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Show Report by Cecil Tan / Page 1
High End 2010 at Munich, Germany
6th to 9th May 2010

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I sensed a more upbeat mood amongst the exhibitors for this year’s Munich show, and this is also reflected in the increased attendance numbers reported by the organizer. Both exhibition halls on the ground floor and the large audition rooms on the upper floor were filled with exhibits, and while a couple of big brands were missing this year, newer companies have eagerly replaced them. I took a lot more photos this year, but some did not turn out as well as I had hoped, often due to the slightly dim lighting in the rooms (excuses, excuses…). I promise to bring along a much better camera next year. So on to the interesting stuff!

Avantgarde Acoustic showcased their DUO Mezzo G2 this time around, but with much more modest amplification and front end as compared to last year. The Model 3 integrated amplifier was used instead of their usual state-of-the-art Model One pre and power combo. This costs less than a tenth what the Model One pre/power combo costs! And yet, you’d never know it based on the sound they got out of that system. An Audio Aero CD player and Dr. Feickert Woodpecker turntable completed the system. The overall sound was dynamic, super fast and very lively (lifelike?) – precisely highlighting the unique strengths of well designed horn speakers like the Avantgardes! Especially the new G2 ones, as the bass response is the major improvement over the earlier series. Sure, many expensive speakers can sound dynamic and lively, but how many can do so when driven by a relatively affordable amplifier rated at 38 watts per channel?

On one end of the room, there was a display of horns adorned with the full range of new colours that are offered for their new series of speakers. Very attractive indeed! There was also a wooden mockup of a new preamp dubbed the “Model Two”, and this will probably represent the fresh look of a whole new generation of amplification that will be introduced by next year (my guess).

In the Audio Aero room, a pair of Avantgarde DUO Grosso was partnered to good effect with the ultra expensive La Source CD player and CAT JL 2 MKII tube power amplifier. All cables were by Audience, using their top-of-the-line AU24 ‘e’ cables throughout. I have to say that the sound there was also very captivating, dynamic and yet musical, and not just because I sell some of this gear!

The Abbington Music Research room had 2 pairs of their LS-77 reference class professional monitors playing together, one pair inverted on top of the other. This was probably necessary as the speakers were firing into a pretty large room and they needed the extra drivers to produce enough volume to fill it adequately. A large room filled with people can suck up a surprisingly large amount of power! The rest of the system comprised of the multi-award winning CD-77 CD player, PH-77 fully balanced tube phono stage and AM-77 hybrid integrated amplifier. A Dr. Feickert Black Bird turntable mounted with 2 arms provided vinyl playback.

Elsewhere in the room and on static display, was a very interesting pair of CD-77 and AM-77 units specially painted in blue with chrome accents just for the Munich show. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but very interesting all the same.

I have to confess that I did not spend much time listening to the music being played in this room as there were always a huge number of show-goers milling about and I was too busy chatting with the friendly AMR guys, especially Vince Luke. Besides, being an AMR distributor I am fully exposed to their sonic potential in my showroom and always very happy with it too!

Air Tight had their exhibit on an off site location with a number of other manufacturers. The ambience here was cozier as the hotel rooms were not nearly as big as the room in the M.O.C. the official site for the Munich show. Here, they had 2 systems on demo. The main room system consisted of an analogue front end of a Gerrard 401, Ikeda tonearm and the award-winning PC-1 Supreme MC cartridge. Phono stage was their new ATC-2005 plugged into the reference standard ATE-2001 2-box preamp and the ATM-3 monoblocks, driving a German full range horn speaker made by Wolf Von Langa. The music from this system was always captivating, musical and involving, with not a tinge of “hifiness” about it at all.

In a smaller room, they had set up a much more modest system comprising of a Bel Canto CD player, the Acoustic Masterpiece integrated amp and driving a pair of miniature Air Tight Bonsai speakers.

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