• 2014 Munich High End Show



    Wow, what a show. The 2014 High End show in Munich was the best audio show I've ever attended. It was like Disney World for adults. It featured private rooms for controlled demonstrations and a large show floor with booths full of high end equipment, music, and services. Usually show floors are full of trinkets and iPhone cases. Munich is a different story. There were countless quality products from manufacturers I'd never heard of and several new product launches from well known known manufacturers. Devialet, Constellation Audio, TAD, Nagra, Auralic, Aurender, Dynaudio, Wadia, Audio Research, and Sonus Faber were some of the manufacturers with new products on display in Munich. It was truly a blast covering this show. I've already made plans to attend in 2015.




    I started the show by attending Devialet's press conference at 10:00AM Thursday. The company announced it's new firmware update increased the power in all current models. For example the Devialet 170 I have in for review is now a Devialet 200 and can be bridged with another 200 model to become Devialet 400 mono blocks. I don't remember the last time a high end company increased the power in an already released product simply by having customers install new firmware. Devialet also introduced it's new SAM technology. Speaker Active Matching (SAM) is also included in the new firmware update. This technology enables users to select their speakers while configuring a Devialet unit, and have the unit make DSP adjustments to correct time alignment and phase coherency among other items. Devialet is in the process of measuring as many speakers as it can, so customers can simply select the appropriate speaker in the online Configurator and download the config to their Devialet units. Devialet is an impressive and innovative company built on solid engineering. I look forward to visiting the company in Paris in September.










    Devialet ADH / SAM Whitepaper






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    Constellation Audio premiered its Inspiration Series Preamp 1.0 and Amp 1.0, with a static display of its Integrated 1.0. The products are quite similar to the Constellation Performance and Reference Series but without the large price tag. The Inspiration preamp and amps (stereo or mono) should retail for about $10,000 each. The overall sound in the Constellation room was pretty good, thanks in part to detailed room setup and Vicoustic acoustic panels. The Constellation Inspiration series is going to be a product to watch in the coming months and years. This high level of performance and build quality at relatively reasonable prices will enable aspiring buyers to finally get into the Constellation family without selling an organ on the black market :~)


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    Auralic premiered its long awaited Aries network renderer. The Aries and its accompanying iOS application seriously blew me away. The unit was receiving wireless audio the entire time I tested the iOS application and I didn't hear a single dropout. Aries was running on the 5 GHz band of 802.11n rather than the 2.4 GHz band most other products at the show used. The iOS / iPad application is terrific. Browsing one's library is very fast and the app is really responsive. The most impressive item of the entire system is the integration with Qobuz and WiMP lossless streaming services. Browsing the entire WiMP lossless catalog and streaming to the Aries was identical to browsing and streaming from a local NAS. All the WiMP albums appear right in the iOS app when the user elects to browse the WiMP service. The usual options such as press and hold, play now, play next, play at end, etc… are all available when playing form a NAS or the cloud. I am looking forward to reviewing the Aries as soon as it's ready this summer.


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    I finally met the team from WiMP in person at the Munich show. Not only are these guys really cool, but they also have great vision for where their product is headed. Readers unfamiliar with WiMP should understand it's not yet available in the US, but I'm willing to bet it'll be here sooner rather than later. The service offers CD quality lossless streaming of its catalog over 20 million tracks deep. I've been using WiMP for a few weeks and absolutely love it. This is one company and product to keep an eye on.


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    T+A introduced its forthcoming PDP 3000HV SACD player / DAC. This unit will cost around $20,000 when released. It's a flagship level product with no shortcuts. In fact, the unit features an analog output for PCM and a separate analog output for DSD. Much of this is related to the difference in filtering between PCM and DSD. This is the first product I've seen address these differences with dual analog outputs. I can't wait to give this one a shot.



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    An industry veteran I have the utmost respect for is Mbl's Chief Engineer Juergen Reis. Juergen is an Engineer's Engineer who has changed the way many in the industry measure jitter, and developed an unmatched bit transparency test for computer audio among countless other advances in high end audio. Attending the Munich show I was finally able to see Juergen on his home turf giving demonstrations of the Mbl 101 Extreme system and explaining the technology in the system. I've had lunch with Juergen at CES for the last three years in Las Vegas, but seeing him in Germany was really neat for me personally. Juergen's 101 Extreme demo sounded very good from where I was sitting, and I was far from the center seating position. As Juergen explained to the audience, this off axis listening wasn't as big of an issue for Mbl due to the fact its speakers are omnidirectional.

    P.S. Thanks Juergen for giving the presentation in English :~)


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    At the Fine Sounds press eventI saw very interesting products from both Audio Research Corporation and Wadia. The new ARC Galileo Series features very nice cosmetic changes to a brand that usually looks more like test equipment than stereo equipment. In addition the Wadia line of components including the 300 Power amp, 150 power amp, 122 decoding computer, 321 decoding computer, and 330 media server all looked impressive. The Italian design influence Livio Cucuzza, Chief Industrial Designer at Fine Sounds, has had on the lineup of products is terrific.


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    ARC Galileo Series





















    Comments 38 Comments
    1. Nikhil's Avatar
      Nikhil -
      Thanks for the show report Chris. Clearly from pictures here and elsewhere - this show is a class apart.
      True high end in the content and presentation of exhibits. Layout of the exhibits looked top notch.

      The Weisswurst and beer must have been a brilliant as well!
    1. Boris75's Avatar
      Boris75 -
      Many thanks for the report.

      Different analog outputs for DSD and PCM on the new T+A SACD player: this does not sound very convenient to me.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boris75 View Post
      Many thanks for the report.

      Different analog outputs for DSD and PCM on the new T+A SACD player: this does not sound very convenient to me.
      It's not too bad because you can switch inputs on the preamp.
    1. Elberoth's Avatar
      Elberoth -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      It's not too bad because you can switch inputs on the preamp.
      Cable manufacturers must love the idea
    1. Johnny Moondog's Avatar
      Johnny Moondog -
      Thanks for the report. Did you have the opportunity to hear the Nagra HD DAC?
    1. realhifi's Avatar
      realhifi -
      Seen lot's of pics of the new ARC gear. The look is now more like MODERN test equipment!
      Good thing their stuff sounds so darn good. *s*
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Moondog View Post
      Thanks for the report. Did you have the opportunity to hear the Nagra HD DAC?
      I heard the entire system of Nagra components, Verity loudspeakers, and the room.
    1. slingshot's Avatar
      slingshot -
      Yes, I went to Munich in 2010 and 2012. It has much better sound then the American shows because it is in a dedicated conference/convention center with large rooms. The layout is much better because it is on three floors instead of nine floors in a hotel. I am also very interested in hearing about the Nagra DAC, very expensive but it is supposed to sound great. We will find out.
    1. photon's Avatar
      photon -
      Chris,

      I have the Devialet 170 and upgraded to the new firmware. I didn't expect any change since my speakers are the efficient Zu Druid Vs and I have the output configured to max out at 100W anyway. However, I was quite surprised to noticed a fairly substantial improvement in sound quality, transparency in particular (at least using the AIR input). My speakers aren't on the SAM list, but hope they'll get to the Zu speakers eventually.

      I hope you have the opportunity to make the before/after firmware comparison in your Devialet review.

      Thanks for the show report!
    1. veindoc's Avatar
      veindoc -
      you mentioned new products from TAD, can you elaborate possibly?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by veindoc View Post
      you mentioned new products from TAD, can you elaborate possibly?
      Yes, a new E series speaker. I will publish more photos this week.

      Attachment 12594
    1. Elberoth's Avatar
      Elberoth -
      Speaking of Auralic - I have played with the Auralic App for a while. IMO it still needs more development time. One of the features I found missing was searching by file formats / sample ratios - DSD, 24/96, 24/192 etc. The album art also could load faster.

      Plus, they should make it more user friendly. Right now, to play an album, you need to press 4 'buttons'. In Jremote one 'tap' is enough.
    1. MikeJazz's Avatar
      MikeJazz -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      Yes, a new E series speaker. I will publish more photos this week.

      Attachment 12594
      Does it come in a more realistic price point???
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Elberoth View Post
      Speaking of Auralic - I have played with the Auralic App for a while. IMO it still needs more development time. One of the features I found missing was searching by file formats / sample ratios - DSD, 24/96, 24/192 etc. The album art also could load faster.

      Plus, they should make it more user friendly. Right now, to play an album, you need to press 4 'buttons'. In Jremote one 'tap' is enough.

      Can I suggest you publish your Aries comment in the Aries thread? Mr. Wang of Auralic reads the thread, and it would be great if he heard feedback like that.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
      Does it come in a more realistic price point???
      I believe so. The Evolution Series is much more reasonably priced than the Reference Series. No specific pricing has been released yet. IN fact it was the first time TAD's Andrew Jones had seen the new speaker in the flesh, even though he designed it :~)
    1. woodford's Avatar
      woodford -
      Chris- enjoyed the report, and really appreciate the format, which provides context for the pictures in each section.

      the new ARC stuff is gorgeous,IMO.
    1. kevalin's Avatar
      kevalin -
      Chris,

      Appreciate the insight. Allnic, known for their analog tube gear, presented their new DHT output dac: D5000. Did you see it or have any opinion?

    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by kevalin View Post
      Chris,

      Appreciate the insight. Allnic, known for their analog tube gear, presented their new DHT output dac: D5000. Did you see it or have any opinion?

      Bummer, I missed that one.
    1. breadman's Avatar
      breadman -
      i have been keen to find out more about the auralic aeries. do you know it to be a squeezebox touch killer or should we wait and see?
      thanks,
      paul
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      I think it blows away the SB.