Munich 2016

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Michael Lavorgna  |  May 13, 2016  |  8 comments
Narcissus, Caravaggio (1594-96)

"Systems lean." So read my notes in reference to the experience of listening to lots of systems at the High End Show 2016 in Munich. Systems lean.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  2 comments
The big digital news from Munich is something that you have to put together. It's not a single thing, rather an accumulation of things. I know, so much for simplicity. But it is simple.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments
You're looking at, among other things, a Western Electric 11A horn system c.1924 (before the advent of electrical recording) courtesy of the fine folks at Silbatone Acoustics. Silbatone's own electronics designed by J.C. Morrison provided the juice (using vintage, and I mean vintage VT-1 and VT-2 triodes), while one of Frank Schroeder's or Thomas Schick's tonearms rode the grooves. All-in-all, this was the most goosebumps inducing sound at The Show, at least according my goosebumps-O-meter, as it was able to convey the life in music. I find some systems, OK some modern systems, pale in comparison on this note, delivering a strained sounding imitation more intent on sound effects than music or in the worse case serving up music that is, for all intents and purposes, DOA. A corpse.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments
I always make it a point to make time for MBL to listen to their unique and impressive systems and talk to their designer, Juergen Reiss. In Munich I was fortunate enough to sit in on Juergen's demo where he explained some of the principles behind the extreme Radialstrahler mbl 101 X-treme speakers and one of the key points he made is best illustrated here:
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments
While on silent display, the Technics Network Audio Amplifier SU-G30 ($3,999) web page is chock full of good information. For example:
JENO Engine (Jitter Elimination and Noise-shaping Optimization)
Jitter is a major cause of distortion in digital systems, and is caused by mis-timing in the master clocks used in digital-to-analogue conversion. To eliminate the degradation of sound caused by jitter, Technics has developed an original jitter reduction circuit, comprising a clock generator in the noise-shaping system to reduce jitter in the low-frequency range and a high-precision sample rate converter for suppressing jitter in the high-frequency range. Thus it reduces jitter in an ideal way over the entire frequency range. This works with a newly-developed and original high-precision PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) conversion circuit, optimising the noise-shaping speed, the degree and requantisation error, and the PWM gradation, in order to convert high-resolution signals to PWM without causing any damage to the dynamic range. These new technologies enable the new generation of Technics digital amplifier designs to reproduce the natural and delicate nuances of music.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments
Now that's what I'm talking about: some color, some sexy. The Box-Design by Pro-Ject Audio Systems Stream Box DS net (€630) is a 24/-bit/192kHz-capable network player/DAC using the Cirrus Logic CS4344. Inputs include Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g, Ethernet, and USB, while fixed analog (RCA) & digital coax outputs (RCA) take care of connecting to your hi-fi. The Stream Box supports gapless playback and streaming from Internet Radio (vTuner), Spotify Connect, and Tidal. Since the company makes a point of stating that the Stream Box supports "FLAC decoding for all 9 compression levels including Level 0", my guess is they're using the streaming modules from Stream Unlimited.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments
the Voxativ 9.87 System (left) and Ampeggio Due

Near the end of Day 3 at the Show, I went back to a few rooms to just sit and listen and the totaldac/Voxativ room was near the top of my just sit and listen list. But first a peculiar fact about the Munich High End Show: it has by far the worst sounding rooms of any show I've ever attended with walls bleeding sound from room-to-room as if they were made of grill cloth, you'll hear lots of horrid audiophile music including many a cover of real (good) music by vapid singers accompanied by acoustic niceties, yet, and this the odd part, the Munich High End Show is by far the best hi-fi show in the world. Go figure.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments
NativeDSD hosted a series of listening sessions at High End 2016 featuring the Merging Technologies NADAC ($10,500 for stereo version), which is here in-barn for review, and electronics and (very interesting looking) speakers from Daudio. Let's get something straight—while I listen to 'classical' music, I'm listening to Morton Feldman as I type, classical music is not my main squeeze (as I pointed out to Channel Classics/Native DSD's Jared Sachs, I'm from NJ). That being said, if you want to hear some of the best sounding and well-recorded classical music, get yee to NativeDSD and check out Jared Sachs work for his Channel Classics label. You will not be disappointed.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 12, 2016  |  0 comments
By All-in-One, Simaudio is referring to the fact that one need only connect a pair of speakers to the 50wpc Nēo ACE ($3,500), plug your network into it with a run of Ethernet, and you'll be off and running streaming from the Internet, serving from storage, and enjoying music in no time flat.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016  |  8 comments
How much time do you spend at your bathroom sink? If the answer is "a lot", then Denon has a set of speakers for you. The HEOS 1 ($199/ea.) are wireless and Bluetooth endowed and can pass PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz (AIFF and DSD support are coming soon). The HEOS app supports Internet Radio and a number of streaming services including the only one that really matters, Tidal.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016  |  2 comments
I already covered the RoonReady ELAC Discovery Music Server DS-101 ($999) at CES 2016 (see ELAC Are On Fire!) so I'm only going to say one thing:
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016  |  1 comments
I covered Nagra's Classic DAC ($14,995) at CES 2016 (see report) but I went into the Nagra room anyway because I like looking at, listening to, and ideally touching the Nagra gear.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016  |  0 comments
I always enjoy my visit to the CAD room mainly because CAD's proprietor, Scott Berry, is an interesting guy to talk to and the system that finds his DAC paired with electronics and speakers from Boenicke Audio is a pleasure to listen to. His CAD 1543 MKII DAC (£7,200) is a R-2R resistor ladder DAC using 16 NOS Phillips TDA 1543/N2 chips (because the company "believes that sigma delta technology used in current DAC chips does not sound as natural as resistor ladder technology"). The CAD 1543, which supports PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHZ, is non-oversmapling with no output filtering. I'd recommend a visit to the CAD website since it goers into some details about the company's approach to DAC design.