Munich 2015: The Greatest Show on Earth page 5




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The Munich High End show is a big time affair in Bavaria and from outside the MOC it looks as professional as the Olympics.  



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Before moving on to the other highlights at this year's High End show, I forgot to mention these two items: An LP washer capable of cleaning ten records at a time and this beautiful Reed turntable that has the option to spin by belt either or direct motor drive. Cool. 


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And speaking of vinyl, I had plenty to say to Key Kim about the marvelous vocalist Miriam Mekeba. He bought the LP. 


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Surprised to see this Public Enemy LP at the show...Guess anything's possible these days.


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Live, unamplified music was alive and well once again this year!


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As many of the rooms on the upper floors got so busy that listening became out of the question. It was really nice running into some industry folks that make long overwhelming trips like these easier to deal with.


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The always dapper Phillip O'Hanlon, owner of On a Higher Note, distributors of Vivid Audio and Luxman Audio here in the USA, is always happy to hand me some of his cherished recordings. Come to think of it, for well over a decade O'Hanlon is perhaps the only guy I know who, whenever I see, the first thing I ask him.... got any good music for me! His response is always "Of Course!" And yes, I did get the very latest On a Higher Note CD sampler this time too. Thanks Phillip!  



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I just knew I was going to have a great time this year at High End 2015 when Key Kim and I had the luxury of riding from the airport to the MOC with EAR designer extraordinaire Tim de Paravicini (photo above). As one of the leading audio designers today in the high end audio world, one would expect him to be a little extreme. But upon walking up to us at the airport bus stop, de Paravicini began screaming quite loud at how incompetent the signage was. Hey, I'll be the first to admit, I enjoy a little Schadenfreude...especially when in Germany. But, I got to admit, after a while I started to feel uncomfortable...that was until we boarded the bus, and after about a mile into the ride, passed directly where de Paravicini said he had walked from. I was so shocked that I said to him...go ahead, you owe them one more outburst...for me and Key! Sh..I'll do it for you. 




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Mr and Mrs. Vitus of Vitus Audio are always a working their room which, as expected, was too crowded to even walk into.


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Near the corner of Dave Brubeck Dr and Ella Fitzgerald Av, was the always dapper Hayato Ishiguro-san of Oyaide Cables. As usual, Ishiguro was all smiles as a result of his newest Mk 2 line of products on display at the show. Says he's sending some our way. Stay tuned. 


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It's so nice to see streets named in honor of our music icons instead of political ones. Wish they were real. 


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Caught up with audio historian Lou Manno, Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio and USA distributor Chris Sommovigo. These guys were looking good and feeling great about being at the Munich High End again this year.  



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German distributor/wunderkind Thomas Fast is always glad to meet and greet Key Kim and I upon our arrival here each May. Of the many guys we do meet at this huge event, Thomas Fast usually has the biggest and boldest smile of them all. Love his style too!


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Daudio of Holland put together a really nice sounding system that featured their W1 dipole loudspeaker ($10k) and Daudio electronics (which included their 250 watt per channel amplifier and dedicated DAC). This 3-way system features also dual firing 10" woofers, symmetrically and opposite each other in an open baffle designed cabinet. I found the system nice and easy, while at the same time as detailed and open as a dipole usually is - which I've long admired. When I requested a jazz song to hear Hans Beckeringh threw on this recording that resembled a Count Basie big band recordings. Suddenly, there was a vocalist who started singing, that at first blush reminded me of young Harry Connick Jr. I started to ask "who's this?" when Hans Beckeringh (photo above) started to sing along with the recording. And surprisingly, he sounded quite good. In fact, he sounded just like the artist singing on the recording. I was amazed at how much he sounded just like Harry Connick Jr. So, I backed up into the room to hear him better...Suddenly I realized, that it was the same voice in the recording! Hans Beckeringh, who is the partner/designer of the W1 dipole speaker is also an aspiring male vocalist in Holland who happens to have a great voice too! And all I can say is I WANT TO BUY YOUR MUSIC. That's the kind of designer I want to see building speakers!
    

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I made my exit from the ground floor Halle space at Joe Cocker Street. Next up? The real suites located on the 2nd and 3rd floors.....


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The 2nd and 3rd floors is where all the dedicated suites are located....


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This is Holger Stein pointing at his latest MkII version of his Stein Harmonizers. 

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Here another photo of the MkII Harmonizers in the OFF position. They're so powerful even my camera lens loses focus (just kidding). 


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The Harmon suite that featured the lengendary Levinson No 53 and JBL loudspeakers really caught my fancy. 


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Certain rooms looked busier than others while the Kharma/Orpheus suite sported a rather exquisite feel.
 




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And of course, then there's Jurgen Scheuring of Ascendo GmbH (with partner Geoffrey Heinzel). This is the very first product I reviewed upon my trip to Munich back in 2004. It was the Ascendo System M (photo above) that ultimately opened my eyes and ears as to the excellence of German engineering beyond just BMW and Mercedes Benz automobiles. The System M catapulted my listening room to a place that I was never fully capable of going before their arrival. I always blamed my room and/or electronics for the uneveness in the midrange and low frequencies. The Ascendo System M solved that problem immediately and only got better as time and better electronics surrounded them. Ten years later, my current system would not be where it resides if it were not for Jurgen Scheuring and his kind offer for us to review this amazing product.  



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Marten Design and MSB looked exceptional as well. Even standing on the side of the room I heard a sound that was resolute and inviting enough that it forced me to sit and take a listen. All I can say is I am not very familiar with these latest model amplifiers but have listened to their older model as one of my good friends owned one. I fell in love with its transparent and holographic performance immediately. In fact, I told him that I felt this was the best amplifier I heard in his system thus far (and he owned some noteworthy designs prior). I heard much of that same beauty in this setup. But more. Those Marten Design loudspeakers possess a certain quality that is rare in my estimation thanks to its designer Leif Olofsson: they are super delicate in the handling of delicate notes while at the same time they can rock like there's no tomorrow. In short, they make no apologies. Not many dynamic loudspeakers can make that claim as I find horns are more adept at the delicate/dynamic trick. The Marten Design is a rare exception to that rule. And as much as I like these loudspeakers for all they do well, I like them most for that one rare attribute the most. 


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Master speaker builder Jörn Janczak of TIDAL loudspeakers was among the first persons I had met when I came first came to Munich back in 2003 (the last show held in Franfurt before moving to Munich in 2004). Since that time Janczak has literally turned this show on its proverbial ear. Whether showing off his newest series of electronics or those magnificently finished loudspeakers (top photo), he's always got a trick up his sleeves that leaves me stuck in deep admiration. Debuting at this year's show was Janczak's most auspicious project to date: the nearly 8' ft tall La Assoluta ($500k top photo). Sporting two of the world's only Accuton diamond midrange drivers, Janczak seemed quite proud of this latest design.

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Noticing the I'll never be able to afford a speaker at that price look on my face, 
Janczak pointed to a far less expensive alternative (but still unaffordable $165k) in his newly introduced Akira loudspeaker. Sporting the same diamond midrange as its bigger brother and strapped to an all-TIDAL system, the sound was every bit as good as I expected from Janczak: bold, inviting and dimensional. In fact, I would want to place a little emphasis on dimensional since I think that's what separates the TIDAL loudspeaker brand from all the rest.  


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