Munich High End 2013 | Best sounds

31.05.2013..

Hören, Sehen, Erleben. Listening, Seeing, Experiencing. The best words to describe the Munich High End 2013.

 

Listening. I listened a lot and very well too. On average, all the booths had a satisfactory sound quality. Some were stratospheric like the booth with the Italian Leonardo Speakers, which got consent from all the attendees, or like the Absolare amplifications with Rockport loudspeakers, a confirmation of what I heard at T.H.E. Show 2013 in Las Vegas.

Seeing. Many good things to see, as expected from the Munich fair, the biggest and most important high-end show in Europe. Like Avantgarde with the Zero loudspeakers, a revolutionary system whose simple shape represents an incredible condensation of high design and technology. Silvia and I have spent at least ten minutes touching the magnificent and peculiar smoothness of these speakers.

Experiencing. Because it means breathing the perfumes of the hi-fi, it means experiencing sound and info, it means feeling the listening emotions given by the high-end products.

Now some personal considerations. The more or less specialized press had proclaimed a kind of "swansong" in Las Vegas, where, on the contrary, I verified a great ferment of ideas and enthusiasts. The gossips about the crisis that grips Europe and the hi-fi sector in particular, well, have to be ignored since they are just gossips. I personally had no feeling of such crisis at the Munich High End. The show was always crowded during the four days even if the ticket was of twelve euro (in Italy is pure madness only thinking to pay a ticket for a hi-fi exhibition). The High End Press info has spoken of 359 exhibitors (one less than 2012) and 35 countries (two more than 2012), with an increased number of companies attending the show coming from Holland, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Greece, Liechtenstein, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan and Great Britain. On the contrary, the countries with less companies attending the show were China, Germany, Japan, Italy (one less than 2012), USA, France and Denmark. My feeling was absolutely positive and if the crisis was not palpable, at least it was properly disguised. The care in setting the booths with operating systems could make me give a positive overall judgment on the quality of sound.

The exhibitors introduced themselves with professionalism and enthusiasm. I met again with pleasure Eng. Bruzzese of Totem who was personally showing his speakers. The same did Eng. Koch of Playback with his digital sources, and many others. Quite all of them agreed willingly to test their system with our reference CD, prepared for the occasion by our staff. Who did not, will never be mentioned on ReMusic pages or on our Facebook profile.

Finally, I have to say that many serious, forward-looking and dynamic brands have decide to invest in technology, upgrading and publicity, making the only practicable move during an economic and commercial crisis in order to be the first to benefit when the favourable moments will return.

To conclude: four days, as usual, very tiring but exciting. ReMusic attentive readers have surely notice that we have not published generic pictures of the Munich High End with live coverage. This is not in our style. What we make instead is to inform in detail what was the best in listening (hören) and seeing (sehen), to make you somehow experiencing (erleben) this amazing show. No wonder if we only tell the best sounds and best systems.

 

Absolare

One of the two best sounds of the Munich High End. A confirmation, actually, because I had already mentioned Absolare at T.H.E. Show 2013 in Las Vegas as best sound. An incredibly well-finished and beautiful aesthetics. The Passion preamp and power amp, with a pair of 845 tubes, which assure 50 watts in pure class-A, made fly the amazing Rockport Technologies Altair speakers: I will be satisfied with a pair of Alya or Mira II (subliminal message to Andy Payor who, I hope, reads me!). The digital source was CEC with MSB converter, but the set piece was the Kodo turntable that performed greatly thanks to the care of the two operators. Compliments to you all! A sound like that deserves the sacrifice to get to Munich.

 

CH Precision

CH Precision is a Swiss company manufacturing high-class apparatus. Included in the catalogue are the D1, CD/SACD transport with digital and analogue outputs, the C1 converter and the A1 stereo power amp with 100 watts into 8 ohms, or mono with 350 watts into 8 ohms. These machines are extremely transparent, meaning for transparency that they do not subtract or add anything to the original signal. The Ch Precision system drove the Vivid Audio Giya G2 loudspeakers and the splendid ZenSati cables completed the whole set. A very pleasant listening experience. The sense of transparency was evident thanks to a strong perception of the true presence of voices and instruments. I loved this system for the emission of a real sound together with a three-dimensionality in a contest of tonal balance. I must admit that I would like to test the products of CH Precision.

 

Chord and Dynaudio

Do you want power and pure strength without compromises? Here you are. Dynaudio Evidence Platinum loudspeakers, Chord Electronics Limited source and amplification with CPA8000 Reference preamplifier, DSX1000 digital network streamer, Red Reference CD player and SPM 14000 MKII monoblocks. A no compromise sound, with engrossing levels of sound pressure, amazing dynamic surges, but all controlled. Maybe the Evidence Platinums do not fear anything, maybe because of the undistorted seven hundred watts of the Chord, but the fact is that, while our reference disc was playing, I said: "Wow".

 

Constellation Audio

The Performance top series of the Californian company includes the Centaur monoblocks and the Virgo preamplifier. The Centaur amps weigh 50 kg and deliver 500 W into 8 ohms: an iron hand in a velvet glove. High quality finishes, original design, great care in the manufacture and technical quality. They drove easily the TAD loudspeakers. The Constellation Audio amplifications stroke me for the strength expresses in the naturalness of emission. Very interesting, I would like to test one device of this American company in controlled environment.

 

Eventus Audio and MSB Technology.

Italian sweetness and German power. A refined sound although vigorous and confident. The MSB M203 monoblocks drove with decision the beautiful Eventus Nebula loudspeakers. The source was the MSB Signature Data CD IV. A room with musicality and dynamics.

 

German Physiks

The German Physiks HRS-120 speakers deserve to be mentioned since they performed greatly driven by the RCD-100 CD player and the RI-100 integrated amp. A vivid sound, lots of detail and a wide and homogeneous sound image. No acoustic correction in the room. A great outcome.

 

Kharma

All the products of the Dutch Kharma are home-made. They presented the top series Exquisite with the Grand speakers featuring the famous Diamond tweeters and the amplified Exquisite subwoofer. The P1000 Reference preamp uses inner wiring in gold and silver. The same does the monoblock MP1000, which has a class-AB proprietary circuitry with double power supply. Also the cables are Kharma of the Supreme Reference series.

Kharma asserts that the only real competitor is the reality. Well, I must say that the sound reply was very, very close to reality. The certainty in the emission and the solidity of the soundstage reached record highs. Kharma deserves to be cited for the second time after the mention made by ReMusic at the CES in Las Vegas.

 

La Rosita and Apertura

Italian names but transalpine products. This room was dedicated to French sound, taste and product. The sound was very interesting as are the Apertura Kalya speakers, a 2-way bookshelf loudspeaker, 98 dB of efficiency with reflex port on the low side of the cabinet. By the way, the cabinet shape is rounded and asymmetric in order to result absolutely free from inner harmful resonances. La Rosita amplifications - named after a track in Ben Webster's album Finest Hour - gave to the sound transparency and concreteness: parameters very difficult to find also in pricey amplifications. The Cloud-9 preamp and the150 watt Rosita TendeR monoblocks use a power supply called IFE (Instant Full Energy) which can go along with the extreme dynamic transients, giving to the sound a unique sense of velocity and sound pressure. Very interesting is the Pi greco which uses the DFTA (Direct Frame To Analog) system but I stop here because I want to make a test with it.

The soundstage was very detailed and the musical actors were present and vivid. Rosita and Apertura are a very interesting match.

 

Leonardo Speakers

With proud I state that this was one of the best booths in Munich, if not the best. Dynamics, detail, tone colour, refinement: all parameters that deserve very good marks. Here it was possible to speak nicely to many people. To Aldo Zaninello and Daniele Cohen, Leonardo Speakers' fathers, to Andreas Koch, inventor of DSD technology and Playback's patron, to Roberto Torlai, Italian famous manufacturer of cartridges, to Pino Viola of VYGER and to Massimiliano Magri of Grandinote. All were present in this prestigious room to testify the undeniable quality of these Italian revolutionary loudspeakers that deserve to be driven by the best machines the high-end market can offer. So there you are the Playback MPS-5 CD player: great digital machine with an analogue sound (for me the best compliment for a digital source), VYGER Indian Signature turntable and the prestigious Torlai Giada cartridge, Grandinote amplification with Proemio preamp, Demone monoblocks and phono Coelio preamp. The cables were White Gold Stradivari Reference in their new look. The Leonardo Speakers system was performing amazingly, a real emotion playing our reference disc. Compliments by ReMusic.

 

Living Voice

This English company was introducing its top loudspeakers and when I say top I mean over the "top". The Vox Olympian speakers are a five-way high efficiency horn-loaded system, with high quality finishes like the brass inserts, while the horn-loading of the tweeter is made of bronze. The front-end made your veins and pulses quiver. Kondo Ongaku Pre KSL M77, KSL-DAC, Gakuoh monoblocks. A million euro, more or less, cables excluded. The sound was extremely polished, for real connoisseurs and for who loves this philosophic choice.

 

MBL

It would have been too easy just mentioning the big 101 X-treme system driven in bi-amplifying by the mighty 9011 and 9008A amps, the 6010D preamp, the 1621A two chassis source with the 1621F converter. Instead, I want to award the less expensive (?) second system with the Radialstrahler 116F loudspeakers driven by the amplifications of the Corona line, with C31 CD Player, C11 preamp and C15 monoblocks. They seemed to me more "human", pleasantly detailed and dynamic. A German sound for attitude and sound pressure but also sweet and pleasant.

 

Nelson Pass and Wilson Audio

A splendid match recognized worldwide for quality and correctness, dynamics and sound pressure. A system that did not fear anything: Pass XS 150 mono amplification with four chassis, 150 W into 8 ohms and 300 W into 4 ohms (!), practically unmovable, but a granitic certainty that convinces you to have in hand many good, polished and trustable watts. Wilson Audio Alexia convinced me as well as the Sasha speakers did. It seems like Wilson Audio has overcome that qualitative step that tied it to a past made of impetuousness and desire of overdoing. I like Wilson Audio now, I really do. I already told you during the listening test with the Sasha speakers: maybe it is due to a less invasive tweeter, but now the Wilson convince me for their aptitude in respecting the original acoustic signal. The Alexia is a three-way system with four drivers. The incredible detail in the low frequencies is attributable to a pair of different drivers, one of 20 and the other of 25 cm, while the 18 cm midrange and the 2,5 tweeter are made to specs, are adjustable and singularly amplifiable. The only negative think was the long queue to play our CD. I gave up. Maybe next time.

 

Rossofiorentino, Ypsilon, Bergmann

Strange but well-devised amalgam of audio devices from three different countries: Italy with the beautiful Rossofiorentino loudspeakers, Greece with Ypsilon amplifications, Denmark with the Bergmann turntable.

The Rossofiorentino speakers are famous for their design and beauty, in this occasion the Florentia was a very interesting five-way prototype. The amplifications of the Greek Ypsilon aroused curiosity for aesthetic and qualities: the Aelius mono power amp has a hybrid tube-transistor circuitry capable of delivering 250 watts both with balanced and unbalanced outputs. Very interesting also the PST-100 preamp and the great CDT-100 CD transport. Amazing the air supported turntable and the splendid linear tracking tonearm designed by Johnnie Bergmann. The sound was delicate and very musical, maybe one of the most natural sounds of the show.

 

Soulution and JM Lab Focal

The Swiss Soulution, already mentioned on ReMusic web pages, was one of the best rooms of the Munich High End 2013. The digital source was the 745 SACD, the preamp was the 721, the power amps were the brand new 701 monoblocks with the new supply stage of one million of microfarad, that is exactly one farad. To the power supply, contribute four Mundorf capacitors with 100.000 microfarads each. Speaking of the analogue stage there was the 750 phono preamp, while the speakers were the Focal JM Lab Stella Utopia EM. Usually I do not like them for their exuberance, but this time I have changed my mind maybe because "subdued" to the Soulution amplifications.

 

TAD

Technical Audio Devices laboratories, better known as TAD, presented a system, better two complete systems. The bigger system was formed by Reference One loudspeakers, C600 preamplifier, M600 monoblocks and D600 CD player. Great listening pleasure, great tonal balance, dynamic and detailed sound. The image had a punctiform setting, mostly thanks to the concentric mid-tweeter driver. Also the smaller system performed well: Evolution One loudspeakers driven by C2000 preamp and M2500 stereo power amp.

 

Zingali

What to say?

The Zingali loudspeakers are beautiful. Brushing against the fine woods and the perfect polishing is for me an incredible pleasant gesture. Of course, there are other different beautiful speakers but, in truth, they do not perform like the Zingalis do. Their sound has something of "introspective". Listen to a pair of Zingalis is always a great experience. They can dig deep the soul of sound and touch the listener's soul. They can fascinate and emotionally involve until the last musical note. Sensational was the marriage with the ZenSati amplifications: a so new solution still in the prototypal phase. You will listen again about Zingali, I promise.

 

 

The End

Listening, Seeing, Experiencing. Three words to summarize the Munich High End 2013
previous slide next slide
Full house from the first day
Full house from the first day
Absolare Passion Amplifier
Absolare Passion Amplifier
Rockport Altair
Rockport Altair
Two chassis digital source with C-1 converter, CD-SACD D-1 transport<br />and X-1 separated power supplies
Two chassis digital source with C-1 converter, CD-SACD D-1 transport
and X-1 separated power supplies
A Chord rack
A Chord rack
German Physiks HRS-120
German Physiks HRS-120
German Physiks HRS-120
German Physiks HRS-120
Exquisite Grand and Exquisite sub
Exquisite Grand and Exquisite sub
Apertura Kalya, two way, front ported bookshelf speakers
Apertura Kalya, two way, front ported bookshelf speakers
Leonardo Speakers
Leonardo Speakers
Back of the Leonardo Speakers
Back of the Leonardo Speakers
Leonardo's daddies: Daniele Coen and Aldo Zaninello
Leonardo's daddies: Daniele Coen and Aldo Zaninello
Vox Olympian and its dedicated subwoofer
Vox Olympian and its dedicated subwoofer
Vox Olympian is beautiful with its fine finishing
Vox Olympian is beautiful with its fine finishing
Vox Olympian, on the back its crossover on the floor
Vox Olympian, on the back its crossover on the floor
The MBL state of the art system
The MBL state of the art system
Wilson Audio Alexia
Wilson Audio Alexia
Wilson Audio Alexia. Mid and tweeter are adjustable and also singularly amplifiable
Wilson Audio Alexia. Mid and tweeter are adjustable and also singularly amplifiable
Wilson Audio Alexia, with possible three-wiring
Wilson Audio Alexia, with possible three-wiring
The Pass XS offers 150W into 8 and 300W into 4ohm
The Pass XS offers 150W into 8 and 300W into 4ohm
Rossofiorentino Florentia
Rossofiorentino Florentia
TAD Evolution One
TAD Evolution One
Zingali
Zingali
by Roberto Rocchi
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and Silvia De Monte
Read more articles

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