Munich High End 2013 – Newcomers
Hifi Pig knows what it’s like to be a new company in the hifi world and so when we heard that the organisers of this years Munich High End show would be offering a handful of new hifi manufacturing companies the opportunity to display their wares we thought we would also lend our support by giving them a little more of the limelight in the pages of Hifi Pig.
The companies chosen were: Pure Audio Project, Manufacture le Son, Rike Audio, Lab 12, Black Pearls Audio, Schuch Tronic, BeatOn and Erzetich Audio.
Pure Audio Project
Pure Audio Project is a new hifi manufacturer based in Tel Aviv (Israel) making very interesting open baffle loudspeakers which are very much a product of DIY audiophiles wanting to share their sonic successes with a wider audience. The open baffle loudspeakers use Hawthorne Audio drivers which we understand are highly modified Eminence drivers which we know have been a favourite with DIYers for years.
Interestingly the loudspeakers come flat packed and you assemble them yourself. We were talked through the process and both I and Linette (Mrs Hifi Pig) agreed that even I could manage to put these loudspeakers together with no worries – you don’t even need any tools! Interestingly when you order the loudspeakers the individual bits are not sent from Pure Audio Projects themselves, rather the manufacturer of each component part sends them out to you saving on supply chain costs.
The baffles themselves are pre-cut from German Oak and the speakers themselves have an efficiency of 96dB making them ideal for flea powered valve amplifiers or class D amplifiers.
There are no knobs and dials on the boxes at all and the whole of the control of the products is done using a tablet computer or even a smartphone via a specially made app’.
All the bits and pieces that go into making these bit’s of “Hifi Art” are visible through the chassis and the buyer can individually specify the finish that best suits them and their home.
The amplifier has an output of 100 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms, has both balanced and unbalanced inputs and weighs in at just shy of 20 Kg.
The DAC supports via streaming WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, MP3, AAC, WMA, DSF, DFF formats, PCM upto 192kHz 24-bit and DSD 1-bit at 2.8224 MHz. Inputs include: 2x Coaxial S/PDIF, Optical S/PDIF on Toslink and I2S on the HDMI connector.
Well where do you begin with this? Ok, Rike Audio is a German manufacturer of what can only be described as an awesome looking pair of tube monobloc amplifiers which each come complete with their own dedicated (and massive) power supply. Their weight is around 250Kg.
We chatted with the designer for a a good while and he is without doubt very enthusiastic about his creation and it was a real pleasure to speak to him – the slightly inebriated American gentleman who muscled in on our conversation was ignored by all!
At this amplifiers heart is the massive Kron 1610 output valve (see our factory visit here), the driver tube is a Kron 300 B and the remaining input valve is a C3M. Each of the valves has its own dedicated power supply! The output is 50 watts into 8 ohms, single-ended, Class A.
Transformers are a amorphous core for the input valve, the Kron 300B has C Core and the Kron 1610 uses a huge C Core amorphous transformer using silver wiring throughout.
Price is a cool €380 000.
Black Pearls Audio
Hifi Pig have been chatting to Konstaninos Papachristou at Greek company Black Pearls Audio for a few months now and so it was great to finally put a face to the e mails at Munich High End. The company produces just one product, the Birth 100.
The Birth 100 is an integrated amplifier with a power output of 70W presented in a dual-mono layout. The pre-amplifier stage is class-A and single-ended, powered by separate circuit and toroidal transformer. The power stage is hugely biased for class-A and uses audio grade MOSFETS. The amplifier is fully CE compliant has 5 line inputs and 1 XLR input which are selectable from either the front panel or the remote control.
The DAC 1 has been designed to give a pure analogue sound with non-oversampling conversion carried out by eight matched Phillips TDA 1543 chips with the output going through a dual new old stock tube stage. It sports retro analogue V/U meters and it has to be said it loos very cool indeed. Inputs are USB2 and coaxial SPDIF at 24/96Khz. It has six separate power supplies using gold Nichicon capacitors. Elsewhere AB carbon resistors and Jantzen Superior-Z coupleing capacitors are used. The unit comes in black, white or a choice of custome colours. Price is €1500.
The Knack power cable has three double insulated, tinned pure copper conductors with steel shield for the live and neutral conductors, inside braided polyester (PET) sleeve. High quality plugs with tight connections and silver/rhodium plated conductors. Price is €175.
Erzitech are a Slovenian based manufacturer making three headphone amplifiers and a headphone stand. The products are named Bacillus, Bacillus Tilia and the Perfidus. We like oddly named kit on Hifi Pig!
The Bacillus is the company’s entry level amplifier with an output of 161mW into 600 Ohm and a frequency response of 3 Hz to 500kHZ. It’s a nicely designed bit of kit and looks to be well worthy of its €450 asking price.
The Bacillus Tilia looks to have a very similar spec’ to the Bacillus but here each chassis is individually hand carved from Linden wood and painted with seven coats of four different types of varnish. It uses upgraded input capacitors and different op-amps. Asking price is €600.
The top of the current range Perfidus is a class A headphone amplifier with a frequency response of 4 Hz – 40kHz and will drive headphones from 8 – 600 ohms. We had a very quick listen using Grado 325i headphones and the unit sounded sweet with very nice and controlled bass. We also had a very brief listen to the Bacillus which sounds very nice indeed but is well outclassed by the €750 Perfidus.
The cabinet is a mixture of glass fibre, concrete and epoxy resin and the loudspeaker is made in Germany. The BeamBox, the company’s name for their loudspeaker gives you not only a loudspeaker but also a light show. In essence the front of the loudspeaker lights up and interacts with the music.
They have a frequency response of 28 Hz – 25000Hz, a sensitivity of 86 dB and are a bass reflex design. Price is €9000.
German company Schuch Tronic are headed up by Daniel Schuch and make a tonearm that looks very interesting indeed. Judging by the number of visitors to the stand it wasn’t just Hifi Pig who were impressed.
The tonearm operates on a constant tracking angle meaning that the stylus is always perpendicular to the horizontal axis. It’s an interesting looking bit of kit but such was the interest in the product that we were unable to speak directly with Daniel.