Bird: UK slang meaning a woman/wife/girlfriend, synonyms: broad, chick, dame, girl, lass.
‘Oh no, it’s raining again’
Friday dawns and I’m feeling totally refreshed after a great night’s sleep at the München Deutscher Kaiser. NH hotels have their beds specially made and they are very, very comfortable.
It is, however, peeing down on Munich and most of Europe by the look of it, luckily we are used to this kind of inclement weather and it won’t put us off.
We made complete pigs (what else) of ourselves at the breakfast buffet. (Is cheesecake really a breakfast item? I think we can just about get away with that one!) Then off we rolled out onto the streets of Munich (in the rain) to get the underground up to the MOC.
First stop was a quick meeting with Norbert Lehmann CEO of Lehmann Audio and his son David. They are justifiably very proud of their range of products and we had a very interesting half hour with them. Mr Hifi Pig will tell you more about that later.
The show on Friday was absolutely heaving as it was now open to the public as well as press and trade visitors. Perhaps the torrential weather had something to do with it too, keeping everyone inside rather than out in the beer garden. This foxed my plans somewhat as I had been intending to get into the Avantgarde Acoustic room to hear ‘my’ Trios but we could barely get past the door so changed our plans and decided to get in early tomorrow.
We wanted to see as much as possible so did a bit of an upstairs downstairs mixture, trying to get were it wasn’t too packed which wasn’t easy at all, still we were managing to speak to loads of people and were starting to realise just how many people knew about Hifipig.com already.
The German Physiks room was, for some strange reason, deserted when we walked in. This was a great thing for us as we got to wander round the room to really experience the white column omnidirectional speakers that he had playing. It was nice to have a bit of time to chat to Robert Kelly about his speakers and the DDD Driver that they use in all the models from entry level to high end.
The Estelon room looked like it had been done out as a tribute to Hifi Pig in pink and black and Alissa Vassilkova was wearing pink and black to match. I think this was actually just a happy accident but it was certainly a novel icebreaker, ‘you’re pink and black, so are we!’ The room had a great feel in a nightclub style. I really love Estelon speakers both for their look and their sound and I noticed that they were being used in a few other rooms too.
Off to Danish High End company Gato next to see their new top of the range speaker FM-8, the big brother of the renowned FM-6, and their new range of affordable integrated amplifiers with built-in high resolution DAC’s and digital inputs. It was a great room with a big comfy settee, sat in front of a plasma screen ‘fireplace’ a nice place to flop for a bit and scoff some of their chocolate while listening to their kit. Great look, great sound.
We popped out for a beer break and to meet Geoff and Pam Merrigan, half of Tellurium Q. I was really looking forward to this after reviewing their Ultra Black cables a while back.
We were incredible stoic and British about the weather and insisted on standing out in the beer garden under umbrellas to drink our liquid lunch! These guys are great; we clicked with them straight away…they definitely share the Pig sense of humour!
Bit of an odd one next. We walked into a real oasis of calm, it was cool, it was chilled, and it was great. This was the Phonosophie room and when we spoke to the guy in charge he explained that they had carefully placed crystals around the room to enhance the energy and make it less stressful. I was actually taking a picture of what looked like a blue light full of crystals and trying to work out if it was hifi or not! Now I am not usually a believer in all that new age stuff, but it certainly felt and sounded nice in there, so they must be doing something right.
We saw a lot of room treatments and panels while we were in Munich, but probably my favourite were the Kaiser Acoustic, Skyline diffusers. They had these in the EnKlein Cables room and they looked stunning. From the front they looked like strange, black paintings then when you looked from the side you could see their texture.
The Focal and Naim room was a big one, a 50 seat demo room dedicated to a high-end system combining Focal Utopia Stella EM loudspeakers with Naim amplification and source. I really like Focal speakers though they do tend to make you feel like they are going to pounce on you when you get up close to the big ones. It was a big enough room so that you could easily get round despite the crowds, though I think the Focals actually sounded better in some of the other set ups I saw them in, rather than in their own room.
The most effective use of Focals was in a 5.1 surround system but the name of the room escapes me (It was Illusonic – Stu). The guy did a really good demonstration of how the system worked and the difference between stereo and 5.1. Not sure quite how practical 5 big Focals and a sub in most peoples houses would be though, I think it might be a bit intimidating.
I also managed to pick up my first stalker in the Naim/Focal room, luckily he realised I was with Mr Hifi Pig and buggered off!
Thoress are very interesting, I had a chat with Reinhard back down on the ground floor where I was immediately drawn to his beautiful, racing green (perhaps the new black for hifi?) valve amps. He explained how they were based on old amplifiers from the post war era and are completely made in Germany. Although I couldn’t hear them as he didn’t have a booth, I was very impressed with the quality and the styling and he had a well thought out, small selection of products, valves + horns = heaven!
My last pick from Friday is one of my favourites, again haven’t heard them yet but I was drawn to Vexo’s startling array of 300B valves like a moth to a flame! Carlo Contaldo’s flagship product is a stunning valve amp and power supply that comes in at around 39,000€ He explained the techy stuff in a way even a non techy person could understand, basically the build quality and the finish on these is incredible, they are big, heavy and beautiful and I imagine you could make toast over the top of those valves when they are fired up. Great attention to detail and effortless Italian style. What a way to end the day. Hopefully he will have a room next year and we can hear them.
We decided to go and chill out at the hotel for a couple of hours before the evenings festivities started as we had a night out planned with Jo from JoSound and Pierre from the French distributors, AMF.
We did try the Hofbrauhaus again but it was just too busy so we ended up at a nice little pizza place and drank plenty of beer, well, when in Rome and all that!
Roll on Saturday!