We have been making the pilgrimage to High End Munich for five years now. It is, quite simply, the greatest Hifi Show on earth. I love meeting people from all over the world, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, this year I lost track of the number of people who grabbed us saying ‘I know you from Facebook!’ and it was brilliant to meet people that we knew ‘virtually’ in the flesh. High End Munich is one of those shows that can overwhelm you with it’s immensity. It’s quite tricky to explain just how big a show it is…it’s a beast! Every year has been incredible, but this year it just went up another level. It’s kind of crazy, but just when you think the best can’t get any better, it does, and this year High End turned it up to 11.

So what was it about this year’s High End that made it so special? There was an energy about it, it was exciting, it was fun and it was sexy. Let’s back up a bit here…Hifi has long had an image of being ‘Audiophile’, of being the realm of either lonely guys that looked like they crept out from under a rock, or corporate companies that just see it as a marketing exercise to promote their products. Neither of those things are particularly fun or sexy. Hifi is about music and music is fun and sexy. In recent years there are more young people getting into hifi, there are more women getting into it and there are more and more younger people and women in the industry. People don’t want boring and dusty products, they want the gear to be sexy and desirable, they want it to make them feel special, from seeing it at a show to actually buying it and using it at home. The Hifi industry has ‘wised up’ to this and this year saw the perfect balance of gorgeous, stylish hifi gear, backed up with the technology and the know-how and many years of experience of making great hifi.

Let me give you an example. Take Gold Note, admittedly they are Italian so they kind of have an unfair advantage in the ‘being sexy and fun’ thing. Coming from a sunny place renowned for art, food, wine and cars with curves like supermodels does give you a head start. What Gold Note are doing is producing high end, serious hifi (we use their 5000€ Tuscany Red MC cartridge in our reference system) but far from being boring and elitist, they make their products desirable. The gorgeous black electronics, undulating speakers and stunning turntables that they had on show at High End Munich were things that you wanted to own even before you heard them. Tommaso and the team were stylish and enthusiastic, and they have their branding totally on point, without being boring and corporate.

Avantgarde Acoustic have been making very sexy speakers for a long time. We own their Duo XDs and can tell you they are some of the best looking and sounding loudspeakers around. However far from being all hoity-toity about it, Holger and Beate and their team want to have fun. So they show their horns in bright, eye-catching colours, play a wide variety of music from pop, to classical and even some kitsch German yodelling folk music and then have a party. We walked in to their huge and packed room on Sunday to be treated to a live performance by Oded Kafri who leapt around playing drums and being very entertaining. It was brilliant, energetic and just so much fun, truly excellent!

If you were at the show, chances are you spotted our pink, Hifi Pig and VPI slipmats that we were handing out to people at the show. Mark Levinson unveiled their N°515 turntable (their first) created in partnership with VPI so it was only fitting that we got a shot of it sporting the VPI mat while we were at their press conference!

Muraudio deserve a special mention. Thursday was an exhausting day. We had a lot of meetings and a lot of press events and it was very, very hot. How people on the top floor didn’t actually cook I don’t know! We popped into Muraudio’s booth to have a listen to their omni-directional hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers. These are really speakers that you could live with. Omni speakers seem to be the modern way to do hifi, how often do you really have time to sit in the sweet spot, having omnis means you can get on with doing what you have to and still get great sounds. We had a welcome chill out in a nice cool room listening to Daft Punk through the Muraudio speakers and Moon electronics.

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