Munich 2015: The Greatest Show on Earth page 6
Watch your step at the High End show when going up or down the stairs....
Whether awesome, odd looking or outrageously dressed, components such as the above are always a welcome sight at Munich's High End show.
Speaking of outrageously dressed, there's a couple of old school Addidas fanatics posing outside the King Sound room....
Finding anything remotely affordable was harder than finding a needle in a haystack. But I did come across some interesting and quite affordable offerings from Micromega.
King Sound electrostatic loudspeakers. Still amazingly affordable and excellent sounding for their asking price (still under $10k).
There's nothing quite as exciting as seeing a product make it from an idea to the level success like Kerem Kucukaslan's Absolare line of elelctronics. To me, Absolare are among the most attractive looking high-end products in an industry that builds much of its reputation on aethetic appeal. Absolare, fortunately doesn't rest its laurals on its looks. It's quite impressive sounding as well.
I, along with a host of other high end audio designers and audio dignitaries were a guest of Kucukaslan back in the fall of 2009, in Istanbul, Turkey (see that report here). In all of the places I have been fortunate to travel, Istanbul has to be among the most rewarding and exotic. If not for its amazing sights and storied past, then certainly for its remarkable foods. So, whenever or wherever I see Kerem Kucukaslan I thank him again for the rare opportunity of allowing me to see his dream come true...and of course that I am still hungry!
Alan Sides of Oceanway Audio demoed his latest design in the Sausalito loudspeaker ($35k). This is his most high-end and polished looking design to date. But, at the same time, it's his smallest and most mundane looking as well. I love what Sides has done in the past with his studio-like monitors, despite the fact they lacked a high WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor).
I am always glad to see that fire breathing tweeter used in the Lansche Audio loudspeakers. I still think they are perhaps the most life-like high frequency drivers I have ever heard. Unfortunately, they are far from common. It only took one extended listening session about 10 years ago to find out how good this driver really is. This was the first time in my listening experience I felt there was a type of mist in the air surrounding voices, strings and cymbals. An unreal experience that I never forgot.
Thrax Audio has become more popular for their electronics with Key Kim over the past year or so (read his review here). However, at this year's show they dropped a surprise in everyone's lap as they unveiled their very first loudspeaker in the Lyra 2-way stand mounted monitor. Using all EnKlein cabling (which Key also has under review), the system sounded quick footed and full-bodied which says a lot considering this is a stand-mounted monitor. We hope to have a review sample in the coming months so stay tuned.
I was glad to see Perfect 8's "The Point" all glass loudspeaker at this year's High End for the first time (especially since they hail from next door - Sweden). Most importantly, I was relieved to see the price of the speaker has dropped nearly in half. Instead of the previous $175k asking price, the speaker has been reduced to a mere $100k. The extra $75k you now save can be used to purchase lots of Windex as you're going to need tons of it for this all glass design.
Harmonix and Verity Audio put on a beautiful display at this year's show once again. Bravo.
Always intrigued by the Vovativ gear I was excited to hear this system sound weightier and more dynamic thanks to their new dedicated woofer section.
Nagra Audio: in an seldom seen all-Nagra system.
Audionet of Germany also seemed to be in more rooms at this year's show than ever before. And for good reason as they are convincingly musical sounding whenever I hear them. Solid state and musicality normally do not go together. Here's a rare exception. Showing in this huge suite alongside Schue Audio and THIXAR equipment racks, are my favorite equipment rack: the Accurion active isolation platform ($15k ea). I use these under each of my Behold amplifiers and for the past 10 years have seen no reason to part with them.
German brand Backes and Muller, or B&M may be the biggest and most successful speaker brand to not make it to american shores. An all active speaker company, I did have a chance to visit their factory only recently (2013). It was there that I sat and listened intently to this monstrosity of loudspeaker design. At nearly $999k a pair, I swore God almighty had entered into the room after only a few songs. It's one thing to hear a large speaker sound good. But to hear one that's self-powered by dozens of dedicated amplifiers is an entirely different listening experience. No wonder the B&M room is packed every time I go in to visit. Moreso than any other room at the show. Strange but true.
Nordost unveiled their newest series Odin, Valhahalla and Heimdall cables at this year's High End show as did Jeff Rowland Research. The new Rowland Daemon integrated ($38,500) boasts an astonishing 1500 watts per channel into 8 Ohms (and something like 2800 in 4 Ohms). Nothing in this room was even remotely affordable. Especially the cables. The Nordost interconnects started at around $20k per one meter. The one upside was a another chance encounter with an Audio Physic loudspeaker. Back in the early 90's, this was among my favorite all-time loudspeaker.
I've always been a big fan of German Physiks omnidirectional loudspeakers as they make some of the most outrageous designs I've ever seen and heard (had the luxury of hearing their top of the line Gaudi MkII. It's another one of those once in a life time experiences). When I walked in, I was surprised to hear the room (same as last year), providing so much more bass realism and punch. The first question I asked Robert Kelly, was "I see you decided to use a subwoofer this year?" Kelly's reply was, "there's no sub. What you're hearing is the new 10" woofer design in our new model HRS130 loudspeaker." All I could say was "Wow!" Strapped to a stack of Esoteric electronics, I found the sound to weighty, yet fast and accurate. But most importantly the sound was very natural and inviting.
As if the show wasn't big enough, directly adjacent to the MOC was an area that looked like an auto repair lot for some pretty fancy German brand automobiles.
However large high-end audio banners with the names Martion Audiosystem and Suesskind decorated its fence and doorway. An obvious invitation to anyone either walking to or leaving the MOC.
The Martion Audiosysteme Einhorn (left) and Bullfrog Active (right) were on display in a rather huge and sparsely decorated room. The Einhorn were playing when I arrived and I got to admit, for less than $20k retail (which includes the active woofer section located in the center), I was taken aback by the sheer size, weight and beauty of this system. I still do not know exactly what the electronics were but was told it was some sort of new single-gain-stage analogue design. All in all, the Martion Audiosysteme turned out to be a huge surprise for me at this year's show. Glad I ran into the two dealers who literally begged me to go over and give them a listen. Thanks you for the invitation.
Directly above the Martion Audiosysteme is where the Suesskind setup was located. The 2-way loudspeakers used here were designed by Joachim Gerhard (formerly the CEO/Owner of Audio-Physic) and still had no name by time this went to press. Currently Gerhard is the owner of Suesskind Audio (www.suesskindaudio.de), who serves as the marketing arm to the loudspeakers the electronics below (and it's only because of Gerhard's history and exertise at Audio-Physic that I decided to post these photos. Heck, every great designer needs a start somewhere). The power amplifiers (pre-amplifier and cabling systems) where supplied by Signature Origin (http://signatureorigin.com) designed by Frans de Wit, CEO/owner. In Munich they showed their first two production models: the Signature One - a 250 watt Current Conveyor and the Signature Century a 100 watt Current Conveyor. Due to the fact that these are current conveyor’s there is no real class-A or class-AB behavior. Both amplifiers are never without current, in both the positive and negative driving phase, and thus do not exhibit switching characteristics. Unfortunately, I didn't stay long enough to offer anything outside of promising performance. I enjoyed the sound as I found it open, detailed and clean without sounding clinical in the least.
Until next year...we bid you peace!