SHOW REPORT: HIGH END 2017
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…