Munich High End 2011

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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.)

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 28, 2011 2 comments
"Come here often?"

The KEF Muon reflects the exquisite beauty of woman.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 28, 2011 0 comments
Audioarts’ Gideon Schwartz introduced me to a new loudspeaker from Switzerland’s Stenheim, a company founded by four young designers who had previously worked together at the high-profile Goldmund firm.

Here, the Alumine monitor ($12,795/pair) is mated to an optional subwoofer module ($26,700/pair). Should one opt against the sub, matching aluminum stands add $2975/pair. The speakers were partnered with CH source components and Viola Audio Labs amplification.

These speakers, perhaps more than any others I heard at the show, managed to “disappear,” leaving nothing but music in their place. Without sounding at all aggressive, the system produced lots of fine detail and great center fill.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 28, 2011 3 comments
Those who’ve attended a Wilson Audio Specialties demo know that the company’s Peter McGrath puts on a good show—when it comes to introducing a loudspeaker and winning over an audience, he’s perhaps the best in the business.

So, I wasn’t actually surprised that Rosemarie took a fancy to the man. I was surprised, though, by how deeply she enjoyed the demonstration.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 28, 2011 1 comments
At first, I didn’t know what was going on. I only noticed a very large crowd of people, all seemingly fascinated by what was standing before them.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.’”

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 28, 2011 1 comments
The KEF Blade got lots of attention.

"Closer, closer...That's it...Yes...Now look into my tangerine waveguide..."

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 27, 2011 2 comments
An Acoustic Signature Ascona with SME Series 5 tonearm and low-out moving-coil Ortofon Rohmann cartridge made beautiful music leading a system comprising VTL MB-450 Series III monoblock power amplifiers, TL-7.5 Series III preamplifier, and TP-6.5 phono preamplifier. Speakers were the distinctive and dynamic Vivid G2 Giya.

To start off our listening, I picked one of my sister’s favorite albums, Adele’s 21. I noted a great sense of forward momentum and stunning dynamic range, all of Adele’s strong soulfulness communicated fully. I turned to Rosemarie, and I searched for some sign of recognition of the beauty which radiated before us...

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 27, 2011 0 comments
An entire family of Chord Chordettes: The Toucan headphone amplifier; Dual moving-coil phono stage; Prime 4-input preamplifier; Peach D/A processor, descendant of the Gem; Scamp 40Wpc power amplifier; Mogul micro PC with six USB inputs, 320GB storage, and HD audio support; and Maxx integrated amplifier.

The Chordettes are meant to make up one powerful, versatile, colorful system.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 27, 2011 0 comments
Hegel’s Anders Ertzeid stands proud with an Apple iPad and Hegel’s HD20 DAC ($2000). Ertzeid was using the iPad and AirPlay to wirelessly stream full-resolution files into the HD20.

“It’s a very stable connection,” Ertzeid said. “Even with all the competing networks here, the music hasn’t skipped at all.”

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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 27, 2011 0 comments
Here, the lovely Rosemarie tempts Hegel’s mascot.

The polar bear, Isbjornar, keeps watch over Hegel’s prized “Soundengine,” the company’s reason for existence, a technology meant to optimize power consumption, reduce distortion, and increase damping factor.

But Isbjornar seems smitten. I think Rosemarie has won his heart.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 27, 2011 2 comments
Acoustic Signature turntables are solid, non-suspended designs with heavy platters and electronically controlled drive motors. Their maintenance-free bearings are meant to last a lifetime, while their exchangeable tonearm plates allow for easy swapping of tonearms.

All but the most affordable Barzetti, or "Black Beauty" (€1800), which has an integrated electronic motor and sports a 10-layer piano finish, are made in Germany. The Barzetti is made in Poland.

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