Vroom vroom? Cough, splutter and nope. Before we get going today, a short publisher pre-amble.
A hi-fi show exhibit is no more a product audition space than a backseat ride around the block in a new car is a test drive. If we’re considering dropping serious money on a new hi-fi component, we need more time, a much quieter environment and far more control over the music choices than any hi-fi show exhibitor can offer. Instead, we must organise a home demo or make the trip to our nearest dealer, even if that means ditching the car for an aeroplane (and a weekend away).
However, Munich High-End puts more gear under one roof than any other event on the calendar. Should our music tastes align with the exhibitors that dominate the M.O.C’s upper floors, we could reframe the world’s biggest hi-fi show as an Über-Fi tasting plate — or a way to play-act the audition process where we bring our own toy steering wheel and mime the gear changes. Given the numerous opportunities in Munich to hitch a backseat ride around the block, we’d be mad not to take at least some of ’em up on their offer.
Here, Srajan Ebaen previews ten such Über-Fi opportunities:
For hailing an Über-Fi cab, Soulution of Switzerland can always be relied upon. This year that ride takes us to their new 727 preamplifier whose talking points versus the predecessor are ~20dB less noise, bandwidth exploded to 20MHz (!), an extra 20dB of common mode rejection, an extra 30dB of channel separation to 127dB and “distortion that’s not measurable”. The 727 again runs a ladder of precision metal-foil resistors upon which briefly overlays a PGA on-chip solution to avoid audible clicks during volume changes. Being fit for a queen means €55’000; plus €9’500 for the optional phono card. That also gets us 3 x XLR inputs, 2 x RCA, 2 x XLR outputs and one RCA. As to phase shift at 20kHz, expect just 0.2°. That’s what extreme bandwidth buys.
Still in our Über cab for another nine stops, Alare Labs of Italy have their new Remiga 1 to downscale the prior flagship to paralleled 6″ + 8″ transmission-line woofers coupled to an Accuton ceramic 5″ mid and 1.3″ beryllium tweeter. Weighing 100kg/ea. with dimensions of just 1.3m and 30x58cm, bandwidth is 35Hz – 30kHz, sensitivity 87dB. Alare are the transducer arm of Audia Flight and one of their speaker engineers is Massimo Costa, previously of Albedo Audio.
Audionec of France’s signature Linæum-derivative bending-wave drivers with modular woofer stacks will show in two locations; one to play their Evo 3 Signature with Riviera Labs electronics; one with the passive Evo 2 and Kora Electronics. The central attraction of their speakers are the twin cylindrical floppy membranes in dipole mode which handle the majority bandwidth. Anther manufacturer adopting their own take on the expired Paul Paddock patent are Switzerland’s Audio Consulting. Even Zoltan Bay’s omni tweeter seems based on it. Trusty old Radio Shack in the colonies had their own version while they were still in business.
CH Precision of Switzerland will unveil their new P10 phono stage with outboard power supply. There’s a quad of inputs on both RCA/XLR, half executed in current mode, the other half in classic voltage mode. The new gain topology now spans three active stages and two passive EQ sections, netting up to 97dB on the voltage inputs. Feedback is selectable between global and local. There’s phase inversion, mono playback mode and mono setup mode expanding to four chassis. EQ options go well beyond standard RIAA to include EMI, Columbia, Decca London, DGG Teldec, Capitol, NARTB and Philips. There’s even remote control.
Miguel Lorenzo Castro, the original co-founder of Kroma Audio, now helms Lorenzo Audio Labs with a catalogue already five deep still out of Spain’s Granada. Instead of Kroma’s Krion, his preferred cabinet materials now are phenolic laminated wood with Panzerholz elements while for transducers he exploits paper cones with AlNiCo magnets, spread-tow carbon and beryllium compression drivers loaded into rectangular horns. New for the show is this LM3 where 41mm phenolic wood panels constitute the cab and stand and conceal dual down-firing ports. The horn-loaded tweeter is an AMT, the 12″ mid/woofer an AlNiCo paper cone. Crossover components are from Mundorf and Janzen. The floor interface of the stand is Panzerholz. Sensitivity is a whopping 94dB, bandwidth a claimed 25Hz-23kHz, dimensions with stand are 117 x 51.5 x 16.5cm HxWxD, total weight per channel is 45kg.
Magico has rethought their 4-driver 3-way S3 and will bring the MkII version to the show. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Magico has new product announcements licked with far fewer words. They used to show with Soulution but I believe currently favour Pilium electronics from Greece. The show will tell.
Sweden’s Mårten Design will premiere its Mingus Septet [from €108K/pr] with msb electronics, a TechDas turntable, Reed tonearm, DS Audio optical cartridge and matching phono amp, Jorma cables and AC filter. The same speaker will also play with Jorma and Engstrøm in a parallel exhibit, the Mingus Orchestra in yet another. The Septet is a 4-way design with 1st-order slopes stitching together a 1″ pure diamond tweeter, 3″ beryllium high midrange, 7″ ceramic mid/bass driver, dual 8″ aluminium sandwich woofers and dual matching 10″ passive radiators. There’s aluminium trim and solid lacquered wood end plates top and bottom. Mårten isolators from IsoAcoustics support the lot.
US firm Rockport Technologies will have the Orion loudspeaker make its European debut with Absolare electronics from Turkey. Orion’s enclosure comprises just three elements: an inner cast aluminium housing, an outer carbon fibre housing and baffle shell. The fabrication process with elastomeric bonding agents “completely eliminates the design constraints imposed by conventional construction methods. Owing to this design freedom, Orion’s form has been fully optimized for ideal driver placement, reduction of internal standing waves and minimum edge diffraction.” Orion’s new drive units include a carbon-fibre sandwich 13″ woofer, 7″ carbon-fibre sandwich composite midrange and 1.25″ beryllium tweeter.
To show that CD-is-dead crooners are smoking bad weed and have a cough, TAD of Japan will bring their new D700 reference disc player with outboard power supply. Naturally, the machine plays both CD and SACD but also features coax and AES/EBU inputs to act as external DAC. Combined this two-chassis digital source weighs 40.5kg like a powerful amplifier.
Canada’s Verity Audio will bow their Florestan 3-way speaker system of 20Hz-60kHz bandwidth. Top to bottom it marries a 2″ ribbon tweeter, 6″/15cm midrange and 11″/28cm woofer. The underhung dynamic drivers use mineral-filled polypropylene for the mids and carbon/paper laminate for the bass. The woofer uses a large rear port, the head unit a quasi-open back. Resonance control cabinetry uses “a dedicated array of inner reinforcements and complex-angled panels for proper dissipation of internal energies and lifetime reliability and accuracy.” Also in attendance will be the company’s own Pro-4 processor, AMP-60 power amp and INT-100 integrated.
By now our Über ride’s tank has run empty to pull over to refuel. This being Munich High End, it’s nothing a quick glance through the show catalogue won’t fix.