Robert Harley’s Munich Show Highlights

Show report
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Tubed power amplifiers
Robert Harley’s Munich Show Highlights

Sonus faber launched a new line of mid-priced loudspeakers called Olympica. The first three models of what will become a larger line were shown in Munich. All models in the Olympica line were designed from scratch, with no drivers or parts used from other products. All feature solid walnut wood and leather enclosures in a new asymmetrical shape that is reportedly an important design element. The enclosure shape eliminates parallel surfaces and also accommodates the new bass-reflex system developed for Olympica. The combination of walnut and leather is drop-dead gorgeous.

The entry level to the line is the Olympica I, a two-way bookshelf speaker with a 6” midrange/woofer coupled to a 1” silk-dome tweeter. The step up is the floorstanding Olympica II with 6” midrange and 9” woofer, again mated to the soft-dome tweeter. The top model, the Olympica III, adds a second 9” woofer for deeper bass extension and wider dynamics. Pricing is yet to be announced, but I expect the Olympica III to be about $15k to $18k.  

Despite hearing a wide range of products that were entirely new to me, the show’s best sounds were produced by familiar companies that have created great-sounding rooms at recent shows. The Focal Stella Utopia driven by the new Soulution 700-series electronics with support from Critical Mass Systems isolation racks and amplifier stands was stunning in its transparency, bottom-end weight and clarity, and its high resolution without treble etch. This system (but with Soulution 500-series electronics) got my vote for best sound at last year’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Another great room was the Absolare Passion preamplifier and Passion 845 single-ended triode amplifiers driving Rockport Altair loudspeakers in the Absolare room. These electronics are not only glorious in the midrange and treble, but drove the Altairs in a huge room to quite high playback levels with outstanding bass extension and control. These electronics are quite special (see my review in Issue 234). The third room that stood out for me was the Raidho D1 minimonitor with the diamond-coated mid-woofer. This small loudspeaker plays big in every way; bass extension, soundstaging, and dynamics. It also exhibits a lack of coloration and purity of timbre that are world class by any measure.