High End is a BIG event and there is just so much to see, hear and report on that inevitably it’s impossible to cover everything we would like. So, in the penultimate report from High End Munich 2106 we’re going to look at some of the exhibits and stands that others may have bypassed or not given a second glance to because they weren’t in a huge room, with huge speakers and making a huge sound.
Questyle make high end digital audio players including the Questyle QP1r that Hifi Pig recently reviewed and very much enjoyed. They also make the CMA600i standalone DAC and headphone amplifier.
DiDiT come from the Netherlands and make an innovative DAC about which Hifi Pig’s Dan Worth had the following to say “I really enjoyed this one. So much that I’ve bought two, this one and the soon to be released balanced XLR version which will also support HDMI over I2s which is my primary digital connection.”
Triangle and Musical Fidelity
Triangle and Musical Fidelity share a room with Thorens who we covered earlier. Sadly their room doesn’t play music but it is always very full of punters eager to get a close up look of new gear from this Anglo/Franco alliance.
Atlas cables are made in Scotland and they offer a wide range from the relatively inexpensive to more pricey offerings. We’ve been using their mains cables on some of our kit for quite a while now and bought one of their mains blocks at the Munich show. Thanks for the nibbles and beer guys, much appreciated after a long hard day at the show!
Auris are Serbian and make some absolutely beautiful looking kit. Their room was one of the bigger ones admittedly and sounded rather pleasant.
Wadax and Fono Acoustica
Here was another room that was definitely aimed at the upper echelons of audiophilia.
From Wadax we have the PRE One Ultimate Trio is a remote controlled preamplifier of. Utilising the WADAX MusIC™ process, it operates entirely in the digital domain. The Pre1 Ultimate is composed of more than 3500 parts, more than double of the Pre1 Mk2, many are proprietary.
It accepts digital inputs via USB, SPDIF, TOSLINK and BNC. It accepts balanced and single ended analogue inputs. It can be connected to any amplifier through its singled-ended or balanced outputs.
The PRE One Ultimate PHONO stage provides standard and custom mapped RIAA equalization curves for MM and MC phono cartridges.
Depending on how the PRE One Ultimate is installed in the system, it can be optimized as a preamplifier or DAC by toggling an internal switch. There are seven operational modes:
Level line preamplifier
2. Preamplifier with integrated DAC
3. Preamplifier with optional integrated PHONO stage
4. WADAX optimized PureDAC mode
5. Phono stage with step up amplifier
6. Analogue to digital converter
7. Stream player and recorder.
Also pictured on the rack is the Wadax Hermes streamer.Hermes can playback files from 32KHz to 192KHz, 16 to 32 bits and DSD / DSD2X.
Fono Acoustica are based in Spain and make some absolutely exquisite looking cables.
Soulution and Critical Mass
US based Critical Mass Systems make rather pleasant looking racks and the like whilst Swiss brand Soulutions create electronics. Soulutions had their new 330 Integrated amplifier on show as well as their new 511 stereo amplifier.
Nordost had an interesting room and a pretty high-end set up to demonstrate their cables and other doodads. We didn’t get much chance to listen as the salesman was mid flow but the sound was good none-the-less.
Audio Exclusiv, Eternity and Lautsprecher Und Mehr
Audio Exclusiv are German and make a whole host of dear from amps to electrostatic loudspeakers and CD players. Lautsprcher Und Mehr make the interesting looking spherical speakers. We first came across them at last year’s high-end show and really enjoyed them.
Not everything at Munich High End is necessarily in the rarefied world of ultra pricey gear and this is a good thing if we are to entice the general public to demand more from their audio playback. Many will know the name TEAC and here they showed off a little all in one system and their USB turntable.
Monrio may be a new name to many but this Italian company has been around for a good while, I’ve even owned one of their preamplifiers in the past…and very good it was too. Here we have their Asty Digital, an integrated amplifier with 7 total inputs, 6 analogue and 1 digital. It also has a USB input for your computer. The Asty Digital most important feature is the onboard Crystal DAC – 24-bit/192 kHz.
Below that is the MC 206 amplifier and also pictured is the Top Loader Type 3 CD Player combines digital and a fully differential circuit topology with dual-triode vacuum gain and solid state regulation. It too sports the Crytsal DAC stage.
Supranus is Italian and handmake these really rather gorgeous and funky loudspeakers. We have no idea how they sound but they certainly pack a visual punch. Of course it won’t appeal to everyone but it’s good to see people daring to push boundaries a little in the visual aspect of audio design.
I love the Vivid Audio’s oval line as shown in the photograph, they never fail to look a bit surprised. Sound great though and a number of rooms were using their Giya series of speakers to very good effect.
Austrian Horn Manufaktur say they make speakers out of a love for music and that reproduction of emotions is their main aim. Here we can see the company’s Allegro which is 97dB sensitive with company owner Gerald Hüpfel who has been making loudspeakers since he was thirteen. Would love to have a proper listen to these loudspeakers at some point.
We tested the Diesis Aura loudspeakers at the start of 2015 and quite liked them. The have now added a streamer using their own software and an amplifier to their range. This company really ought to have had a room of some sort so visitors could take a good listen.
Lyravox understand that not everyone who want to have great quality audio reproduction necessarily wants a room full of electronics and loudspeakers. Their elegant solutions are pretty pricey but look exceptionally well made.
Unity Audio Ltd
Unity Audio are UK based and make equipment for recording studios. At High End they had their Avalanche Sub with Boulder three way active monitors atop. The Boulders are fitted with two 220mm SEAS custom Aluminum woofers that provide bass down to 32Hz and beyond. The unique ELAC coaxial 5″ mid-range & 50 kHz tweeter drive unit works as a point source over 7 octaves and delivers linear amplitude and phase independent of frequency.
The room was professionally treated with GIK Acoustics products and sounded really rather good. As we walked out the room someone asked disparagingly about what we thought of the room, adding that it certainly wasn’t hifi. My response was that the sound was accurate and dry and whilst not everyone is going to appreciate this kind of presentation it was clear that the sound was nothing if not accurate and true to the source material.
Nime Audio Design
Hifi Pig first came across Italian company Nime Audio Design a couple or so years ago at High End Munich where they debuted their very interesting looking loudspeakers, the Elite. There are now two versions of Elite and a subwoofer in the range.
TAGA Harmony is a Polish company with their own factory in China enabling hem to make products that represent astounding value for money. The TAGA Harmony founders defined the main criteria for sound performance of their loudspeakers, which is: to be accurate, with perfect localization, spacious soundstage and wide dispersion as well as a deep, powerful bass and impressive dynamics.
Neat are based in the North West of England and it’s always a pleasure to catch up with them at hifi shows. At this years show there were examples of their Iota Alpha loudspeaker which looks pretty cool…neat (excuse the pun) and compact. The Iota Alphas are just 45cm high, is a 2.5 way design with a downward firing 134mm woofer.
About as iconic a British brand as you could possibly hope to come across. Everyone of a certain age will remember listening to a Roberts radio at some point in their lives. Apparently the Queen of England uses one whilst doing the ironing and tidying.