The last installment of our High End 2019 coverage focuses on power conditioners, speaker cables, connectors, and accessories -- the things that can help jazz-up a hi-fi system and bring out its best. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
Streaming is becoming the default source of music for more and more people. In 2018, streaming accounted for 75% of music-industry revenues in the US, and 46.9% globally. This trend was apparent in many of the new products launched at High End -- all-in-one wireless streaming speakers, amps, and DACs with streaming capability, and active speakers with built-in amplification. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
These days, many audiophiles prefer to hide away their electronics where no one can see them. Either that, or they want those huge enclosures out front and center as talking points when someone enters the room. A company from the Netherlands presented another option . . .
When Jason Thorpe can’t make it to a hi-fi show, we sorely miss him -- he just won’t stop until he uncovers every last new turntable and phono-related product at every show he attends. Jason, unfortunately, wasn’t at High End, so it was up to me to look for new and interesting products for analog playback. Here’s what I found, with all prices in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
This year’s High End show had plenty of introductions of reasonably priced electronic components, even though I would say that many of them were network-streaming products. And even those that were not, like integrated amplifiers, preamplifiers, and DACs, often had streaming capabilities built into them. So, while my colleague Gordon Brockhouse, of SoundStage! Simplifi, concentrated his efforts on streaming-type products, I found a few more intriguing electronic component introductions from High End 2019 that were not mostly streaming-based. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
At High End 2019, it seems you can’t walk more than a few meters before you trip over a new loudspeaker. Although there were innumerable new models to see this year, there were a few that really caught my eyes . . . and ears. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
When I first heard that two of Miles Davis’s classic albums, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain, were being remixed in Dolby Atmos, I feared the worst. As I headed into the packed demonstration room to listen to the remixes of these great albums, I had thoughts of Davis, Coltrane, Adderley, and others bouncing around above my head.
Speakers, speakers everywhere! We experienced the wildest, most-ambitious design at the show, and a high-end stalwart introduced more affordable models. And, oh, a Danish brand demonstrated its best loudspeaker yet . . .
About a week before I got on a plane to Munich, Doug Schneider asked me if I’d like to cover headphones and related products at the show. Absolutely -- a big chunk of my listening is done through ’phones, so I’m really interested in the category.
Big, impressive speakers are always a highlight at High End, and the 2019 event was certainly no exception. Speakers I saw came in lots of configurations, sizes, and at every price point imaginable. Multi-way dynamic speakers seemed more common than any other type, though an array of horn-type models were also plentiful. Let’s start with the former . . .
Even though the audio show held in Munich each spring is called “High End,” it still offers frugal audiophiles like me plenty to see and hear. High End 2019 didn’t feature a lot of gear at mass-market prices, but it did include many excellent new products that provide high value for their cost. Here are a few of the electronic components that caught my eye for providing interesting features at relatively reasonable prices. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
In the online hi-fi world, I noticed a new and welcome trend. Instead of companies waiting until High End actually starts to announce new products that would be shown there, as most did in previous years, many companies announced them days or even weeks in advance to start getting word out. They either e-mailed the information out to group lists or posted it on social media (usually Facebook) as a story or a link to their website. Since I’m online almost all the time, these early releases helped me get my initial coverage up more quickly. Here’s the first batch of hi-fi electronics, with all prices in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
Munich’s High End is mostly about serious high-end audio, but this year’s edition also had a lot of fodder for my primary beat, “convenient, lifestyle-oriented hi-fi,” to quote the blurb for SoundStage! Simplifi on our network portal. On the first day, I came across more Simplifi’d audio products than I can cover in a single report, and there are many halls that I haven’t yet visited, so check back for further updates. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
Munich’s High End still reigns supreme as the world’s largest and most important hi-fi show, which is why we love it. One problem its size poses, however, is that it’s next to impossible for our team to cover every product presented during the show’s four-day run. I doubt we’ll achieve 100% coverage of the show this year, either -- but that doesn’t mean we can’t do better than in the past.
I’m the Munich newbie in the SoundStage! crew. High End has been on my bucket list for over a decade, and it’s all I hoped it would be and more. In addition to my regular beat for SoundStage! -- Simplifi’d hi-fi -- I have another gig for Munich: headphones and portable electronics. It’s a big assignment, because there are scads of new products -- more than I can cover in my first report (so check back tomorrow). All prices here are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
Expensive electronics abound in Munich at High End, and the first batch I came across was of the massive, solid-state variety. As well, most of it came housed in the machined-aluminum-encased enclosures that audiophiles know and love. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
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