Munich 2019

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 19, 2019  |  1 comments
I was never able to take a photo of Octave’s full system, because so many people were walking up to the equipment rack and Focal Scala speakers to ogle Octave’s new Jubilee 300B amplifier (54,000 Euros). (That’s what happens when you display in one of the big glass-entranced spaces surrounding three sides of the first floor Atriums in the MOC.) You’ll have to settle for this photo, taken of a static display on the other side of the room divider from the active 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 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 18, 2019  |  6 comments
I quit smoking before cigarettes hit $5/pack. I sold my last car, a nickel green 1977 Mercedes 300D, for $500. But I have sold a lot of six-figure audio amplifiers, and clearly, the juicy audio good stuff—the super-exotic—blows everybody’s mind. 1893 Chateau Lafite Rothschild gear is out of the reach of the lumpen proletariat. But so what? It is still cool and spectacularly wild and a blast to listen to, which anyone can do at an audio show. Take the all-out Aries Cerat system Joshua Masongsong of Believe High Fidelity was showing at Munich 2019. Have you ever heard anything like this?
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.
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.
Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2019  |  9 comments
For sheer scale, perhaps the most impressive system I heard at the Munich High End show was in the room shared by Von Schweikert and VAC. The star of the show was—perhaps—the Von Schweikert Ultra Reference 9 loudspeaker, which sells for an impressive $200,000/pair. The Ultra series is, Von Schweikert says, a cost-no-object line. So far there are three speakers in the line: The 9, the $300,000 11, and the $90,000 55. Von Schweikert, of course, also sells more modestly priced loudspeakers; their VR-22 is under $3000 / pair.
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.
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).
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  1 comments
It had been years since I last checked in with Totem Acoustic, the Canada-based loudspeaker manufacturer. When I showed up at the Totem room and was greeted by company president and longtime chief designer Vince Bruzzese, I didn't know what to expect. In the event, what I got was some excellent sound from two compact towers placed very close to the front wall, and a short introduction to what appeared to be some interesting technology behind those impressive loudspeakers.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  1 comments
The characteristic—perhaps I should say inimitable—Vandersteen midrange was in evidence in a system that paired a Brinkmann Audio front end and amplification (detailed below) with Vandersteen ($63,999/pair). The top was quite lively, which made for an extremely exciting listen to an LP of Jeff Beck's extraordinary "Brush with the Blues." Highs were also haunting on the vinyl version of Lou Reed's hilarious (to me) 2003 recording "Vanishing Act." I didn't write down which digital tracks were played, but a return to vinyl with Vanessa Fernandez's "I Want You" revealed that the system also had excellent slam.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Just released and seen in passive display, the single-ended only Pass Int-25 ($7250) combines an XA-25 with a simplified Int-60 front end. The Int-25 has three inputs, all single-ended.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  1 comments
Verity Audio's system paired their Lohengrin IIS Reference loudspeaker system (110,000 Euros/pair) with the following electronics: A new preamplifier with active crossover, the Monsalvat Pro-4 (64,000 Euros) is designed to work with the loudspeakers; two Verity Audio Monsalvat Amp-60 Reference power amplifiers ($58,000 each), which I reviewed in the June 2019 issue; a Melco N1ZS/2A music server (9,975 euros); a TW-Acustic Raven Black Night turntable (29,500 Euros) with Raven 12 tonearm (5000 Euros) and RPS 10 phonostage (6,000 euros), and a Dynavector XV-1 S MC cartridge (4500 Euros).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Given the background noise, it was a little difficult to focus on the music from Yello and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd in the system from Vienna Acoustics and Vincent, but this little system's ability throw a large, ear-catching ambient soundstage was its strong point. Speakers were the Vienna Acoustics Mozart (€1800/pair). Vincent electronics included (I think) the new DAC-7, which handles up to 32/384 and DSD256 and has a tube output stage, along with the SA-T7 preamp (€2499), SP-T700 mono hybrid amplifier (€1999/each), CD-S7 hybrid CD player (€2199), and PHO-701 phono stage (€649). Cables were from Vincent and Pangea.
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.

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