Munich High-End 2014 – The Edited Highlights

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Audio

Best looking room

This might not be the kind of thing that is in any way important to many audiophiles, but if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. McIntosh was in the Fine Sounds Group room, but it also had its own 1950s Americana themed room, complete with Fender guitars on the walls, a jukebox, and this designer distressed hog. Where most brands relied on curtains and posters, McIntosh stands alone here.

Most bling product launch

This must go to Fine Sounds for the hour-long trawl through the latest products with Livio Cucuzza, the group industrial designer. The new Audio Research G (for Galileo) range showed us just how cool and shiny the three new models are, with videos and discussion, but completely forgetting things like the power rating of the amplifier. Still, it all looked very slick.

Most innovative new product

This is a hard nut to crack. The plethora of new products significantly slowed down show reporters; a new loudspeaker is a five minute conversation, but talk about a streamer and you can spend 25 minutes trading acronyms. Nevertheless, several products stand out.

BMC announced a new Pure Media media server that integrates with Pure DAC and Pure Amp. This had the kind of on-screen interface that anyone could use in seconds, but was expected to cost around £3,000.

Electrocompaniet launched its EC Living concept, designed to show Sonos users precisely what they are missing, but is scalable enough to be used with the company’s top electronics. In other news, Electrocompaniet launched its first turntable, and a more up-scale phono stage.

Finally, the new MiZiK system (featured in the current Hi-Fi+ issue), played through Wilson-Benesch Square Fives was showing people just how much performance can be extracted from both a digital and an analogue source. In the city of Munich, Wilson-Benesch also announced its innovative new Endeavour standmount, powered by the excellent ch-precision solid-state electronics.

There’s more to come, including two new players from Astel & Kern, Simaudio Moon’s 430HA headphone amp and native DSD DAC, Crystal’s striking new Minissimo standmount, and much, much more…

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