Munich High End 2011
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Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 28, 2011 0 comments
“Hey, look—Jeff Joseph’s speakers arrived!” Rosemarie exclaimed.

“Oh, cool. Let’s take a picture,” I said. “Go over there and look pretty.”

“What?”

“I said, ‘You look so pretty.’ Geez. Come on, stand next to the speakers. Please?”

“Alright.”

“I said, ‘Stand next to them.’ I didn’t say, ‘Lean all over them like they’re yours.’”

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 20, 2011 1 comments
Unfortunately, Jeff Joseph’s shipment of gear was delayed due to a short FedEx strike which occurred in Paris. Joseph was understandably tired and frustrated, but he hadn’t lost his great sense of humor.

“I can still play the speakers,” he said with a straight face.

I thought for a moment that he would employ some powerful new wireless technology; Joseph was an early proponent for computer-based audio.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. What would you like to hear?”

He covered his face with the press release for his lovely Pulsar ($7000/pair) and began to sing.

I can’t remember what song we listened to, but it really was like hearing live music. There was almost nothing separating us from the song.

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 28, 2011 2 comments
JA would have lost his mind.

KEF’s Julia Davidson gave an excellent presentation, discussing the company’s efforts in bringing the Blade concept to life.

We listened to Radiohead’s “All I Need” from the great In Rainbows, and the song seemed to have more swagger than I’m used to, more grip, more pull, a way of reaching out and reeling in.

“That sounds good,” smiled Julia.

“You’re one of the designers?” I asked.

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 28, 2011 0 comments
A goodbye note from JB Stanton Communications' Bryan Stanton, one of the many friendly faces I somehow managed to miss while in Munich.

And just as suddenly as we arrived in Munich—just as we were beginning to feel comfortable and alive—it was, unfortunately, time to leave Munich. Rosemarie and I loved the city, the people, the food, and the hi-fi.

The M.O.C. proved to be an outstanding venue for presenting hi-fi in the best possible light, creating an atmosphere that invited attendees to linger, relax, enjoy. Though the weekend’s weather was absolutely glorious, people from all over the world decided to spend it indoors, with music and sound and gear.

Some stats and trivia:

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 23, 2011 0 comments
Harbeth’s Alan Shaw holds his Monitor 20.1 loudspeaker.

I enjoyed a stimulating conversation about the priorities of a loudspeaker designer, the applications in which a speaker is used, and the difficulties of sound- and video-editing.

The first question Shaw wants answered about any particular loudspeaker is: “What loudness level is it optimized for?” From that, he can tell a lot about a speaker’s abilities and the priorities of its designer.

“If I get a strange look, as though [the designer] is wondering why I would want to know such a thing, then I start to feel anxious….”

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 20, 2011 1 comments
I was drawn to the smoky, nearly sunburst finish of the Luxman D-30u CD player, which offers a choice between solid-state and ECC82 vacuum tube playback. The matching SQ-30u vacuum tube integrated amp offers 30Wpc and has a selectable MM/MC phono stage; MC cartridges are handled by a step-up trannie. Cool.
Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 20, 2011 0 comments
Luxman had a small, attractive, vintage-inspired system on display: The 12Wpc NeoClassico Series SQ-N10 vacuum tube amp (which includes a moving-magnet phono stage), a D-N10 CD player (not shown here), and lovely minimonitors made to match.
Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 23, 2011 0 comments
Jim Richards poses beside his MD 806 WiFi tuner ($2500; sitting on the shelf below the sweet turntable).

In development for over two years, the MD 806 provides access to FM, DAB, and DAB+, as well as Internet radio stations via its onboard WiFi antenna or LAN, and locally connected music collections (MP3, AAC, FLAC, WMA, Real). Its 3.5” touchscreen displays metadata, genre, bit rate, codec, and sampling rate for the playing track, while personal audio collections (accessed through a local network or USB connection) are navigable by artist name, album name, or musical genre.

Optical and RCA digital outputs are also included for use with an external DAC.

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 28, 2011 1 comments
MBL’s 101 Xtreme loudspeaker system ($260,000) combines mirror-imaged pairs of the company’s 101 loudspeaker with outboard active subwoofers. A pair of MBL 9011s drove the lower omnis, while a pair of 9008s handled the upper omnis.

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” sounded appropriately thrilling, and it was cool to hear how well the system managed to depict Christina Aguilera as a petite woman with an enormous voice.

Drama, scale, impact, resolution, speed, speed, speed, three-dimensional images on a massive soundstage. This system produced music with a sort of muscular physicality and confidence. Another one of my favorite sounds at the show, though completely different from all others.

Rosemarie agreed, for once. She liked it, too. (Thank goodness! It obviously only takes half a million dollars to impress this woman.)

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 20, 2011 1 comments
These two kitty-clad women have been following me all over the show. They’re here to promote Cambridge Audio’s new Minx series of mini-speakers, made to match a small, stylish design with true high-quality sound.

Genius.

“You two are so hot, you should be illegal,” I told them.

They laughed.

“What did you just say to them?” Rosemarie asked.

“I told them they were so hot they should be illegal.”

“God, you’re such a guy.”

“Danke!”

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 27, 2011 1 comments
Vinyl, vinyl, vinyl.

There was a lot of it at the Munich High End Show, and the vinyl booths were always well-attended. Here, we see the Da Capo stand, where I spotted a great selection of indie rock titles.

I managed to control myself, unfortunately.

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 23, 2011 1 comments
Music Hall’s new plug-and-play dac15.2 ($299) has USB, coaxial, and optical inputs and is capable of handling resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz.

“It’s just fucking amazing,” Roy Hall said simply.

Available this fall.

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 23, 2011 0 comments
I swear: Music Hall’s Roy Hall was cracking jokes and smiling wide just moments before I snapped this shot.

“Are you enjoying the show?” he had asked.

“Very much. This show has a certain grace and a natural sex appeal that shows in the States seem to lack,” I said.

Roy nodded. “Ah, you get it. So you’re not just a pretty face.”

Then he walked me over to his new MMF-11 turntable (around $4500, including Pro-Ject 10cc carbon-fiber tonearm). First seen in prototype form at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, the 43-lb MMF-11 is a two-motor, flywheel-driven turntable with a thick, acrylic platter, a four-layer plinth, and magnetic feet to further isolate the turntable from vibrations.

“No original ideas here,” Roy quipped.

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 25, 2011 0 comments
Musical Surroundings’ Garth Leerer explained that the success of his company has hinged upon his ability to find and work with great designers. Often these relationships grow naturally over time and depend on the perfect alignment of certain circumstances, as was the case when Northern California designer Michael Yee needed someone to market his Phonomena phono stage: It was too inexpensive for one distributor, too expensive for another, but just right for Leerer; and, so, a long relationship was born.

In the case of the Fosgate Signature phono stage ($2500), Jim Fosgate had been tinkering with the design for nearly 30 years. After a break from analog, Fosgate wanted to get back into vinyl. He first became a customer of Musical Surroundings, and later approached Leerer with a design. The Fosgate Signature is an all-tube, MM/MC design at a real-world price, “a dream product” for Leerer.

Along with the Signature phono preamp and Fozgometer azimuth tool (reviewed by Michael Fremer in our May 2010 issue), Fosgate will design a line stage and power amplifier for Musical Surroundings, to be debuted at the 2011 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Munich High End 2011
Stephen Mejias May 25, 2011 0 comments
The 150Wpc C 375BEE (€1399) uses technology found in NAD’s M3 Master Series amplifier and benefits from the company’s “Building Block” design, allowing for the addition of the PP375 phono stage (€250) and other affordable options.
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