in ,

What a high end audio show REALLY sounds like

  • munich_2016I spy: Trentemøller’s The Last Resort at Munich High-End 2016, a vinyl copy leaning against an equipment rack stacked with amplifiers by Dan D’Agostino; was this some kind of cruel joke?

    There’s little doubt it got an occasional run on the system’s Sonus Faber loudspeakers and I even witnessed first hand the album’s bass-throbbing “Vamp” enjoying regular turns on Dynaudio’s new Contour standmount – both Dynaudio and Trentemøller are Danish after all – but this kind of music, contemporary music that might appeal to a younger audience, proved to be very much the exception rather than the rule.

    Star Wars theme music was playing through the D’Agostino amplifiers when I snapped this photo:


    The audio systems found upstairs in the three Atria are some of the finest in the world. They also come with price tags that start in the tens of thousands of dollars and stretch to hundreds of thousands.

    With two days of talking to manufacturers under my belt, I spent the majority of Saturday going room to room in each of the three Atria; this was where one went to seriously listen to seriously high end gear. Megabuck systems for fatter wallets or, for those who can only dream, a taste of what’s possible.

    The majority of rooms were immaculately decked out for high ocular impact and many sounded downright incredible. Exhibitors at Munich clearly know the importance of creating a listening experience. Visually, this show is a long way from the hotel hosted events seen stateside.

    However, if your musical taste doesn’t meet classical, jazz, light acoustic, girl + guitar or white-guy blues head on, you’d probably come away none the wiser as to how Trentemøller, Depeche Mode, Giant Sand or Prince might benefit from a big rig. Thankfully, the latter three artists were served up by Chord Electronics’ digital DJ, Zu Audio’s Sean Casey and KEF’s Johan Coorg respectively. Such blasts of contemporary fare were few and far between.

    Don’t simply take my word for it though. Here’s proof:

    Of course, for show regulars this skinny genre diet is nothing out of the ordinary. Audio shows across the world sound like this. However, one might reasonably ask: is high end audio’s talk of capturing the imagination of the next generation of audiophiles nothing more than lip service?

    Not convinced? Here’s more:

    The technology and gear seen/heard at Munich High-End 2016 might well be better than twenty years ago but the music spilling from between the loudspeakers remains very much the same.

    Further information: Munich High-End


    DAR 750 x 290

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    Munich High-End 2016: sights & sounds

    NEAT Acoustics’ IOTA Alpha: small box, big sound