The second day of High End 2022 was filled with me finding some of the most ambitious products you can imagine. But ambition does not necessarily equate to high prices. Though sometimes it does.
Below you’ll find products that, in the grand scheme of things, are mostly high priced, but with one notable exception from a Danish company. Regardless of price, though, all of these products are noteworthy not because of what they cost, but because of what they potentially offer the high-end customer. All prices in euros or US dollars.
The MSB Technology Digital Director is a brand new product type for the California, USA-based company. MSB describes the Digital Director concept as a “reimagining of the entire digital-to-analog conversion chain.” The Digital Directors—there are three of them—externally manage digital sources, leaving the DAC itself to handle only D-to-A conversion with what is said to be even greater fidelity. Tethering these products—Digital Director and MSB DAC—is made possible by MSB’s ProISL laser fiber-optic connection. The goal of the Digital Director is to completely eliminate any noise coupling between the DAC and digital source component, as well as relieve the DAC of processing in order to free up more computing resources in the DAC for even better D-to-A conversion performance. The three Digital Directors are the Select ($27,500, shown above), Reference ($24,500), and . . .
. . . Premier ($14,500, bottom of stack in photo above). It should be noted that existing input modules in your current MSB Technology DAC can be moved to the Digital Director (up to four slots). Furthermore, any Digital Director model is compatible with any current MSB DAC.
Siltech released a new line of cables at High End, the Royal Crown Series. This new line replaces the very popular Royal Signature cables that came before. The line begins in order of price with the Single Crown and then moves up to the Double Crown, ultimately ending in the top-of-the-range Triple Crown. There are power cables, speaker cables, and interconnects in each series. Design highlights include “new Hexagon construction,” previously only seen in Siltech’s flagship Triple Crown power cable. This construction detail “allows for greater symmetry from every angle and more efficient wire handling for the lowest electromagnetic interference.” Also, Siltech’s dual-layer insulation uses DuPont’s Kapton and Teflon materials.
The company says that this group of materials, when combined with the “Hexagon’s air insulation and wide-range shielding, results in the lowest inductance and capacitance.” The Royal Crown cables range in price: Interconnects, for a 1m pair, range from €7000 to €20,000. Speaker cables, for a 2.5m pair, range from €17,000 to €50,000. Power cables, for a 1.5m length, range from €5000 to €15,000 (all prices ex. VAT).
Crystal Cable, which is a sister company of Siltech (they both fall under the International Audio Holding umbrella, with the factory and headquarters in Holland), released the new Future Dream 22 line of cables, which includes speaker cables, interconnects, power cables, and digital and phono interconnects. The company says that the new series is all about “twos”: the Future Dream 22 is a “two-wire design” and combines “two metallurgies, with double-layer shielding and insulation.” The cables use Crystal’s latest generation of monocrystal silver conductors and “dual-layer monocrystal plus G9 silver-gold alloy shielding.” These cables are priced as indicated: interconnects, for a 1m pair, €4250; speaker cables, for a 2.5m pair, €8000; and power cables, for a 1.5m cord, €2500 (all prices ex. VAT). Of course, other lengths are available for all Crystal Cable and Siltech cables.
Audiovector, which is based in Copenhagen, released the QR 7 loudspeaker at High End 2022. After I heard a pair, I honestly couldn’t believe the price, which I will get to shortly. The speaker is a three-way, four-driver design with two 8″ woofers (with sandwich-aluminum membranes), an AMT tweeter, and a 6″ midrange driver. The QR 7 is said to have one crossover component in series per driver, for what is said to be a very simple crossover network, one of the design goals.
The QR 7 is said to be 90.5dB sensitive, so it’s claimed to be compatible with tube and solid-state amplifiers. The speaker is shown above in Dark Walnut, though White Silk and Black Piano finishes are also available. The QR 7 is priced at €5700 per pair (including VAT). The QR 7 is the flagship of the QR line of speakers, with an entire range of QR speakers below it at varying, attractive prices—they all seem to offer great value.
Estelon’s new flagship, the Extreme MK II (€198,000 per pair), was on demo at High End 2022. This newly updated model contains two 11″ woofers, an 11″ midwoofer, a 7″ ceramic midrange, and a 1″ diamond tweeter. The power handling is 500W, the sensitivity is 91dB/2.83V, and the frequency response is rated at 25Hz to 60kHz.
There are myriad improvements in the Extreme MK II compared to the original model, including a new crossover design, new midrange and tweeter drivers, an adjustable tweeter feature (forward and backward movement) that is remote controllable, and another important functional improvement: each Extreme MK II ships as one piece, not two separate pieces (upper cabinet and lower cabinet), which is said to greatly reduce setup complexity and ease of handling. One other thing worth mentioning is that Doug Schneider and I agree that among the cost-no-object-type speakers shown at High End 2022, the Extreme MK II in the finish shown there was the most striking and beautiful.