HIGH END 2022 Munich Germany Show Report
Raidho went large at High End, introducing three new loudspeaker models and demonstrating them to good effect with Moon electronics. The most affordable, and it could be argued, attractive, among them is the X1T Super Mini Monitor (€5,800) which has Raidho's version of a ribbon tweeter originally developed by Philips and found throughout the company's range.
Raidho's loudspeaker combined a 5.25" aluminum woofer that's coated with ceramic and tantalum for maximum stiffness without the ringing associated with metal cones. The X1T delivered deep organ bass and the power of a large chorus with total control. The bigger X1.6 (€7,000) has the same ribbon tweeter with a 6.5" main driver and sits in a 26-pound cabinet, this delivered huge depth from Dylan's Man in a Long Black Coat then blew me away with the voice and bass on London Grammar's Hey Now.
By far the biggest speaker in the room was the TD6, an understated name for a €200,000, 6.5-foot tall line array with six bass drivers. In Raidho's new statement loudspeaker the mid and bass cones have a diamond layer added to the ceramic and tantalum on the front and back of the aluminum unit. This diamond coating allows the cones to "keep up" with the ribbon tweeter thanks to a ring of neodymium magnets and an underhung titanium voice coil. Even the crossover is extreme with the elements connected using Nordost cable behind the board, not something I've ever encountered before. The sonic result was suitably room-filling and the bass was on the next level even by the standards of high-end luxury audio.
John Devore was relaxing in a darkened room with his Orangutan 96 floorstanders on the end of an Audiomat Aria EL34 tube amp and a Metronome DAC playing some large-scale, laid-back vibes including Ode by Nils Frahm. He has been busy making a new model though, the Baby is small by Devore standards but still has a good-sized cabinet and a 7inch main driver made with an uncoated German paper cone. I love the way that a horn has been machined into the ply of the front baffle to help the 19mm tweeter keep up and maintain an overall sensitivity of 90dB/W/M, pricing is $5,700 for the speaker and $995 for its stand.
It was also good to see David Gordon with the once more independent Audio Research, he told me about the new Ceracoat paint finishes that the company offers on certain models, which might be a bit of a shock to those used to their anodized aluminum tradition.
The first example of this is the I50 integrated, a 50Wpc push-pull design running 6550 tubes and having the option to add DAC and phono stage modules for $5,500. He also had a white finish example of the new Reference 320M monoblock, a proper lump of an amp with six KT150s pushing out 320 Watts, so much power in fact that the amp has a variable speed fan under the chassis.
When Tannoy changed hands a few years ago some of its key people started their own company Fyne Audio; they have been making speakers with similarities to Tannoys ever since. At the HIGH END show in Munich, however, they went all out and delivered a range that is much closer to that once great brand's origins. The Vintage series consists of models Ten ($24,499), Twelve ($31,499), and Fifteen ($39,999) whose Isoflare bass drivers are of those sizes.
They sit in elaborately constructed and finished cabinets and feature a rather nice presence control knob on the front. Inside they're not as retro as they look, with a 75mm titanium dome tweeter and deep cryogenically treated crossovers in twin cavity birch ply cabinets with walnut and anodized gold detailing.
The HIGH END is the highlight of the European calendar so it was great to be back, what was most encouraging is that visitor numbers were strong and the standard of sound in many demos was higher than it has been. Clearly taking three years off has given brands the chance to figure out what really counts at these events, and that of course has to be the music.