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Show Report by Cecil Tan / Page 1
High End 2012 at Munich, Germany
3rd to 6th May 2012

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Munich seems to be growing bigger and bigger as the years go by and this year is no different, with a number of new brands participating and smaller rooms opened up to accommodate smaller speakers. A trend that I also notice is the increasing numbers of US manufacturers exhibiting in Munich, when in the past the CES was their primary focus when launching new products.

The following report focuses on products that we represent or on brands that I found to be interesting and innovative and deserves to be mentioned.

 

Air Tight

Air Tight had a room in a cosy hotel off site in a parallel show, where they were able to demo their tube gear to great effect, driving a pair of German speakers equipped with full range field-coil drivers. The sound was unmistakeably musical, even though I wasn't familiar with the speakers. When I was in the room, they were playing their Acoustic Masterpiece turntable and Air Tight PC-1 Supreme combination. Certainly making a great case for analogue if there ever was one!

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Audio Note UK

Audio Note UK was seen in Munich for the first time, but also at the parallel show where the smaller hotel rooms provide a more ideal environment for the AN-E speakers. In that setup, the sound was very dynamic and fast, with good bass extension and definition. But above all, whatever music that was played always sounded superbly involving. It was one of the most impressive sounds of the show for me.

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2 new models on demo were the CDT-6 digital transport with external tube and choke regulated power supply, and the 5th Element DAC, also featuring a separate tube rectified PSU, and tubes everywhere else.

 

Avantgarde Acoustic

Avantgarde Acoustic's main focus this year was on their all new XA Series pre and power amplifier combination. In spite of the fact that this year's setup looked simpler than previous years, in just demoing a pair of DUO Omega G2 horn speakers, the sound quality was a lot more impressive to me in terms of overall refinement. The music had a sense of grainlessness and coherency that eluded previous Avantgarde systems. I attribute this improvement largely to the new amps and I feel that the more than 2 years of R & D on the new amplifier design has more than paid off - very impressive indeed!

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