HIGH END MUNICH 2024 REPORT – OSCAR CHECKS OUT THE WORLD OF HEADPHONES AND HEADFI EXHIBITS

High End Munich 2024 Report Headfi and headphones 
Munich high end

In the first of HiFi PiG’s reports from Munich High End, Oscar Stewart takes a look around the World Of Headphones area, to discover all that is new in HeadFi at High End Munich 2024.

High End Munich is one of the biggest shows on the international audio event calendar, being an audio enthusiast myself it’s long been on my list of shows to visit. It’s a bit of a giant in terms of the sheer size of the show and I’ll endeavour to cover as much as possible with this first report focused on headphones and Head-Fi-related gear. 

High End Munich 2024 - Headphones And HeadFi High end Munich 2024 report

Fiio

Fiio are on a bit of a roll lately and they were showing off a plethora of new products at Munich High End – for me the FA19 IEMs stood out with a 10-driver configuration using Knowles BA drivers and a price of £999. They are also releasing a TT13 turntable that looks to satisfy those looking to venture into vinyl playback, the SR11 is a new full-size streamer and they have a new pair of active speakers called the SP5.

Final

Final are releasing a new headphone, the X8000 – it’s going to cost around 5000 euros and is a smaller form factor than the D series. They are using a 50mm planar magnetic driver with a Halbach array magnet system, the frame is made of a liquid metal titanium alloy for both strength and weight reasons along with a hypoallergenic metal headband (made from a material used in high-end watch springs). All this means that they only weigh 220g, Final is pitching these as a high-end headphone that you will own for many years, it’s designed to be lightweight and portable, allowing you to share this experience with your friends and family. I did have a listen to the prototype at the show and these could well be a new reference headphone – such a clear and immersive sound that’s detailed and open without ever sounding harsh or bright. 

They also have a complete range of earphones designed for gaming with different sounds for different uses. The VR500 being an affordable all-rounder, VR2000 focuses on speed and accuracy for FPS and similar games and the VR3000 with an immersive sound which is ideal for VR use.  They have also released a new planar magnetic headphone, the new D7000 sits alongside the current flagship D8000/D8000 Pro and have an RRP of £2999, they use an enhanced AFDS (Air Film Damping System) driver along with a new pinna-aligned diffusor. 

Focal

Focal unveiled 2 new headphones, Hadenys and Azurys which are both passive models, one open-back, the other closed. The Hadenys is open-backed and offers up a sound that is precise, dynamic, and warm, it features honeycomb grilles, genuine leather, and breathable woven fabric headband and yoke for even greater comfort and lightness. Azurys is the closed counterpart using a similar design aimed at all music lovers and enthusiasts. These are a little more affordable too with the Hadenys coming in at £599 and Azurys at £470

Ifi Audio

Those of you who know me, know that I am a big fan of iFi Audio products and they had their usual array of products including the NEO Stream, iDSD 2, and iCAN Phantom alongside their new ZEN Phono 3 and ZEN Dac 3. Interestingly though, they are launching a new brand called SilentPower, and had the iPowerX on demo with a setup that allowed you to A/B between a normal PSU and the iPowerX. It was also a pleasure to meet Pat Wen, the co-founder of iFi and have a brief chat about all things iFi. 

Audeze

Audeze had their usual models on display including the LCD-5, LCD-2C, LCD-X Closed, LCD-GX, MM500, and more. 

Auris / EarMen

Auris have two new valve amplifiers available, one is a smaller design that uses KT88 power valves, and the other larger model, uses 300B valves. The 300B model has an impedance switch allowing it to be used with nearly any model of headphone on the market – I had a quick listen with the new RAAL Immanis ribbon headphones and the sound was clean and clear with that gorgeous 300B smoothness – this is an amp I would like to spend some time with soon. They also had a range of their turntables and EarMen devices on display/demo. 

Audio Technica

Audio Technica had the new ATH-WB LTD headphones on demo, these were incredibly smooth and natural sounding along with being small, lightweight, and comfortable – the wooden cups look gorgeous too. 

Austrian Audio

Austrian Audio had the Full Score One headphone amp paired with the Composer headphones. 

Abyss

Abyss had the new Diana DZ headphones on demo and while not the best demo environment I had a listen to these and they struck me as very controlled, detailed, and snappy with enough body to keep them from sounding thin – they sound very engaging and look fantastic too. 

Campfire Audio

Campfire Audio had their new Chromatic series on show along with the usual Solaris Stellar Horizon, Andromeda Emerald Sea, and Trifecta.

Dan Clark Audio

Dan Clark Audio had the new E3 alongside the Stealth, Corina, and Aeon.

Centrance

Alongside Dan Clark Audio was Centrance – a name I haven’t seen around in a while, they have a new DAC (DAC Mini) and Headphone amp (Amp mini). The headphone amp has a valve stage with an adjustable tube drive allowing you to fine-tune how much tube warmth you want in the sound – it runs in full Class—A mode and has a maximum output of 8w – this is a nice little headphone amp.

DCS

In the dCS booth they had 3 setups, one was an all-Lina setup with the Lina DAC, Master Clock, and Headphone amp, the next used the Bartok Apex into the Lina master clock and then into the Lina headphone amp and lastly, they had the new Rossini Apex also running into the Lina master clock and Lina headphone amp. I spent a bit of time listening to the Rossini Apex setup with the HiFiMAN Susvara and what an experience it was, all the detail you could ever want wrapped up in a smooth and natural sound – a true high-end headphone setup. 

Dekoni

Dekoni, a brand I love for aftermarket earpads, had their new Meze 109 Pro earpads on show, these are likely to prove very popular. They are looking to make some suede earpads and I got to see some prototypes, the material feels lovely and they should be released soon. 

Etymotic

Etymotic had their usual line-up of ER series, an earphone I have a lot of love for. 

Drop + Grell

Drop + Grell headphones were on show too, with a new model coming out soon.

Feliks Audio

It was a pleasure to finally meet Lukasz Feliks after so many years, look out for a review on their excellent Envy Performance Edition SET headphone amp soon. Behind a smoky glass cabinet, they had a brand-new prototype amp that is designed to drive electrostatic headphones, it uses 4 x 300B valves (2 per channel) alongside 4 x 6922 driver tubes and a pair of EL34’s. On their stand they had the Envy 25-year anniversary edition alongside their normal Envy and Echo II. 

Ferrum

I’ve followed and heard Ferrum kit on a couple of occasions, this time I listened to the Susvara through the Wandla Goldensound Edition DAC – OOR headphone amp and Hypsos Dual power supply, it’s a lovely sounding stack. 

Mega Audio

Mega Audio were representing Fidelice, Bricasti, Fostex, and Audeze. Fidelice is a HiFi brand from the renowned Rupert Neve and they make a great headphone amp and amp/DAC combo. It’s always good to see Fostex being represented at shows, they have a new MK4 version of the T-50RP out and it’s a great update to this iconic model. It comes across as a little fuller and more refined than the MK3, making it sound a little less dry and slightly more enjoyable for HiFi listening. I also had a quick try of the TH-808 which is big and bold sounding, maybe a bit too bassy for some, but very fun to listen to. 

Astell & Kern

Astell & Kern had a couple of new bits at the show including the SP3000t DAP, Activo DAP, and Novus IEMs made in partnership with Empire Ears. 

Gaming Zone

Gaming Zone was an interesting concept at an audio show and sure to attract a slightly different crowd. 

Zahl

Zahl are a German brand making headphone amps, they are made in limited batches and it runs in full Class-A mode, with a Class-A Negative feedback mode too allowing for decreased output impedance and lower distortion. The amp also features analogue treble and bass controls alongside a stereo narrowing and widening knob – these are not common features on headphone amps and they really work well here. The amp easily drove the Susvara that were hooked up to it and it is a lovely piece of engineering whilst sounding very clean and natural. 

Grado

Grado have been around for a long time, slowly making revisions of their models making them better and better. I really like how they do things and their general sound signature works well with the rock music I listen to. They had their usual SR series alongside the Hemp, RS, and GS models. 

HEDD

HEDD brought out the HEDDPhone TWO last year and I really enjoyed them at CanJam London, they have a couple of things in the works and are an interesting brand to follow. Their AMT drivers really are something quite special and I’m curious to see what they come up with next. They also have a range of studio monitor speakers which are incredibly popular.

HiFiMAN

It’s always nice to catch up with Mark from HiFiMAN, they had their new EF499 and EF500 DAC amps on demo, and inside the booth they had a new model that is due to replace the Jade II system. This new model, called the Shangri-La Mini, has a brand-new amplifier and once again shows that HiFiMAN know how to tune an electrostatic headphone, with a very natural and open sound.  

Soundaware

Soundaware make a range of DACs, headphone amps, streamers, dongles and more – they have an interesting range but are not that well known in the UK/Europe. 

Kinera / QOA

It was a nice surprise to see Kinera / QOA at the show, joint brands with a good range from budget to high-end with great sound to boot. I sat down and listened to the new Kinera Verdandi which is just a lovely-sounding earphone with deep and punchy bass, a clean midrange, and well-extended highs – expect a full review in the future. I also had a listen to the QOA Adonis which is a very full, slightly u—shaped sounding earphone that is affordable and fun for everyday listening. 

Lotoo

Lotoo had their Mjolnir all-in-one system alongside a couple of DAPS and dongles, their products always sound fantastic and there are hints of something new coming soon – which I am looking forward to hearing.  

Meze Audio

Meze Audio had their new Liric 2 on demo alongside their Empyrean 2 and the usual 109 Pro and 99 classics range but, they are not done with new releases just yet. There were 2 soon-to-be released models that both looked great. First up was the 105 AER – this is an open-backed model that is due to cost around the £400 mark, with a slick black design and engaging sound these look to be excellent for their price. They have quite hard-hitting bass, a very punchy sound, and crisp treble, they are tuned for pure enjoyment. The second new model is an in-ear model, Alba, when asked how much I expected them to be I did say roughly £300, yet they are due to be released at around the £150 price mark. They come with a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle in the box and have a comfortable fit, the sound though was the most impressive part – the midrange stood out to me, being natural and well detailed backed up with tight and extended bass and treble. The sound was coherent, due to the single dynamic driver in use, and they are not fatiguing to listen to, a great daily listening earphone that does not cost a lot. 

SPL Phonitor

SPL Phonitor had a huge range of both their pro-audio and HiFi products, they have some interesting tech including cross-feed circuitry.

Erzetich

Erzetich had their Thalia and Phobos headphones on demo alongside the Scylla and Eimos amps. 

MoonDrop

MoonDrop have a new-ish planar model out called the Para, and have just released a smartphone in China that is designed to also power IEM’s and portable headphones with ease, it even includes a 4.4mm balanced output.

Cayin

Cayin had their new U-170HA headphone amp that uses KT170 valves – it’s quite feature-packed with both headphone and speaker outputs, Ultra Linear and Triode modes alongside a timbre switch with 2 modes (soft and dynamic). This was powering the HiFiMAN Susvara and it did so with ease, the sound was smooth and enjoyable, this is a fuller-sounding amplifier and would work well with more linear headphones. They also had their range of DAPs on show alongside some HiFi amplifiers and products.  

Mytek

Mytek had their full range on show including the Mytek II, Liberty II, and Liberty THX AAA headphone amp, their focus however, was on the new Empire stereo monobloc amplifier. 

oBravo

oBravo is a company I’ve followed for a long time, yet never spent much time listening to. I decided to take a little time to have a listen to their new PT950 which has a pure platinum housing, a single 8mm air motion driver paired with a 16mm dynamic driver. Queuing up my usual rock tracks, they really didn’t do it for me but, Radiohead came on and it suddenly became apparent what they are all about and I had one of those “wow” moments. They convey the sheer emotion of your music unlike any other earphone, they have a sweet musicality and sense of realness that is quite unique. On a technical perspective they are deep, warm, and spacious but, the connection with the music was what struck me, they really are quite special and well worth an audition. 

RME

RME are a pro-audio company who are popular within the HiFi and Head-Fi scenes due to their fantastic DACs and the sheer tune-ability of the output stage (parametric EQ and lots more). They had their full range on show, these are some great devices and have a powerful headphone output stage too. 

Violectric / Lake People

Violectric/Lake People had an impressive array of both pro-audio and HiFi and Head fi products, I did spot 2 new models which are the HPA-V322 and HPA V324 – both balanced headphone amplifiers with VU meters on the front, as always these are well-built and well-engineered headphone amps.  There is also a more budget offering from the brand, the HPA V101. 

Sennheiser

The HD620s was the newest model from Sennheiser on show, this is the first ever closed-back 600 series headphone they have made, and speaking to the product manager of this model, it’s clear they wanted to do it right. From my brief audition, they come across like the HD600 in terms of having a more crisp and linear sound than the warmer HD650 / HD660 S2. They also sounded very well separated and spacious for a closed-back headphone, they are worth checking out if you like the HD600 and need a closed-back headphone. 

Shanling

Shanling were showing off their range of DAPs and CD players including a new CD player and a prototype planar magnetic headphone. The new prototype sounded really promising and they are aiming to hit the £700-1000 price range which makes them seem quite competitive. These are an early prototype but they had a nice natural sound, I’m looking forward to hearing the final revision once they are ready. 

Sivga

Sivga had a good selection of their headphones on show.

Leiyin

Leiyin are a retailer and had a range of Moondrop, SMSL, Fosi Audio, Xduoo, DAART, and TRN products. I had a listen to the Moondrop Para through an SMSL stack and it sounded great with a detailed and spacious sound. There were also the new Fosi V3 mono amps in use, these are affordable class-D monoblocs and should prove to be very popular.

Soundz

It was a pleasure to see Soundz and, after hearing the models last year at CanJam London, I was keen to get a set in to review. They were kind enough to take my ear impressions in Munich and a full review of the Avant will follow. They fit well into the audiophile market and the Avant has a tuning that is well balanced with a subtle warmth that is highly enjoyable, without upsetting the overall sound – the bass is impressive for BA drivers and I am really looking forward to reviewing these soon. 

Spirit Torino

Spirit Torino were showing the new tuning system for the Centauri, they have spacers that fit under the earpads and you can tune the sound to be more “monitor” like with a clean and neutral sound, or more “theatre” like with a wider soundstage and more body. 

Topping

Topping are releasing a new range of pro audio interfaces to go alongside their audiophile gear, a logical progression in my opinion.

Volumio

Volumio had the new Motivo on demo with the Dan Clark E3 headphones and it powered them well, the internal headphone amp seems to be very impressive delivering great power without any background noise when using sensitive headphones or in-ears. This streaming hub is nicely designed and has some great features. 

Warwick Acoustics

Warwick Acoustics brought along both the Bravura and Aperio systems, I sat down for a listen of the Aperio setup and these are some of the best headphones out there now. The presentation is more akin to speakers than headphones, they sound incredibly natural and effortless with impeccable detail and timing. 

Aune

Aune were being represented by their distributor and they had an early model of the SR7000 dynamic driver headphones – these have a huge soundstage and excellent separation. They also had an excellent range of DACs and headphone amps on display along with DAPs and other players. 

Westone

Westone were showing their usual MACH range, I have previously reviewed the MACH80 which is a superb earphone along with the rest of the range sounding great for their respective prices.

ZMF

ZMF were showing off the brand new open-back Bokeh and closed-back Cascade, as always these are superb headphones with beautiful designs and build quality backed up by excellent sound quality. 

64 Audio

64 Audio had their Volur alongside the rest of their line-up (tia Fourte, U18t, U18s, Nio etc…), the Volur sound fantastic for everyday listening with a beautifully natural and full sound with a slight sub-bass lift that is extremely well executed. They also have a new model coming out soon – a hybrid with 4-drivers and a sound that has great separation and very dynamic bass presentation, this will be one to look out for. 

RAAL 1995

RAAL 1995 had both the Immanis and Magna on demo – these new ribbon headphones from the brand look fantastic and both have that quick and snappy sound with the Magna having a wide and deep soundstage and the Immanis sounding smooth yet detailed. I would really like to spend some more time with these as I feel they have excellent potential but of course, you cannot get the full sound experience at a show. 

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist are a new company who are part of Headphone Shop, a German retailer, these in-ears have a familiar look as the housings are made by a well-known German company but, the driver config and tuning are proprietary. I personally really loved the sound; they have great tonal balanced along with a sub-bass emphasis that would make these an enjoyable daily driver.

Viva

Viva make some incredible amplifiers, they had a new amp on show that is built to drive electrostatic headphones along with offering speaker outputs too – more details will follow soon.

Thus concludes my time covering the more Head-Fi related products on offer at High End Munich – it really is an excellent show for headphone enthusiasts with plenty of models to listen to and I would highly recommend visiting if you get the chance. 

Read Part 1 of Lin and Stu’s report here!

Oscar Stewart

Additional photography by Kelly Bowden

ALL IMAGES AND TEXT ARE COPYRIGHT HiFi PiG AND MAY NOT BE USED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM THE EDITOR

For all the HiFi PiG High End Munich 2024 coverage, click here

Women In HiFi High End Munich 2024
Essential High End Munich 2024 – Silent Pound

Read More Posts Like This

  • ALSYVOX AUDIO DESIGN TEAM UP WITH TAIKO, PILIUM AND MORE FOR MUNICH High End speaker manufacturer Alsyvox Audio Design, leading digital brand Taiko Audio, amplifiervcompany Pilium, cable manufacturer VYDA and…

  • ISOACOUSTICS PRESENTS LIVE A/B TEST AT HIGH END MUNICH 2024 The IsoAcoustics A/B tests are one of the best HiFi dems we have seen, and you can experience them at…

  • FIELD COIL DRIVERS AND THE NEW VOXATIV ANDAGIO AT MUNICH Voxativ of Berlin will bring their new Andagio, alongside some familiar favourite to High End Munich 2024. VOXATIV  ANDAGIO IS…

Comments closed.