A slideshow of some of the great systems that were at this year’s Munich High End.

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We don’t often review singles here at Hifi Pig but this one is for a good cause and so it’s going in the news section too to give it maximum exposure.
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29. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

When listening to Mono records on a Stereo set up, you may notice a lot of, quite annoying at times, background/surface noise that is more noticeable when listening to Mono. “Unless you Ecosse Tru-Mono Interconnect Ultra Reference Versionhave a mono button on your amp/pre amp you need an Ecosse Tru-Mono Interconnect in order to sum that surface noise to the centre of your speakers, to where the music is, ensure a significant reduction in that surface noise” says the press release for this unusual cable arrangement.

Ostensibly it’s a solution requiring one female to male and one male to female cable combined in one interconnect thus ensuring a true Mono summation of the two stereo channels into one. This will lower noise, distortion and generally make the records sound better in every way.
As Michael Fremer put it:
Mono information is all lateral. Stereo cartridge read the vertical component of the groove information. On a mono record that would all be rumble and noise produced by imperfect pressing, which is the reality of vinyl playback no matter how well the record is pressed.

In the top line Ultra Reference version Ecosse use their proprietary Monocrystal™ Copper MACH2XS RCA plugs together with DH Labs ultra gold-plated pure copper sockets.

In the Audiophile version they use their proprietary Monocrystal™ Copper MACH2XS RCA plugs together with Neutrik gold plated sockets.

In the Premier version they use their proprietary MACH1 RCA deep copper plated plugs together with gold plated over brass sockets

All you need do is connect the Ecosse Tru-Mono Vinyl Interconnect between phonostage and pre/power amp or between turntable and pre amp, and away you go.

Priced from just £80.00

 

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Everyone loves pictures of lovely valve kit and there was loads of it at this year’s High End Munich. Here’s a pick of some of the stuff we spotted and that caught our eye! More »

A long, long time ago, as the song begins, I was a nine year old boy addicted to the radio. I was fascinated by American Pie as soon as I heard it. Mostly, because I had no idea what it was about. I hadn’t a clue what a levee was (I’m Scottish) – I’m not sure I have a much better idea of what one is even now. Whisk(e)y, I knew (did I mention I’m Scottish); but rye? None of that really mattered though because American Pie was a story, a screenplay for a film that I could act out in my head every time I heard it. More »

Bryston has announced the introduction of a proprietary Integrated Audio Device (IAD) for the BDP-2 Music Player. The new IAD delivers improved specifications and replaces the current two-Brystaon_hifi_news_IADpiece third-party sound card and SPDIF interface module (AES/BNC) utilised in the BDP-2. All new BDP-2 players are currently shipping with the new IAD installed, and legacy BDP-2 consumers have an option to retrofit to the new device for an MSRP of $500. IAD upgrades will be managed at the Bryston factory until dealers and international distributors have been trained to properly install the new module.

“There were several important factors that led us to develop the IAD,” reported Bryston VP James Tanner. “We were confident that by eliminating three connection points, hand selecting and testing all of the components and shifting to our meticulous in-house manufacturing that we could improve transient capability while enhancing low resolution detail,” Tanner added. The Bryston IAD is also directly powered by the BDP-2’s premium quality linear power supply rather than by a power source shared with the motherboard.

Another significant benefit of the Bryston IAD has been the capacity to free BDP-2 production from the constraints of third-party supplied devices. Premium quality sound cards are challenging to source, and the IAD alleviates these supply chain concerns completely. The IAD will reduce backorders on the BDP-2, which has been an issue as sales have outpaced manufacturing since the introduction of the hand-assembled Bryston music players. Added Tanner, “At this level of quality we recognize that the IAD represents a relatively moderate advance in performance—however the manufacturing quality and consistency along with the sonic benefits make the IAD a clear winner for our customers.”

 

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28. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

Japan’s DS Audio, who in 2013 created the world’s first optical phono cartridge exclusively for the Japanese market, will soon be delivering its latest model to UK audiophiles, thanks to a newDS Audio DS-W1 lp 2 agreement with Berkshire-based distributor Sound Fowndations.

Audiophiles of a certain age may recall a brief appearance of ‘the legendary optical cartridge’ in Japan back in the 1960s. Initially developed to great acclaim and lauded for its high fidelity, sadly this early attempt at an optical cartridge disappeared as quickly as it arrived. Having emerged ‘before its time’, the requisite precision mechanisms and sophisticated optics did not exist yet, making the optical cartridge too difficult to manufacture.

In 2013, DS Audio used the latest state-of-art laser optical technology to introduce its first optical cartridge, the DS-001, which again was released only in its native Japan. The response was overwhelming in terms of both reviews and sales, spurring the company to further develop the design into the DS-W1, which is now moving towards worldwide distribution.
Unlike previous ‘non-contact’ systems which used lasers to read record grooves, DS Audio’s design is a pure analogue contact system that uses a conventional stylus and cantilever.

However, in contrast to moving-magnet (MM) and moving-coil (MC) cartridges, which work on the principle of electromagnetic induction, the DS-W1 uses an optical system to convert stylus/cantilever movements into audio signals. The advantage of this system is that it completely eliminates the electromagnetic frictional force that is a ‘fact of life’ in all MM and MC designs.

Faraday’s law of induction governs the design and operation of both MM and MC cartridges. As a result, both designs are subject to Lenz’s law. In audio terms, Lenz’s law states that the movement of the coil and/or magnet will produce a frictional force that affects the movement of the cantilever and hence the stylus, such that exact stylus vibration can never be reproduced by an MM or MC cartridge system.

DS Audio’s optical system, on the other hand, has absolutely no effect on the vibration of the stylus/cantilever system.

The DS-W1, which uses a boron cantilever and Shibata stylus, is housed in a machined aluminium body and weighs just 6.5 grams.

This unique cartridge comes with its own special phono equalizer/power supply, so doesn’t require a phonostage, and can be installed on almost any tonearm.

The first DS-W1 optical phono cartridge is expected to arrive in the UK in June, priced at £6,250 (inc. VAT), including dedicated phono equalizer/power supply.

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

Fresh from a launch at the High End Show in Munich, Merging’s audiophile D/A converter, NADAC, will be on show in the Boardroom/Thinktank and in Room 441 at T.H.E Show, Newport Merging_Techfrom 29-31 May.  Merging’s NADAC product manager, Dominique Brulhart will also participate in “DSD and Analog: The Great Convergence” on Saturday 30th May at 4.00pm.  The venue is Salon A in the Grand Ballroom, The Hotel Irvine.

NADAC stands for Network Attached DAC, and will be delivered in two different versions, stereo and 8-channels.  Both variants have ¼” and mini-jack headphone outputs and the monitoring-grade headphone outputs can be configured to carry a different signal to the main output.  Merging Technologies was encouraged to produce NADAC because of the praise their professional D/A converters have received from leading recording engineers. It uses the same technology and is built to the same standards.

Many of those recording companies are in the forefront of providing a large catalogue of true Hi-Res Audio downloads. These are typically in DSD or DXD and many of them will feature the multichannel DSD files previously used for SACD releases.  Merging is forming a dynamic partnership with a growing number of these content providers, to jointly promote the benefits of the listening to the music as the artists intended. Special deals for NADAC purchasers will be announced as they are made available.

NADAC covers PCM formats up to 24-bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD256. It has AES/EBU and SPDIF digital inputs for use with CD players, CD transports or other devices up to 192kHz.  An Ethernet interface is provided for use with computer based digital audio systems for carrying through ASIO on Windows and CoreAudio with DoP on MacOS any resolution up to 384kHz, DXD and DSD256.  This uses the RAVENNA protocol that Merging Technologies helped to develop for high sampling rate applications and allows very robust and accurate transfer of the digital audio data from the computer to NADAC.  The data is stored in a large buffer memory in the NADAC and then clocked out by the unit’s precision internal clock. This and the RAVENNA protocol’s ultra-stable Precision Time Protocol (IEEE 1588) eliminates the cable and jitter related problems associated with conventional digital audio interfaces.

The NADAC’s line outputs are driven by an ESS9008S SABRE Reference Audio D/A IC.  This IC has 8 separate D/A converters and in the stereo version of the NADAC, each channel uses 4 D/A converters with the outputs summed in order to provide improved linearity, greater dynamic range and a lower noise floor.  The 8-channel version of the NADAC may also be switched to work as a stereo unit, with the converters configured in the same way.  Careful circuit layout and component selection, refined by many hours of listening tests has enabled the highest level of performance from this configuration. This is backed up by results that the test gear can barely measure. The headphone output uses the same type of converter IC configured similarly.

The NADAC has balanced and unbalanced line outputs; two headphone outputs; a digital volume control and any smart device with a web browser can serve as a remote control.

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

Internationally known speaker designer Andrew Jones joins ELAC to create the ELAC DebutTM speaker series. The introduction coincides with ELAC’s return to North America with an exhibit ELAC_JONEST.H.E. Show in Irvine, Calif., May 29-31, 2015.

“ELAC is pleased to bring Andrew Jones on board, as the company expands into global market with products that establish benchmarks for performance and quality at every price point and in every category of the customer audio market”, says Gunter Kürten, managing director of the 89-year old company.

Designed in Cypress California, ELAC’s DebutTM series “redefines affordable speakers with eight models, including two bookshelf, floorstanding, center-channel and Dolby Atmos©–enabled speakers, complemented by three subwoofers”.

“My design objective was to achieve the most accurate sound possible in speakers that deliver performance far exceeding their cost”, says Jones. “I’ve employed materials and design specifications not found in speakers in this price range. From cone materials to driver geometry to subwoofer amplification, we built serious value into the Debut series”, Jones said.

Industry veteran Andre Jones’ 35-year career includes a portfolio of award winning loudspeakers. Jones previous positions include Chief Speaker Engineer at Pioneer Electronics, Technical Audio Devices (TAD), KEF and Infinity.

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

Denon® has unveiled its HEOS 1 and HEOS 1 Go Pack, the latest additions to the HEOS wireless multi-room music system. The portable HEOS 1 wireless speaker is the first product in the DENOEN_HEOSseries intended for both indoor and outdoor use. The HEOS 1 Go Pack extends the usability and features of the HEOS 1 for consumers who want to take their music anywhere. These latest additions to the Denon HEOS series will be available in June.

“We are thrilled to introduce HEOS 1, our entry level wireless multi-room sound system that combines great design and Denon sound,” said Brendon Stead, senior vice president of product development for Denon. “Also, when combined with the HEOS 1 Go Pack, the water-resistant design and added Bluetooth capability allows users to listen to their HEOS 1 in the garden, at the park and anywhere a Wi-Fi connection is not available.”

The £199 HEOS 1 packs all the best features of the HEOS series into a diminuitive yet powerful package.

With the easy to use free HEOS app, set-up means great sound within minutes for indoors or outdoors. And with the Go Pack, HEOS 1 expands into a fully wireless speaker that takes multi-room listening outdoors.

The £79 HEOS 1 Go Pack is an accessory pack consisting of a rechargeable battery, a Splashguard, and a Bluetooth®-USB adapter. The HEOS 1 can provide up to 6 hours of music and entertainment, with the Go Pack’s rechargeable battery. The HEOS 1 speaker itself is humidity resistant, yet with the addition of the Splashguard it becomes splashproof for added protection at outdoor events that may occur in the rain or poolside. And for those who enjoy Bluetooth capability, the Go Pack’s Bluetooth-USB adapter allows the user to stream Bluetooth audio directly to one HEOS 1 speaker. In addition, when Wi-Fi is available, the Bluetooth audio can be shared with other HEOS devices.

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

Monitor Audio has announced the availability of its latest Bronze speaker range. It moves up a gear from its award-winning BX predecessor by integrating a new generation of C-CAM® drivers MonaudioBronzewith high quality cabinets in four vinyl finishes: Black Oak, Walnut, Rose and a new White Ash. Invisible driver fixings and floating magnetic grilles add to the impression of streamlined sophistication, lending New Bronze the look and feel of a premium range.

Retail Price: £230-£700 pair.

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

OPPO Digital has announce the integration of the TIDAL streaming service into its range of Blu-ray players. After a simple firmware update, users can sign into the service via the latest OPPO MediaControl app and browse the library of over 25 million songs streaming at CD quality.tidal

Available shortly for download from the OPPO website, the latest update is easily installed at home via the internet or by using a USB stick loaded with the firmware.

Commenting on the integration, Strategic Partnership Manager HiFi at TIDAL Pål Bråtelund said, “We are delighted with this latest integration with OPPO, as it continues our drive to offer TIDAL as the music streaming service of choice to music lovers and audiophiles alike.”

OPPO Digital’s UK Managing Director, Nigel Rich, added, “OPPO has always prided itself with creating some of the world’s finest audio electronics. When looking to partner with a streaming service, it was imperative that the quality of performance matched our own and with TIDAL, we can certainly say it does.”

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

NAD Electronics has unveiled the latest edition to its VISO headphone range – the on-ear VISO HP30. Featuring NAD’s RoomFeel™ technology, which combines “unprecedented sound NAD_HP30_Lying-Down_Red_Medaccuracy with the aural spaciousness normally associated with listening to a pair of high-quality loudspeakers in a great listening room”.

The VISO HP30 on-ear, closed-back design includes an internally damped acoustic chamber and  Ultra-low mass, high excursion 40mm drivers featuring neodymium magnets.

The ear cups are attached to the aluminium headband, and soft foam ear pads perfectly conform to the ear for a nice seal to isolate sound and provide long-term comfort. When not in use, the VISO HP30’s clever folding system and included custom-designed carry case make them easy to stow away.

RoomFeel involves calibrating the chamber design on both sides of the driver and adjusting the corresponding target response curve, which can be ‘tuned’ to get the desired response. Getting the correct ‘transfer function’ ensures accurate sound reproduction with natural aural spaciousness and balance as if listening to a pair of high-quality loudspeakers in a room. In addition, every VISO HP30 driver is individually calibrated, then matched as pairs within an extremely tight tolerance to the reference response.

“The HP30s extend our NAD VISO headphone range and we are delighted with the results. We believe that our RoomFeel technology implemented into the VISO HP30 proves again that headphone listening can be just as involving and enjoyable as listening to a great HiFi system in the home,” states Greg Stidsen, Director Technology and Product Planning at NAD. “The added bonus is that it makes the experience that little bit more personal. I think that anyone who loves music is going to love the HP30s.”

Available in three high gloss colours, Black, Red, or White, the NAD VISO HP30 comes with its own neoprene travel case, two detachable tangle-free cords – one standard and one Made for iPhone in-line remote control and microphone – and ¼” stereo and airplane adaptors.

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

Gramofon makes it easy to stream music over the cloud to any audio system you own, from portables to hi-fi separates. Plug the little black box into your system via the supplied stereo RCA GRAMAFONcable, connect it to the Wi-Fi network in your home (a simple process that takes a matter of minutes) and get streaming from any Wi-Fi-enabled device – smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac.

Gramofon is made by Fon: creator of the world’s largest Wi-Fi network, with more than 14 million hotspots – we were early adopters of FON and so very interested in this new doodad. The device was first revealed in 2014 as a Kickstarter project, subsequently launching as a companion to the Spotify Premium music streaming service. Fon’s Wi-Fi know-how and the integration of Spotify Connect enabled the creation of a simple and affordable audio streaming device, ideal for Spotify users wanting to stream music to their existing audio systems with minimal fuss and expense.

Now, Gramofon is evolving. A major software update has brought Qualcomm’s AllPlay platform to the party, opening up a raft of additional services and facilities. In addition to Spotify Premium, Gramofon now supports all the other music-streaming services on the AllPlay platform, including Napster, Rhapsody, TuneIn, Aupeo, doubleTwist and Soma FM. More services will be added to AllPlay over time, and each will be compatible with the Gramofon – the likes of Tidal, SoundCloud and iHeart Radio are all coming soon.

AllPlay isn’t just about streaming music via cloud-based services; it enables you to play music stored locally on your smartphone, tablet or computer, too. It also adds nifty multi-room functionality – if you have several audio systems around your home, simply connect a Gramofon to each one, and add them to your Wi-Fi network. Via the AllPlay app, you can choose to play music in just one room, or different music in several rooms, or synchronise your Gramofons so they all play the same thing.

Fon is now rolling out updates to incorporate AllPlay; every existing internet-connected Gramofon will have its firmware upgraded automatically and future Gramofon shipments will have AllPlay pre-installed.

Gramofon is a true ‘fit and forget’ product – once connected to your Wi-Fi network, all updates are automatic.

Gramofon offers one further unique bonus: in addition to its music streaming capabilities, it also serves as a Wi-Fi extender, all for just €59 (around £43 at the current rate of exchange) with free shipping.

 

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27. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Hifi News · Tags:

The Chord Company has launched what they are saying is its most advanced mains product to date: Sarum Super ARAY power cable. The new Sarum Super ARAY is the Wiltshire company’schord-SSA-mains-amp-1500px-72dpi flagship power cable and forms part of a new reference-level range first unveiled at Sound and Vision 2015, in February.

“The new Super ARAY configuration reveals levels of detail, dynamics and naturalness of timbre that are quite extraordinary.” say the company. I’s retro-fittable too owners of the original Sarum Tuned ARAY power cables can upgrade to full Super ARAY specification!”

New mains and IEC plug 

The Sarum Super ARAY power cable conductor geometry was developed just as Chord started to work on a new UK mains plug and IEC plug. The mains plug is a bespoke version of an MS Power mains plug — the conductors have been heavily silver-plated and changes  have been made to the internal structure of the plug casing. The changes act to both stiffen the casing and to allow the fitting of two silicone tubes, which are designed to improve mechanical damping and vibration.

The new IEC plug is also a bespoke Chord Company design. The internal contacts are heavy- gauge and again, are heavily silver-plated.

Technical Director, Nigel Finn, said: “The Super ARAY conductor design for the power cable had been staring me in the face for quite a while; the design and configuration then fell into place quite naturally. What truly surprised everyone here, though, was the dramatic improvement. Even though the first Sarum Super ARAY cable was built in the summer of 2014, demonstrating the improvements remains startling.”

Conductor configuration 

The conductors remain the same as the original Sarum and then the Sarum Tuned ARAY power cable: micro-polished and silver-plated. The insulation is gas-foamed PTFE and the shielding is a high-density silver-plated braid, combined with a heavy-gauge shield. The key difference, though, apart from the new mains and IEC plug, is the way that the new Super ARAY conductors are utilised. This involves the fitting of an ARAY ‘chamber’ and extensive internal re-working. The strongest visual clues, though, are indeed the new plugs.

Cable configurations 

The Sarum Super ARAY power cable is available in 1m, 1.5m and 2m lengths from stock. Custom lengths can be made to order and The Chord Company can also terminate with Furutech 16 amp IEC connectors. Where space is restricted, Chord can also fit-to-order the high-quality Schurter IEC plug that has been used for many years on its Power Chord.

European Sarum Super ARAY power cables are also available: these are fitted with Furutech Schuko mains plugs..
Price is £1700 for 1m.

 

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The Newcomers stand at High end Munich is a great idea we reckon here at Hifi Pig. It gives new companies the opportunity to showcase their new and often innovative products to a massive audience…and the best thing is High End don’t charge for it…which is nice.
This year was a great year for the High End Newcomers with some very interesting and novel concepts on show. Sadly, given time constraints our rime with the Newcomers was pretty limited but we did manage to speak to most of this year’s exhibitors. Read on. More »

There was no shortage of analogue kit at this year’s High End in Munich with some being readily accessible to the man in the street and with others commanding footballer or lottery winner prices.
Whatever, everyone loves to ogle at a great turntable and there were plenty to gawp at at this year’s High End. Here’s our selection of the turntables (and a few ancillaries) that caught our eye whilst at the Munich show.

Enjoy! More »

Moon and Martin Logan

I’ve always been a bit of a fan of both these brands and wasn’t disappointed with the room at High end Munich. There’s  natural synergy going on here that works really well to produce a really enjoyable listen. Plenty of air and yet still power aplenty!moon1 moon2

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The support act for Bryan Ferry’s current tour is Welsh singer-songwriter Judith Owen who describes her new album, Ebb & Flow, as “a love letter to Laurel Canyon”. Earlier in the day while I was on the phone to my friend Terry, arranging to meet up for the concert, he checked out Judith’s website and noted that the backing band on Ebb & Flow were stellar LA session musicians Leland Sklar, Waddy Wachtel and Russ Kunkel. Those guys are all over our record collections. “It would be great if they were her touring band” I joked. We laughed, knowing that would never happen. So to say that we were pleasantly surprised when the unmistakable figure of Sklar, looking like one of ZZ Top’s beardy uncles, ambled on stage accompanied by Wachtel and Kunkel would be something of an understatement. More »

Since forming in 1983, Ozric Tentacles have released almost 30 albums of psychedelic, space rock goodness. Technicians of the Sacred, their first double album since 1990’s classic Erpland, delivers dubby bass, trippy electronic grooves and extended Steve Hillage-influenced guitar explorations over the course of 11 tracks.

Ethnic instruments are marinated with guitars, synths, bass and drums to produce a heady stew but there is no risk here of indigestion. My only criticism is that there is a lack of variation in the structure of the individual tracks, they all tend to build to a climax in much the same way. More »

Recent output from 4AD continues to amaze me.  One minute you think you’ve pretty much nailed the type of musical output which 4AD produces – and then comes along ‘Platform’ by Holly Herndon, like a kid who comes running into the room, kicking over everybody else’s creations and then leaves through a different exit, completely oblivious of the devastation he’s caused. More »

Harman’s room at Munich High end was really rather special and Lin and I both enjoyed a prolonged listen to the new Mark Levinson № 536 Monaural Power Amplifier feeding a pair of JBL Everest loudspeakers. The sound is distinctly up-market as you would expect from this luxury brand.

HARMAN6S

The new amp delivers 400 Watts of power (into 8 ohms, 800 Watts into 4 ohms, employs discrete class AB amplifier topology with no integrated circuits in the signal path along with Class A voltage gain and driver stages. More »

High End Munich is a show of extremes, at one end you have manufacturers trying to make everything bigger and at the other those who are trying to compress things down into a more manageable size.

Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the field of loudspeakers so let’s take a look at some of those ‘Big ole Horns’ and more lifestyle friendly speakers.

Someone had to do it, didn’t they? So Realhorns did.

This was probably one of the most photographed exhibits at the show and begs the question ‘How did they get it in here?’ Answer: Carefully!

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Avantgarde Acoustic could probably be subtitled ‘Lords of the Horn’ if that didn’t sound really quite rude. More »

Jo Sound

Joe from JoSound must be one of the nicest folks in audio at the moment and that’s saying something as we know LOADS of really nice people who make doing what we do such a pleasure.HL2.13

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There is just so much to see and hear at Munich High End that in the end it all becomes a bit of a blur and so, rather than trying to cover absolutely every room and make a comment I wanted to pick out a few of the exhibitors at High End that stood out for me (In no particular order!) and some that have perhaps previously really impressed and this year didn’t quite do it for me.  Of course in the show environment nothing is going to be perfect and the rooms are far from perfect, though consistently better than the vast majority of rooms at shows in hotels.

Here’s part 1 of many…

Sound Galleries in Monaco.

This was in one of the little cabin affairs in one of the downstairs halls and you could have easily missed it. However, once you got inside you were presented with a nice pair of Avantgarde Duos paired with Audiopax electronics and Tellurium Q cables along with DACs from Antelope and Lampizator. I went back to this room a good few times, the last time one of the chaps in there extolling the virtues of Windows 10 over previous versions….it was better. Geoffrey from Sound Galleries should be commended on getting such natural and unforced sound in this space.

Also in the room was acoustic paneling from GIK in the UK.  2 X tri traps in each of the corners for the low end control. On the side walls 3 X 242’s to deal with the first reflection points and ensure that stereo imaging was maintained. On the back wall was thick bass trapping to help with the room modes and stop the back wall cancellations.

SG1

 

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This is another staple event that is always interesting to attend and judging by the ‘rammedness’ of the room every other journo in the world is in agreement. There wasn’t a seat in the house, other than right at the front oddly and so this is where we sat. As usual Gérard Chrétien gave us a warm, personal welcome and the event had been nicely organised by Steve Harris.

However, first up were Naim to tell us about what they have been up to. Needless to say everyone remembers last year’s launch of the gargantuan Naim Statement amp and pre of last year (who could forget such a statement of intent) but this year at High End Munich show their announcement was equally interesting, if not as overwhelmingly impressive!
In a nutshell the trickle down tech from the Statement will now go into the NAP 200DR, 250 DR, 300 DR and 500 DR with prices ranging from £1662.50 to £16250 and owners of the older versions will be able to upgrade with prices to be announced. The DR range will be available in June with the exception of the DR500 that will be available in August.

Steve Sells Naim's Electronic Design Director

Steve Sells Naim’s Electronic Design Director

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The dates for next year’s High end event in Munich has just been announced as the 5th to 8th May 2016.MUNICHLOGOSQUAREMERRILL1
All being well and barring a major disaster, Hifi Pig will be there in force for Munich High End 2016 at the MOC.
See you there!

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One of the great things about High End Munich is the fact that is a meeting place and hub for the whole Hifi world.

People that you know from facebook suddenly appear in the flesh and before you know it that ‘meet in the beer garden at 12’ has become a gathering worthy of the United Nations!

This year it was particularly nice to meet so many of our American friends …loads of them had made the journey over to Europe for the show (I think they probably heard that we have better beer than they do!) and it was fantastic to catch up with them all…..in fact it was truly awesome! LynStanley_munich_high_end2S

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“Why did the Hifi Journalists cross the road?”

After a really long Friday at High End Munich 2015, a weary gaggle of the world’s Hifi press gather across the road from the MOC to be whizzed en masse to Starnberg, a small town to the south of Munich, and the stunning My Sound Hifi showroom.

We are here as the guests of Wilson Audio, who want to introduce us to the latest in their line of instantly recognisable loudspeakers, Sabrina, who is officially having her European debut.

Although Sabrina is smaller than her big sisters such as Alexandria and Sasha, Wilson say that she shares a lot of the same characteristics, being simple, clean and articulate.  Dave Wilson goes as far as to say she is ‘a real sweetheart’. SILSON_2

Walking into the MySound showroom is more like walking into a minimal but comfortable home.

It is beautiful, sleek and modern, just like Wilson’s loudspeakers. More »

Janine Elliot reviewed the Flare Audio R2Pro and R2A earphones and thought very highly of them, saying that  « As a sound engineer and musician, and as a listener, it hit all the right boxes for me, whether at £200 or £400 » and awarding them 8.97/10 and 8.77 respectively. They were then sent to Linette Smith to see if they would be awarded the Hifi Pig Outstanding Product Award.

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There is a problem with High End Munich…it is so big, where on earth do you start?DSCF5716S

We now consider ourselves veterans of the show, this being our third year and we have learned (the hard way) to  get to the show with a carefully organised plan of attack…which will probably go to pot pretty quickly as you run into old friends and spot something interesting just over there……..

To get the most out of the show, you really should see it all.  We have a “go hard or go home” approach where we try our very best to see and hear everything on offer, but, with the best will in the world we will miss some things.

As the Head Fi market is still snowballing its way into becoming a huge force to be reckoned with, I thought it appropriate to bring you some of our thoughts and pictures of what was on offer at the show this year.  More »

So, you’re in a meeting where you are discussing the name of an all singing, all dancing new product that you plan to announce to the world’s press… at the world’s most prestigious audio event (High End Munich) and someone pipes up “Hey, I know what…let’s call it DAVE”.

Now it’s a very brave person that has the courage to do that in my book and an even braver company that goes along with this suggestion, but that’s exactly what British manufacturer Chord have gone and done. Hifi Pig were at this year’s Munich High End to witness the birth of DAVE. It was a crowded event and the liquid refreshments came in the form of a VERY excitable fizz named Hugo, in honour of the company’s HUGO DAC and headphone amp. As soon as they announced the name of this new DAC I couldn’t get the famous “DAVE’s not here” sketch from Cheech and Chong out of my head.

But Why DAVE I hear you ask!

DAVE is a DAC, digital preamp and headphone amplifier. that is being hand-made in Kent, UK. Chord say that DAVE is based around their proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) offering more than ten times the program capacity of its predecessor.  More »

Hifi Pig’s coverage of High End Munich 2105 starts today in earnest. Over the next few days we’ll have loads of pictures of High End as well as what we thought of this year’s Munich show. DEVIALET_Munich_high_end_2

You really don’t want to miss this.

Here’s today’s selection from the show.

High End Munich 2015 – The Journey Begins

High End Munich 2015 – Devialet Press Conference

Munich High End 2015 – Bird’s Eye View Part The Intro

 

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2015 : The year High End Munich turned Pink !

So, Stuart has filled you in on our adventures on the way to Munich.

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Lin on the right with various members of the esteemed audio press.

We found ourselves at our hotel on Schillerstrasse, just a few minutes walk from the main train station.

At first glance this area is what might be described as ‘a bit dodgy’ ……there a more than a few ‘Gentleman’s Clubs’.

Stuart said that it might be fun to go and dance on a table but I didn’t think the regular clientele would appreciate that very much.

Actually the area is very safe, it’s a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities so it is lively, buzzy and there are lots of great places to eat.

We are really happy with our hotel, the H+ City Centre … the staff are friendly and efficient and the rooms comfortable and clean, we have managed to get ourselves a great base camp for this year’s High End Munich show.

Thursday dawns and after fortifying ourselves with a substantial breakfast we head off on the now familiar S and Ubahn route to the MOC and the show.

Now, we expected to run into lots of people that we know at the show this year but we were just not prepared for the overwhelming response that Hifi Pig got at the show …it seemed that everyone knew us.

This really was the year the High End show turned Hifi Pig Pink!

By the time we had checked our coats in we had already run into Norbert of Lehmann Audio and Armin from Avantgarde Acoustics but we have to dash for the first of many meetings with promises of meeting up later.

After the first appointment, which is the Devialet press conference (more from Stu on that later) we get the chance to really see some of the show proper.

My first impressions are that this is going to be a really big one.

There seem to be a lot of new (or new to me ) brands which I find very exciting …I always think that discovering something new at a show is one of the best bits, but I also love seeing what my favourite established brands have brought to the party.

Stay tuned for Bird’s Eye Views  a’plenty!

Read all our High End 2015 coverage in one place

Lin

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It’s always an early one the Devialet press conference on the first day of High End Munich, but it’s always worth dragging your weary arse out of your comfy bed and making the effort to attend and this year was no exception. Now, we live in la Belle France and so we know that the “breakfast” the French provide will be a not unwelcome cup of coffee and a croissant or pain au chocolat and so we filled our faces at the hotel buffet and then made our way to the event…but then who can resist another tasty mouthful and a cuppa when it’s there…certainly not family Hifi Pig.

Many of the great and good had managed to make it including Alan Sircom, Jason from Stereophile and Stephen Rochlin and his wife Heather from Enjoy The Music (all whom were excellent company). I think the highlight of this year’s Munich High End for Lin was when the aforementioned Jason declared Lin “The best dressed press person he had ever encountered”…I think you have a friend for life there Jason.DEV4

Anyway, breakfast over we made our way to the terraces of the Devialet room and were treated to what this exciting and forward thinking French company had by way of innovation in store for us…and we were not disappointed! More »

There’s always a certain excitement in the run up to Munich High End and this year was no different in that respect. For weeks (months actually) Mrs Hifi Pig (Lin) has had the train and plane BUSKERSCWLOGOtickets booked and has managed to wind herself into a fever of anticipation. We did the journey a little differently this year and instead of getting to Paris and taking the “cattle class” overnight train to Munich we got to Paris and flew the rest of the journey.

 

The omens were good that this year would be a fabulous extravaganza of music and hifi when on the train to Charles De Gaulle a group of Spanish (or perhaps Italian) buskers got on and treated us to some great tunes.

Now, Terminal 1 at Charles De Gaulle is not the most salubrious of places and so please take note Mr Boss Of The Airport, a skanky sandwich that looks like it’s been sat in the display cabinet for the last millennium does not the weary traveler satisfy… we were forced to sate our hunger (OK thirst) with the regulatory buckets of tepid wine.

Not that this experience was all bad…I witnessed what must qualify as the most proficient and expert chat up of a young woman that I’ve ever seen. I’ll set the scene…body guard and heavily tattooed American rapper (I’m presuming here, but he was wearing “rap clothes” and a gold chain that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the front end of an ocean liner with an anchor on the end) walk into the lounge, body guard walks up to the bar/”refreshment” area and orders drinks and snacks. Whilst all this is happening our rapper friend (OK, he could have been a classical musician on the way to perform in Stuttgart, but I really don’t think so) makes a beeline for a stunning looking lady, mutters something to her and awaits her response which comes quickly as “I can’t speak, I have to fly now”. Undeterred our hero follows her to the seat she’s escaped to uttering “There’s no need to be afraid of me baby doll” ….then within perhaps twenty seconds they are exchanging telephone numbers, the gate opens and they board their flight to Stuttgart…I’d have loved to have known how that ended out. More »

Successor to the BBC’s old LS5/8 monitor loudspeaker, Harbeth’s new incarnation launched at the Munich High End has improvements on all fronts over the 1970s’ two-way and said to be a Harbeth402_01JH_munich_high_endsignificant upgrade to the Monitor 40.1 model.

“The three-way Monitor 40 solved the inadequacies of that old BBC model, which attempted to force a 12-inch polypropylene bass unit to behave as a midrange as well.” says Harbeth’s Alan Shaw, “An idea doomed from the start; no wonder BBC engineers struggled with the LS5/8’s  weird sonic balance.”

The Harbeth design has now been upgraded to a new generation with a totally revised crossover and increased sensitivity.

“The M40.2 is more sensitive, more efficient, works with small amplifiers, has greater power handing, creates a more open and transparent sound – its three drive units are perfectly integrated and the whole experience even more engaging and, as always, sweet and clean”, adds Alan Shaw.

Therefore, the new model is as happy in both broadcast studios and home listening rooms, straight out of the carton. All this thanks to a ground-up redesign of the crossover network, using the latest software simulation tools and measuring systems. Production is due to begin shortly at Harbeth’s Sussex factory. The expected UK retail price will be around £12,000 for cherry veneer.

The new model is on display at the Harbeth stand in Munich (Hall 3, F12) where a new, bespoke range of Bavarian-designed and built stands will also be unveiled.

 

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DigiBit is introducing today at Hi-End Munich two new products: wamp a wireless streamer and power amplifier and aria mc, a media centre. WAM

wamp

wamp is a computer audio device, and the first to market to combine such technologies as a wireless power amplifier and wireless media streamer. wamp seamlessly converts your preferred passive loudspeakers into active and wireless using a non-intrusive and unique solution.

wamp consists of a pair of mono block power amplifiers which use Class-D technology with volume control, each rated at 100W. Each is styled as a plinth, designed to act as a support for floor standing loudspeakers, thereby converting any loudspeaker in to an  active wireless hifi system. Using Airplay™ users can stream music up to 24bits-48KHz and up to 24bits-192KHz via Wi-Fi 802.11ac, for added convenience Bluetooth 4.0 support is also provided. wamp also supports wireless and wired LAN up to 24bits-192KHz and DSD as a DLNA renderer. A stereo 2 x 50W bookshelf wamp model will also be available for customers using shelf mounted loudspeakers.

To complete the feature list of wamp, it also comes with a built in 32bit- 384HKz and DSD64/128/256 compatible DAC.

wamp will be available in Q3 2015. Price to be announced later.

aria mc 

The new aria mc (media center) is the response to customer demand to introduce a low-cost yet powerful media centre with many of the attributes of the aria music server series. It has hi res support for PCM and DSD music, aria mc also incorporates support for High Definition video and pictures.

aria mc streams audio, video and pictures from the internet, PC, Mac, iOS and Android portable devices and smart phones as well as from any attached hard disk, NAS or other networked device.

It also has the ability to connect your preferred device to aria mc via Bluetooth™ 4.0, Airplay™ or DLNA™ to stream content in hi-res.

aria mc connects either to Blu-Ray players like OPPO™ via HDMI and USB (OPPO 105 DAC) to play audio and video in hi-res and HD, or to an A/V receiver via its HDMI input. aria mc comes with 2 LAN ports that facilitate the connection to your network and another device.

aria mc supports the latest audio formats in PCM (up to 32bits-384KHz) and DSD (64/128/256) both in stereo and multichannel.

aria mc includes 16GB SSD for the OS and its software, for your media library different versions are available from a diskless to 2TB, 4TB and 6TB HDDs.

The free apps for iPad™/iPhone™ and Android™ control aria mc with our acclaimed easy-to-use GUI, enabling you to listen to music via your aria mc without having to turn-on your TV. Additionally, the unique content streaming to iPad™/iPhone™ and Android™ devices feature allows you to enjoy your media library from any place at home. Last but not least, aria mc supports multi-room streaming to Airplay and DLNA compatible devices.

aria mc will be available in Q3 2015. Price to be announced later.

 

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During High End 2015, Joseph Audio will show for the first time in Europe the new Joseph Prism loudspeakers. According to Jeff Joseph, the company’s President and Design Engineer, “The Joseph_high_end_munichPrism is a compact monitor that thinks it’s a big speaker!”

The new Prism borrows several technologies from its famous “big brother” – The Pulsar. It combines a dual section dome tweeter that delivers “smooth and cleanly defined treble, along with a super duty woofer with incredible throw for deep powerful bass”.
“The Prism offers about 80% of the sound quality of the Class A ranked Pulsars at less than half the price. It’s an exciting addition to the Joseph Audio family not only in terms of performance, but in terms of value as well.”

The US Suggested Retail Price is $3699/pair.

Joseph Audio is in Halle 4 , Booth C 17.

 

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Launching at the High End Show in Munich (14th – 17th May), the brand new R-Series 2000 from T+A, sees significant updates and new thinking behind one of the company’s most respectedR-Series-2000-Group product lines. Designed from the ground up and utilising much of the technology developed for the company’s HV Series, the new R-Series promises exceptional sound quality in a diminutive package.

The new R-series is a brand new development, and for this reason, the models bear new type numbers: 2000 R for the low-profile cases and 2500 R for the taller models. At present, the series consists of the PA 2000 R Integrated Amplifier (£4,204.00), the large PA 2500 R Integrated Amplifier (£5,577.00), the MP 2000 R Multi-source player (£4,204.00) and the G 2000 R Turntable (3,432.00 (MM) and £4,719.00 (MC)). Further products are already in development, including the P 2000 R Pre Amplifier and A 2000 R Power Amplifier, which will be launched later in 2015.

PA 2000 R Integrated Amplifier – £4,204.00 inc VAT

The amplifier stands only 8.2 cm tall, the PA 2000 R features linear output stages with very low negative feedback and a new power supply. The result is that the PA 2000 R can deliver a continuous power of more than 180 Watts per channel into 4 Ohm loudspeakers.

Gas-tight gold-contact relays are employed to switch loudspeakers, inputs and internal signal circuits. Separate tone controls are present for each channel and they and the Loudness function can be by-passed completely. When used in a home cinema, the PS 2000 R can be set to Surround Pass Through mode, selected by a trigger signal.

The rear panel offers three balanced (XLR) inputs, three RCA inputs, a pre-amplifier output (RCA) and heavy-duty speaker terminals machined from ultra-pure non-magnetic brass. An optional audiophile phono pre-amplifier module for MM or MC can be fitted internally if required. A high-quality headphone socket is also fitted to the front panel – allowing for personal use when needed.

PA 2500 R Integrated Amplifier – £5,577.00 inc VAT

Twice the height of the PA 2500 R, the PA 2500 R integrated amplifier exceeds the specification of the PA 2000 R in many areas, but in terms of sound quality, it retains the same dynamism and cultured sound quality. Although the circuit board layouts are identical, the heat-sinks are twice the size and the case accommodates two new high-performance power supply units, with the result that it can deliver more than 260 Watts of continuous power per channel into 4 Ohm loudspeakers.

The PA 2500 R is also fitted with three balanced XLR inputs (of which one can be configured as Surround Pass Through), four RCA inputs, balanced XLR and single ended RCA pre-amplifier outputs and two pairs of loudspeaker outputs with heavy-duty terminals machined from ultra-pure non-magnetic brass with rhodium-plated contact surfaces. A high-quality headphone amplifier is also included with the 1/4 “ socket mounted on the front panel.

MP 2000 R DAC / Network Client – £4,204.00 inc. VAT

The MP 2000 R DAC / Network Client may appear to be a classic CD player at first glance but in fact delivers every digital music format available in the highest possible quality.

The onboard DAC converts PCM signals up to 384 kSps with the help of the quadruple converter – another in-house T+A development – and DSD files up to DSD 256. As well as housing a CD mechanism, the multi-source player also includes a digital tuner offering FM, FM-HD and DAB+ reproduction, a Bluetooth streaming module for receiving music from mobile devices, a streaming client with internet radio for connection to the home network via LAN and WLAN, USB Master Mode and HD streaming plus a digital connecting board with inputs for external sources (2 USB device modes and 4 HD-S/P-DIF).

G2000 R Turntable – £3,432.00 (MM) and £4,719.00 (MC)

T&A has introduced the G2000 R turntable into its new range. Developed from its predecessor, the G1260, further enhancements have been made, with the edition of a drive motor that is said to be completely consistent and smooth running along with improved damping to eradicate any mechanical sound. The G 2000 R comes fitted with a modified pressure-cast aluminium tone arm made by Rega and is fitted with the Ortofon 2M Bronze moving magnet system as standard. A High-End version featuring a Clearaudio Carbon-2 tone arm and MC-2 moving coil cartridge is also available. If required, T+A’s PH G10 phono pre-amplifier module can be fitted in to the turntable chassis itself.

All four models will be available in the UK from late June 2015

 

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