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  • Munich 2022 Show Report

     


    Wow, what a show! HiFi is human again!

     

    The 2022 Munich High End show is now over. As I type from my hotel room overlooking this great Bavarian city, I am ecstatic. It was absolutely terrific to see the people of this great industry and see the fantastic people who enjoy our wonderful hobby. Even this introvert couldn't help but give a few hugs to friends and enjoy long nerdy conversations about music, audio, and where we should go for dinner. Life is good. 

     

    I spent all four days at the show, but also spent two afternoons on trips outside the show. This show report will cover my experience at the show. I saw every component and listened to every room for an hour. Only joking. One has to pick and chose where to spend time. Text, emails, and PMs form friends here in the Audiophile Style community helped steer my attention, in addition to my planned room / booth visits. For other realtime posts, images, and forum discussions about the show, check out the Munich 2022 thread here

     


    Awards

     

    IMG_4646.jpegMy best of show award goes to Nagra and Wilson Audio. Unequivocally the best sound I heard over the four days. The Wilson Chronosonic XVX with WATCH Dog subwoofers and Nagra HD components, with new 70th anniversary turntable, were stunning. Not stunning for an audio show, but stunning, period. I've never given a best of show award to any room if the only source I heard was a turntable. However, I have to give credit where credit is due. I only heard vinyl in this room and it blew me away. I can only imagine how much I would've enjoyed some Three Blind Mice Japanese jazz or high resolution Red Hot Chili Peppers through the Nagra DAC HD. Maybe next year :~)

     

    Here is an iPhone video clip of My Romance from Gene Ammons. The track sounded stunning, even though I was far from the sweet spot for this one. I could've listened to this entire album without moving. The sound was realistic, enveloping, and captivating.

     

    Also, a tip of the cap to Wilson's Peter McGrath for system setup. The subwoofers, left and right of the main XVX speakers, were integrated perfectly. 

     

    The original 4K version of the video is here

     

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    IMG_4759.jpegMy runner up for best of show totally blindsided me. MSB Technology, Estelon, and Stromtank sounded fantastic. I expected good sound from this combination, but what I heard went far beyond my expectations. Frank Sinatra's Fly Me To The moon sounded so realistic and like there was nothing between the music and me. Then, in a miraculous coincidence, Tsuyoshi Yamamoto's Midnight Sugar came on. If there's anyone on Earth who still doesn't know, I'm a Japanese jazz addict and this specific album is a desert island pick for me. I sat through the entire track mesmerized and smiling. Well done MSB, well done.

     

    After listening, I spent some time talking to MSB's CEO, designer, electrical engineer Jonathan Gillman. He explained the products to me and went into great detail about the MSB Digital Director. The Digital Director is an incredibly advanced product. I hope to get a Director and a DAC in for review. 

     

     

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    Some honorable mentions for sound that I really enjoyed, go to Ypsilon Electronics / Kaiser. This room had great components, speakers, and great use of acoustic panels. The sound was much more reminiscent of a listening room than a show demonstration room. I also spent some time after the show taking to Ypsilon about the DAC 1000. It's a very unique design using no oversampling for PCM, and it uses multi-bit DAC chips. 

     

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    The RAAL-requisite VM-1a headphone amp was every bit as great as I'd hoped. Rr had a semi-quiet room for headphone listening. I connected my iPhone and listened to several tracks that weren't on the scheduled playlist. I think this amp could be the best way with which to listen to RAAL-requisite headphones. A more thorough listen at hone is in order.

     

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    I'd be remiss if I didn't state how much I enjoyed the Avantgarde system this year. Definitely worthy of honorable mention. The Trio G3 an Bass horns were highly enjoyable. I have a soft spot for Avantgarde, but most years walk away from the Munich show disappointed with the sound. This year was very different. I hope to hear them elsewhere, rather than wait an entire year for the same experience. 

     

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    Call me crazy, but I have to give honorable mention to Falkenohr, even though not a single note of music was made at this booth. This company manufactures audio racks and had a static display in the big hall. I heard no music at this booth, but was pleasantly surprised at the incredibly high quality, exquisite design, and solid engineering principles surrounding the products. I talked to founder Robert Mayr for a while, as he gave me a tour of the products and a view into why he designed each piece to work a specific way and use specific materials. The best part about all of it was the prices aren't over the top. Expensive for sure, but not crazy. I believe he said the prices range from $3,000 to at the very top $20,000. These really must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. All orders are custom, and products are available in many colors. 

     

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    IMG_4763.jpegThe final honorable mention goes to YG Acoustics. In the past, YG just hasn't produced a sound in my wheelhouse. This year, with 15 minutes remaining in the show, YG's Steve Huntley grabbed me in the hallway and said he had something for me to hear. Steve is a great guy, so I knew it would be something of interest. It was the world premiere of the YG Acoustics Sonja Live, powered speakers. These aren't "just" powered speakers, they have a fiber input that receives audio from a "control box" that can be a Roon endpoint or UPnP renderer, among other things. Digital all the way to the speaker, using fiber than can be run around one's house 10 times and still deliver a perfect audio signal due to the nature of fiber optic communication. Ever wonder how data gets from my computer in Munich to the Audiophile Style server in a datacenter in Michigan, then out to your screen? Fiber cables under the oceans. Granted a bit different technology is used, but the concept is the same. Fiber offers electrical isolation and works over long distances without issue.

     

    Anyway, the sound from the Sonja Live speakers was very worthy of honorable mention. I'd love to spend more time listening to these, with a full selection of music and more time. After only a couple tracks it was time for the show to end and the YG crew had to shut everything down. They had 15 crates of gear to pack up. I was happy with what I heard, and happy I wasn't on the hook for getting all the gear packed up and shipped off.  

     

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    Final Notes

     

    Mytek's new amps with a tube on top could be of interest to many people who have yet to find efficacy in Class D designs. The tube is actually not part of the signal chain. It's illuminated by an LED. However, it's there to start the conversation and let people know that this design sounds like a good mix of tubes on the top end and solid state control on the bottom. It was impossible to hear for myself in the loud convention center hall.

     

    I talked to Wadax for quite a while and got the whole story of the company and its product design philosophy. Very interesting. Very expensive. Very large. 

     

    I saw the Wilson Audio Chronosonic XVX Four Seasons Summer edition in person. The ember premium pearl, red anodized metal finish, and red tinted crossover housing are elegant. The black diffraction foam with an exquisite pattern, inside the gantry, is on another level!

     

    I love seeing the Dynaudio Arbiter amp whenever the company brings it out of the archives. Such great Danish design. 

     

    The T+A DAC 200 is selling like crazy, but I was assured a review unit is coming. I also solidified a factory tour. 

     

    The AudioQuest room likely would've been in the honorable mention part of my show report, but I had to leave the demo too quickly. The team setup the system very nicely, placing the speakers well out into the room, and cabling it with the new Mythical Creature interconnects. I loved what I heard during my brief visit as did several trustworthy friends who spent considerably more time in the AQ room.

     

    Linn featured a great A/B/C comparison in its listening room. The original Klimax from 2007, with 2017 Katalyst upgrade, the previous generation Klimax with Organik DAC upgrade, and current Klimax DSM with Organik DAC were all in the system. Linn's Joe Rodger played 30 seconds of one track a couple times on the original, then the upgraded, and finally the new Klimax. The demonstration was really elucidatory of Linn's continued upgrades that make its products last for decades. Any Klimax DAC can be upgraded to current spec with the new Organik DAC. Even the Klimax from 2007, the year I started Copmuter Audiophile! That seems like a lifetime ago. 

     

    The dCS Apex upgrade was on display in the Vivaldi One DAC. The sound was really nice, but getting an Apex upgraded DAC into my system is what I'm really looking forward to. I can't wait.

     

    I also have to compliment every restaurant in Munich for serving the treasure that is white asparagus. My mouth waters as I envision every white asparagus stalk, drenched in butter, that I've eaten over the last week. Starter, side dish, main course, yes please. 

     

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    Wrap Up

     

    That wraps my show report for Munich High End 2022. I know I missed some great stuff because I just asked one manufacturer why he wasn't at the show, and he responded by telling me he has been here the whole time. Such is life. There's always next year. Everyone who missed out this year, I understand the hesitancy, but you must come to High End 2023. The people, the products, and the vibe are outstanding. I'm already looking forward to it.

     

    Much more to come from Munich, including my trip to a local dealer, my trip to a local recording studio, my trip to Ruf Automobile, and the curveball that is my next journey to Vienna to meet with Florian "Doc" Kaps of Supersense and the Impossible Project. Doc is Mr. Analog. We had dinner a few days ago here in Munich. We hit it off when talking about my love for my Hasselblad 503 CW analog camera, but our taste in audio playback is a skosh different.

     

    More from the road soon. 


     




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    so ... interesting times ahead!

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    Nice that you experienced a couple of sessions of competent SQ, :D. A dose of the good stuff tells the story of what's possible; and makes it largely impossible to accept anything of lower standard from then on as being serious about the job ...

     

    Good one!

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    The RAAL VM-1a amp is indeed the very best way to hear the SR1a. I have heard all the dedicated SR1a amps and many 2-channel amps. The new KRELL XD amps come close to the VM-1a, but they have to go through the amp interface box and a dedicated SR1a amp. like the VM-1a, does not. Waiting on delivery of the VM-1a.

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    4 hours ago, DuckToller said:

    IMG-20220501-WA0016.jpeg

     

    Who hurt you to cause this abomination to exist?  ;-) This is an affront to Tater Tot Hotdish's everywhere.

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    short Nagra vid. Day 1

    quite a team/set-up

    the 70th anniv. tt alone is c. 150,000k

    guess hearing is believing ...

     

     

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    4 hours ago, AudioDoctor said:

     

    Who hurt you to cause this abomination to exist?  ;-) This is an affront to Tater Tot Hotdish's everywhere.

    I assume that's the Minnesotian way to express interest in the recipe?

    Will write it down later for you.

    Beware that's a vegetarian dish, but you can harmonize with prosciutto di Parma.

     

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    5 hours ago, DuckToller said:

    I assume that's the Minnesotian way to express interest in the recipe?

    Will write it down later for you.

    Beware that's a vegetarian dish, but you can harmonize with prosciutto di Parma.

     

    @AudioDoctor

    Looks like this,then ... at lunchtime

    20220523_151932.jpg

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    3 hours ago, DuckToller said:

    @AudioDoctor

    Looks like this,then ... at lunchtime

    20220523_151932.jpg

     

    That was a, possibly bad, attempt at humor. I meant no offense at all. It actually looks good, just not like something I am used to.

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    17 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

     

    That was a, possibly bad, attempt at humor. I meant no offense at all. It actually looks good, just not like something I am used to.

    No offense taken, that's why I offered the recipe 🤣

    Surprised, no Asparagus in the USA?? ?

     

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    11 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

    No offense taken, that's why I offered the recipe 🤣

    Surprised, no Asparagus in the USA?? ?

     

     Not that pale, imitation asparagus 🤣

     

    We usually don't like to hide things, except fortunes.... 🤣😇

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    How to Cook Asparagus (6 Easy Methods) - Jessica GavinYour always running after the little greenbacks, I suppose?

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    2 hours ago, DuckToller said:

    How to Cook Asparagus (6 Easy Methods) - Jessica GavinYour always running after the little greenbacks, I suppose?

    Well, around these parts, wild asparagus can be found by railroad tracks.

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    Thanks for the report Chris !

    I did not have the chance to see you (or Alan Parsons), but apart from that, it was indeed a great show ! :-)

    Impossible to hear everything !

    My top three rooms would be : Soulution/Magico, Avantgarde, and Estelon/MSB. The Estelon room (with Extreme mk2) was also very good. I spent too little time in the Nagra room but it did seem very good.

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    Thanks for the show report Chris!

     

    The standard at Munich really separates it from the other shows.  

    It is really good to see that the show was well represented by all the big brands.

     

    That Nagra / Wilson Audio room sounds spectacular even on video.  

     

    Regards

     

     

    .

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    About Mytek, did I read correctly that a tube was employed just for esthetic reasons?

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    Just now, MikeJazz said:

    About Mytek, did I read correctly that a tube was employed just for esthetic reasons?

    Yes and no. Because the new amp design sounds so different and a bit tube like on top, Michal wants to get people thinking tube sound and also create something that looks nice.

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    52 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Yes and no. Because the new amp design sounds so different and a bit tube like on top, Michal wants to get people thinking tube sound and also create something that looks nice.

    Guarantee you hear will people saying it sounds tube like, and some will think it has a functioning tube.

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    3 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

    Esthetically, it is neutral to me but, conceptually, it is just intentional and misleading nonsense.  It is worse than shaping the chassis into that of a guitar or a drum.

    I had reservations about it until I talked to Michal. 

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    9 minutes ago, firedog said:

    Guarantee you hear will people saying it sounds tube like, and some will think it has a functioning tube.

    Yes. 

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    I'm looking forward to getting back to these shows. Interesting comments among those who have gone to Munich and recently Axpona among the various sites.

     

    Just my observations.

     

    What some love others hate and there is no dearth of opinions. The objective v. subjective argument, so often debated here is alive and well when judging by comments across the spectrum. Some have the best room that others claim is their worst room. Bias by owners of products and dealers, no matter how hard they try to conceal by claiming faint praise on other products, is clear among many of the comments on audio sites. 

     

    It is obvious that these shows have so many variables and mix so many variables from show to show it's a wonder how anyone could judge just one component of a system. Whether it be the room, source, amplification, wires, etc. The one constant is that these systems are so good today, that any one of them could satisfy any of us when properly set up in a good room regardless of what we choose individually. Other than seeing and "hearing" a product at a show at that instant with a unique set of variables, the challenge posed of what to buy based on the complexity of so many variables is unique in the luxury market. I can understand how the OCD amongst us (most) could go nuts. 

     

    Deniro summed up today's high-end audio in the movie Heat when he said, "Don't get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds". While the analogy is a little over the top, it does bring up a point when I see some emphatically putting down say MSB to praise the WADAX or vice versa. I mean, come on, especially based on a show?? Same goes for horns, panels, electrostats, cones, etc. 

     

    Just my POV, but I have looked at these shows as the ultimate "live catalogue". 

     

    Chris, thanks as always, for the levelheaded review and insight of your experience without the over-the-top dogma some seem is necessary. 

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    3 minutes ago, Priaptor said:

    I'm looking forward to getting back to these shows. Interesting comments among those who have gone to Munich and recently Axpona among the various sites.

     

    Just my observations.

     

    What some love others hate and there is no dearth of opinions. The objective v. subjective argument, so often debated here is alive and well when judging by comments across the spectrum. Some have the best room that others claim is their worst room. Bias by owners of products and dealers, no matter how hard they try to conceal by claiming faint praise on other products, is clear among many of the comments on audio sites. 

     

    It is obvious that these shows have so many variables and mix so many variables from show to show it's a wonder how anyone could judge just one component of a system. Whether it be the room, source, amplification, wires, etc. The one constant is that these systems are so good today, that any one of them could satisfy any of us when properly set up in a good room regardless of what we choose individually. Other than seeing and "hearing" a product at a show at that instant with a unique set of variables, the challenge posed of what to buy based on the complexity of so many variables is unique in the luxury market. I can understand how the OCD amongst us (most) could go nuts. 

     

    Deniro summed up today's high-end audio in the movie Heat when he said, "Don't get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds". While the analogy is a little over the top, it does bring up a point when I see some emphatically putting down say MSB to praise the WADAX or vice versa. I mean, come on, especially based on a show?? Same goes for horns, panels, electrostats, cones, etc. 

     

    Just my POV, but I have looked at these shows as the ultimate "live catalogue". 

     

    Chris, thanks as always, for the levelheaded review and insight of your experience without the over-the-top dogma some seem is necessary. 


    Thanks for the kind words. I really struggled with this one because everyone knows I’ve spent a good bit of money on Wilson speakers and the company advertises on AS. I’m sure some will write off my best of show award, but I have to call it like I see it. The flip side of that coin is not talking about brands I own or advertise with me. That would be such a disservice to everyone. I know you understand all of this, but your comment made me think of it. 
     

    I thought the Rockport room left a lot to be desired. I know those speakers are great, but not at this show. It happens. 
     

    Shows are fun. Music is fun. But, purchasing decisions made using show reports or experience are foolish. My show report is only a start for someone, not the definitive word. 

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