SHOW RE­PORT: HIGH END 2017

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

Mu­nich’s High End Show has eclipsed the USA’s CES as the largest and best au­dio show in the world. Here’s why…

Mu­nich’s High End show has grown to be one of the best—if not the best—places to see high end au­dio on the planet. The re­flec­tive sur­faces of the ex­hi­bi­tion rooms at the MOC cen­tre are, how­ever, not the best place to hear them! In my ex­pe­ri­ence only the most re­laxed sys­tems are en­joy­able at this event.

But it’s not about fun, it’s about bling, ex­cess and 100,000+ (in Eu­ros, US dol­lars, pounds, your pick) sys­tems that are the do­mes­tic equiv­a­lent of Lam­borgh­i­nis or Bug­gat­tis. In fact there was a Vey­ron in the atrium at High End, the ex­cuse be­ing that it had a Burmester sound sys­tem on­board. I didn’t try it but am told that the one in the Porsche 911S down­stairs was ac­tu­ally quite good, so long as the en­gine wasn’t run­ning!

It’s hard not to be snow-blinded by the huge turnta­bles and even big­ger speak­ers that over­whelm the senses, but with camera and note­book I sniffed out the sweet from the ex­ces­sive to find the best new gear at the show.

One of the most en­joy­able rooms was that shared by Boenicke, a Swiss speaker and elec­tron­ics brand, Chord Co ca­bles from the UK mak­ing their High End de­but, and CAD, a small Bri­tish out­fit show­ing its Ground Con­trol prod­ucts. The lat­ter are in­ter­est­ing be­cause they pro­vide a clean ground plane for any com­po­nent and even clean up the earth point on the mains. Their dem made a very pos­i­tive im­pres­sion even in the noisy en­vi­rons of the show, mind you the noise was also on the earth­ing of the build­ing so they had plenty to work with. The lat­est GC3 six out­put de­vice is £3,850 while the GC1 twin out­put model is £1,650.

At rather more el­e­vated prices the room shared by French DSP ex­perts Trin­nov and Vivid Acous­tics made an ex­tremely re­veal­ing yet ef­fort­less sound. Vivid had the Giya G1 Spirit floor-standers (€81,000) run­ning in ac­tive mode with Trin­nov’s mul­ti­chan­nel power amps pro­vid­ing the crossovers, phase align­ment and room op­ti­mi­sa­tion. The Spirit ver­sion is quite a dif­fer­ent speaker to the ex­ist­ing G1, it’s slightly shorter and there’s twice as much cop­per in the voice coil of the bass driv­ers, the lower mid has a big­ger voice coil and a new mag­net, and car­bon fi­bre is used to stiffen the alu­minium cones. Re­fine­ment and power han­dling, it’s a nice combo.

An­other tech­ni­cal tour de force could be found in the Elac room where de­signer An­drew Jones was demon­strat­ing the An­dante floor-standers. These in­cor­po­rate a vari­a­tion on the themes that Jones worked on at KEF with ac­tive bass Audeze LCDi4 in-ears use 30mm pla­nar mag­netic driv­ers in a semi-open de­sign. SME showed a se­lec­tion of blinged-up arms and turnta­bles, plus some af­ford­able record clamps. Laurence Dickie was on the floor demon­strat­ing the tech­ni­cal and sonic virtues of the Vivid G1 Spir­its. A.J. Van den Hul showed a Sig­na­ture ver­sion of his Colibri car­tridge that re­tails for €6,500. The best thing about the Moon by SimAu­dio 888 monoblocs is that they make other amps seem cheap. Fi­nal showed some pro­to­type head­phones for which they claim im­proved lin­ear­ity and power han­dling. PMC founder Pe­ter Thomas holds the com­pany’s new­est prod­uct, the PMC Core am­pli­fier.

It’s not about fun, it’s about bling, ex­cess and 100,000+ (in Eu­ros, dol­lars, pounds, take your pick) sys­tems…

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