Headphones and Headfi at Munich High End
One of the things I noticed about this year’s High End in Munich was the amount of headfi and headphone related stuff that was on offer. I’m sure Harry will talk more about that when he writes his teen perspective of High-End, but in the meantime here’s a bit of a round up of what we happened across on our travels. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to listen to everything we saw, but it will give you a flavour of the rise in popularity of headphones for the high end as well as folk wanting sounds on the go.
The headphone amps from SPL (Sound Performance Lab) were really rather special. I didn’t ask the price but I had a listen and they were very good…very good! The model I tried was the Phonitor Mini and as I understand it this model is like the Phonitor 2, widely used in studios around the world, only with a few less features.
However it’s not all uber high-end kit and it’s good to see that Audio Technica (and others) are catering for a slightly lower end of the market – they also offer headphones that are seen by many as class leaders! Now, whilst the whole Beats By Dre get a whopping in audiophile circles for their sound quality I think what they have done is very good for the industry. Beats By Dre pretty much single-handedly created a market for mid-priced (and for teens really quite expensive) headphones and without them this resurgence in interest in headphones would not have happened I don’t think. Of course there’s also the whole explosion of portable music devices that make this market viable too!
Norbert Lehmann of Lehmann Audio is a great chap and his company makes a few headphone amplifiers and whilst we couldn’t listen to any at the high-End show we have been promised one of their new models for review in the near future.
Aedle are a French company that make just two sets of phones, the VK1 Classic and the VK 1 carbon. They’re I tried the Classic and they do feel of a very high quality with the stitching being all hand sewn. Again I failed miserably to ask the price, but I guess they’ll be quite pricey.
Stymax (also known as obravo) are from Taiwan and make the HAMT-1 and HRIB-1 headphones. Interestingly the headphones are two way with the HRIB-1 having a ribbon tweeter. Again there was a real feel of quality to these headphones and the sound was non too shabby too.
LAB 12 were a new comer to the High End show in Munich last year but this year had a stand all of their own with (amongst other things we’ll talk about later) their HPA OTL headphone amplifier on demo.
I remember lusting after a pair of Stax earspeakers back in my dim and distant teens and it’s good to see the company is still going strong. Sadly I never managed to get me a pair of their headphones …perhaps one day.
Audeze are a big name on the headfi market at the moment and use planar magnetic technology in their headphones. Taken from Audeze’s website “The “planar” in planar magnetics refers to the magnetic field that’s distributed in the same plane (parallel) to the diaphragm. Planar magnetic diaphragms are thin and lightweight compared to much heavier moving-coil or dome diaphragms found in “dynamic” drivers. This thin diaphragm is suspended in the magnetic fields created by the magnetic arrays”. We picked up a pair of the LCD-XC ($1799) closed back headphones for review whilst at the show.
As I say there was a lot more headfi at Munich High End than I have mentioned here but I’m sure Harry will tell you all more about it when he writes up his Teen’s Perspective of Munich High-End.