Munich High End 2011

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Stephen Mejias  |  May 24, 2011  |  0 comments
T+A’s E-Series Music Receiver is a machine.

It combines the company’s Power Plant and Music Player to provide 160Wpc (“Full-grown amplification to drive even low impedances....”), while combining a CD player, 32-bit/384kHz Sigma Delta DAC, FM tuner, five digital inputs, three analog inputs, a powerful streaming client board for accessing all sorts of music files, and a bunch of other stuff I wasn’t quick enough to write down.

Badass. I would let this thing receive my music any day.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 24, 2011  |  0 comments
Measuring approximately 43” x 12” x 15”, the CWT500 (€14,000/pair) is the smallest and prettiest loudspeaker in T+A’s Solitaire line. The transmission-line design uses an 18” x 2” electrostatic unit mated to two side-firing 8” woofers and three 5” midrange units. The speaker is available in several high-gloss finishes, including the luscious Macassar ebony seen here.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 24, 2011  |  1 comments
Rosemarie walked by, ran her fingers through her thick brown hair, made a joke about “T and A,” and sent this 1000W T+A M10 monoblock (€9990) into a frenzy.

The girl is a hazard to hi-fi.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 24, 2011  |  2 comments
A typical display at the M.O.C. was open, airy, and comfortable, made to resemble a well-designed modern home—very much unlike the typical hotel room at many of our US hi-fi shows, which are often dimly lit, stuffy, and completely uncomfortable.

Time and time again during the Munich High End Show, I was impressed by the ways in which hi-fi was presented.

The issue of cost, which is so often prevalent at our shows, also seemed nonexistent in Munich. Even the issue of sound, our reason for existence, seemed easy to overlook in light of the pure fun, obvious physical excellence, and, yes, sexiness, of the displays in Munich.

The Munich Show was not only promoting and selling sound, but was promoting and selling a way of life. In Munich, and perhaps in all of Europe, the idea of enjoying a certain high-quality “lifestyle” was eagerly embraced; meanwhile, here in the States, such an idea is often derided.


If hi-fi were presented in the States as it was at the Munich show, we might not have such silly questions about attracting a younger audience, attracting women, or even whether the hobby will survive. We would be too busy enjoying ourselves—stopping for a Spaten in the sun before heading on to the next exhibit—to waste time and life with any of that foolishness.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 24, 2011  |  1 comments
NAD gear really gets around. The stuff was all over the Munich High End Show, which made me feel sort of proud to have NAD’s C 316BEE (review to come in our July issue) in my own system.

Rosemarie was dressed to perfectly match this lovely, simple system: Dynaudio’s small and capable DM2/6 loudspeakers ($800/pair), matched with NAD’s C 565BEE CD player, C 165BEE preamp, and C 245BEE amplifier.

“Just sit right here and look pretty,” I told her.


“I said, ‘You look so pretty.’ What did you think I said?”

Stephen Mejias  |  May 24, 2011  |  0 comments
The press kit reads: “Home is where we can do exactly what we please. It’s freedom to breathe, live, love, and play together with music as a dedicated companion….”
Stephen Mejias  |  May 24, 2011  |  0 comments
Does this man look tired? Not at all. In fact, he seems tireless.

“Do you have any new products?” I innocently asked Hans-Ole Vitus, Vitus Audio’s uncompromising founder and designer.

His eyes went wide.

“Yes. I hadn’t slept for two weeks leading up to this show because I’d been worrying about all the new products.”

Stephen Mejias  |  May 23, 2011  |  0 comments
The world’s sexiest record-cleaning machine? Possibly. This Hannl Mera ELB (€2670), housed in orange acrylic to look like hot lava, offers programmable cleaning and suction functions for quiet operation and quick drying.

Don’t like orange lava? (What’s wrong with you?) Potential owners can customize their Mera ELBs. Pick your favorite colors and clean away.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 23, 2011  |  1 comments
The Acoustic Solid Bambus turntable (€6500) caught our attention with its combination of acrylic platter and plinth and bamboo supports. Wild-fi.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 23, 2011  |  0 comments
Once you’ve decided on your tonearms and cartridges, you can use Dr. Feickert’s Adjust+ software to adjust azimuth, measure wow and flutter, and set the speed of your turntable. Or you can download Feickert’s free PlatterSpeed app for your Apple- or Android-based tablet or cell phone, and combine it with Feickert’s 7” Test Record.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 23, 2011  |  5 comments
Look at this sexy beast. (I’m talking about the turntable.) Dr. Feickert Analogue’s Blackbird (€5490) got my attention with its clean lines and beautiful wood trim. The Blackbird shares the simple design of Feickert’s smaller Woodpecker, but adds the option of a second tonearm, while its refined controller software drives both motors in a slave-master configuration.

"Take a picture of me stroking this gorgeous thing," I said to Rosemarie.

"Yes, boss," she sighed.

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.

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….”

Stephen Mejias  |  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.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 23, 2011  |  0 comments
On Thursday evening, Rosemarie and I attended the High End Show Gala, held in a large hall on the ground floor of the M.O.C. Marking the entrance were impressive, illuminated sculptures, creating an otherworldly scene.