Munich 2013

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Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2015
I covered the Genelec active speakers last time I was in Munich so I'm only going to show a picture and share that I think I am finally one step closer to getting a pair in for review. Stay tuned.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 02, 2013
Let the countdown commence! I will be attending the Munich High End Show which opens next Thursday and I can't wait. This will be my first time in attendance and from everything I've heard and read, the Munich Show is a blast and I'm ready to have one. Or two. With 350 exhibitors and over 900 brands represented, I hope to have some time for beer. I mean art! The Alte Pinakothek is having a Brueghal exhibit and I'd love to spend some quality time with Dürer and Lucas Cranach The Elder as well as Gerhard Richter over at the Museum Brandhorst. But Hi-Fi is the reason for my visit and computer audio is my mission so I'm ready to knuckle down and see and hear me some digits and report on all the computer audio news that fits to digitize.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2013
The active display in the Amphion consisted of a simple €10k setup featuring the Amphion Two15 professional monitors (€1500/each), Lindell Audio AmpX ($1,599.99), and the Antelope Audio Zodiac+ DAC/Preamp ($2,695). The desktop/near field (trendspotting again) strikes me as the new hi-fi frontier mainly because so many of us spend so much time in front of a computer monitor with terabyte-busting music collections of increasing quality. With speakers and systems like this Amphion-based rig, you can get exceptional near field performance without busting your bank account.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 15, 2013
I admit to being more than intrigued by the Astel & Kern 24/192-capable AK120 HD portable music player ($1,400). The AK120 follows on the heels of their very successful model 100 and offers a number of improvements including dual Wolfson 8740 DACs, 64GB of internal storage and 2 micro SD card slots for a total of 192GB of music storage, and overall better specs and sound according to iRiver CEO Il Hwan (Henry) Park. Henry reminded me that iRiver developed one of the first MP3 players way back in 1999 to which he added, "MP3 has no heart, no soul. It is our job to bring this back." Amen.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 16, 2013
Burmester's components suggest (to me) that one needs to address them with a fair amount of reverence while being properly quaffed, properly attired, and with very good posture. The Burmester 111 Musiccenter ($50,000) combines a DAC, Preamplifier, CD drive for ripping, SSD system disk, mirrored 3TB (6TB total) of hard disk storage for music, UPnP Ethernet and WLAN connectivity, a 7" display, iPad app, 3x analog inputs, 6x digital inputs (3x Toslink and 3x Coax S/PDIF), supported file formats include "FLAC / wav / mp3 etc" and up to 24/192 playback. There's also a headphone jack and RCA and Tolsink output.
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 15, 2013
New Zealand-based Plinius was showing their Toko Digital Audio Player (€5,000). The DLNA-compatible Toko can handle up to 24/192 data in FLAC (up to 24/192), LPCM (up to 24/192), AIFF, and MP3 formats and there's one 10/100 Ethernet input and pairs of RCA and XLR outputs. There's also an old-fashioned disc spinner for those CDs that are in a pre-ripped state. the Toko is designed to be used Plinius' iPad-based Arataki DLNA compatible mobile media controller.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 16, 2013
The mysterious AVM Tec (check out their website for an explanation) coupled their Alluxity Pre ONE preamplifier and Power ONE amplifier with the Aurender W20 music server (pictured at the bottom of the rack), and the Estelon Model XB speakers ($32,900/pair). AVM Tec is the brainchild of Alexander Vitus Mogensen, son of Vitus Audio founder Hans-Ole Vitus, and the company specializes in OEM and DIY markets.
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 15, 2013
Chord was displaying their Coupé Carry storage system that stacks and packs your choice of components from their Chordette range of products. I'd think I'd be tempted to pick the MX Series IX streamer, MX Series SX amplifier, and the DSD-capable Chordette QuteHD DAC (see review) which I thoroughly enjoyed. Careful readers will note that the Coupé Carry fits our "simplification" trendspotting nicely.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 16, 2013
Nagra, makers of exquisite hi-fi gear, is coming out with a 24/384kHz PCM/DSD-capable DAC (pricing TBD and "whose official name will be revealed in the fall"). This prototype was on silent display but I did learn that the digital section was designed by Andreas Koch while Nagra handled the analog bits. "The new D/A Nagra converter is planned for autumn release."
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 16, 2013
The Zero 1 (€9000) from Avantgarde Acoutic wins my award for best Trendspotting piece of kit because the Zero 1 packs up pretty much everything you need minus the source(s) into a horn loaded package. You get a DAC, preamp, and amp with USB, Toslink, S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and optional analog inputs stuffed inside a pair of horn-loaded loudspeakers. And I mean loud. The Avantgarde presentation was in German but the Zero 1s easily speak to anyone with ears who cared to listen and I found this room's sound to be among the most compelling and physically vibrant at the show. The Zero 1's speakers are rated at 104dB and their associated amps at 2x 50W for the midrange and tweeters, and 1 x400W for the bass and the combo had no problems filling Avantgarde's very large exhibition room with pulse pounding yet finely nuanced music.
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 15, 2013
Wholly home? theater! by McIntosh.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 16, 2013
If you're having a hard time seeing the Crystal Cable Arabesque speakers (€75,000/pair) I believe that's part of the point of their 3/4" glass enclosure. The Arabesque were driven by the three-piece Siltech Saga Amplification System ($37,500 per unit) which is light powered! and Crystal Cable's own Absolute Dream cables (€75,000 for the entire setup) tied everything together. And if you're having a hard time seeing the dCS Puccini ($18,000) with the dCS Puccini U-Clock ($5,000) its because they were sitting on the floor behind the Siltech gear. The sound in this room was relaxed yet finely detailed and its one of the rooms I could have easily camped out in.

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