Munich High End 2013 Show Report

Show report
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Tubed power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Tubed preamplifiers,
Disc players,
Music servers and computer audio,
Loudspeaker cables
Munich High End 2013 Show Report

Lansche, famous for its plasma tweeter, launched its new $280k Model 8.2 plasma/cone floorstander, now with dual 18-inch powered (1000W per driver) subwoofers, crossing over at 40Hz, mounted on the rear of its cabinet. Like all Lansches, the 8.2 has incredible treble, but it now has much improved bass that is far better integrated with the other drivers. I thought it sounded excellent.

The otherwise quite beautiful presentation of Joseph Audio’s multiway WATT/Puppy-like Black Pearl 3, driven (as usual) by Bel Canto, was spoiled by a terrible room resonance. Nonetheless, on cuts without a lot of bass, such as a Julie London vocal, the system was truly excellent. The Pearls are really good speakers, and the room issue was not their fault.

Grimm Audio showed its three-way LS-1 very successfully. The odd-looking speaker has a nice coherent sound—warm but quick with surprising deep bass and excellent ambience retrieval.

Finally, Alfred Vassilkov was also showing his smaller Estelon XB with Ole Vitus’ son's electronics called Alluxity, and though it may not be politically correct to say so the kid’s room was much better than his dad’s. I‘ve not heard the XB’s sound better than this. A minor triumph of delicacy and power.

To see photographs of all the products I listened to at Munich, go to

Best of Show: This choice turned out to be harder to make than I would've guessed on Day One, in fact, I'm still pondering it, Here are the contenders, in the order in which I heard them: the Crystal Cable Absolute Dream/Siltech SAGA System; the Raidho D2/Rowland/dCS system (and the Raidho D1, as well, on Saturday); the Focal Stella Utopia/Soulution 700 Series system; the Magico S5/Spectral system; the Voxativ Ampeggio/Voxativ electronics system; the MBL X-Treme/MBL electronics system; the Vandersteen Model 7/Brinkmann system; the horn-loaded, subwoofed Tune Audio Anima/Lars II system; and the Tidal Agoria SE/Tidal electronics system (on Day Three). 

If push came to pull, I guess I'd have to name the Focal Stella Utopia/Soulution 700 Series first among near equals, simply because those new Soulution electronics are so extraordinary. Then again, the Spectral DMA-400 with the Magico S5s sounded pretty damn extraordinary, too. So did the hybrid tube/transistor Siltech SAGA System. Just in terms of sheer midrange presence, the Voxativ Ampeggio was almost in a class by itself; and that Greek horn system from Tune Audio was amazingly lifelike on piano, while the Raidho D2s and D1s are so damn realistic on voice and guitar (even when driven by amps I don't love and a platter-of-pancakes turntable)...well, you see the problems.