Munich High End 2014: Day 1
I scarcely knew where to beginand so, upon getting hold of my press badge, I wandered into the nearest of the five enormous exhibit spaces comprising the show. I was struck by the fanciful names given the various corridors and began taking photographs; the woman pictured above, to whose presence I was otherwise oblivious, scolded me in good English: "That's not polite." I was off to a smooth start.
Things improved when I pointed myself in the other direction and focused on the displays that were coming to life around me. Walking through the enormous halle was like shopping in a distinctly modern department store devoted to high-end goods. While the people of Audeze prepared their headphone displays (above), the German distributors of Oyaide connectors bustled around brightly lit displays (below)and I began hearing snippets of music from the pre-fab demonstration spaces created for same.
Though not exactly ideal, they worked better than expected, as I discovered when I enjoyed a demonstration of Audes Excellence 5 loudspeakers ($18,000/pair), driven by Nero 88 monoblock amplifiers from Moscow-based G9 ($40,000/pair with matching preamplifier).
Next I caught sight of a nice-looking cabinet that sported a single Lowther-like driver, and introduced myself to exhibitor Marko Reinikainen of the Finnish company Existence Loudspeakers. The model name turned out to be the Erotic, but my internal Catholic filter rejected that word, and I interpreted it as the Heraldicwhich, when I repeated it, elicited much laughter. Mr. Smooth strikes again.
I was saved not by the bell but by a press conferencethe first one of the show, conducted by the show's sponsors themselves: German's High End Society GMBH. Directors Kurt W. Hecker (on the right in the photo above) and Branko Gilsovic welcomed the press and announced that this year's show features 452 exhibitorsan increase of 25% over last year's show. As it turns out, High End 2014 also marks the debut of a section called High End on Wheels, and another called Newcomers, which offers to publicize "new, young companies that don't meet exhibition criteria." As to the latter, Branko Gilsovic reminded us that the High End shows are not for "unique"a euphemism for DIYproducts: "Everything here must be available, and it must be available in Germany." That's the right idea, if you ask me.
Having already tired of a logical, one-after-the-other approach to show coverage, I bounded up the stairsnoting that, at the MOC, no square inch of advertising space goes unlovedto the space called Atrium 4.1.
There I ran into new AudioQuest employee Stephen Mejias, whose presence we miss in the same manner that the Confederacy missed Stonewall Jackson.
Stephen described the demonstrations taking place in the AudioQuest suite: comparisons between two Apple TV video/music streamers, one using generic HDMI and AC cabling, the other connected with AQ's Cinnamon HDMI ($85 for 1.5m) and NRG 1.5 AC ($169 for 1.5m).
On my way out, I ran into Steve Silberman of AudioQuest, who introduced me to Dave Rogers and Or Tal of a new company called Receptablock, makers of a soon-to-be-released locking AC receptacle that looked very fine indeed. An interesting morningand I hadn't even had my coffee yet.