Munich High End 2011

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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  |  1 comments
Music Hall’s new plug-and-play dac15.2 ($299) has USB, coaxial, and optical inputs and is capable of handling resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz.

“It’s just fucking amazing,” Roy Hall said simply.

Available this fall.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  1 comments
Unfortunately, Jeff Joseph’s shipment of gear was delayed due to a short FedEx strike which occurred in Paris. Joseph was understandably tired and frustrated, but he hadn’t lost his great sense of humor.

“I can still play the speakers,” he said with a straight face.

I thought for a moment that he would employ some powerful new wireless technology; Joseph was an early proponent for computer-based audio.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. What would you like to hear?”

He covered his face with the press release for his lovely Pulsar ($7000/pair) and began to sing.

I can’t remember what song we listened to, but it really was like hearing live music. There was almost nothing separating us from the song.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  0 comments
Castle Acoustics is a brand we don’t talk too much about in the States. This is the Richmond Anniversary, its mirror-matched pairs beautifully veneered in luscious Lacewood.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  1 comments
I received a special request for more pictures of Rosemarie, so here she is, posing with the very attractive Albedo Model HL1.2 loudspeaker, a two-way, linear-phase design with a 4” mid-woofer, 1” tweeter, and super-sexy striped ebony finish.

Afterward, Rosemarie would tell me that several people here at the Munich High End Show recognized her from this show report. “You’re making me famous,” she said.

“That’s what I do,” I explained. “I make girls famous.”

Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  1 comments
Andy Regan (left) and George Cardas are excited about the current state of hi-fi and music. They strongly believe that the asynchronous technologies found in today’s digital-to-analog converters can erase any negative effects the Compact Disc has had on music and on our enjoyment of music. It’s possible to achieve improved sound quality and enjoy a better overall listening experience by removing the disc from the equation, playing high-quality music files stored on a hard drive.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  0 comments
The controls on these sleek Audiolab 8200 Series components were pure pleasure; I could have played with them all day long. The 8200CD CD player uses the Sabre 32-bit DAC from ESS Technology—hot. The 8200Q preamp’s six line-level inputs respond to remote control, but you’ll want to caress this thing; the volume knob is a motorized potentiometer for precise tracking, while a separate gain control enables sensitivity to be matched to different power amps and source components. Finally, the clean, simple 8200P power amp provides 100Wpc into 8 ohms.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  0 comments
Luxman had a small, attractive, vintage-inspired system on display: The 12Wpc NeoClassico Series SQ-N10 vacuum tube amp (which includes a moving-magnet phono stage), a D-N10 CD player (not shown here), and lovely minimonitors made to match.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  1 comments
These two kitty-clad women have been following me all over the show. They’re here to promote Cambridge Audio’s new Minx series of mini-speakers, made to match a small, stylish design with true high-quality sound.


“You two are so hot, you should be illegal,” I told them.

They laughed.

“What did you just say to them?” Rosemarie asked.

“I told them they were so hot they should be illegal.”

“God, you’re such a guy.”


Stephen Mejias  |  May 20, 2011  |  1 comments
I was drawn to the smoky, nearly sunburst finish of the Luxman D-30u CD player, which offers a choice between solid-state and ECC82 vacuum tube playback. The matching SQ-30u vacuum tube integrated amp offers 30Wpc and has a selectable MM/MC phono stage; MC cartridges are handled by a step-up trannie. Cool.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 19, 2011  |  0 comments
As we raced to catch the bus that would take us from Manhattan to Newark Liberty Airport, Rosemarie Torcivia and I were caught in an incredible downpour—rain like we rarely see it in New York City. Our trip to Germany for the 2011 High End Show had gotten off to a soggy start. Was this a sign of things to come?
Stephen Mejias  |  May 19, 2011  |  0 comments
I haven’t quite figured out the layout of the M.O.C., but I’ve enjoyed the small courtyards which connect the different halls. Here, people take breaks from the action inside, to read, drink, and eat. This particular section has the look and feel of a small beer garden.

I love Germany.

Stephen Mejias  |  May 19, 2011  |  0 comments
Connecting to the Internet in my small room at the Park Inn—nothing fancy, but a perfect place to work.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 19, 2011  |  0 comments
We took the S1 to the Feldmoching stop where we transferred to the U2. From there, Frankfurter Ring, and our lovely little Park Inn were just moments away.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 19, 2011  |  2 comments
“Oh, these are cute!” Rosemarie exclaimed.

She was immediately attracted to PSB’s new Imagine Mini ($700/pair), which made its debut at January’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Can you blame her? These loudspeakers are small, powerful, attractive, and fun. (And they match Rosemarie’s outfit.)