Munich High End 2014: Day 1

The first bit of music I heard at the Munich show—officially known High End 2014—was utterly lacking in soundstage depth, imaging precision, and transparency: It was actual music, courtesy of the Bavarian brass/accordion ensemble Unterbiberger Hofmusik, who performed just inside the main entranceway of the Munich MOC. (To the surprise of everyone, the morning dawned too cold for an outdoors performance.) It was a big, colorful beginning to this uniquely big, colorful show.

I scarcely knew where to begin—and so, upon getting hold of my press badge, I wandered into the nearest of the five enormous exhibit spaces comprising the show. I was struck by the fanciful names given the various corridors and began taking photographs; the woman pictured above, to whose presence I was otherwise oblivious, scolded me in good English: "That's not polite." I was off to a smooth start.

Things improved when I pointed myself in the other direction and focused on the displays that were coming to life around me. Walking through the enormous halle was like shopping in a distinctly modern department store devoted to high-end goods. While the people of Audeze prepared their headphone displays (above), the German distributors of Oyaide connectors bustled around brightly lit displays (below)—and I began hearing snippets of music from the pre-fab demonstration spaces created for same.

Though not exactly ideal, they worked better than expected, as I discovered when I enjoyed a demonstration of Audes Excellence 5 loudspeakers ($18,000/pair), driven by Nero 88 monoblock amplifiers from Moscow-based G9 ($40,000/pair with matching preamplifier).

Next I caught sight of a nice-looking cabinet that sported a single Lowther-like driver, and introduced myself to exhibitor Marko Reinikainen of the Finnish company Existence Loudspeakers. The model name turned out to be the Erotic, but my internal Catholic filter rejected that word, and I interpreted it as the Heraldic—which, when I repeated it, elicited much laughter. Mr. Smooth strikes again.

I was saved not by the bell but by a press conference—the first one of the show, conducted by the show's sponsors themselves: German's High End Society GMBH. Directors Kurt W. Hecker (on the right in the photo above) and Branko Gilsovic welcomed the press and announced that this year's show features 452 exhibitors—an increase of 25% over last year's show. As it turns out, High End 2014 also marks the debut of a section called High End on Wheels, and another called Newcomers, which offers to publicize "new, young companies that don't meet exhibition criteria." As to the latter, Branko Gilsovic reminded us that the High End shows are not for "unique"—a euphemism for DIY—products: "Everything here must be available, and it must be available in Germany." That's the right idea, if you ask me.

Having already tired of a logical, one-after-the-other approach to show coverage, I bounded up the stairs—noting that, at the MOC, no square inch of advertising space goes unloved—to the space called Atrium 4.1.

There I ran into new AudioQuest employee Stephen Mejias, whose presence we miss in the same manner that the Confederacy missed Stonewall Jackson.

Stephen described the demonstrations taking place in the AudioQuest suite: comparisons between two Apple TV video/music streamers, one using generic HDMI and AC cabling, the other connected with AQ's Cinnamon HDMI ($85 for 1.5m) and NRG 1.5 AC ($169 for 1.5m).

On my way out, I ran into Steve Silberman of AudioQuest, who introduced me to Dave Rogers and Or Tal of a new company called Receptablock, makers of a soon-to-be-released locking AC receptacle that looked very fine indeed. An interesting morning—and I hadn't even had my coffee yet.

corrective_unconscious's picture

Was a photo of the single driver Existence Herotic [sic] dropped by accident, just not loading in my browser, or not intended to be included?

Metalhead's picture


Get some photos and bag the show. Hell they will be selling gear for the one percent for the most part anyways.

Head to the Hofbrauhaus, and check out Munich as much as you can. Then bus down to Garmisch and go day tripping.

Beautiful city and area. Enjoy it.

ReceptaLock's picture

Small correction - it's

corrective_unconscious's picture

Are not Existence. The (H)Erotic from that company's website looks rather plain, although wood is always nice. With single driver designs I usually expect a flagrant cabinet shape.