Munich 2019

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Having heard at previous shows the pairing of Aavik electronics, Børresen loudspeakers, and Ansuz cabling, I've been trying to find language adequate to describe the quality of its earth-rooted bass and midrange. There's a very special, aged-in-wood component to its bass sound that I find fascinating. Combined with clear highs that, while not shy, are capable of conveying intimacy, the system made Anette Askvik's "Liberty" compelling listening.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 11, 2019  |  0 comments
Wonderful, truly musical warmth and clarity were the hallmarks of a system built around the Absolare Passion integrated amplifier ($26,500), ReQuest The Raptor Plus music server (1TB version with DAC that handles PCM up to 32/384, and DSD up to 256: $15,900), Rockport Atria speakers ($21,500/pair), Echole Limited Edition Power Center power conditioner ($20,000), and new Echole Infinity cabling ($TBD).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 09, 2019  |  1 comments
As someone accustomed to thinking of Auralic components as little boxes, the size and casing of their new Sirius G2 upsampling processor ($6000) suggests to me that the company is exploring new territory. It sure sounds that way from this product's description. Due late summer or early fall, the Sirius G2 is intended for placement between a streamer and DAC—any company's DAC—and is claimed to upgrade both "the processing power and the original performance envelope" of the DAC. Auralic's press literature says that by handling a DAC's data processing burden, the Sirius G2 "dramatically reduces the amount of distortion and jitter" of a DAC in its sweet spot, regardless of the incoming resolution of the file.
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  3 comments
In Munich, electronics company Constellation Audio was demoing with Magico M2 loudspeakers ($63,000 / pair with M-Pod footers). Spinning vinyl was the the job of the Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian turntable ($35,000) w/Viper Tonearm ($10,000) and Ortofon A-95 Cartridge ($6,000). Phono preamplification was by Constellation—their Andromeda phono stage ($18,000). On the digital side, the source was Constellation's Cygnus Media Player/DAC ($38,000). Constellation's Pictor preamp was in use ($18,000), as was a pair of their Taurus monoblocks ($39000/pair).
Herb Reichert  |  May 18, 2019  |  9 comments
At AXPONA 2019 and now at High End 2019, Cube Audio demonstrated their beautifully finished complete speakers, like the €16,000 Nenuphar that I would die to hear in my own system.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 19, 2019  |  1 comments
When Dynaudio’s Mike Manousselis told me that the new Dynaudio Confidence 30 ($20,000/pair) has a new Esotar3 tweeter, I thought of John Atkinson, who praised this company’s tweeters in a review some years back. The new tweeter includes a Hexis inner dome to help dissipate back wave energy and, as with all the other new drivers in the speaker, uses new “ultra-powerful” neodymium magnets.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 10, 2019  |  3 comments
The new EMM Labs NS1 Network Streamer ($4500—the smallest of the three products in the above photo), due in two months, seems to be Ed Meitner's response to the dCS Network Bridge. The NS1 will decode up to 24/192 PCM and DSD 64 and fully unfold MQA, and is a Roon-ready endpoint. In addition, when connected via the company's proprietary Optilink to other EMM Labs products, including the DV2 Integrated Converter that received a rave when I reviewed it for Stereophile, the NS1 can be optically isolated from the network to reduce noise. The NS1's inputs include ethernet and USB; its outputs, in addition to the aforementioned Optilink, include AES and Toslink.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 11, 2019  |  9 comments
The "Ocean Mystery" colored Estelon Forza loudspeaker (€110,000/pair) made quite a statement all by itself. Paired with a Kronos Pro turntable (€37,600) with SCPS1 power supply (€13,500), Black Beauty tonearm (€8400), and ZYX Universe 3 cartridge (€8100); Bassocontinuo racks; Kubala-Sosna Realization cabling; Audes ST-3000 power conditioner (€3900); and Furutech NCF Booster-Signal (€2780), it conveyed electric guitar with natural bite, relayed all instruments except Eugene Istomin's somewhat tinkly piano on the Reference Recordings' LP of Mozart Piano Concerto No.21 with natural timbres and a strong midrange, and, on my Channel Classics SACD of the Mahler Symphony No.2, nailed the great expanse and natural timbres of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, along with some brightness on top.
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  35 comments
Playing in Room F210 on the top level atrium of Hall 4: Two pair of Focal Scala Utopia EVO loudspeakers ($39,995/pair) with lots of Naim electronics and cabling. Also in the system was a VPI Prime Signature turntable, but it wasn't in use when I was in the room. The key items in this room, though, were humble footers: specifically, IsoAcoustics GAIA-Titan Theis isolators—not so humble after all, on second thought, since they cost $899.99 for a set of four. The loudspeakers—white and green—were arranged in alternate pairs, their acoustical centers shifted by a few degrees.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 19, 2019  |  41 comments
Pretty eye-catching, eh? Such was the class act from Göbel High End, who even brought their own room treatment panels to the show.
Herb Reichert  |  May 09, 2019  |  21 comments
The show wasn't open yet. The booths weren't finished being built. I was walking alone, and there were no audio people anywhere. But as soon as I saw it, I froze and pulled out my camera. It's not hammertone gray. It's not a grease-bearing. But it was here in front of me.
Herb Reichert  |  May 18, 2019  |  0 comments
Without forethought, at every audio show I attend, I inevitably end up smiling, relaxed, and happy in the Gershman Acoustics room. Especially lately, when the always-cheerful Ofra Gershman is playing the $13k/pair Grand Avant Garde floor-standing loudspeakers.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 10, 2019  |  2 comments
Something really cool happened in the room shared by Grand Prix Audio of the US and Apertura Audio of France. For the first time, I witnessed a rack/support comparison that confirmed for me the importance of both for optimal system performance . . .
Herb Reichert  |  May 07, 2019  |  10 comments
Leute, High End München 2019 ist der große Audio-Zirkus . . .
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 09, 2019  |  1 comments
As Michael Fremer, Paul Messenger, and I were searching for the High End press room, one of several echt German pop-up entertainments surfaced in the lobby. Whether taken as local culture or kitsch depends upon one's point of view . . .

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