Trade Day Begins at Munich High End

To get an idea of how many press and industry members attend Munich High End, just take a look at this "opening bell" shot of people queuing on the ground level and on one of the spiral stairways up to the atrium level of the MOC Convention Center. Bodies, bodies, bodies. Not only are there far more displays at Munich High End than at US shows: the number of press and industry people easily equaled the packed consumer attendance I've experienced at most North American audio shows. And this, mind you, was on the lightest of the show's four days. I expect the opening day for the public, on May 6, will be a madhouse.

To give you an idea of the size of this show, try to visualize, in addition to the large glass-fronted display rooms on both sides of the first level of this long atrium, two two-level outside hallways, flanking each side of the atrium and lined with smaller rooms on both sides. Then add a second atrium, equally long but with only one level of flanking rooms. Finally, figure in four huge contiguous halls (halle), each as long as this atrium, filled with display booths of various sizes.

My day began with a press conference for Dynaudio's Contour series loudspeakers. To make sure no one could possibly miss that Dynaudio had something special they wanted to share with the public, the company made sure that their display dominated the entrance to atrium 3's huge inner courtyard.

Twenty-seven years after Dynaudio introduced the first model in its Contour series of loudspeakers, it has announced an entirely new Contour line. "We rebuilt the product from the ground up," said Andrew Werdean, VP of Sales for Dynaudio North America. That includes, for the first time: Dynaudio's top-level (and John Atkinson-praised) Esotar2 soft-dome tweeter in all Contour models; improved woofers with 70% longer excursion for better bass response; longer and extremely lightweight aluminum-wire voice coils; new crossovers and improved internal wiring; and a new, diffraction-minimizing enclosure with aluminum baffle.

There are four new Contour models, all of which are expected to arrive in the US in the fall, shortly after CEDIA: The Contour 20 ($5000/pair), Contour 30 ($7500/pair), Contour 60 ($10,000/pair), and, for home theater set-ups, the Contour 25C center channel ($3500/each). We heard the stand-mounted Contour 20s, powered by new NAD Master Series components (see next blog). The sound of a female jazz singer was ideally smooth and sophisticated, with captivating air around the voice. In a switch to a male recording artist, Gregory Porter may have been singing about musical genocide, but his sound was so smooth, inviting, and listenable that it seemed like a musical lifesaver rather than the opposite. It was a classic case of believe what you hear, not what they say—that and accept paradox as an invitation to share in life's myriad mysteries. Bottom line: I was completely won over.

NAD has introduced two new Master Series components. The M32 Direct Digital amplifier ($3499), expected in June, is a BluOS-ready integrated amp, complete with headphone jack, that delivers 150Wpc into 8 ohms and 350 into 4. The M50.2 network music player ($3999), due in August, offers hi-rez playback, multi-room wireless streaming to other BluOS enabled speakers, 24/192 storage up to 4TB, an optional CD ripper, and automatic downloads from HighResAudio in Germany and HDTracks in the US. With digital outputs only, all that's needed for playback—besides cabling, amplifier, and speakers—is a DAC or Digital preamp.

Construction of both units is modular, which allows for the addition or omission of some features, according to need and future upgrades. The sound, at least with the forthcoming Dynaudio Contour 20s described above, was as smooth and inviting as can be.

Anton's picture

Looking forward, jealously, to your show report.

Hey, I think I see a Halpern in your atrium pic!

Tell him to come to Newport.

Stay well!