HIGH END 2022 Munich Germany Show Report
There was a palpable sense of relief during HIGH END 2022 in Munich show from exhibitors and visitors alike that the biggest event in Europe was happening again after a three-year break. The organizers initially moved it from May to October last year but when it became clear that the pandemic was not going away they decided to aim for the usual slot this year, thankfully it came good and we didn't even have to wear masks.
HIGH END 2022 show exhibitor numbers were down due to restrictions in the Far East but there was still an awful lot to see in the heat of the MOC exhibition center, Munich is often fine at this time of year but 86 degrees in the shade can be a little close in a glass building full of amplifiers and people.
The organizers set aside an extra day for the trade which was highly beneficial and allowed more comfortable listening in many rooms, one that was particularly enjoyable was the Living Voice / Definitive Audio space. Living Voice has built a reputation on very high-end, beautifully built horn speaker systems but this year they toned down the pricing and used their OBX-RW4 floor-standers (£15,400) in a beautiful Santos rosewood finish.
Amplification was from SJS Electroacoustics in the form of a new Model 7 Premier Silver (£29,000) tube preamplifier with an all copper chassis and a heavy quantity of silver in the parts Alongside was the Model 5 300B Silver Enhanced (£20,000) single-ended power amp and a Model 3 phono stage.
LV proprietor Kevin Scott stuck with vinyl on Grand Prix Monaco (£41,500) and Kuzma R turntables (£8,560), the latter running Kuzma's new Safir 9 tonearm (£19,000). This arm has a conical sapphire armtube chosen for its high (5kHz plus) resonant frequency and thus extreme rigidity at the appropriate frequencies. With Mari Samuelsen's rendition of "Violin Concerto (Second Movement)" by Philip Glass the system was heartbreaking, I ordered the vinyl there and then but getting it to sound this good at home will be a challenge.
The Audio Group Denmark is made up of three brands: Aavik, Ansuz, and Børresen which cover the gamut of components required to build a rather good streaming system. This consisted of the Aavik 280 series streamer, DAC, pre and power amplifiers with cables and noise cancellation devices by Ansuz and new Børresen X3 loudspeakers (€10,000).
These slim fronted but near two-foot deep floorstanders incorporate in-house built drivers that have carbon fibre and Nomex sandwich cones with titanium voice coil formers. This metal was chosen over aluminum because it has very low inductance and no hysteresis, which means that the voice coil can accelerate faster and with lower distortion. The sound produced was a great combination of speed and precision without grain and this was with Aavik's more affordable electronics.
Gryphon Audio goes in for more substantial components, the Apex (€82,500) is the most powerful amp yet from the Danish brand with no less than 210 Class A Watts on tap from a 450-pound chassis. If that's not enough it can be had as a monoblock for €165,000 per pair. This beast sucks a kilowatt out of the wall in idle mode so Gryphon offers a green bias setting for more casual listening.
The matching Commander preamplifier (€67,600) is a two-box pure analog affair that's fully balanced with a zero negative feedback, Class A circuit full of top-class components in a constrained layer damped chassis. Brand new to Gryphon is the EOS2 loudspeaker which is still in prototype form but looked pretty slick, this is designed for smaller rooms and near-wall placement yet bass extends to 25Hz in a linear fashion, or so I'm told. Internally it is designed to be used with either a front or rear port to accommodate different placement and the 34mm beryllium tweeter's output is adjustable.