brand is headed up by Lasse from Normay, he’s such a cool guy, he also runs an audiophile cocktail bar in Oslo and makes films.

ESD ACOUSTIC

Proudly stating that thus system is Made In China this epitomises the spirit of communism…not! This is over the top and expensive. In fact, it costs a million euros if you have the space for this humungous horn system with dedicated amplifiers. For the less equal in the commune they do do a diffusion range of loudspeakers. I joke, of course.

This is HUGE and you only really got the sense of it when the lady changing the tunes stood next to it.

Sonically it’s impressive too. Not shouty at all but natural and effortlessly fluid.

I’m sure there are going to be folk pontificating about this system and how it sounded and I know some will are bound to be negative. Personally, I really enjoyed the five or ten minutes I got to sit in front of it.
Very impressive both in looks and sonics.

In 2019 the system we got to hear in a small room was called The Dragon, this system in a much more suitably proportioned room was called The Super Dragon.

Price is 1.8 MILLION EUROS. PER CHANNEL. That’s a whopping €3.6 MILLION for a two channel system.

We walked in from the back of the system…through the forest of palms

high end Munich 2023 report

ACOUSTIC SIGNATURE

German turntable manufacturer Acoustic Signature had a very cool record player on show in the form of the VERONA NEO (they also had a load of other models on show) that sports both a 12” and a 9” tonearm, though it can actually accommodate two 12” tonearms should you so desire.

This is a big turntable and looks relatively conventional when compared to the more out-there designs of Acoustic Signature’s other turntable offerings.

You get the following with the VERONA NEO:

2 integrated, completely insulated AC-motors

External digital motor controller DMC-20 with super stable multi-voltage power supply and innovative AVC-system level 3 (Anti-Vibration Control)

Ultraprecise, extremely rigid and robust DTD®-bearing with diamond-coated spindle (Dura Turn Diamond® Bearing)

Exclusive Silencer technology for effective reduction of platter vibration

CLD technology (Constraint Layer Damping) for improved resonance behaviour

Optimized multi-sandwich chassis for higher rigidity and better acoustic properties

3-point setup with special gel-damped feet

15-year warranty (with registration)

Acoustic Signature Verona Neo

ELECTROCOMPANIET

I reviewed a pair of the Electrocompaniet AW 800M  amps in this room, today showing with Audio Physics Aventera speakers, and they immediately jumped to the front of the “must have” list of components. Here they were in their mono configuration and sounded absolutely effortless. They remain at the top of the list I mentioned. I can’t really waffle on and on about them here but I do think my review HERE captures what these amps are about. Should finances ever allow I’d be having a pair each side, thank you very much!

Here is what I said about the Electrocompaniet AW 800 M Power Amplifiers when I reviewed them and my mind hasn’t been changed by what I heard at High End Munich.

“First of all, let me say again that one of these amplifiers will suffice for the vast majority of people. They have the power and control to satisfy even the most demanding of music lovers and deliver the music to your speakers with authority and control across the frequency spectrum  – nothing is lacking in this respect. Adding an extra amplifier and running in mono is better and with even more of a feeling of the amplifiers being fully in command of proceedings, but only you can decide whether that increase in performance is worth the extra £19 500. Personally, if I had the money I’d have both, but, equally, I’d be cock-a-hoop with just the one sat betwixt my loudspeakers. For those with the financial ability, by all means buy four and go double mono – and if I had just shy of 80K to spunk on amps, I’d likely go down this route myself.

I’ve thought about this and then I’ve rethought about it again and I have absolutely nothing I can say about these amplifiers that is negative other than I can’t get the speaker posts to accept spades and the dimmer for the light on the front of the amps is way underneath and all but inaccessible. I love the looks, I love their sonic performance…and they don’t even have or need a remote control that I can whine about!

These are the best solid-state amplifiers that I have experienced in our reference system… bar none!”

The Electrocompaniet AW 800M amps won our Editor’s Choice award

with Lasse and Bjorn from Electrocompaniet

VON SCHWEIKERT AUDIO & VAC WITH ACOUSTIC SIGNATURE

The photos will you about this system. All I can tell you is I walked in sat down and my body reacted by tapping my feet and getting right into the tune that was playing . Fabulously dynamic and enjoyable. The piano on whatever track with the percussive drums was infectious and I wasn’t the only one in the room that was moving to the music. THAT is also what music and great audio is about!!!

I was told to sit at the front in the hot seat and complied. I did. It was worth it. I was engulfed in the sound and amongst the music. They then insisted I listen to Giorgio off the RAM track and that was an experience. There’s a little bit at the start where there is background noise and Moroder speaking and I genuinely heard small noises I’d not heard before. The shape of the stage was impressively deep and, as I said, I was amongst the music. Foot-tappingly excellent.

Stu in the hot seat

MELCO, CHORD ELECTRONICS, CHORD COMPANY AND SPENDOR

A static display room, we also got hands on with the new Chord Company SignatureX Tuned ARAY Interconnect with Patrick as he just so happened to have a set on him back at the hotel.

Patrick from Chord Co and the new cables

CHORD ELECTRONICS

British HiFi brand Chord Electronics used Munich to launch the new Chord ULTIMA INTEGRATED, a 125-watt amplifier designed by Chord Electronics’ founder, owner and chief engineer, John Franks. I only got a low level listen but I am sure we will hear much more of the new amp soon.

More info here.

AURALIC

We attended a very entertaining press conference by Auralic and got to see four new products (outlined below) taken apart and explained fully by Auralic’s Xuanquian Wang.

The new products we got to see were: ARIES G2.2, VEGAG 2.2, ARIES G3 and VEGA G3. These products, say Auralic, represent a generational shift in the technology platform while maintaining the understated elegance and classic design of the G series Unity Chassis II that incorporate a pure copper sub-enclosure and multi-point tuned sprung base assembly. This latter sprung based assembly is very cool and precisely set up with weighting being added to the chassis to allow for the correct weight on each foot – I love this attention to detail.

The latest products incorporate AURALiC’s newTesla G3streaming platform, using a 64-bit architecture that enables it to achieve eight times the processing power of the previous version. The memory capacity has also been increased to 4 GB, and Direct Memory Access Technology (DMA) has been integrated into the system. These advancements are engineered in such a way that all audio-related circuits connect directly to the system memory, substantially reducing latency and jitter by 90%comparing to its predecessor.

The new Purer-Power low noise power supply design features double the capacity of preceding G2.1 models and even lower noise levels, providing extremely stable and reliable power to the device. Moreover, the optional internal music storage is now based on NVMe SSD technology, delivering read and write speeds up to ten times faster than its predecessor.

The ARIES G2.2 and G3 also now support USB 3.0 for external music storage, further expanding its capabilities and making it easier than ever to access and stream high-quality audio files.

The ARIES G3 is more than just a transport or bridge, it has multiple inputs and a powerful co-processor that enables the product to function as a preamplifier for digital connections, providing comprehensive control over your audio system. With dual 60fs femto clocks powering its digital outputs, the ARIES G3 also features AURALiC’s FPGA-based Proteus X1 co-processing platform, which optimizes the digital audio signal, removing harshness and improving listening experience, says Auralic.

The ARIES G2.2 and ARIES G3 now feature compatibility with the LEO GX.1 reference master clock, enabling users to achieve even greater levels of precision and accuracy when it comes to their digital audio outputs. By connecting to the LEO GX.1, these devices are able to take advantage of its advanced clocking technology.

The manufacturer suggested retail prices are $6,099/ €5,999/ £5,299 for ARIES G2.2 and $10,899/ €10,899/ £9,899 for ARIES G3.

The VEGA G2.2 and G3 build upon the foundation of their predecessor, the G2.1, retaining key features such as the AURALiC’s proprietary Fusion DAC structure, Direct Data Recording (DDR), Galvanic Isolation, passive analog volume control, and analog pre-amplifier. The unique architecture of VEGA G2.2 and G3 avoids using a PLL circuit as it cannot fully remove the distortion and jitter present in the original clock signal. Instead, it records the audio data directly into the Tesla G3 processing platform’s system memory in binary format, bypassing the original clock signal entirely.

Both VEGA G2.2 and G3 now incorporate the advanced Tesla G3 platform, providing a significant boost to their processing power and capabilities. Additionally, new dual 60fs Femto Clocks powers the DAC operation and time the Tesla G3’s data output to the DAC.

Building upon the advanced features of the VEGA G2.2, the VEGA G3 takes the product line to a new level by integrating a range of technologies. With its Proteus X1 co-processing platform, the VEGA G3 is specifically optimized to process music signals from streaming content, whether through the built-in streamer or digital inputs. The algorithm running inside Proteus X1 of the VEGA G3 enhances the audio quality, significantly improving the listening experience for music that may not be available in the highest resolution format.

Compared to the G2.2, the VEGA G3 incorporates an enhanced DAC design, delivering a 30% reduction in distortion and noise, and a 50% improvement in dynamic range. Moreover, the VEGA G3 offers the option to run in Pure DAC mode, disabling its internal streaming functions for those who prefer a more traditional approach.

The manufacturer suggested retail prices are $7,899/ €7,799/ £6,899 for VEGA G2.2 and $11,899/ €11,899/ £10,699 for VEGA G3.

The G2.2 and G3 products have been designed in the USA, and the ARIES G3 and VEGA G3 will be hand-builti n AURALiC’s Oregon facility.

A very cool way to do a press conference!

HARMAN: JBL, MARK LEVINSON AND ARCAM

FURUTECH AND PROGRESSIVE AUDIO

Evidence Diamond speakers from Progressive Audio

FISCHER & FISCHER

Nope, I’m sorry but I’m not sure what was going on here with the panel in front of the speaker…answers on a postcard please

ELAC

CONSTELLATION AUDIO

Constellation with Wilson Audio, TechDAS, dCS and Transparent….the huge beast of an amp is the Constellation Statement. Would have liked chance for a listen in this room as they always sound good and always put on something interesting to listen to.

TechDAS Air Force III

high end munich report 2023

NAD AND BLUESOUND

The new anniversary Bluesound Node X streamer

AUDIO REFERENCE

Audio Reference are a big German distributor carrying several well known and high end brands, their rooms are mostly static displays for browsing like a kid in a sweet shop. Here you will find the likes of Wilson Audio, Dan D’Agostino, Krell, VPI, Perlisten, Meridien etc.

Perlisten, Storm Audio and DIRAC cinema room

TAD

AUDIONET AND PEAK

B&M

BURMESTER

I had heard Burmester electronics in other rooms and was looking forward to hearing their full system, however I only got a quick look as a closed room presentation was going on when I got the chance to pop in. I got the details of what we were listening to though, which is very interesting.

The amp that was playing in the room and was on display in the outside area was a very early pre-production model of the new Burmester 232 amplifier. It was playing with the Burmester 175 turntable and B36 loudspeakers. Price and launch date of the Burmester 232 to be confirmed but we guess it will be around the £20,000 mark. It’s a streaming amp with a sophisticated new control, and very cleverly, it is modular, so you can add a DAC and MC phono stage before or after purchase.

PRIMARE

Always a pleasure to see Terry from Primare, he used his finest hand model skills to show me the new Primare DM36 DAC module that is upgrading the new generation of their electronics. You can find out more here.

Primare and Audiovector Sounds Clever system…under 5,000€ in total

MOON AND DYNAUDIO

A fabulous sounding room this one.

TRANSROTOR

Shiny, sparkly turntables…..

ACOUSTIC ENERGY

Acoustic Energy hail from Cirencester in the Cotswolds, their hometown for more than 25 years. It was an important outpost in Roman Britain. In fact, it was the most important town outside of London. They named it Corinium and AE chose that name for their new speaker…which appeared in a lovely British Racing Green.

Acoustic Energy Corinium Specifications

Design: 3 way reflex loaded floorstanding loudspeaker with curved RSC cabinet and Aluminium baffle

Mid-Range Driver: 120mm Carbon Fibre cone

Bass Drivers: 2 x 140mm Carbon Fibre cones

Tweeter: 29mm Soft dome

Frequency Range: 32Hz – 30kHz (- 6dB) / 38Hz – 25kHz (-3dB)

Sensitivity: 92dB/m/2.83v

Power Handling: 200w

Crossover Frequency: 260Hz / 3400Hz

Impedance: 4ohms

Dimensions: 1100 (inc. spikes) x 235 x 385 (HxWxD)

Weight: 40kg (per speaker)

high end munich report 2023

 

HARBETH AND MANLEY

British brand Harbeth were partnered with Manley and Parasound electronics in this room by distributor Input audio. This is clearly a sympathetic match of components to give a nicely rounded and easy-going sound that was like being in a smoky jazz club in the feeling it brought.

IAG – WHARFEDALE,AUDIOLAB & LEAKE

You may not know the name IAG but I guarantee you know their brands. Audiolab and Wharfedale were playing in the room when we went in and whilst this is by no means high-end priced kit, it certainly didn’t sound out of place on this floor of kit that costs as much and more than a car…or house.

IAG’s German distributor is a big fan of HiFi PiG

IAG – QUAD, MISSION & CASTLE

All very popular with the modern vintage revival fans.

ALSYVOX, LAMPIZATOR, OMEGA CABLES, PILIUM AMPS & TAIKO SERVER

OK, the music played and I could feel my body relax into it. THAT is the sound and feeling this kind of high-end stuff brings to the table.

The Lampizator Horizon flagship DAC

TRAFOMATIC, TUNE, ROCKNA, AUDIOBYTE & SIGNA PROJECTS

This room has been top of my list for sound quality in the past for its natural and effortless sound and I think a big part of this is down to the speakers being made how they are made. Big horns do something to the way music feels and sounds that other speakers just can’t do.

Hard to hear with the guys from Signal Projects packing up at the left hand side of me but hey, it was getting on for three o’clock and I understand people have to get off.

ESPRIT

French cable manufacturer ESPRIT are very well known in their native country but less so further abroad, though that is changing very rapidly with Vivien Falize spearheading their sales and marketing team.

ESPRIT build many cables at many price points with the emphasis, as I see it, being on the very high-end market.

Whilst it looked like Vivien was closing a deal with Asian distributors,  I chatted with Richard that owns the company for a good while and he is clearly very passionate about his products and I particularly liked that they had brought the whole team to Munich. This latter point may not seem a big deal but it is a significant investment over and above the not inconsiderable price to exhibit at High End Munich in the first place. However, and perhaps more importantly, bringing the team over allows them to see the end users of what they are involved in building. I very much liked this approach and the stand for ESPRIT was very nicely put together with a fantastic display of products.

munich high end show report

A very well put together stand from Esprit Cables of France

KROMA ATELIER, IBEX AUDIO, VAC, ARTESANAI AUDIO AND IKIGAI

At Audio Show Deluxe the room with Engstrom and Kroma Atelier loudspeakers was hugely popular with a whole load of people telling me afterwards that they through they were the sound of the show. Different amps brought a bit of a different flavour to the sound but it was still excellent and I think I may have found one of my favourite new speaker brands. They are big and they are expensive. They played ViniVici Make Me Stronger which is electronic and becoming very popular at shows. The bass was palpable but not dominating the track. I would LOVE to see these people do a club system!!!

The full system was as follows:

Speaker Kroma Mercedes

Amp VAC Master 300 Monoblocks

Preamp VAC Master preamp with Phono

DAC APL DSD-GR

Streamer APL DNP-SE

TT TechDas Air Force V with Ayabusa Cartridge and The Wand Tonearm

Cables Ikigai Kinzan

Racks Artesania Exoteryc

Phiton Resonators

GRYPHON

Danish brand GRYPHON announced their DIABLO 333 at Munich and it has optional phono and DAC boards. Prices are: Diablo 333: $24,900 USD (MSRP), DAC 3: $7,000 USD (MSRP), Phono Stage 3: $5,600 USD (MSRP). We couldn’t get into the room to hear the new amp but Eric did, so you will get pictures and his impessions a little later.

WILSON BENESCH

The last High End we got to see the turntable we were listening to in this room. For those that don’t know, WB are from Sheffield in Yorkshire, God’s own county and where I’m from. Anyway, the GMT  system at €270K sounded magnificent.

ODEON AUDIO

Wired with ESPRIT Cables this system of wonderful looking horns with valve electronics sounded as impressive as it looked. My takeaway was that the piano on the cut we listened to really did sound like a piano in the room.

Esprit cables throughout this system

STEIN MUSIC

VERITY AUDIO

AUDIA FLIGHT & ALARE

These sister brands work so well together.

MARTEN

Marten launched the Mingus Septet at this years show, always a classy and well thought out system and room from this Swedish hifi brand. They were fantastic with MSB, a delight.

CH PRECISION, WILSON AUDIO & TECHDAS

CESSARO, DOHMANN & ACUSTICA  APPLICATA

A great room and fab to see the Dohmann Helix One turntable that we heard at Audio Show Deluxe.

MAGICO

The Magico S3 with Wadax and Pilium …notably the huge Pilium M Divine monoblocks. Really great room with a cool look too.

MUSICAL FIDELITY & TRIANGLE

We were greeted by the new Musical Fidelity A1 integrated, the original was called the ‘hotplate’ back in the day. Also the brand new LS3/5a speakers, catering to the taste for modern retro. The system, featuring a striking pair of Triangle Magellan Anniversary Cello speakers was only on very quietly but this was, as always a really good looking room showcasing a huge range from both brands.

STENHEIM & WAY CABLES

Miroslav from Way cables

Stenheim Alumine Two.Five are the brand’s entry level floorstander and made their debut at the show

ZENSATI & BRODMANN

You come to High End Munich and you really want to see some nuts stuff. You want the aspirational, the crazy and the gold plated Lamborghini…and that’s what you got with Zensati and Brodmann. This was a million euro system, 300k of that in cables and it was set up to really make a statement.

FYNE AUDIO

Scotland’s finest are riding a real wave of popularity both home and abroad, they are really wining the vintage revival game on all fronts with their Fyne Vintage range, including the big Vintage15. Great gear, high quality in both construction and sound and some of the nicest people you will meet in the HiFi Industry.

Front end for both systems was a Rega Planar 10 and Rega Isis and cables were Chord SignatureXL.

System 1
F703SP with Rega Aethos

System 2
Vintage15 with Unison Performance Anniversary

And the mini Fyne Vintage5 came along too!

GOEBEL

Our reporter Eric will bring you a report from the new Goebel HQ and factory very soon.

AUDIOQUEST, ROCKPORT, RIVIERA LABS

VTL AND WILSON AUDIO

LANSCHE AUDIO

Lansche brought their plasma tweetered speakers, which are a lot more room friendly than the plasma tweeters we encountered at AXPONA (not Lansche) that had a big gas tank in the middle of the floor.

high end munich 2023 report

KAWERO, YPSILON, TECHDAS

CLARISYS AUDIO

Clarisys Audio Auditorium uses a double-sided bass panel, the ribbon midrange starts at 250Hz (-6db) and is a multi-segmented 7-trace design with 42mm width. Clarisys says this is the widest ribbon midrange ever put into a speaker. The three-trace ribbon tweeter starts at 5500Hz (6db) and plays open end. The three-way design has a passive external crossover with components from Jantzen Superior Z, Multicap and custom built inductors and resistors.

Electronics were by Soulution, this was an excellent sounding room.

munich high end show report 2023

TOTALDAC

From France one of my favourite brands for the last few years has been TOTALDAC. They make products that make music in a natural and organic kind of way, and High End Munich was no exception. It was lovely to hear them play some unknown techno in this room and it rocked! I know this already as I use their D100 loudspeakers that have 2 x 12” drivers and a horn tweeter but now you have the option of adding a supertweeter….which I’ve been doing for a couple of years with mine anyway, though obviously not with the TOTALDAC version. The supertweeter adds something indefinable and works somehow with the spatial aspect of the sound – we don’t hear it as it’s beyond what the human ear can hear, but we do perceive it somehow!

I thoroughly enjoyed this room and seriously thinking about investing in a pair of the TotalDAC supretweeters for atop my D100 loudspeakers.

Needless to say that all the streamer, DAC and electronics are from TOTALDAC too and, again, I’ve been using the AMP1 in our reference system for ages now…though at Munich they were set up in monobloc configuration.

Lovely!!!!

JAVA HIFI

I entered this room knowing full well that when we get home from the madness that is High End Munich we have a Java HiFi amp to sit and listen to carefully and at our leisure. However, I hadn’t opened the parcel up and really wanted to get a listen to these. The speakers were Lu Kang Audio and very nice. Overall the sound was smooth cool and dynamic. I can’t say much more than that given time constraints but suffice to say my interest is sufficiently piqued and the first box I’ll be opening when we get home will be the one from Java Hi-Fi.

JAVA Hi-Fi had its complete six-strong range of amplifiers at Munich HIGH END show and these were:

Single Shot and Double Shot variations of the LDR Pre-Amplifier, Integrated Amplifier and the GaN FET Stereo Power Amplifier.

The Double Shot GaN FET Stereo Power Amplifier was on permanent demonstration throughout the show along with Lu Kang Audio and MYST products. The Lu Kang speakers were quite interesting.

The full 2023 JAVA Hi-Fi amplifier range available at HIGH END was:

Double Shot GaN FET Stereo Power Amplifier

Single Shot GaN FET Stereo Power Amplifier

Double Shot LDR Pre-Amplifier

Single Shot LDR Pre-Amplifier

Double Shot LDR GaN FET Integrated Amplifier

Single Shot LDR GaN FET Integrated Amplifier

The JAVA Hi-Fi Double Shot GaN FET Stereo Amplifier delivers 400 watts/8 ohms and was hooked up to a D10 front-end from COS Engineering and was playing through Spoey200 speakers from Lu Kang Audio. All JAVA amplifiers are available in a variety of custom finishes using the JAVA configurator.

In addition to a very positive first audition of the JAVA Hi-Fi electronics I have to say that I really like the design of these products. They are not boring black or silver boxes and they look fab!

We adore the design of the Java amps. Unique and stylish

MSB, MARTEN, PINK FAUN, IKIGAI AUDIO

There’s a whole lot of chatter in high end audio about this streamer from Pink Faun and I’d love to get to hear it at home. People who read HiFi PiG will know I really enjoyed the MSB electronics when I had the chance to review them and through the huge Marten speakers I though this system sounded really effortless.

My mate from WAY Cables sat with us in a taxi at in Warsaw at the end of last year and he was raving about the speakers from Marten, having heard them extensively. I get why he was raving and the whole thing was rather lovely, despite them playing Dire Straits…and before the Mark Knoplfer mafiosi pop round to make me sleep with the fishes, I know loads of people love them and I get why they are played! Truth is, I really enjoyed Brothers in Arms on this system!

VOXATIV

Our annual pilgrimage to the Voxativ room at High End is always a special event fro us, not least because it sounds great, whatever the tunes that are playing.

This year the Berlin-based company had a new product that I was keen to get a listen to. The Netwerk Streamer with DAC is likely to retail at around €20K.

What I particularly enjoy about the Voxativ sound is its clarity and purity. We also got the chance to hear the first product from Voxativ too, the Ampeggio loudspeaker.

Amp was the €36K T805.

Munich high end report 2023

GRIMM AUDIO

I recently reviewed the GRIMM system and it absolutely changed the way I think high-end audio will be presented to the more well off people that LOVE music.

We got to hear the MU2 which is new to the GRIMM stable. The MU2 is a sister product to GRIMM’s MU1. It offers the same functionality with integrated Roon Labs Core and End Point, but this time it has analogue outputs instead of digital ones. The built-in converter, baptised Major DAC, is, say GRIMM, of a ground-breaking discrete design that makes optimal use of GRIMM’s own high precision FPGA board and ultra-low jitter clock oscillator.

The main features of the GRIMM MU2 are as follows:

Roon Core and Roon End Point integrated

Ultra-low clock jitter

FPGA based discrete Major DAC

all sample rates and formats supported

Relay based analog volume control

Digital AES, spdif and optical inputs

Analogue XLR and RCA inputs

Analogue XLR and RCA outputs

Headphone output

Web control of setup via any browser

Infrared remote control

External USB and NAS storage, optional internal SSD

Tidal and Qobuz support

The full system was as follows: Ensemble Acoustics PA1 loudspeaker, powered by Grimm audio proto class AB amps, focussing on reducing thermal and phase modulation distortion. Passively filtered at 150Hz, supported by Grimm audio SB1 motion feedback sub. Interconnects were Grimm audio SQM.

Sonically this Grimm system is pure and clean with detail and precision that I really like. This is not cheap HiFI, but it is relatively accessible and its design is such that it will appeal to many.

WBT

DARTZEEL AND STENHEIM

If you are into the whole high-end experience and love the kind of aspirational kit that this brings you were in the right place on the floor that we found this set up. My initial thoughts were that this system had a huge scale…not surprising given the size of the speakers…but it also had subtlety and nuance to its presentation through the vinyl front end.

BAT, HSE, LUMLEY, STENHEIM

ESOTERIC AND WILSON

This was impressive looking to say the least with the excellent SASHA DAW speakers from WILSON. The tune I got to listen to was a combination of what I thought was going to be an electronic track (it was) and then operatic singing. The tune is Opéra by Emmanuel Santarromana and I recommend it to you.

I also recommend this system to you.

My first impression was that it was going to be a bit shouty but it wasn’t. It was clear and precise with a very deep and speedy bass.

I also spotted that the stands in use were by Lateral Audio who are friends of HiFi PiG!

ISOACOUSTICS

ISOAcoustics were running their comparison dems for their rather excellent isolation products that we use here at HiFi PiG Towers.

high end munich report 2023

AUDIOVECTOR

A Danish power-house of a room, Audiovector R8s with Gryphon

TRILOGY, CAD & WILSON BENESCH

Caught up with the lovely Nic from Trilogy in this very British room with Wilson Benesch and CAD..new amps from Trilogy and the new 975 phonostage.

The new Trilogy models

AURENDER

TOTEM

ATOHM

ENGSTROM, JORMA AND MARTEN

Great to grab a quick listen and catch up with Timo Engstrom


THRAX

A full Thrax system…impressive!

EGGLESTON WORKS, J.SIKORA, SKOGRAND CABLES, DOSHI

ESTELON

This was the very last room I got into and I thought I wouldn’t have time to sit and take in the system but Linette arrived and announced I was done. A coffee arrived and I sat down, knowing that this was the end of a rather excellent show for HiFi PiG and what a lovely system to finish it off with. The Estelon Aura are their entry level at 17,500€ but their performance is anything but entry level. Sounded fantastic with Moon.

Some blues, a nice system and a cup of good coffee.

PERFECT!

THEORETICA

Theoretica make a speaker that directs the beam of sound directly to the sweetspot, as you can see in the picture. Interesting stuff.

DCS & WILSON AUDIO

INDIANA LINE WITH D.KLIMO

STEINWAY LYNGDORF

The photo I caught in this room of the couple sitting on the sofa enjoying listening to the little Steinway speakers kind of summed up what HiFi should be about, a shared experience with your loved ones. Apparently, they had been there for ages.

high end munich 2023 report

CUBE AND QUALIO

You will of course be familiar with Polish HiFi brand Cube Audio from Grzegorz Rulka, they make their own loudspeakers and drivers which are distinctive and fantastic sounding. Qualio is a new, more affordable brand from them and the Qualio IQ is their first model. Now, to be fair, if you want to know more about the Qualio IQ then the fact that when we first heard the speakers at Warsaw, we ordered a pair, and that they have won the HiFi PiG Editor’s Choice award, should tell you how good they are. They are a fabulous speaker with a distinctive look and they won’t break the bank. Read the review here!

At Munich they were partnered with the wonderful valve electronics from Tektron, and DAC from Lampizator, they have exhibited together before and I like the pairing.

Tektron Jupiter amp

The open baffle tops of the Qualio IQ

The Editor’s Choice award was bestowed on the Qualio IQ

ATLAS CABLES

Atlas is one of the big names of the British cable brands and you found their products in several systems, ranging from the very high end to the more modest, at High End Munich 2023. Including Stuart’s Sounds Clever system that was wired with Atlas Equator speaker cables, Atlas Element Achromatic RCA, and Atlas EOS DD mains cables. They are also one of the brands that we use daily in our systems at HiFi PiG towers.

There will be news to follow about the individual new products from Atlas, including the special new Linn compatible range.

Kevin Kelly from Atlas

Martin McCue

LEN HIFI

Len HiFi showed a very cool system, featuring SoundSpace systems loudspeakers, Audio Hungary amps, J.Sikora turntables and Aida cartridges with Gigawatt power products.

Turntable was the Sikora Standard Max with a 9″ KV Max tonearm. Amps were Audio Hungary’s Qualiton monoblocks and the speakers were the 90,000€ Pirol mid sized design from the range.

LUXMAN

Nice to see the Luxman team after we had spent time with them at AXPONA. I got to listen to some Bowie (Heros) and then the French team from Qobuz who were in the room at the same time as myself requested You and Me by MEUTE. The sound was dynamic and full of energy but well controlled.

Luxman used Focal Utopia Scala speakers and we heard the new L-509Z class AB integrated amp and the new Luxman NT-07 Network Streamer, along with other Luxman products. Very enjoyable.

PHASEMATION

More elegant and purposeful Japanese HiFi from Phasemation, plus Wolf von Langa speakers and another of those super-cool Yuki AP-01 turntables.

AUDIAZ AND ESOTERIC

More high end gear in with Audiaz (speakers) and Esoteric (electronics). The source was comprised of all Esoteric Grandioso components with Audiaz Opera loudspeakers. These feature Accuton drivers and the price starts at 39,000€ going up to 168,000€ for a pair, depending on the drivers you choose. We listened to ones with diamond tweeters and a diamond midrange with that 90mm midrange making use of around 20 carats worth of sparklers. Diamonds were an audiophile’s best friend in this room.

They played some kind of strange meditative music at first (apparently this had been going on for some time according to an English guy I sat next to) but they switched to Eva Cassidy which sounded lovely.

Munich high end show report

KHARMA

Dutch HiFi brand Kharma always has an uber-stylish room, they bring the gear, the floors, the walls…all on brand. They played classical music, to a very appreciative-looking Rick Rubin while I was in there and it was mind-blowingly good. I’m not a classical fan by any stretch, but it was pure, beautiful, and engaging. The speakers were the Kharma Enigma Veyron 2D. Power Amps were Veyron MP1000, pre was the Exquisite P1000, rack and cables all Kharma… I didn’t ask the price.

Gear, floors, walls…all on brand in the Kharma room

PURIST AUDIO DESIGN

Purist Audio Design from the USA were celebrating in style in this room put together by their German distributor Actual HiFi.  The system was wired with their 35th Anniversary Diamond and Jade Diamond cables. This was such a cool set up, with the green speakers, plants and the room dressing and photography, it felt like you had stumbled across an ancient Mayan temple whilst you wandered around the show.  This was enhanced by the music playing and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see exotic wildlife creeping out of the undergrowth. Really loved it!

The speakers were Avalon Acoustic Isis Signature, Doshi EVO amplification and phono, pre and tape stage were used and an Acoustical Systems A*Stellar turntable with Tri Planar tonearms and Stillpoints racks and stands. The streamer/DAC was a Metronome DSC and the tape deck was a Studer A810.

munich high end 2023 report

LYRAVOX

Lyravox played me some very strange electronic music that sounded like a test record made on acid…but then we got Giorgio by Daft Punk which sounded excellent and some Boris Blank. very precise but not boring, a great system.

The system was Lyravox Karl II integrated speaker system with  Lyravox Magneto digital source components, and Puritan power cables and power purification (from the UK) and Lyravox cables. Analogue source was a Bergmann TT and arm HSEphono, Phasemation SUT and Mysoniclab cart.

LAB 12

LAB 12 from Athens, Greece are a really excellent brand, we own a lot of their gear and they are starting to get the recognition they deserve around the world. Stratos was proudly showing the new prototype Naya (named after one of his daughters) it’s a hybrid integrated amp with a built in phonostage and USB DAC. We really liked the bold design which works very well for the target audience for this new model.

Stratos with the LAB 12 Naya prototype

CREEK

Mike Creek was presenting two new products from his eponymously named Brtish HiFi brand Creek. These were the new 4040A Integrated amp, which comes in at £799 and the £699 4040 CD player/transport. Nice, compact, affordable HiFi.

Mike Creek

VIVID AUDIO

I didn’t get to listen to the Vivid Audio Kaya S12 standmounts at the show, but I did get a chat with the wonderful Laurence Dickie, which is always a real pleasure.

Lin with another loudspeaker legend Laurence Dickie of Vivid Audio

Lin, Laurence and the Kaya S12

PRO-JECT

You will see more of Pro-Ject in our video coverage of the halls, but we had to share this Pink Floyd tribute concept…very cool!

Pink Floyd Turntable

CARDAS

A true family business!

RIVIERA AUDIO LABS

FRANCO SERBLIN

AUDIOQUEST AND GOLDENEAR

HANA CARTRIDGES

We are big fans of Hana Cartridges and Stu chose to use the HANA EH in his Sounds Clever system.

With Mr Hana cartridges himself

ANALOG AUDIO DESIGN

The new Reel to Reel player from France

CRYSTAL CABLE

high end munich report 2023

BOENICKE

The new Boenicke Audio W22…a little bigger than the usual slimline speakers from the Swiss Hifi brand

NAGRA AND WILSON AUDIO

A real ear and eye catching system again this year from two of the classic names of the uber high end. Nagra had last year’s Reference Anniversary turntable and the big news was their new DAC. Nagra’s newest digital offering, the Nagra Classic DAC II, features the same NADM (NagraAudio Digital Module) digital engine employed in both the Nagra HD DAC X and TUBE DAC, and accommodates all current high resolution formats such as DSD 4x (256) and DXD. Other highlights include an output stage featuring discrete topology in pure Class A and an improved built-in power supply along with the option to connect a Nagra external reference power supply.

There was also a soon-to-be-released HD phono stage, a Nagra Reference MC phono cartridge, and a Nagra IV-S tape machine all feeding a pair of Wilson Alexx V speakers and two Wilson LOKE subwoofers.

high end munich 2023 report from hifi pig

MOFI

The MoFi SourcePoint 10 speakers designed by loudspeaker legend Andrew Jones sounded excellent.

SILBATONE, WESTERN ELECTRIC & SCHICK TURNTABLES

One of those ‘wow’ rooms of the High End Show. I am sure they must find small children in the horns when they take them apart at the end of the show, people are quite rightly fascinated bt the sheer immensity of the system.

Andreas caught the system before it was crawling with visitors!

NAGOAKA CARTRIDGES

Truly things of beauty!

IO DESIGN

We got a quick look in the IO Design booth while the show was setting up. Their baffleless IO Naked RS speakers are made in Italy and caused a real stir when we posted news about them. I enjoyed the sound and they looked very cool in a chic, industrial way.

high end munich 2023 report

AVM

German HiFi brand AVM used the Drivers’ Lounge over the road from the MOC, at Motorworld for their display of products and also their press conference. Andreas attended for HiFi PiG so here are the photos, we will bring you more information on the new products soon.

Udo from AVM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart and Linette Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are more High End Munich 2023 reports to follow, we will see you at High End Munich 2024, from May 9th to 12th, 2024 at the MOC Munich!

NO PART OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE COPIED IN ANY FORM. THIS INCLUDES WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS WHICH ARE THE PROPERTY OF HiFi PiG AND BIG PIG MEDIA.

Read all the HiFi PiG High End Munich 2023 Reports here

 

 

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