Munich 2013

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Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
There's a whole bunch of buzz over the France-based totaldac components designed by Vincent Brient. There are a few versions of their R2R DAC including the totaldac d1-dual DAC (€9,900), totaldac d1-tube DAC (€6,960), and the d1-single DAC (€6,960). All of the versions can handle up 24/192 via asynchronous USB, Coax S/PDIF (BNC), and AES/EBU inputs, and 24/96 via Toslink. There's an integrated volume control as well as an adjustable 12dB/oct high pass filter and a 69-bit 2 or 3-way active crossover for taming your system's sound in-room. I encourage you to read more about totaldac on their website but from the bit I heard, I'd certainly like to hear more.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
The Metrum Acoustics Hex NOS Differential DAC ($3,288.99 w/USB see review) sat in a lovely system that I went back to a number of times just to make sure I liked it as much as I did. And I did.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
Copenhagen, Denmark based Audiovector was showing their Si 3 Avantgarde Arreté speakers that come in a passive version (€8,000/pair) and an active version (€13,000/pair). We listened to the active version and while I was there Jay Rein of Bluebird Music treated me to some tunes from an iPad using the Sennheiser BTD 500 USB Wireless Bluetooth Transmitter ($59.95) which uses the apt-X® audio codec streaming to an Arcam rBlink Bluetooth DAC ($249.00). If I was trendspotting, and I was, I'd point to another example of a simplified system along with the ability to feed your system music from a variety of sources including the ubiquitous iOS or Android-based devices.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
You can just see the Playback Designs MPS-5 ($15,000) SACD/CD Player/DAC to the right of the left Leonardo Model 8 ($65,000/pair) planar ribbon speaker. These doorways to your music were being driven by the new to me Grandinote Demone mono power amplifiers (€30,000/pair) from Italy. I happened to sit with Grandinote's designer Massimiliano Magri and a very congenial woman who was introduced to me as his bodyguard while having a still water break and then we went to their room together where I got to see Playback Designs designer and DSD-pioneer Andreas Koch. This system was very easy to like and presented a big, sensuous sound to get lost in.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
Devialet introduced four new versions of their D-Premier D/A integrated amplifier that so impressed John Atkinson (see review). If you are not familiar with Devialet I encourage you read JA's review for all of the details but to summarize Devialet rolls up a DAC, network player, integrated amplifier, and more into one slim, slick, and appealingly modern aluminum body. The new line-up offers the Devialet technology at various price points and power ratings with increasing levels of functionality. The Devialet 110 (€4990) sits at the entry end of the line and offers 110Wpc of output power. The 170 (€6990) ups the power rating to 170Wpc and adds an MM/MC phono input. The Devialet 240 offers, as you have probably figured out by now, 240Wpc and the 500 (€22,900) tops out at 500Wpc.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
A traditional horn setup caught in a candid in between blowing moment. This was just one of the live music performances to be found around the Munich High End show.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
Buffalo Technology had their LS400 Series NAS devices on hand (the stouter of the two black boxes in the pic) that are geared for the audiophile market. Capable of handling AIFF, ALAC, WAV, FLAC, and DSD data, the DLNA/UPnP compatible LS400 Series includes a 1.2GHz ARMADA370 processor and 512Mbytes of DRAM running TwonkyMedia 7. The LS400 Series comes in three flavors— the single-drive LinkStation 410D ($229/2TB, $269/3TB, $399/4TB), dual-drive LinkStation 420D ($289/2TB, $369/4TB, $469/6TB, $719/8TB), and the diskless LinkStation 421E ($149/diskless enclosure).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
The Aria music server (€3,995) from Digibit offers unlimited extended metadata fields and access to the SonataDB of classical music extended metadata as well as AMG, GD3, Freedb, and Musicbrainz for a classical music lover's metadata dreams come true. The Aria provides automatic CD ripping using dBPoweramp, an iPad app for control, up to 2TB of SSD storage or up to 4TB of HSDD storage, DLNA/UPnP compatibility so you can also access music on your network-attached storage, and up to 32/384kHz and DSD playback capability. Aria uses a professional-grade Teac DVD-R drive, a custom ultra-low power industrial grade motherboard, an optional 24/192 and DSD-capable asynchronous USB DAC, S/PDIF (RCA and BNC), AES/EBU, and I2S outputs, all wrapped up in a fanless aluminum case.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 13, 2013
Bel Canto Black represents a shift in the balance of power. Or maybe I should say a shift in DAC? The Black series consists of two components—the C1 Controller and the PMD1 Power DAC. The Controller can be viewed as a preamplifier/renderer which includes your standard digital inputs (Coax and Toslink), UPnP Ethernet, USB, and AES/EBU. The twist here is there's no DAC but there is a 32-bit digital volume control, multiple user selectable FIR filters, and an A to D converter for the analog input. Your signal gets re-clocked in the Controller and in the case of an analog signal gets converted to 24/192 digital before getting passed on to the monoblock Power DACs via ST Fiber or AES/EBU. The DAC portion of the Power DAC is capable of handling up to 24/192 data while the power side puts out 400W into 8 ohms and 1200W into 2 ohms. Projected pricing is in the neighborhood of $15,000 per box.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2013
Swiss company mo°sound offers passive ceramic-clad spherical speakers that are destined for a classy desktop. The standard version MO°SPEAKER (€760/pair) comes in black and white as well as upgraded finish options including gold and silver.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2013
The Dali Kubik Free speakers are sold as singles with an active version (€769/each) and a passive version (€349/each) so you can go mono or stereo and you can do so in your choice of nine colorful colors. You connect to your Kubik Free via aptX Bluetooth 3.0, USB, Toslink, RCA, or 3.5mm minijack, and their output comes courtesy of a 100W internal amp driving two 5" woofers and two 25mm soft dome tweeters.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2013
Amphion was showing off some colorful versions of their Ion+ speakers (€500/each) that were hand painted by Danish artist Kristian Hornsleth in a limited edition (€3,000/pair). For those looking to brighten up their listening environment with aural and visual art, these speakers fit the bill on both counts.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2013
The NuForce Cube ($99.00) is a speaker, headphone amp, and 16-bit/48kHz-capable USB DAC all stuffed into a 2" cube. There's a rechargeable lithium battery for up to 8 hours of play, a 3.5mm minijack analog input so you can connect your phone or portable music player and use the Cube as a headphone amp or take advantage of its larger-than-your-phone's speaker. The Cube comes in your choice of black, silver, red, or blue and was on silent display so I cannot attest to the manufacturer's claim that the Cube, "...blows cheap plastic, low-quality portable speakers out of the water."
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 09, 2013
I couldn't resist sharing this even though its not "computer audio" but it certainly more than fits the big theme. The Opera Only amplifier is rated at (and I cut 'n paste this directly from the Pivetta Project Only Creative website) 2 x 60.000 watt RMS Class A (that's 60,000W in English) with a max power output rating of 160,000W. I did not get a price on this amp, but the previous version, the Opera One, was less powerful and cost $650,000, so I figure if you have to ask...When the Opera Only is powered off, it closes up into a 12-sided black monolith.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 09, 2013
The Munich High End Show - so big you can drive cars into it

Don't blame me for this translation (blame Bing) or for simply pointing out the facts; Munich is big. I mean really big. When you walk into the M.O.C. and see all that there is to see, it can feel a tad overwhelming. But that's why man invented bier.

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