Boenicke, Tune Audio, PMC, Martin Logan & Moon, Constellation Audio & Wilson, Existence & Apoll & Graditech, Existence Speakers & Apoll Acoustics and Graditech, Azzolina Audio plus hORNS & Zontec & AlbedoAURIS AUDIO AND BOENICKE
There are a few times when you visit Munich High End that you have a bit of a WOW! moment and it’s really no surprise given some of the kit on offer in some of the rooms, but quite often the biggest surprises come from the least expected of places. Stand up Boenicke who make a range of loudspeakers, but when we entered their room it was the diminutive W5 mini monitors playing away. These really are tiny little things weighing in at just 3.5kg per loudspeaker and having a 2.8L volume.
However they sound MUCH bigger and offer up a really big sound in the room with a wide soundstage and very tight bass. They’re meant to be desktops I assume, but without a doubt you’d get away with them in relatively small rooms too on stands.
The electronics on show carried through the natural and organic vibe and complimented the speakers very nicely indeed.
I made no secret for my dislike of this Greek manufacturers single driver Prime loudspeaker when I heard them at last year’s Munich show (perhaps a home demo may change this?), though they did sound fine at the Paris show last year. They have a good number of fanboys though and this only goes to show that in hifi one size certainly does not fit all. However, and it’s a big however, their Anima is a completely different beast of a loudspeaker and it’s really very, very good indeed. Sporting a 15” woofer in a bass horn enclosure that fires downwards, a 5” mid driver in a front firing horn and a neodymium magnet and titanium diaphragmed 1” compression driver coupled with the company’s Pulse horn loaded subwoofer what you get is a really fantastic sounding speaker with speed, control and huge dynamics. It’s not the prettiest of speaker systems and it’s big, but if you’ve got the money, the space and appreciate its looks then it’s up there with the best and should be on your list of must audition loudspeakers!
I’d heard the big PMC speakers in the Chord room earlier in the show and really enjoyed the partnership and so was intrigued by the company’s smaller, more affordable new PMC twenty.26 model which retails in the UK for a pretty reasonable £5750.
Well this was another of those wow! moments and I was really impressed with the sound the speakers were making and the enthusiasm of Peter Thomas the company’s founder. You can hear the studio heritage of these loudspeakers but this domestic loudspeaker looks great and sounds fab. Good, tight and deep bass couple with lovely mids and good high frequencies offer up a really well balanced speaker that I really enjoyed a great deal.
Marketing is clearly a strong point of PMC and in several of the toilets (above the urinals) at the show they had placed stickers with a target on it and the wording “PMC. Aim Higher”…genius!
MARTIN LOGAN & MOON
Martin Logan had their new Neotlith “statement class curvilinear hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker” on demo at this year’s High-End Munich coupled with Moon electronics.
The new Neolith has a 22” x 48” electrostatic transducer with a radiating surface of 35% with a 15” rear firing ported woofer and a 12” front firing sealed mid bass woofer. The company says this combo will go down to an impressive 23Hz and I really don’t doubt this claim. The sound was open in the top and mids as you would expect but the bass was tight and deep with great integration across the frequency spectrum to give a really coherent and believable sound when partnered with the Moon monoblocs. Another of those wow moments.
Like I’ve said there are a good few oohs and aahs at munich and this room was another one! Constellation were partnering their new Argo integrated amplifier along with some Wilson Audio loudspeakers and my notes say simply “Really rather lovely” and so I think I should leave it at that!
EXISTENCE SPEAKERS, APOLL ACOUSTICS & GRADITECH CABLES
This was a young and vibrant room sporting kit from Finland and it was quite an interesting room given the size of the cabin they had shoehorned everything into. The amps use ICE modules I believe. Partnered with the impressive line array of the Existence Speakers and the Graditech cables there was a purity to the sound at low levels which was really very good and when cranked up a bit became a banging sound which maintained its clarity and openness. These unassuming young companies are certainly ones to watch out for in the future!!!
Now I love a bit of disco and much prefer it to all this audiophile music that gets played quite often at shows and so I was really pleased to hear a bit of it coming out of this particular cabin. Walk in and crammed into this little room was a most impressive set of front loaded horns with lovely looking electronics that just oozed Italian class. The speakers are the company’s Gran Sfera that delivered an absolutely breathtaking performance of the music, even in such a confined space whilst electronics are the Line Stage and the wonderfully named Tortilla Soup amplifiers. The turntable is he well loved and well known Platine Verdier with the company’s Granito Plinth. One of my most favourite rooms of the whole of Munich High End 2014.
hORNS, ZONTEK & ALBEDO
From Finland to Poland. This was a really busy room and I can understand why. The Zontek turntable is a bit of a work of art I think and sounds pretty impressive to boot. The Universum speakers from hORNS have had an update recently to minimise crossover components and basically what you have is a new loudspeaker with a new amplifier driving the bass. The price is very attractive too at €22 000 and for that I think you are getting a lot of loudspeaker for your money. The sound in the room was impressive and I can understand why so many folks wanted to be in there. However, whilst the front loaded horns and downward firing bass module certainly have great presence in the room and have the potential to look really beautiful, I don’t think the colours used at Munich High-End really did it for me. I should add I currently use the company’s Mummy loudspeakers and had I the money I’d certainly be looking to upgrade to these…though possibly in gloss red for the horns and black for the bass!