Munich High End 2013 The Wrap

Pieter Bruegel the Elder's "Das Schlaraffenland" (1567) which I got to see on my first day in Munich at the wonderful Arte Pinakothek

"It's how all hi-fi shows should be." I heard this sentiment expressed by more than a few people about the Munich High End Show and I agree. While the MOC where the event is held does not offer the last word in friendly room acoustics, the benefits of the place far outweigh the sonic pitfalls. And these benefits include location, location, and location. I'm not sure you can pick up the vibe at the Munich show and transplant it just any old place.

The people at the Munich High End Show strike me as being different from the people that attend hi-fi shows in the US of A. There are more families, more genders (more than one), more couples, more ages, and generally less people that give the outward appearance of being first and foremost a textbook audiophile. Namely the people floating around the MOC in Munich had a relaxed sense of style that seemed to suggest other things besides hi-fi also matter.

Computer audio was everywhere. DSD was either in every product or on their maker's lips, "DSD is coming soon". High definition PCM and DSD have already been rolled into the main stream by companies including Pioneer and Marantz and only a few grumpy forum-haunting audiophiles want to argue their merits. In terms of other trends on our Trendspotting European Tour, I'd point to the desktop as becoming a hot bed for better sound mainly in the form of active speakers. Let's face facts—many of us spend an inordinate amount of time staring into a monitor with terabytes worth of music lying in wait. With network attached storage, our music libraries are instantly accessible from multiple devices so why not make the desktop a concert hall?

Convergence. We're seeing more devices rolling up more functions so our hi-fi's become easier to live with and easier to incorporate into our lives. Components like the new Devaliet lineup, the Wadia Intuition, the SimpliFi simplified approach with Weiss and Klangwerk, the Grimm LS1 active speakers/DAC/preamp, and the similarly-equipped Avantgarde Zero 1 make system-building as simple as one, two, or three. While I'm still a fan of components, I am after all an audiophile, I see this folding up of functionality as a nice way to get more people interested in better sound.

And better sound is really just another aspect of a better life since the quality of our experiences matter. When we can have a direct impact on the quality of our experiences, its simply careless to miss the opportunity. The Munich High End Show, and being in and around Munich with its museums, Biergartens (two of my favorite words combined), architecture, and people, served as a very pleasant reminder that it not only should be but can be.