Getting Started at High End 2018

This is my first trip to High End Munich, held Thursday–Sunday May 10–13 at the MOC convention center. Besides reporting for Stereophile, I am charged with scouting to make a final determination whether it "would be worth the suffering" for my Brooklyn friend Sphere, who hates to travel more than two hours to get anywhere! "Herb, just tell me, if I only attend one audio show, should it be Munich?"

For years, he only attended the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, but this year he ventured (with my urging) to AXPONA and loved it—especially the light and beauty of the venue. But Sphere only wants to attend one show.

I haven't told him yet, but I knew what to tell him before I landed. My flight on Lufthansa was smooth. The food was better than serviceable . . . and the view from the plane window of those German farms surrounding Munich was full-on 17th-century Dutch painting inspirational. But Sphere is stubborn and I knew he'd need more reasons than that.

Sphere is legally blind, but even he could follow the trail of High End 2018 advertising banners leading from the airport arrival gate, down every street, to the front door of the MOC. He would see right away that, in Europe, perfectionist audio is a big deal; and not just a dalliance of white-haired gentlemen. As they handed him his press badge, he would be astounded by the rich mix of age and gender and fashion on display. He would marvel at the light and architecture and impressive scale of the event.

From just looking at photos, Sphere thought it looked cold and convention-center glassy, but I am going to tell him it is not that way at all. "High End is all about the vibe, which is warm and intimate! Yes Sphere, you heard me right. I have only been here one sleepy tired jet-lagged day, but I already know the second-best thing about this show: everybody who is anybody in the entire global world of high-end audio is here. All the high-fi poobahs, moguls, and upstarts, they are all waiting in the atrium and walking the fresh clean sunshine-filled halls. High End 2018 is the opposite of a Las Vegas dungeon.

I have attended a lot of audio shows, as an exhibitor and a journalist, dating back to the early 1990s, and only CES, at its absolute peak, could equal what I experienced today at High End Munich 2018.

volvic's picture

Well written, some of us are still dying to go. One of these days will make the pilgrimage.

Metalhead's picture

Beautiful stunning city.

Hit the Hofbrauhaus for a brew Herb.

Would love to hit this show.

Herb Reichert's picture

visit the Hofbrauhaus with David Chesky


PAR's picture

...the best in the world? Certainly a contender.

My friend and I decided to give this year a miss but I am regretting it already.

Anton's picture

Be sure to spend some time 'hanging' at the English Garden!

Jerry Cmehil Well Rounded Sound's picture

With CES gone there is simply no other show in the US that is even remotely comparable to Munich. Zero, None, Zip, Nada!!! Anyone interested in HiFi should make way to Munich. It's a lovely city, with great food and beer and really easy to get around. The show itself is flawlessly organized and super easy to navigate through - no long wait for the elevators as in every US show. So Go grab some wonderful Bavarian beer and sausage and enjoy the greatest High Fidelity show there is.

tonykaz's picture

... for regular people like Stereophile Staff.

Munich Audio Show is a "Sugar Coated" ( quoting JA ) Dreamland, very much like Baselworld is to Watch & Jewelry.

Annnnd, it's Clean! I'd bet that you won't see two pieces of trash on the ground anywhere. ( stop for a coffee and place a piece of trash to watch, one minute later it's scooped up , whoooooosh ! )

Street Food is superb.

Unluck will have you return home to our full-on deferred maintenance programs.

I hope you make some friends that let you stay for a few weeks "in-trade" for a few weeks in NY. Euro cross-pollination is a wonderful width expander. And, as colorful as you are, the Euro TV people would love to interview you.

Tony in Michigan

ppgr's picture

held in a beautiful city, with superbly clean and efficient airport and train stations and metros; exquisite architecture, museums, culture and scenery. When I woke up from that equally wonderful Lufthansa flight, in Boston's Logan airport (which looks like it may have been adequate in the 1940s) for my connecting flight home, I lost all hopes it may ever happen.

Jerry Cmehil Well Rounded Sound's picture

and you forgot absolutely fabulous beer and food. There is many superb restaurants in Munich that serve world class food and wines at about 1/3 of the US price. A prime example is Alter Hof which is amazing.