Munich 2015: The Greatest Show on Earth page 4
I spent most of the first day (Thursday) in the Halle area - which is located on the ground floor of the MOC - because I just knew I would find something special there to share with you. This area is made up of dozens of small "manufactured rooms/partitions" located along its walls amidst hundreds of exhibitors in large open booths.
After walking around in circles for a few hours, I'd make a quick pit stop at one of many food courts located nearby and order myself a tomato and mozarella Panini sandwich. Hot and tasty, a couple of these would get me through until dinner.
Another segment of the industry that has shown tremendous growth has been personal gadgets and headphones.
ENIGMAcoustics has gained lots of notoriety for their excellent Sopranino electrostat supertweeters. Our own Don Shaulis went gaga over these highly transparent marvels when he paired them with his Quad ESL 2805's (read that review here). It's no surprise that Wei Chang, sales guru for the company (above photo) was so proud to debut the ENIGMAcoustics Dharma D1000 quasi electrostat/dynamic headphones ($1200) and Athena A1 tube headphone amplifier ($1400). There was certainly an electrostat/tube synergy there that was quiet, detailed, airy and sweet about this latest offering from ENIGMAcoustics. Ironically, due to the noise and immense traffic, the only safe bet at the entire show was a pair of headphones. We hope to get a review sample in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
A growing trend at the High End show was the increase in German-made automobiles on display boasting high-end sound sound systems. Another not-so-good trend I noticed was the amount of loudspeakers at this year's show that actually cost more than a $300k Mercedes Benz S600 or $350k Rolls Royce. For me, after sitting behind the wheel of that Rolls Royce for five minutes and being soaked in its super soft leather upholstery and luxurious state of art dash (and sound system) made the idea that a loudspeaker costing as much (or more) an absolutely insane proposition. Guess it's nearly impossible trying to explain this level of excess to us normal folks.
I was surprised to run into AudioNec of France in the Halle area as well. This temporary make-shift room was only a fraction of the size of the 'real' rooms located on the upper floors. It was back in 2012 and in one of those big upstairs suites, where I was first smitten by this company's incredible sound quality. Though a tad funky looking, the AudioNec Response Signature loudspeakers are some of the most dynamically alive transducers I've heard.
I was also bummed that the Ayon team were also located downstairs in the Halle area. Now here's a group that always had among the most beautiful setups/rooms at the Munich High End show. And each year, I would look forward to seeing them in the same suite. Not this time however. The room was okay sounding but the problem with these rooms is they seem to overheat really quick (so a tube system such as they were using made it unbearably hot), and the AC worked but also brings even more noise.
When big German brands like Ayon are seen in these smaller spaces, one can only guess what the asking cost is in those the upper suites. That being said, a reliable source informed that all the rooms for the 2016 High End show are already sold out! Wow.
I'm glad to have walked into the Kyron Audio room that was located off the beaten path in the Halle. Here's a manufacturer from down under (Australia) that found out how to manipulate sound reproduction a refreshingly new way. Consider their Krono system, as an open-baffle dipole design, that employs both room and speaker correction software (via DEQX), not to mention their own sophisticated preamp and (N-core powered) multi-channel amplification. All the technical marvels aside, the most obvious feature here is there really is NO BOX. No bass reinforcement whatsoever, yet the sound was incredibly open, pretty spot-on in terms of focus (which is saying plenty from a dipole design) and quick as a ever in the bass. I am really intrigued by this loudspeaker and hope to hear them again. Oh, by the way, the entire package retails for $100k. Not a lot considering all that comes with the purchase. A stand-out performer!
A gentleman with a heavy Italian accent named Dragan approached me and said "hello Clemente' I know you love great horn speakers."
Of couse, I was rather surprised this gentleman even recognized me, but answered "Of course. I have been using horns ever since my experience in France...with.."
Dragan interrupted and replied "I know who...Jean Yves!" (photo right)
I could only smile and say "that was nearly eleven years ago. I'm surprised you still remember."
"Yes, Clemente' that was one of the great systems of that era. Here, right behind you is another one. This is the great Yamarura Crawley Limited system that we would love for you to hear someday. Mr. Bei Yamamura would like to say hello too." (photo above)
I've never met the man behind some of the most exotic single ended amplifiers in the world, not to mention turntables, DACs, preamps, crossovers and loudspeakers. Though I heard his products mentioned in the same vein as Audio Consulting of Switzerland and Audio Note just to name but two.
Unfortunately, there was nothing for me to hear since this system was mostly a static display. However, I was impressed by Yamamura's series of electronics (above photo) that featured dedicated crossovers, DACs and amplification for each channel. Hopefully, the day when I can hear a system like this will happen soon as it's been nearly ten years since I heard this system, which in many ways is beyond anything I have encountered. The only other system I heard that comes very, very close is Dr. Jim Langham (I wrote of my experience here).