Munich High End 2024 Key Kim Report

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It’s that time of the year! The 2024 Munich High-End Show has arrived. With over 22,000+ attendees, 550 exhibitors, and 1,500 brands, I was like a kid in a candy store. I was excited to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones. It’s show time, so follow me.

 

Lorenzo Audio Labs/ SAT

The first room I visited on press day was Hall 2, room F12, and I was super impressed. Lorenzo Audio Labs debuted their new reference electronics, the 211PP mono amplifiers and the 2A3 preamplifier. The 211PP mono amplifiers powered the Lorenzo Audio Labs LM1 loudspeakers (175,000/pair) effortlessly; it was music to my ears. The LM1 is a full-range loudspeaker. It is a four-way system (one 16″ woofer, one 11″ midrange paper cone with alnico magnets, and 1″ treble and 1″ super tweeter compression driver with beryllium diagrams with phase-optimized crossover). Sensitivity is 96dB with 8 Ohm.  The state-of-the-art 211PP mono power amplifiers (165,000), transformer-coupled, zero feedback, Push-Pull configuration with a pair of 211 tubes in parallel producing a powerful 55 watts per channel with zero feedback design. It utilizes the double Core C amorphous output transformer weighing 12 kg and features the legendary 2A3 tube driving the 211 tubes. It uses nothing but the very best components, such as high-voltage MKP gel filtering capacitors with a lifespan of over 30,000 hours and ultra-fast rectifiers. The filaments are equipped with over 140,000uf and powered by a double power supply through two independent low- and high-voltage transformers to eliminate residual noise. The 2A3 preamplifier is a companion to its 211PP mono amplifiers (64,000) with two chassis and an external power supply.  In Lorenzo Audio’s philosophy, only the best quality is allowed in design and construction.  They utilize dual power supplies, one for high voltage and the other for filaments, to minimize noise. Like the 211PP, the 2A3 preamplifier uses 40mm thick Panzerholz wood bases in the main chassis and the power supply unit.  Incredibly, 2A3 tube sockets are also CNC-milled from Panzerholz woods, as is the housing for the capacitors and feet. Duelund coupling capacitors are utilized to achieve maximum naturalness and transparency.  The 211PP mono power amplifiers and the 2A3 preamplifier are finished exquisitely like the LM1 loudspeakers. The analog source was the SAT XD1 record player system with their CF1 tonearm (as a set 308,000), and the CEC TL0 3.0 transport was used along with the Nagra HD DAC X.  

Only the digital source was available on the first day because the SAT XD1 and CF1 tonearm were stuck in customs even though the system sounded superb when listening to the CDs. However, when I returned the next day, the analog SAT XD1 and CF1 record player system was playing, and the system was exceptional. I didn’t want to leave the room. The SAT rendered the music with brilliant detail, transparency, nuance, and realism, making it like listening to a live ensemble. All cabling was by Zensati cables.

 

Thrax Audio/Hemingway Audio

Thrax Audio debuted their Gaida loudspeakers (200,000). They are fully active with two 15″ motional feedback woofers and midrange/tweeter horns, each driven by its current drive amplifiers, which DSP controls.  The rest of the system was simple. The Thrax Audio Maximinus MK2S DAC (30,000) and the JCAT XCAT S1 (12,000) streamer were used as a digital source, and the Thrax Audio Yatrus direct-drive (16,000) turntable and CB tonearm and the Thrax Audio Orpheus MK3S phonostage were used as the analog set-up.  Magnificent-sounding Hemingway Audio cables and a mixture of the Z-core series cables were used throughout the system. The system rendered music with liveness and incredible ease.

 

Vitus Audio/Monitor Audio/HiFiStay/Crystal Cable

Vitus Audio always manages to create a stellar-sounding room, and this year was no different.  The Vitus Audio SM-103 MK drove the Monitor Audio Hyphn loudspeakers (82,500/pair). The Hyphn is a statement loudspeaker, both technically and visually. The room was comprised of the Vitus Audio SM-103 Mk.II (70,000/pair), monaural power amplifiers.  It is a no-compromise design that uses only the finest matched transistors, super precision resistors, and top-notch components to ensure optimal performance. It’s a Class-A design producing 100 watts into 8 Ohms. The Vitus Audio SL-103 MK.I (38,000) Line Stage preamplifier. The digital sources were the Vitus Audio SD-025 MKII (26,000), the DAC, and the Vitus Audio SCD-025 MK. II (26,500) CD transport was used—laxity media one (26,500) digital streamer.  The Vitus Audio SL-103 MK. I (36,000) phonostage and SME 60 Silver w/VA tonearm (81,830) turntable and Ortofon MC Diamond (8,600) cartridge made the analog set-up.  All the components were on the HiFIStay Mythology transform X-frame rack (5,060 – X Frame and 760 -performance board).  Crystal cables completed the system.

 

 

Alsyvox/Taiko Audio/Pilium/Vyda cable

The Alsyvox suite was one of the most crowded rooms at the MOC. I now know why! It sounded great.  Taiko Audio debuted its Olympus music server (68,000), which sounded fabulous. The Pilium Zeus stereo amplifier (100,000) and the Pilium three chassis Olympus preamplifier (80,000) powered the gorgeous looking Alsyvox Caravaggio XS loudspeakers (250,000/pair) with finesse, authority, detail, and transparency. It projected a life-like size soundstage with solidity.  The Taiko Audio extreme switch and Extreme router were used for their Olympus music server to enhance the sound further. The Audio Mass racks and the Vyda cables completed the system.

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Gobels/Pilium/Kronos

On press day, I stopped by the Gobel room. They have introduced a new, more miniature loudspeaker, the Divin Contessa (59,000/pair).  It is a three-way design incorporating Goble’s proprietary bending-wave technology, with an 8″ woofer, an 8″ midrange, and a customized AMT tweeter in an aluminum waveguide.  Just like its bigger brothers, Helmholtz resonators are inside to control resonances. The room was quite large with a high ceiling, so it made sense that the Divin Comtessa was paired with an 18″ Divin Sovereign subwoofer (29,000). The massive Pilium Atlas mono amplifiers (176,000/pair) and the three chassis Pilium Olympus preamplifier (68,000) powered the Divin Comtessa superbly.  The Pilium is an excellent match for the Gobels and one of the best I have heard. The Kronos Discovery turntable (100,000) was fitted with a Discovery RS tonearm (24,000) and a Discovery phonostage (70,000). The trickle-down Wadax Studio Player (39,800) and a CS/SACD transport/streamer/DAC with volume control were used as a digital source. Wadax says the Studio Player’s DAC module is identical to the one found in the Atlantis Reference DAC.   

 

Scansonic/Pilium

Here’s another room with the Pilium Cronus mono amplifiers (149,000/pair) and a Pilium Alexander preamplifier (49,000), and they made the Scansonic loudspeakers sing. I had a chance to listen to both speakers, the Scansonic HD MB8B (15,000/pair) and the Scansonic HD Q (7,000/pair). They sounded equally impressive, powered by the Piliums.  They were open, detailed, and transparent, projecting a huge soundstage with authority. This demo showed the importance of amplification quality. Choose wisely.  Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think Pilium owners will match this amplifier with these affordable speakers.  

 

SoulNote/YG Acoustics

I was very impressed with the SoulNote room. The YG Acoustics Sonja 3.2 loudspeakers, driven by the SoulNote electronics, sounded wonderful. The M-3 monoblock amplifiers (40,000/pair), the P-3 preamplifier (21,000), the P-3 stereo phono equalizer (18,000), the Z-3 network transport (14,000), the D-3 DAC (21,000), the X-3 10MHz master clock (5,000) were the SoulNote components. The Pachanko Labs music server and Vertere Acoustics MG-1 MKII turntable, along with the DS Audio Grand Master EX optical cartridge, were used as the source.

 

SteinMusic

SteinMusic was an excellent sounding room featuring their Topline Bob L Ultimate loudspeakers and electronics. I’ve occasionally listened to Topline Bob L Ultimate loudspeakers and am always impressed.  The topline Bob L Ultimate (168,000/pair) is a 4-way horn loudspeaker with an integrated active subwoofer and a powered 1500-watt amplifier.  The Topline Bob L was driven with their Stein Highline AMP1 amplifier (15,800) and a Stateline AMP 2 signature amplifier (2,698). The Tone Tool turntable (35,000), with the Conductor tonearm (12,000), and the Aventurin cartridge (5,000) made up the analog set-up, while the Topline Bob L Ultimate displayed beautiful sound with resolution, transparency, and powerful dynamics.

 

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Odeon

The Odeon Carnegie loudspeakers (100,000/pair) feature a three-way high sensitivity  (97dB) with an 18″ paper cone woofer that works in a 60cm measuring waveguide, a 13 cm midrange driver with an alnico magnet that works in a 42cm spherical wave horn made of layered birch multiplex. The tweeter uses a 1″ compression driver with ring radiator technology, and the 22cm measuring horn acts as a mechanical amplifier. The Carnegie loudspeakers rendered music beautifully; they were open, transparent, uncompressed, and sounded very natural, driven by the New Audio Frontiers 845 amplifier.  

 

TrueLifeAudio/Gershman Acoustics

Gershman Acoustics showcased its 30th-anniversary edition of Black Swan loudspeakers (95,000/pair). It features a separate woofer (SSAS, the Separate Sub Alignment System). The Black Swans are constructed with a new approach, incorporating two entirely separate enclosures placed one above the other in a manner such that they blend seamlessly into one. The Black Swan sounded superb, powered by the TrueLifeAudio Supreme Series SSA-350 monoblock amplifiers (100,000/pair) and the SSP-1 tube preamplifier (70,000). The system reproduced a huge three-dimensional soundstage with weight and authority.

 

 

Aries Cerat

Stavros Danos, the founder and the chief designer of the Aries Cerat, showcased the Aries Cerat, a dream system, in a vast exhibition hall. As I walked into a “concert “like a packed room, I was in an Art Basel with audio. I applaud him for going the extra mile. He’s a mad scientist and a perfectionist.  The Contendo II loudspeakers were paired with behemoth live concert-size bass modules. The electronics were fascinating to look at, and the music sounded like real music with an appropriate sense of scale, which was Nuts. The system comprised all Aries Cerat components except the Taiko Audio Olympus music server.   The Aries Cerat Ianus Ithaka DAC was brilliant. It uses his TriodeFet output ladder DAC with 24 R2R converters per channel.  The Ithaka is a parallel-switched resistor ladder converter.  

 

Kawero Acoustics/Ypsilon Electronics

Kawero Acoustics used the Munich show to debut the Minal loudspeakers (150,000/pair), a smaller version of the Grande.  The Kawero Acoustics Minal loudspeakers were powered with Ypsilon Electronics. The prototype, Ypsilon GM70 parallel Single-Ended amplifier mid and high-frequency drivers  (price TBA ) and the Ypsilon Aelius 2 SE power amplifier low-frequency drivers  (65,000), the Ypsilon PST 100MK2 SE line level transformer based line preamplifier (68,000), the Ypsilon DAC 1000 SE R2R and sigma-delta converter (50,000), the Ypsilon CD 1000 CD transport (prototype, price TBA), and Ypsilon VPS 100MK2 phono preamplifier (50,000) were used and TechDas Air Force One Premium with new TechDas tonearm and TechDas cartridge made up the analog front end. The Kawereo Acoustics Minal loudspeakers rendered music beautifully.  They produced a huge three-dimensional soundstage.

 

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Cessaro/Alieno/Dohmann 

The Alieno Electronics from Italy drove the Cessaro Zeta horn system (600,000/pair). The Alieno 150-120 amplifier is an OTL-OCL output transformerless, single-ended, pure Class-A design, and it’s not a hybrid amplifier. It’s like having two sets of amplifiers, and with the 2A3, it produces 120 wpcand with the 300B, it produces 150 wpc. The LTD-exclusive “Loudspeaker Tube Direct” technology allows the tubes to be used exclusively for the amplifier circuit, and the transistors are used exclusively for the power supply and the protection circuit. The Alieno 6H30 MKII tube preamplifier (61,329) is a two-chassis linestage preamplifier with an external power supply, lithium batteries, and virtual battery-powered technology. The sound was stunning; it projected the physical presence of musical instruments, was very transparent and solid, and produced a vast soundstage. The Dohmann Helix 1 MK3 turntable was superb.

 

Kharma 

Kharma showcased the Enigma Veyron 2D loudspeakers (530,000/Pair), which sounded splendid. The Enigma Veyron collection represents the ultimate possible in high-end audio engineering and design. It utilizes a patented in-house-developed driver technology and diamond solutions that put it in a class of its own. The EV-2D is equipped with three diamond tweeters. The EV20 is a 4-way design (two 11″ Kharma Omega F drivers, two 7″ Kharma Omega F-driver, one 1″ diamond concave tweeter, and two 2″ diamond concave tweeters). The EV2Ds were driven with their Kharma Exquisite MP1000 mono power amplifiers and the Exquisite P1000 preamplifier. 

 

 

AudioNec/Hemingway Audio/DartZeel

AudioNec of France collaborated with DartZeel and Hemingway Audio to create a great sound.  The AudioNec EV03 Signature loudspeakers (145,152/pair) sounded excellent, powered by the DartZeel NHYB-108 and the DartZeel CTH-8550.  The AudioNec debuted their prototype, The Ultimate (135,000), and a music server and DAC. All files are converted to DSD 512 when played through the Ultimate and can be operated from smartphones and tablets via a Wifi network. Hemingway Audio cables were used throughout the system. 

 

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Tune Audio/Traformatic/Rokna 

The elegant-looking Tune Audio Marvel (16,000/pair) is a two-way design with a backloaded bass horn driven wide range 8″ driver. It sounded beautiful listening to Vivaldi. The Marvel playing with the Trafomatic Rhapsody amplifier (18,000) had great synergy. The Trafomatic Rhapsody is a 300B PSET amplifier producing 26 wpc.  Cleverly, the negative feedback can be adjusted between 0 dB and -3 dB in step of 1 dB. I want to understand it and see what it can do in my system. The  Rockna Wavedream MK2 DAC (22,000) was used as a digital source and sounded beautiful.  

 

 

 

 

 

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