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Floorstanding Speakers

High End Munich 2024 Show Report

Reporting from Munich, we got the scoop on dozens of new high-end audio products coming out in 2024

HIGH END Munich 2024 Product Collage

I am a musician (non-active), a pro sound technician, and the owner of a small recording studio near Munich, Germany, so I have technical and musical production in my background. About sound, I do not allow anyone to try to convince me that I cannot hear something in a song that is not there. You can find more details about me on my LinkedIn profile.

High-end audio is the term that defines the branch of home audio that, in terms of size, power consumption, weight, and price, has no limits in trying to achieve sonic perfection. It is the F1 of home audio but with no rules. High End Munich is a trade fair (the biggest in Europe) that brings together this industry, where people always listen to the sound, not the music, and where the egos can be easily bruised. Prepare yourself for a show report that will feature a slightly different perspective than you might be used to from the traditional high-end audio press.

Dynaudio

Dynaudio Contour 20 Black Edition
Dynaudio Contour 20 Black Edition
Dynaudio Contour Legacy Loudspeaker
Dynaudio Contour Legacy
Dynaudio The Bookshelf
Dynaudio The Bookshelf
Dynaudio Confidence 20A Active Stand-mount Speakers
Dynaudio Confidence 20A

I was happy to find an old friend from Pro Audio, Bryn Richards, Director of Pro Sales EMEA at Dynaudio, to make the tour of 4 products launched at the fair together. The Contour Legacy is a 2.5-way floor-standing loudspeaker with an Esotar 3 tweeter and 2 x 18cm Evidence woofers, available in a limited edition of just 1,000 pairs in American Walnut. The Confidence 20A is an active version of the Confidence 20 stand-mount loudspeaker. The Contour 20 Black Edition is an upgraded premium version of the Contour 20i loudspeaker. The Bookshelf is a joint project with Japanese companies: a 2-way monitor loudspeaker with an Esotar 3 tweeter and an 18cm Confidence Series woofer.

Perlisten

Perslisten S7t Floorstanding Loudspeaker
Perslisten S7t

Lars Johansen, CSO at Perlisten Audio, showed me the S7t, a 4-way bass reflex/acoustic suspension floor-standing loudspeaker with a 28mm Beryllium and 2 x 28mm Textreme TPCD tweeters, 4 x 180mm Textreme TPCD woofers, a frequency response of 80 Hz-20 kHz (+/-1.5dB), and THX Dominus Certification. The construction quality of the loudspeaker was very impressive.

Trinnov

Trinnov with Perslisten In-wall Speakers
Trinnov with Perslisten In-wall Speakers Closeup
Trinnov with Perslisten In-wall Speakers

This company was running demonstrations in an 18-seat home theater space that afforded attendees the opportunity to experience a new acoustic level of immersive audio that combines Trinnov’s new WaveForming technology (where subwoofers will not need to be lifted off the ground but ideally distributed along the width of the room both at the front and the back of the listening area and Perlisten’s THX Certified Dominus surround system, consisting of an 11.1.6 channel system. To perform Trinnov’s Waveforming technology, the system is augmented with D15s Perlisten 15” active subwoofers. Without a doubt, impressive.

Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000T digital audio player (DAP)
Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000T DAP with NOVUS In-Ear Monitor

This company debuted 3 new products. The A&ultima SP3000T ($2,999) digital audio player features Astell&Kern’s Triple Amp System, allowing users to customize their sound profile using tube amplification, a digital op-amp, or a hybrid combination of both tube and op-amps.  It is equipped with a separate digital delta-sigma modulator to process the analog and digital signals separately, a Snapdragon 6125 Octa-core processor, and 8GB of DDR4 memory (twice the amount of RAM commonly used in DAPs), all in a stainless-steel body with 99.9% pure silver plating.

NOVUS In-Ear Monitor ($4,999), a collaboration with IEM manufacturer Empire Ears, includes a 13-driver, quadbrid, dual conduction design with dual W9+ drivers, 5 balanced armature (BA) drivers featuring one Sonion driver, and quad proprietary NOVA drivers by Knowles, quad electrostatic drivers, and dual bone conductors, both by Sonion, all into a 6061-T6 aluminum shell finished in Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) with 24K wet gold-plated faceplates and sapphire glass. Includes a custom-made 4-wire hybrid copper, gold/silver cable with 23.7AWG Litz Type 4S cable structure reinforced with black macro-molecular fiber and terminated in a 4.4mm balanced jack (available June 2024).

Astell&Kern ACTIVO P1 digital audio player (DAP)
Astell&Kern ACTIVO P1 DAP

The ACTIVO P1 digital audio player focuses on promoting an active lifestyle. It is high-resolution FLAC/DSD-compatible and features dual-band Wi-Fi, support for the most popular music streaming apps, internal memory, and a microSD card slot (available July 2024).

Arcam

Arcam ST25 Streamer
Arcam ST25 Streamer
Arcam SA45 Streaming Integrated Amplifier
Arcam SA45 Streaming Integrated Amplifier
Arcam SA45 Streaming Integrated Amplifier
Arcam SA45 Streaming Integrated Amplifier

ARCAM debuted three new products at the top of its Radia lineup; the SA35 and SA45 streaming amps, along with the ST25 dedicated streamer. The ARCAM ST25 ($1,499) is a digital audio player designed for people who already have a system of audio separates or who may want to build a new Radia setup. Joining the ST25 are the ARCAM SA35 ($3,499) streaming integrated amplifier (120W per channel into 8Ω and 220 watts into 4Ω) and the step-up ARCAM SA45 streaming integrated amplifier (180W per channel into 8Ω and 300W into 4Ω). Each are all-in-one digital music systems featuring G Class amplification and high-resolution music streaming. All these two units need just a pair of speakers.

Sonus Faber

Sonus faber Sonetto V G2 Loudspeaker
Sonus faber Sonetto V G2
Sonus faber Sonetto VIII G2 Loudspeaker
Sonus faber Sonetto VIII G2

Trying to find Florian Marmisse, Mario Passarelli, or Livio Cucuzza, all of them at Sonus faber, at the fair for a technical chat about the new products was a problem, so I just took pictures there: Sonus faber Sonetto VIII G2 ($7,999/pair) and Sonetto V G2 ($6,499/pair).

DALI

DALI Epikore 11 Loudspeaker with KORE
DALI EPIKORE 11 Loudspeaker with KORE
DALI RUBIKORE Loudspeakers
DALI RUBIKORE Loudspeakers

Jason Zidle, Brand Manager at DALI Loudspeakers, showed me the brand new DALI RUBIKORE loudspeakers range: On Wall, Cinema, 2, 6, and 8 priced from $4,000 to $12,000/pair. Another launch, the EPIKORE 11 ($60,000/pair) is a 4.5-way floor stander loudspeaker featuring 4 x 8” woofers with paper and wood fiber cone technology, which reduces weight and adds stiffness to help promote non-resonant break-up characteristics, a newly developed 6.5” midrange, and an EVO-K Hybrid Tweeter: a large, in-house-developed soft dome tweeter and an improved version of DALI’s high-performance, wide-dispersion planar tweeter element, all housed in a completely inert and luxurious enclosure.

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Marten

Marten Coltrane Quintet Red Loudspeaker
Marten Coltrane Quintet
Marten Coltrane Quintet Loudspeaker Wood
Marten Coltrane Quintet Loudspeaker

It’s time to talk about the demo music at High End Munich. Does high-end audio music exist? Yes. The more minimalistic in instrumentation and intimate, the better. That is music that sounds good everywhere. Grandpa’s BORING music?

High-end audio loudspeaker manufacturers would have you believe that their loudspeakers can reproduce any genre of music, but this is a big lie. Metal music? Electronica? Out of the question because those musical genres push the loudspeakers to the limits, usually evidencing a muddy or lack of top end and low end.

There were rooms where you could listen to heavy metal because people were hungry to hear something more powerful than usual, and there were companies like MBL where you would never listen to anything but high-end (Grandpa’s BORING) music.

There are colleagues, such as John Darko, who insist that at high-end shows people listen to sound and not music. I completely agree, but there is a reason: high-end people are musically deaf.

Marten technologies include first-order crossover and aligned acoustic center to reduce a problem that high-end audio loudspeaker developers usually don’t care about: phase cancellation. The company launched the Coltrane Quintet loudspeaker (EUR 170,000). They played Rage Against The Machine’s “Bull on Parade” in the room. It was heaven. Unbelievable. Rock power and in-your-face sound with crystal-clear definition across the entire range, as I used to listen in my studio’s Mackie HR824 Mk1 nearfield monitors.

Focal

Focal Hadenys Headphone with NAIM Uniti Atom HE
Focal Hadenys Headphone with NAIM Uniti Atom HE
Focal Azurys Headphones with NAIM UNITI ATOM HE
Focal Azurys Headphones with NAIM Uniti Atom HE

This French audio brand unveiled 2 new pairs of premium headphones; the new open-backed Hadenys ($699) and the closed-back Azurys ($549). Both pairs of wired headphones feature the same 40mm aluminum and magnesium drivers as found in the five-star Bathys wireless headphones.

Both sporting a specially designed ‘M’-shaped dome, the Hadenys come with a carry case, as well as a 1.8m mini-jack cable and a 6.3mm jack adapter, while the Azurys are also furnished with a bespoke carry case, and a 1.25m mini-jack cable sporting an in-line remote control and a built-in microphone.

Q Acoustics

Q Acoustics 3000c Loudspeakers
Q Acoustics 3000c Loudspeakers

This company introduced the 3000c series (available August 2024), comprised of the 3010c bookshelf ($399/pair), 3020c stand mount ($499/pair), 3030c larger stand mount ($649/pair), 3050c floor stander ($1,199/pair), with the 3090c center-channel ($399) completing the line-up for a home cinema speaker set-up, featuring C3 Continuous Curved Cone™ mid/bass driver design. The hermetically sealed high-frequency driver unit is mechanically isolated from the baffle, preventing modulation from the mid/bass driver. They feature low-coloration cabinets with P2P™ (Point to Point™) bracing, minimizing low-end reverberation, delivering a more focused stereo image, and a wider, better-controlled soundstage.

Q Acoustics 3050c Loudspeaker
Q Acoustics 3050c Loudspeaker

The 3050c ($1,199/pair), like all floor standing loudspeakers, is vulnerable to internal build-up of pressure that causes unwanted standing waves and coloration. To prevent this, specially designed HPE (Helmholtz Pressure Equalizers) tubes are fitted inside the cabinet to disrupt the build-up of standing waves and nullify internal pressure, improving the frequency response and reducing distortion and improve frequency response. eCoustics EIC Ian White, will be reviewing a pair this summer in the United States.

Gryphon Audio

Gryphon Audio Apollo Turntable
Gryphon Audio Apollo Turntable

The Danish audio company debuted 2 new products (available in late summer). The Apollo Turntable ($149,800), a collaboration between Gryphon, turntable designer Helmut Brinkmann, and Ortofon, features 2 Sinus belt drive Motors, placed 180° from each other and entirely decoupled from this structure, each mounted on its own, optimized sub-chassis, and a digital speed controller.

In addition to synchronizing the two motors, Apollo’s controller is more accurate than analog equivalents and will never require calibration. Apollo has a fully discrete, mechanically and electrically separated power source with a dedicated transformer and a newly developed cartridge, The Gryphon Black Diamond DLC.

Gryphon Audio Siren Phono Preamplifier
Gryphon Audio Siren Phono Preamplifier

The Siren Phono Preamplifier ($69,800) features a true dual-mono configuration, zero global negative feedback, fully discrete balanced circuit topology, and a 4.3” TFT capacitive touch screen with a 4mm hardened glass panel. In addition to separate left and right-channel power supplies, a third, purpose-engineered supply for all digital functions maintains total separation of Digital and Analog signal paths, all the way back to the AC Cords. As usual in Gryphon, it features the “Nordic Noir” aesthetic and the non-pocket size (38kg).

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Chord Electronics

Chord Electronics Suzi
Chord Electronics Suzi
Chord Electronics Suzi
Chord Electronics Suzi

I spoke with John Franks, Chord Electronics CEO, about his new baby at the fair, the Suzi amplifier concept (available next autumn). It includes a new preamp, plus an innovative ULTIMA-tech modular power amplifier that can be used to form a conventional pre/power, or used separately with the Hugo 2 DAC or the Hugo 2/2go streamer/player to create a DAC/amplifier or a streaming amplifier. The system comprises the new Suzi Pre preamplifier, plus the Suzi power amplifier which also allows the direct integration of the Hugo 2 or Hugo 2 and 2go.

The Suzi concept has three primary use case scenarios: as an analog pre/power amplifier (a Suzi Pre with a Suzi); a DAC/amplifier (a Suzi with a Hugo 2), plus a streaming amplifier (a Suzi with a Hugo 2 and 2go, where the system offers three distinct Chord Electronics’ proprietary audio technologies in one: amplification, digital conversion, and streaming.

It also offers premium solid-state library storage and playback, courtesy of 2go’s twin microSD card slots.

Tannoy

Tannoy Autograph 12 loudspeaker
Tannoy Autograph 12 loudspeaker

The company unveiled at the show the Autograph 12 loudspeaker, a two-way floor-standing speaker designed for larger living spaces, featuring its latest-generation 12” dual concentric driver, which sees a tweeter sit in the throat of the mid/bass unit for consistent dispersion and improved integration and phase coherency, with a “luxurious” walnut-veneered birch ply cabinet. Unfortunately, it sounds as vintage as it looks, or too high-end for my taste.

Metaxas & Sins

Metaxas Emperor Electrostatic Loudspeaker
Metaxas Emperor Electrostatic Loudspeaker
Metaxas Squelette
Metaxas Squelette
Metaxas Ikarus
Metaxas Ikarus

The mix between the aesthetic design and state-of-the-art technology in Metaxas & Sins products is unique. 2 launches at the show. First, the Emperor electrostatic loudspeaker allows the division of the conflicting requirements of a small gap (1.6mm) between screens and film for optimal treble performance and a larger gap (3.0mm) necessary to accommodate the maximum excursions at subwoofer frequencies of the bass panels.

It requires a 20W RMS minimum to deliver a 25Hz-50kHz (-3dB) frequency response and a THD < 0.05% (20Hz-20KHz). Second, the Squelette tape recorder, the world’s first and only dual-capstan pinch-rollerless design.

Also on the stand were a Papillon tape recorder, an Ikarus amplifier, and Prina, the world’s first high efficiency, easy-to-drive, full range electrostatic loudspeaker that is only 250mm wide X 2m high and plays quite loud.

Audio Group Denmark

Audio Group Denmark C1 and C3 Loudspeakers
Audio Group Denmark C1 and C3 Loudspeakers
Aavik U-588 Integrated Amplifier
Aavik U-588 Integrated Amplifier

It’s always a pleasure to see Kent Sørensen, Audio Group Denmark CEO, working at the booth as any other crew member. The group had many debuts at the fair, as the Børresen C Series loudspeakers, with the C1 and C3, and the Aavik U-588 integrated amplifier with DAC and streaming, cooperation between Michael Børresen and Flemming Erik Rasmussen (CEO of Gryphon Audio), featuring a streaming module, DAC, and integrated amplifier (available Sep 2024).

SVS

SVS Ultra Evolution Pinnacle Loudspeakers
SVS Ultra Evolution Pinnacle Loudspeakers

I checked out the home theater room at SVS. They were demoing their top-of-the-line Ultra Evolution home theater speaker system in a 5.2.2 configuration for $10,000. The system included Ultra Evolution Pinnacle speakers (front left/right at $5,000/pair), Ultra Evolution Center speaker ($800), Ultra Evolution Bookshelf speakers (surround left/right at $1,200/pair), Ultra Elevation speakers (Dolby Atmos height effects at $900/pair), and Dual SVS SB-3000 subwoofers ($2,100/pair). The system was powered by a Marantz Cinema 40 Series AV Receiver ($3,500), bringing the total package to $13,500 USD.

Final words

English language, NOT GERMAN, PLEASE: Anyone who has been to an international trade fair will have noticed that the language used at them is English, which is the business language par excellence. Ignoring this basic rule, the High End Munich press conference was held in German for the 3rd year in a row with the support of individual headphones and an English interpretation. In it, the press officer, the CEO, and the director of the High End Society were dispatched with trade fair numbers.

The final show numbers: 22,198 visitors in total, 513 exhibitors from 41 countries, and 588 media representatives. These numbers are pretty similar to the 2023 and 2019 editions.

Steven Wilson presenting PMC's Dolby Atmos demo
Steven Wilson presenting PMC’s Dolby Atmos demo

The must-hear: The PMC Dolby Atmos demo with Steven Wilson in a room with 21 loudspeakers (11.4.6 configuration) reaching 15 Hz, with 48,000 watts of power, and a €300,000 cost.

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Leslie Mandoki
Leslie Mandoki

The surprise: I attended a listening session at Leslie Mandoki’s recording studio. He played a few tracks from the last Mandoki Soulmates album (AAA), A Memory of Our Future, from the ½” master tapes in a Studer tape recorder, running at 15 ips at the studio control room. Priceless.

More product launches from HIGH END Munich 2024.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Joe Corona

    May 20, 2024 at 1:29 pm

    I cannot comment about this year,but I have been in the MBL room
    When they’ve played pick Floyd at realistic levels and toward the end of the day played what I can only imagine to be Berlin club music at club levels.
    I’m their rather large room the system simply slayed !
    Yes they also played some audiophile music during the shows I’ve attended.
    I’d also mention that Hi-End is a family show and some genres of music are not appropriate for all day demoing.

    • Ian White

      May 24, 2024 at 8:05 pm

      Joe,

      Having listened to MBL on a few occasions at shows over the past 20 years, I would agree that they make excellent speakers. Having said that, it’s very hard to judge sound quality at trade events.

      I do get your point about the types of music played at an event like HIGH END Munich, which does attract more families than the shows we attend here in North America. Some music during the day would probably not be ideal for little kids based on the volume levels and lyrics.

      Best,

      Ian White

  2. Mike C.

    May 25, 2024 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Ian,
    Not sure about those Dynaudio stands. Remind me of my parent’s 1960’s ashtray/magazine rack.

    • Ian White

      May 25, 2024 at 8:18 pm

      Mike,

      The “Bookshelf” design from Japan?

      It looks somewhat dated, but I think it also depends on the space they are used in.

      Best,

      Ian White

  3. tonyE

    May 26, 2024 at 1:51 am

    Too high end?

    What does that mean? They sound too realistic?

    Because…

    Tannoys over single ended class A (SIT) or triodes… what where they playing? I’ve heard them and they are incredible accurate and detailed. You can hear the singer sing… they instruments being plucked, the brass is wet, the crash hat shimmers and crashes.

    I don’t understand your comment I guess.

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