Munich High End 2013 Part 3


The Kharma suite demonstrated the Exquisite Series; the room was set up beautifully and produced an outstanding sound. Yes, a system at this price should impress… but, it did, then some!”  The sound was transparent with lots of detail and rich timbre and with a nicely sized soundstage.  The system included stunningly crafted Exquisite Grand Signature loudspeakers (215,000€), the Exquisite Midi active subwoofer (25,000€), driven by their own exquisitely built electronics; Exquisite’s signature Mono Power Amplifier MP1000 (80,000€), and the Exquisite Signature Preamplier P1000 (80,000€).  Analogue was by way of the Clear Audio Statement turntable. All cables were by Kharma Enigma Extreme signature cable series.

Engstrom & Engsttrom/Totaldac/Tune Audio/bibacord

I was very impressed with the sound of Tune Audio’s Anima (32,000€), three way fully horn loaded loudspeakers from Greece; they produced an open, dynamic and uncompressed sound that was naturally presented much like live music   The system includedThe Lars Type II (55,000€) mono amplifiers from Sweden; thesource was theTotaldacD1 tube DAC (6,960) from France.  It is a tube DAC with a single ended tube output stage with high quality Vishay foil resistors in the conversion and analog section and a D1 music server (4,990); and all cablings were by Bibacord from Sweden.



Audio Note Kondo

I was very happy to see the Audio Note Kondo in Munich for the first time.  However, unfortunately, they were in a downstairs hall area in a small makeshift room.  Due to the poor acoustics in the room I couldn’t really blame Masaki san for not getting the exceptional sound I usually hear at hisshows.  But even here he managed to get a very good classic Kondo sound.  The system consisted of their forthcoming new generation flagship Kagura (price TBD) monoblock amplifiers with 211 triode output tubes in a parallel single ended design which produces a glorious 55 watts per-side.  The Kagura is massive; it has three independent main transformers and four choke coils and, of course, the legendary silver output transformer, a M1000MK II line stage preamplier with phono module (75,000€)  a KSL DAC, a source by Ginga turntable (77,000€), an IO-M moving cartridge (6,570). All cablesare by KSL silver.



The (15,700) Sound kaos  wave 40 loudspeaker – Featuring a floating wood enclosure in solid alpine spruce and maple, and an 8” enviee full range driver with an HF enhanced super tweeter, Raal HF ribbon and an external crossover.  The wave 40 sounded very natural, delicate and very transparent with a seductive midrange driven by the colotube 300B SE monoblocs (20,600) and c3g preamplifier (5,950).



Silbatone Acoustics

Silbatone Acoustics, from my motherland, Korea hosted a beautiful demonstration.  This room had the biggest crowd and overall wow factor.  The museum piece 1936 Western Electric theater loudspeakers were effortlessly driven by the Silbatone Acoustics Reference 300 Silver Signature using their cost-is-no-object  design approach.  The Silver Signature incorporates all directly-coupled circuitry for maximum purity and teflon boards and pure silver litz internal cabling.  To push the envelope even further, their signature semi-silver foil on high-nickel cores output transformer is used.  The Reference 300 Silver Signature with 8 watts per side made the WE loudspeakers sing like canaries when Maria Callas took center stage; the sense of ease and unforced sound were quite remarkable. 



Karem Kucukasian of Absolare presented a beautiful sounding room; it was open, dynamic and had an impressive three dimensional soundstage that was deep and wide…just the way I like it.  The system included gorgeously powerful Absolare Passion mono amplifiers producing 52 watts per side 845 mono amps (29,000€) and an Absolare Passion Preamplifier (19,000€); a single-ended preamp drove the Rockport Technologies Altair II (77,500) loudspeakers.  The analog via a Steve dobbins Kodo The Beat with Reed 3P tonearm, Lyra Atlas and Allnic Audio H 3000 phono stage and digital source from a CEC TL-OX transport feeding a MSB Diamond DAC were used.  Lastly all cables were Echole Obsession Signature Series and the Absolare Bybee Purifier was used.




Definitive Audio

Kevin Scott from Living Voice/ Definitive Audio put up an incredible sounding room of super luxury, cost- is- no object, products;it was the most expensive system in the show.   It featured a superbly finished Living Voice Vox Olympian (Wow! 450,000€).  This set up starts at 230,000€ a pair and goes up from there, depending on finish and materials employed.  It is a four way horn- loaded loudspeaker coupled with fully horn loaded sub woofers driven by the Audio Note Kondo Gakuoh 300B mono amplifiers (90,000€), and a KSL-M77 line stage preamplifier (43,000€).  The front end was the CEC TL0X transport feed into the KSL DAC.  All cabling was Kondo KSL silver. 



Sony AR2 (15,500), is a four–driver, three –way floorstanding speaker with two 6 ½ inch aluminum woofers, one 5 ½ inch treated paper midrange, one 1 inch fabric dome tweeter driven by newly designed CAT JL2 Signature stereo amplifier with Playback Design player and Audience conditioner and cables.  The system produced a quite transparent, resolved sound and with nice weight and authority.  This was, overall, the best I’ve heard these speakers sound. 


Constellation Audio/TAD

The TAD Reference One three-way, coincident beryllium-driver floorstander sounded effortlessly driven by fabulous sounding Constellation electronics; Centaur mono amps deliver 500 watts per side continuous power into 8 ohms; a Virgo preamplifier and the Cygnus server, and a digital file player/DAC complete the package. The system was very open, transparent, and rendered big scale music very impressively with power and authority.


Eggleston Works/Hegel

The sound of the Eggleston Works Savoy Signature loudspeakers (45,000€) was very impressive; they produced a big, powerful, and very dynamic sound, driven by Hegel electronics from Norway.  The highly acclaimed Savoy Signature loudspeakers are being used in several mastering studios throughout the world and I can see why.

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