High End Munich 2022 Show Report Part II
Welcome to Part Two of StereoNET's High End Munich 2022 show report featuring brands E-M and don't forget to check out Part One of our show reviews, if you've missed it!
Why not play our High End Munich 2022 playlist curated from tracks heard during the four days of the exhibition as you read?
EarMen's head-fi continues to impress with a neat little rig combining the compact Tradutto DAC and Staccato streamer.
The soon to be available Staccato offers TOS Link, RCA and USB connectivity while decoding up to 32bit / 384kHz and DSD 256 via USB, Internet Radio, Spotify, TIDAL, as well as via Bluetooth-connected devices. Through the Meze cans, all sounded good to me.
German company Einstein was debuting its Aerolith record player and Megalith loudspeakers alongside the brand's phono, pre and power amplification.
At first, the handcrafted components might have a 'created in my workshop' aesthetic but are really nicely finished and put together and have a remarkably easy to listen to sound while remaining extraordinarily detailed and engaging. Furthermore, the added ambience created by the pair of Jan Kath designer rugs and the Vicoustic room treatment courtesy of Schallmeister gave this room a real-world vibe, even though the price tag might not be for many of us.
ELAC's slimline electronics have an almost pro audio vibe - I can easily imagine them rack-mounted.
Here they were connected to the €16,000 ELAC Concentro S 509 speakers released about this time in 2020; however, with what was happening at that time, this may have been the first time most of us were getting ears on with them. I really like their 'high-heeled' aesthetic. The loudspeaker employs what ELAC calls stepX-JET: a concentric chassis comprising the new JET 5c tweeter and an aluminium membraned 180mm mid/ bass. This is further augmented by four 180mm side-firing, long-throw woofers for added low-end. They also had the Miracord 80 turntable in the room, although Me'Shell Ndegeocello's The Way was being streamed but sounded pretty darned on point.
Electrocompaniet had a booth filled with ear-pleasing eye candy, but the crowning glory had to be the all-new AW 800 M.
Replacing the legendary AW 600 NEMO, the AW 800 M can switch between mono, stereo and bi-amping operating modes. You also get Electrocompaniet's direct-coupled high open-loop bandwidth topology, further enhanced with high slew-rate and very high bandwidth amplifier stages. Oh, and it is incredibly shiny and tricky to photograph without you getting a glorious reflection of yours truly.
Joining in the apparent 70s fashion revival, Elipson was feeling groovy with its flares-flapping Heritage XLS11 loudspeaker.
This 17kg three-way standmount has been tuned as a bass-reflex design, with a front-firing flared port. An 8-inch cellulose pulp mid/bass is partnered by a 2.2-inch coated dome mid and 0.87-inch silk dome tweeter. Sensitivity is rated at 90 dB / 1W / 1m and impedance, 6 Ohms. These retro-cabs were being driven by the company's modular P1 preamp and 400W A2700 amplifier. Meanwhile, lurking ominously at the rear were the unmistakable Legacy 3230.
Karl-Heinz Fink seemed to have touched many of the speakers on show in Munich this year, and one garnering more than a few column inches of late is the £4,500 Epos ES14N.
In a rather snug and sweaty presentation, we were informed that while it may share the ES14 designation of its predecessor, this is very much a new two-way, rear-ported stand-mount design. Additionally, wearing a very attractive petrol blue finish to its double-layered asymmetric cabinet, the ES14N sports a 7-inch variable thickness cone and a solid phase plug powered by a hybrid ferrite/ neodymium magnet. Taking care of the higher frequencies is a 28mm alloy/ ceramic dome tweeter resulting in a claimed 40Hz – 23kHz (-6dB) 33Hz – 25kHz (-10dB) frequency response, >6 Ohm average impedance and 87dB sensitivity. At the Munich demo, Vertere took care of vinyl playback via Soulnote electronics as it introduced its £44k Reference Tonearm Generation III. The ES14N has a sense of fun about it, as well as being able to produce a great sound.
I've been aware of FalkenOhr racks and amp stands for a while, but it wasn't until now that I spent time with CEO Robert Mayr to get a detailed run down on the engineering behind the design.
Beyond the beautiful high-end furniture finish, there is a mixture of layered damping, multi-point decoupling and isolation, as well as clever cable routing. The design, I was told, starts from understanding that interferences can be of an electromagnetic or mechanical nature, and they can come from outside the hi-fi rack or from inside. FalkenOhr believes in a high-mass design and so constructs the stands from heavy solid materials with the most homogeneous damping characteristics possible.
Meanwhile, the shelves are of compound construction made of multilayer MDF and aluminium. More information can be gathered here but suffice to say, I was impressed. Prices start at £4,474 for an amplifier stand and £8,295 for the 317 Pure Line single-width, three-shelf rack.
Funk Firm's Arthur Khoubessarian came fully loaded with his latest masterpiece that brings together many of his ideas to create the 'Isolation Bubble'.
Said item is the £75,000 Kepler turntable named after Johannes Kepler - the man who discovered planetary motion. Three circling “Moons” nods towards the trio of Raptor-Z arms. Although spendy, there are so many great design ideas here. Firstly, the drive, the three arms, and the suspension all rotate to bring the chosen arm into comfortable reach. The Kepler, protected by no fewer than five patents, is both belt and direct drive; you decide what to engage when you want.
The record sits on an air suction platter, and the plinth is isolated in multiple directions with the compact multi-layered structure owing its existence to the aircraft industry, I am told. It is a very rigid support for the drive, platter and arms. Meanwhile, the cartridge rotates on the end of the Raptor-Z arms on special headshells, using very low tension; the cartridge is said to compensate perfectly as it travels across the disc. There is also a Houdini II that has been developed for the Raptor-Z.
If that's all too much, the Funk Firm Isolation Bubble also includes Bo!ng feet, the Achromat and Houdini cartridge isolation device alongside upgrade kits for turntables from Rega, Technics, Pioneer etc.
More retro speaker styling, this time from Scottish-based Fyne Audio and its new Vintage and Vintage Classic ranges, with more than a little whiff of historical Tannoy about them.
The Vintage series will feature seven models when launched in September/ October 2022. Approximate UK pricing will be between £3,500 and £35,000 per pair. The new models feature quality cabinets and materials, rounded edges (although traditional square cabinets are still the rage as far as the Vintage Classic is concerned), and neat magnetic grilles that can be affixed to the speaker's rear when not in use.
Perhaps more importantly, these old-timey looking loudspeakers benefit from the latest iterations of Fyne Audio's IsoFlare point source driver. They certainly sounded bang up-to-date in the room, pushed along by Unison Research Performance and Rega electronics.
Gershman Acoustics's €130,000 Posh speakers have been around for a few years now, and at this year's show they were driven by VAC electronics and a Lampizator Horizon DAC.
The two-part Posh comprises a Morel-dome tweeter and an Accuton Cell midrange five-inch driver in the top box with a pair of eight-inch proprietary aluminium-alloy woofers taking care of the bass in the lower section. The crossover is constructed with point-to-point silver soldering and Mundorf capacitors. Cardas cables joined everything together. However, the Grand Avant Garde really caught my ear in this room. This three and a half-way dynamic loudspeaker claims a 22Hz to 20kHz bandwidth from its 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, 5.25-inch carbon-fibre mid and 8-inch dual-coil aluminium woofer wrapped in a BCT composite enclosure with resistive venting. Sensitivity is rated at 87dB, and after hearing both models in this room, I think I'd go for the Avant Gardes if I really had to choose.
The Three GIK Amigos were in fine form at High End 2022, and when not debating the virtues of a decent ballpoint pen, they were excited to show the modular Sound Block system.
Each Sound Block is 23 x 23 x10.5-inches (HxWxD) and can be interlocked with rails to create freestanding arrays two, three or four blocks high to fit your space or act as a false/ partition wall. As someone who has lived in rented accommodation since moving to London in 2003, I applaud this design and look forward to giving it a test run soon.
Go big or go home seemed to be the mantra from Goldmund's new team as it rolled out the flagship £500,000 GAIA.
Coming in at 440KG a side and boasting eight drivers and as many channels of Telos amplification and Alize DACs, the megalithic speakers also offer a 5-way DSP active crossover and 2.5kW of power on tap. These must be the largest and most powerful wireless speakers out there. Although the GAIA might be grabbing the headlines, the clever PULP desktop/ standmount speakers are touted as Goldmund's most affordable yet.
Measuring just 48 x 23 x 23 cm (HxWxD) and tipping the scales at 14 kg, PULP uses 2 x 175 W Telos amps to power a soft dome tweeter and a 5-inch woofer in a vented cabinet to a claimed 43 Hz (-6 dB) > 25 kHz frequency response. The grille smoothly glides around to reveal the drivers at the press of the logo on top. Could Bang & Olufsen have reason to be worried?
Graham Audio's LS5/5F floorstander is the latest design from the company, although it remains true to the tried and tested damped thin-wall construction typical of the much loved BBC designs.
A reflex-loaded three-way, the LS5/5F features a 300mm long-throw bass driver claimed to be good for 40Hz in-room, partnered with a 200mm midrange, a 25mm soft-dome tweeter crossing over at 400Hz, 3.5kHz. These towers have a claimed 88dB/2.83v/1m sensitivity with frequency response listed as 35Hz-20kHz +/-2dB. Weighing 42kg and standing 111cm tall, the price is yet to be confirmed, but I imagine a few orders have already been placed.
I avoid using the word 'holographic' in sonic terms; however, that was the first thing that sprang to mind when I sat amidst five Grimm LS1 speakers.
The spotlight was literally centre stage as this LS1 utilised the new Nano Legs as it conducted centre-channel duties. Using the Nano Legs, an LS1 can be put on a desktop as an 'Acoustic Mat' on top of the speaker's footplate is said to absorb the sound reflecting from below and mitigate discolouration. I was told that the LS1 with Nano legs was developed based upon a 'special edition' LS1 designed for the Concertgebouw Amsterdam studio. Using a Grimm Audio MU1 server, the audience was shown how the system can convert stereo into five-channel sound and demonstrate how good music mixed for multichannel can really be.
GRYPHON AUDIO DESIGNS
Being a Gryphon owner, I was keen to check out the £57,500 Commander pre and £87,000 Apex power amplifiers launched earlier this year.
However, these were part of a static exhibit, although they were still impressive, and it was fun to see how the two-box Commander's display changed depending on how close you got to it. These really make my Essence pre/ power almost look like portable options! The Apex puts out a claimed 210W per channel Class A with the larger Apex Mono claiming 1800 RMS Watts into one Ohm (Mono). These are no-holds-barred amplifiers.
Gryphon was also showing its upcoming EOS 2 floorstanding loudspeaker. Noteworthy here is that the bass port can be set to be front or rear-firing depending on placement and/ or the size of your room. The proprietary 34mm Beryllium dome tweeter is claimed to extend to 34kHz, whereas bass can plumb to 25Hz in small rooms. With a quoted 91 dB efficiency and 4 Ohm minimum impedance, you shouldn't need the Commander and Apex to drive these. So, depending on pricing (I heard circa €20,000 mentioned), the EOS 2 could be a popular inner-city speaker.
Hegel launched its P30A and H30A pre/ power amplifiers, dubbed Orchestra and Conductor, respectively. I was told that the fully balanced P30A line stage uses four Alps pots in parallel to control a proprietary volume control system.
Ins and outs include two balanced (XLR), three unbalanced (RCA) inputs, and a fixed level Home Theatre input. Meanwhile, the H30A uses two separate 1000 VA toroidal transformers for fast response and minimised transformer hum along with 56 pieces 15A 200W high speed, ultra-low distortion bipolar transistors on the output stage. Moreover, the H30A can be used as a 350W stereo amp or a 1100W monoblock. Priced at €7,000 for P30A and €17,000 for H30A, they become available in September.
HiFi Rose has been quite the success story, with the Korean company's streamers proving popular with buyers and our reviewers. However, when we spotted the teaser for the RA180 integrated, we could never have imagined just how much interest it would raise.
With general remarks of “stolen Nagra design” and “totally steampunk” to “overly fussy”, the proof of any hi-fi gear should be down to how it sounds, ultimately. With credentials such as two 200W amplifier modules per channel - one amp is optimised for stable mid-bass and balance, while the other is designed to deliver smooth, clean power to the high frequencies, spanning up into the super tweeter area beyond 20kHz, according to HiFi Rose.
The RA180's Class AD (Advanced D) amplifier design with 800W output should keep most speakers happy. In addition, HiFi Rose states that the Gallium Nitride FETs in the amplification stage deliver perfect linear output. You get three line inputs, one balanced input and one phono. There are controls for the active crossover, AB speaker switching (switching between two connected pairs), a subsonic switch, etc. Paired with the RS150 and a couple of B&W 802 D4s, the RA180 looked and sounded great. Marmite looks aside; I can see the £5,500 integrated doing brisk business.
iFi has a new addition to its ultra-portable GO range of products with a particularly blinged-out gold version marking the company's tenth anniversary.
At one end of the 65 x 22 x 13mm/ 28.5g DAC there's an asynchronous USB-C input (an iFi-engineered Lightning-to-USB-C cable is also included), while at the other is a pair of headphone outputs – one is a fully balanced 4.4mm output alongside a standard 3.5mm jack.There's a 32-bit Cirrus Logic DAC chipset at the GO Bar's heart with advanced multi-bit modulation, and the company’s GMT (Global Master Timing) precision clock system resulting in native PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256 and double-speed DXD files, while also being able to fully decode MQA audio. Unlike similarly-sized options, iFi's unit includes volume buttons. The iFi GO Bar is priced £329, while the GO Bar Anniversary Edition model lands in June with an RRP of £499.
Innuos demonstrated its new Pulse range of network players that n be used in two modes; as a standalone streamer/ server or as an endpoint in multiroom installations.
Pulse Mini (£899) has an external power supply with optical, coax and USB outputs, while Pulse (£2,299) has a new generation Recap2 linear power supply and adds AES digital output. Finally, the Pulsar has a Statement grade power supply and a lower latency SLC SSD to run the OS, as well as a USB re-clocker built-in for £4,949. At High End, Innuos used a Gryphon Diablo integrated with Audiovector R6 Arrete speakers to create a tremendous high-end streaming system.
It shouldn't really be a surprise to find out that iXOOST is based in Motor Valley - or Modena, Italy to those who only see cars and motorbikes as forms of transport.
However, if you love cars and hi-fi, then iXOOST might be right up your track. The company displayed a selection of fantastically finished wireless speakers at the Munich show, including the carbon fibre Mercedes AMG model that costs €15,500 plus tax. Perfect for the garage!
JBL / MARK LEVINSON
Mark Levinson is celebrating its 50th birthday with the ML50 Anniversary power amplifier that takes its aesthetic cues from the company's first power amp, 1977's ML2.
The modern monoblock has 425W on tap, the first 20W of which are Class A. The glass top is not just for special show models but is a standard feature alongside the red LEDs. Priced at $50,000 per pair and limited to 100 pairs, they certainly made quite an impression driving a pair of JBL DD67000 loudspeakers.
J SIKORA / EGGLESTON WORKS
J.Sikora is a Polish-based father and son team that produces some impressive turntables and tonearms.
Here they put the excellent Standard Max Black through Doshi Evolution monos that utilise KT150 tubes to deliver around 160 Watts into 5Ohms. The system was sat on Alpin Line supports and connected by Cardas Audio cable, outputting through Eggleston Works loudspeakers. This rig was wonderfully dynamic and displayed taught timing as it played Bending Corners by Erik Truffaz.
KAISER / YPSILON
Kaiser's 1.2m tall Kawero! three-way loudspeakers look fantastic, with specs including variable time alignment and radiation direction of the custom RAAL ribbon tweeter, Audiotechnology midrange and rear-firing woofer, all wrapped up in a cabinet made from an incredibly rigid and well-damped form of beech ply called tank wood; I was expecting great things.
Especially as the room appeared well-sorted and the Ypsilon Electronics well-respected. However, when I hit the room, it was empty and Shine on You Crazy Diamond was being played very loud. It was clear and punchy, and I have no reason to disbelieve the claimed 25 Hz to 60 kHz frequency range, but it was just too loud to stay long, even for this rocker.
KHARMA / WADAX
The teamwork of Kharma, WADAX and Robert Koda proved that big can be beautiful. The WADAX Atlantis Reference DAC and Server digital front end was connected by Fono Acustica cables to the newly unveiled Robert Koda K-160 monos and mouthwateringly stunning K-15EX preamp.
This high-end array was feeding Kharma Enigma Veyron 2D speakers exquisitely. Unfortunately, this system was one of those “if you have to ask…” pricing situations. As far as I can recall, the WADAX DAC was the most expensive converter out there at one point - and could well still be with server and DAC apparently costing more than $200,000US for the pair. That aside, the visceral presentation was both deep and wide with remarkable timing and punch, which kept me at the edge of my seat, leaning forward with my mouth open, attempting to take everything in at once.
The Kuzma Safir 9 debuted at High End Munich, and Frank Kuzma considers it his ultimate tonearm to date. The design is based around a conical sapphire tube, hence its name.
Furthermore, although similar in design to Kuzma's 4Point model, you also get sapphire bearings in ruby receptacles to allow frictionless movement. The precious mineral was used for the tube as it apparently has a first break-up point above 5kHz, whereas we are told that most tonearms resonate between 1.2 and 2kHz. The upshot is that it gives the cartridge motor a true mechanical ground. The arm has an effective length of 9-inches with the tube fitting into a solid aluminium structure with brass blocks said to provide highly inert and mechanically quiet support. I first saw it on static display but actually got to hear it in the Living Voice room (see below), and it did sound rather good in concert with the other components. Additionally, at €20,000, it was by no means the most expensive arm at the show.
LANSCHE AUDIO / DRYHOLM AUDIO / SYNASTEC AUDIO
Lansche Audio P Series speakers, complete with the German brand's plasma tweeter were being used to demonstrate Dryholm's freshly-developed flagship cable series called the Vision.
The new cable line features exclusively UPOCC (Ultra pure – Ohno Continuous Casting) copper wire for all models. The individual OCC copper wires are braided with cotton fibres, and then sealed against corrosion. This construction protects against vibrations and static electricity, says the brand. Dryholm says that its has chosen connectors that acoustically match the OCC wires with most supplied by ETI Research and Furutech. Powering the system were electronics courtesy of Synastec Audio and I was pleasantly impressed by the system that also included a Reed Muse 1C turntable. I found myself staying to listen to Level 42's Hours By The Window and the bluesy stylings of Rib Tip Johnson by Branford Marsalis. The cable firm made some astute choices here.
Linn's Joe Rodger held the audience's attention during comparisons between the Scottish brand's Klimax from 2007, with the 2017 Katalyst upgrade, the previous generation Klimax with Organik DAC upgrade, and the current Klimax DSM with Organik DAC.
First, Joe played a track through the original, the upgraded version, and finally, the new Klimax using Klimax 350 speakers, highlighting the continued generational upgrades. Noteworthy is that any Klimax DAC can be upgraded to the current spec with the new Organik DAC - even that original 2007 model.
Even though Living Voice left its more statement-making speakers at home, the quality remained breathtakingly natural.
Everything in the sonic picture just seemed to sit right without the need to be shouty and clever. In fact, with your eyes closed, you wouldn't know that the speakers being used were the average room-friendly Living Voice OBX. Granted, the associated valve electronics and Kuzma Safir 9-loaded Stabi R turntable meant the signal received was top-notch.
However, Living Voice once again showed how careful consideration throughout the chain can result in a sound that's both revealing and unfatiguing - the kind that you could spend hours listening to.
Magico used a Taiko SGM Extreme alongside a three-box MSB Select DAC at the pointy end to feed Pilium Alexander and Achilles pre/ power amps going out through the American manufacturer's £31,000 A5 aluminium floorstanders.
Everything was joined by Vyda Labs cables and sat on a Magico MRACK. Jeff Buckley's Hallejuja sounded detailed, with plenty of skill throughout the frequency range. However, to my ears, in an admittedly off-axis position, the reproduction lacked the naturalness I enjoyed from the Living Voice system.
MARTEN / JORMA
Marten and Jorma have long been bedfellows, and it showed in this shared room where both the Jorma Power Filter Reference and Mingus Quintet 2 loudspeakers enjoyed their world premiere. MSB provided its Select DAC and Monoblock M500 amplifiers, connected by Jorma Statement cables.
In addition, the room was tamed by SMT Acoustics room treatment. I've owned Marten speakers for several years now and know that they can produce dynamics and accuracy in a quietly confident way without the need for theatrics and fireworks, and that's what the Quintet 2 did on a large scale. Unflustered and in control, some could mistake this as boring, but the depth of information presented without ever feeling forensically clinical was impressive.
The company's Larson monoblock was spotted sitting unassumingly on a stand. I was told that this is a Class-A design good for 20W per channel.
Meanwhile, the €1,500 Tosh compact line stage preamp joins the company's Rockstar line and offers balanced and single-ended in and outputs. However, the newly announced Manunta range was the direction my conversation was steered towards, in between gulps of freshly made espresso. This line will be sold directly by m2tech to keep prices keen and consists of the €850 MQA-decoding Evo DAC 3, compatible with 32/768 and DSD512, €700 Evo Phono 3 MM/MC phono stage, and Evo DDC 3 digital to digital interface converter with native DSD or DoP.
METAXAS & SINS
Anyone familiar with the work of Kostas Metaxas will be aware that his designs are equal parts artwork, jewellery and high-end hi-fi. Everything looks stunning, has been meticulously constructed with Swiss watchmaking precision, and sounds magnificent.
The Papillon made its show debut at Munich and is a 15-inch professional studio recorder that can handle tape widths from 1/4- to 1-inch and reels up to 14-inches in diameter (standard professional reels are 10-inch, 33min at 15ips). The Papillon features totally independent dual‐capstans activated by a pair of precision linear motors and ensures the speed across the heads is free of fluctuations and flutter. The capstan rollers are 4mm, which, I am told, enables them to spin up to eight times faster than traditional rollers and so produces higher precision.
Also on the stand was the more portable Tourbillon TR-X location reel to reel recorder and stunning Momento Mori headphone amplifier, which I used to hear playback from the Papillon. I think Kostas and his son understood my colossal grin very well.
METRONOME / KALISTA / KROMA ATELIER
Metronome and Kalista always produce eye-catching and ear-pleasing products that are, essentially, beautiful. At High End, the French electronics were paired with the equally attractive Kroma Atelier Thäis Xtreme speakers that apparently feature a cabinet made of Krion.
Thäis, I am reliably informed, is from the courtesan and sensual priestess of Venus in Jules Massenet's drama of the same name.
The cabinet is loaded with an AMT Neodymium ribbon tweeter and a pair of 6.5-inch carbon fibre coned mid with a passive crossover network, including high-quality Mundorf components. Sensitivity is 89 dB with a 25 to 25k Hz frequency response. Unfortunately, the system was bearly audible as it appeared that something was being sold, possibly a Dreamplay X, when I entered the room. I intended to return, but, alas, time ran out.
I had been tipped off by my StereoNET boss, Marc, to look out for the Meze 109 PRO headphones while at the Munich show, and I am glad he did.
Having been wowed by Meze's latest high-end releases, I was excited to hear what the more affordable end was producing. I was not disappointed at all. Firstly, the 109 PRO might take its aesthetic cues from the 99, but that's where the similarities end. These are supremely comfortable, and while not as detailed as the likes of the Elite/ Empyreans, these open-backed cans loaded with 50mm cellulose/ Beryllium dynamic drivers in a machined aluminium chassis never sounded like they were missing anything. There was plenty of air and a natural presentation of decay with brisk, defined leading edges, but, from my listening session at least, they still have a sense of fun about them. I can see these becoming very popular when they are officially released.
MISSION / CASTLE / LUXMAN
IAG is home to many British heritage brands, and it has expanded its Cambridgeshire facility to allow for the manufacturing, assembly, and finish of specially selected products here in the UK. The new Mission 770 was on my list of 'must sees'.
Peter Comeau, Mission's Director of Acoustic Design, told me that this redesign features a copper cap on the magnet system for the 28mm doped fabric tweeter and an extreme port profile with an internal baffle. Also, it was heartwarming to see that the polypropylene cone was retained from the 70s speaker and was demanded by Peter. Controlling resonances is almost a given these days in speaker design, but it was quite the evolution back then. Today's 770 features a sandwich of chipboard and MDF with a damping layer between the two. Apparently, the crossover is close to the original. The price will be circa £3,400 when it hits the shelves later this year. Additionally, an unexpected smaller Mission 700 was in the room.
Meanwhile, the Castle name returns thanks to the input of seemingly omnipotent speaker designer Karl-Heinz Fink.
More classic British speaker design to be enjoyed on the exterior of the new Windsor series; however, under the skin, you will find a sandwich construction cabinet with internal damping, copper-capped motor systems and midbass units with woven polypropylene cones. The Windsor Duke sports an 8-inch unit and should cost around £6,500, while the Windsor Earl has a 6.5-inch mid/ bass and is pencilled in at the £4,000 mark.
While they do resemble clothes pegs, they look quite the thing in the flesh. The radicle design features a third-generation MPD tweeter surrounded by six 52mm flat diaphragm midrange units in the central portion simply dubbed 'The Array', said to have a combined surface area greater than a 4-inch cone alongside high power handling.
The bass system consists of four 8-inch drivers braced against and facing one another in the gap behind the mid/treble panel and float in two solid surface moulded cabinets forming the speaker's body. Concept 50 is a prototype of Monitor Audio's upcoming flagship due this year - so stay tuned!
Simaudio Moon has developed its first loudspeaker, Voice 22 (£2,650) and is loaded with custom-made drivers and a magnetically attached sub-base that gives the Voice 22 a floating appearance when sat on a desktop or bookshelf.
The base can, of course, be removed if you're looking to place the speakers on a stand. The cabinets apparently have uneven grooves cut into the inner walls, filled with damping material to mitigate unwanted vibrations. We were promised impressive bass extension and definition from the 155mm woofer for the 35x20x29cm (HxWxD) cabinet size, and it made a good show of itself in the large room. We have a pair winging its way to us so keep an eye out for our review soon.
MSB / ESTELON
California's MSB Technology was joined by Estelon and Stromtank in what I considered to be a great-sounding system. Even though MSB Select DACs were being used elsewhere at the show, the Digital Director was the point of note in this set-up MSB terms this as a “DAC upgrade” for any compatible MSB DAC and eliminates noise entering the DAC circuitry.
The Digital Director features four digital-only input module slots and syncs all clocks before transmission to the DAC providing total source isolation from the DAC engine, connecting via a pair of ProISL fibre optic cables. The MSB Director is available in three levels starting with the Premier at $14,500, with the Select coming in at $27,500 for use with the same-tiered DAC.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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