High-End Munich 2023 EXPO reviewed  

The High-End Munich 2023 Expo is reviewed in a most unorthodox fashion by Carlos Martin Schwab.

How hard could it be to cover a High-End audio fair transitioning from pro audio? As a pro sound technician and ex-musician, I believe that High-End Audio is more than just the state-of-the-art in home audio. It is for people that have the desire to hear music and sound that intertwines into one hopefully entertaining experience. Acknowledging the above, here is a somewhat non-standard Munich High-End expo assessment.

A Big fair, but not huge:

The email I received from the High-End Society stated that the Munich 2023 show was fully booked so coincidentally, it caught my attention. Being that trade shows are not returning to pre-pandemic levels that fast, at a glance, the “at the fair map” revealed that MOC Munich, was only 75% occupied (far from the 95% of 2019 but bigger than in 2022).

Do High-End music recordings still exist? Yes. The more minimalistic in instrumentation and intimate, the better. That is music that sounds good everywhere. Rock? Out of the question. What about taking the High-End sound systems out of the “comfort zone”? What about playing a music genre that requires high-quality mixing and listening with power? Last year, I tried Tool’s “Fear Inoculum” (one of the best-produced heavy metal albums by far) with disastrous results. This year, I listened to one of the songs of this CD as a usual demo at Hifideluxe that mixes in-your-face electronics and drumming: Chocolate Chip Trip.

English language? : Anyone who has been to an international trade fair will have noticed that the language used is usually English, which is the business language par excellence.

Ignoring this basic rule, the High-End Ambassador’s press conference was held in German for the 2nd year in a row with the support of individual headphones and an English interpretation. When Al Di Meola began his presentation, he asked to switch to English, which I expected. This is not at all rare in Germany.


High-End Munich 2023 EXPO

Cambridge Audio had the most original display of the fair, mounted outdoors inside a vintage London bus . On its ground floor, equipment was exhibited, the jewel being the EVO line CD player, a compact disc transport dedicated specifically for Evo sending the audio signal to Evo all-in-one players.

High-End Munich 2023 EXPO Cambridge audio

The Evo 150 or Evo 75 can be used via a custom digital output to Evo for pure digital audio signal & retrieval of album artwork for Evo to display. Other specs: a custom-designed S5 servo for perfect disc speed & error-free playback, gapless playback (ideal for classical pieces & DJ mixes), acoustically dampened metal chassis & CD tray for isolation, and changeable side panels to match the Evo all-in-one player.

Gryphon Audio had only the launching unit at the exhibition and sound demo: the Diablo 333 integrated amplifier.  To show its tech specs on the wall was very original.

Gryphon Audio High-End Munich 2023 EXPO

Anthony Chiarella, Gryphon’s Director of Sales & Marketing, told me other details about it: “The Diablo 333 boasts a completely new volume control, 10 Output Transistors (per channel) as used in our flagship Apex Power Amplifiers, a larger output transformer, and other parts and technologies borrowed from our higher-end models.” The phono and DAC modules IN THE 333 are also completely redesigned and offer much higher performance than the modules developed for its predecessor, the Diablo 300.

Chord Electronics launched the BerTTi power amplifier. It’s a fully balanced 75-watt stereo power amplifier bringing the next-generation ULTIMA topology to the ground-breaking Table Top (TT) range.

High-End Munich 2023 EXPO

This automation makes full use of advanced error-correction technology which monitors and immediately corrects signals before the output stage for astonishing accuracy and unrivaled fidelity from a compact-chassis device.

When combined with the resolving power of the award-winning Chord Hugo TT 2 DAC/preamp, the duo offers new levels of sonic performance from a small system. The addition of the Hugo M Scaler (upscaler,) with the ability to upscale audio to 705.6 kHz, 16x CD’s native resolution, makes the three-box system truly class-leading.

It features both balanced and unbalanced inputs, high-quality gold-plated loudspeaker outputs, plus a 10 A IEC power inlet, 2 modified power supplies for increased performance, plus an additional auxiliary power rail for the front end, which provides extra voltage to drive the custom-made MOSFETs. The unit’s sleek metalwork is precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminum and is available in a choice of Jett Black or Argent Silver. They had a few of their portable products for demo too (pic 08).

Naim Audio launched the limited-edition headphone amplifier NAIT 50 the worthy successor of NAIT 1, Naim’s integrated amplifier released in 1983.

High-End Munich 2023 EXPO NAIM AUDIO

Some of the new features on this edition include the incisive discrete transistor headphone amplifier found in the New Classic series, so you can enjoy all types of listening. It delivers 25W of power per channel with peaks of 225W, and 3 analog inputs, including a discrete transistor MM phono stage. It can be linked with all loudspeaker types, as well as a streamer. The front panel combines tradition and modernity, with a nod to the design codes of NAIT 1.

The design Pro-Ject turntable of the fair was The Dark Side Of The Moon, celebrating the 50th anniversary of that masterpiece.

The best design goes to IO Design which is a loudspeaker without a cabinet but with a skeleton instead. This unusual loudspeaker made of aerospace aluminum and military-grade CNC machining precision, was something to behold.

It incorporates a proprietary laboratory grade anti-vibration structure and torque wrench precision joints tightening (first ever usage to control the resonances) holding the custom loudspeakers drivers.

The drivers themselves included a pair of precision matching woofers, a 12″, 1 custom magneto-planar midrange, 1 custom ribbon tweeter, a proprietary crossover design with top quality electronic components as well as damped solid steel precision feet with proprietary unidirectional vibration draining flow. The structure is resonance frequency controlled and has patent pending tuning solutions for a perfect room setup. And looks great.

The best sounding system: Hifideluxe, running in parallel at the Munich Marriott Hotel, was a different profile high-end audio exhibit: just a few audio rooms and with fewer visitors, but that makes it more intimate and attractive to visit. There, I found a system integrated by a Lucxar turntable, Extraudio amplifiers and sources , an Artesania Audio rack, and Audionostrum loudspeakers.

For me, this was the best sounding system I heard in the days I covered at the show. I hope that you enjoyed!


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