Munich 2016

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Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016
When I go into the dCS room at any hi-fi show, I know that two things are going to happen: I'm going to hear great music and it's going to sound great. The former, and in many ways the latter, are due to dCS' John Quick. While I often make fun and sometimes complain about the music played at hi-fi shows since it falls somewhere between absolutely dreadful, painfully cliché'd, and "Really? Are you kidding me?" (especially in Munich), some people actually enjoy music. John Quick enjoys music.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016
The Vermeer Audio Two Universal Control Center (€18,000) is a network-ready DAC/preamplifier offering digital (Ethernet, asynchronous USB, Toslink, AES, Coax S/PDIF) and analog inputs as well as a tube driven analog output stage with volume control. The Two can handle PCM resolutions up to 32-bit/284kHz and DSD64 and sends its converted bits out via analog RCA or XLRs.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016
Korea's SOtM (Soul Of The Music) had their new sMS-200 mini network player (about $450) on silent display. The tiny sMS-200 (105 x 53 x 150mm) is RoonReady (trending) while you can also run Logitech Media Server, Squeezelite, MPD & DLNA audio Renderer (not trending). If you Roon, all you need is a box running Roon Server attached to your music library and a USB cable to connect the sMS-200 to your DAC-O-Choice. The sMS-200 will be available in 1-2 months.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016
When attending hi-fi shows, you sometimes come across a product in-use in a number of rooms, something sitting there silently doing its job largely unheralded because it's not part of the system being highlighted (i.e. the company did not necessarily pay to have it put there). One such case in Munich was the preponderance of Melco servers. Here's a Melco server feeding the CH Precision C1 Reference Digital to Analog Controller (£18,500) and while I didn't keep count, because I'm an idiot, I think it's fair to say that Melco outnumbered any like device.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2016
Playback Designs new Sonoma line consists of four products; Merlot DAC (€6,500), Syrah Music Server (€6,500), Pinot ADC (€7,500), and the OpBox Modification Kit for the Oppo Player (€1,050). As I tried to capture in images, the Sonoma line comes housed in a lovely, wavy-topped chassis and those waves were modeled from a photo of a mountain range inspired by the Sonoma mountains, i.e. wine country.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
Michael Fremer of AnalogPlanet.com. The hardest working man in hifi?
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
One of things you encounter at High End Munich are companys looking to make connections. Japan's Fidata is one such company and they were showing their HFAS1-S10 network music server ($TBD) which houses a 1TB SSD (two 850EVO high-reliability SSDs from Samsung), a 25 Mhz low-phase-noise vacuum-type crystal oscillator, and USB or Ethernet out for connecting to your USB DAC or streamer of choice.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
What's a WAMP? DigiBit introduced their unqiue WAMP mono power amplifier/wireless media streamer/DAC (€2,000/pair), which is designed to sit under your passive speakers (custom plinths are available for any speaker) turning them into active streamers that will accept up to 24-bit/192kHz data and pump out 150 Watts of Class D power (into 8 Ohms).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
The new Mytek Manhattan II ($6,000, $1,000 for Manhattan owner upgrade) uses the same chasis as the Manhattan but changes have happened beneath the surface. The current Manhattan was designed and built before MQA rode into town, so it's not MQA ready (and will never be). Thus the MQA-enabled Manhattan II which can be looked at as containing all of the tech inside the less expensive Brooklyn, but made bigger and better. Changes over the original include a new motherboard, a new ESS 9038 Sabre DAC chip, a new 32-bit driveless (for Mac and Linux) USB solution, improved insulated clocks, new analog faders, and a re-designed phono preamp.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
I'm not typically titillated by tweaks but the IsoAcoustics speaker stands (see review) continue to impress me with their performance and price. I use them with my ADAM AX3s and they clearly improve the sound of music. So I did not run by their booth which featured two new products; the Isolation Pucks for equipment ($TBD pictured above) and the Isolation Pucks for speakers ($600/four pictured below).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
In show reports past, I include all of these non-computer-audio-related photos in one big post at the end. This year, as you can see, I'm sticking them in my show coverage in mostly chronological order, ideally to give you a better feel for the experience of walking around the High End Show.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
You mean Brinkmann of Brinkmann turntable fame? Yup (they actually made their first DAC back in 1986, the Zenith). The brandy new Nyquist DAC (€12,000), which is RoonReady and MQA-enabled, currently processes PCM resolutions to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 but since the Nyquist is modular in design, future upgrades can be done in the field with a simple hardware/software swap. Inside resides a hybrid circuit topology employing tubes in the output stage, leveraging their "instantaneous response to voltage changes."
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
EMM Labs had their flagship DA2 ($25,000) at work in an EMM Labs/Lansche Audio system. I noted "effortless power" which makes sense seeing as the MTRX2 monoblocks ($85K/pair) deliver a "conservatively rated" 600W into 8 Ohms and 1000W into 4 Ohms and those Lansche Audio horn-loaded speakers house dual 19" woofers. Woof!.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
Grimm Audio whose hands, knowledge, experience, and products reach deep into the pro audio world, continue to improve their active (NCore-based) LS1 speakers. The new LS1be three-way (€36000/pair, incl VAT) add a new custom beryllium tweeter manufactured by SEAS, upgraded electronics, new cabinet material, and a digitally controlled motion feedback controlled woofer. The LS1be's price also includes the USB controller and all cabling for a plug and play solution (the DAC, DSP, and amps reside in one of its legs).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2016
One of three Atriums at Munich High End on day one/press day.

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