Munich High End 2011

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 23, 2011 0 comments
Which one of these things is not like the other? The Harbeth Monitor 20.1 (far left), in new titanium gray finish, makes a statement.

The company wanted to design something a bit sexier, a bit more modern, explained Harbeth’s Alan Shaw.

While he admitted that reasons for selecting one loudspeaker over another are not always rational, he believes a loudspeaker should be used in the application best suited to it. The Monitor 20s are optimized for nearfield monitoring in desktop sound- and video-editing.

Still: “‘Sexy’ is really important,” said Shaw.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 20, 2011 0 comments
Castle Acoustics is a brand we don’t talk too much about in the States. This is the Richmond Anniversary, its mirror-matched pairs beautifully veneered in luscious Lacewood.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 20, 2011 1 comments
I received a special request for more pictures of Rosemarie, so here she is, posing with the very attractive Albedo Model HL1.2 loudspeaker, a two-way, linear-phase design with a 4” mid-woofer, 1” tweeter, and super-sexy striped ebony finish.

Afterward, Rosemarie would tell me that several people here at the Munich High End Show recognized her from this show report. “You’re making me famous,” she said.

“That’s what I do,” I explained. “I make girls famous.”

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 20, 2011 1 comments
Andy Regan (left) and George Cardas are excited about the current state of hi-fi and music. They strongly believe that the asynchronous technologies found in today’s digital-to-analog converters can erase any negative effects the Compact Disc has had on music and on our enjoyment of music. It’s possible to achieve improved sound quality and enjoy a better overall listening experience by removing the disc from the equation, playing high-quality music files stored on a hard drive.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 20, 2011 0 comments
The controls on these sleek Audiolab 8200 Series components were pure pleasure; I could have played with them all day long. The 8200CD CD player uses the Sabre 32-bit DAC from ESS Technology—hot. The 8200Q preamp’s six line-level inputs respond to remote control, but you’ll want to caress this thing; the volume knob is a motorized potentiometer for precise tracking, while a separate gain control enables sensitivity to be matched to different power amps and source components. Finally, the clean, simple 8200P power amp provides 100Wpc into 8 ohms.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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!”

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Stephen Mejias Posted: 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.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 19, 2011 2 comments
Here I am, whispering sweet nothings to PSB’s outstanding Alpha B1 ($279/pair)—only moments earlier, I was totally making out with it—one of my very favorite standmounted loudspeakers and our 2007 "Budget Product of the Year".

I’ve owned a pair of these overachievers for several years now, but mine are in a more modest black ash—not quite as sexy as this new high-gloss white finish. (I want it!)

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 19, 2011 0 comments
Sales coordinator Rosemarie Torcivia smiles for the camera; a large balloon hovers in the background, announcing the 2011 Munich High End Show.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 19, 2011 0 comments
As I opened the door to my little room, I was greeted by the distinct buzz of television electricity. I wondered if someone was inside, waiting for me.

No such luck, but I found something similarly delightful: A friendly greeting from the hotel, in charming, 8-bit glory.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 19, 2011 0 comments
As we raced to catch the bus that would take us from Manhattan to Newark Liberty Airport, Rosemarie Torcivia and I were caught in an incredible downpour—rain like we rarely see it in New York City. Our trip to Germany for the 2011 High End Show had gotten off to a soggy start. Was this a sign of things to come?
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Stephen Mejias Posted: May 19, 2011 0 comments
I haven’t quite figured out the layout of the M.O.C., but I’ve enjoyed the small courtyards which connect the different halls. Here, people take breaks from the action inside, to read, drink, and eat. This particular section has the look and feel of a small beer garden.

I love Germany.

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