Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Have You Seen?


As I’m typing this, I’m in Munich, Germany, and it’s one day before High End 2023 opens. The show will run May 18 to 21.

Most people in the hi-fi industry agree that High End, which has been held annually in Munich for more than 15 years, is now the most important hi-fi trade and consumer show in the world. It wasn’t always that way. Until the mid-2010s, the annual CES in Las Vegas in January held sway. But starting around 2015, its influence in hi-fi began to wane. Today, CES is nothing for hi-fi, while High End is everything.

Munich arrivalMunich arrival

I’ve attended High End every year since 1999, when it was held in Frankfurt. There were exceptions, of course, in 2020 and 2021, when the show was cancelled due to the pandemic. But for 24 years, I’ve never missed one day of High End.

Jason Thorpe and Edgar Kramer have accompanied me to High End 2023. Today, we’ve been planning how we’ll gather as much information as possible for our readers—which is why we always come to Munich. This year, we’re going to implement some changes to improve our coverage.

High End is far too large to cover completely, so we know we must pick and choose what to feature in our reports. We also know we don’t want to do what we’ve done in previous years—prioritize quantity of product coverage. With a show this big, if you try to cover everything that’s new, you can’t provide as much information about each product. As far as we can tell, our readers like detail. There’s not enough time to cover everything in depth.

Edgar Doug JasonEdgar Kramer, Doug Schneider, and Jason Thorpe

This year, we’re going to increase the quality of our product coverage, even if it means we won’t cover as much. This also means we won’t structure our reports the same way we have in the past, where we’d group five to seven products into a single article and then write short captions about each. Instead, each new product will get its own report, with more photos and a more detailed description. I’m responsible for producing most of that coverage, though Edgar will help out.

Readers have also told us they’d like to have more listening impressions in our show reports. Frankly, that’s a challenge, because show conditions are rarely ideal for assessing the sound of a product. That makes it difficult to give an accurate depiction of a product, or products, within a system. In the past, we’ve shied away from focusing on what we heard, and focused instead on what we saw. But we realize that there will be many interesting systems on demonstration at High End, and that our readers will want to know how they sounded when we listened to them. Therefore, Jason Thorpe’s assignment is to suss out the most compelling demos at High End 2023. This is more or less what Jason did when the two of us covered Montreal Audiofest 2023 in March. For High End, Jason is taking a more deliberate approach than he did in Montreal. In Munich, Jason will listen to as many systems as he can and write about his experiences. So look for his insightful and entertaining accounts of what he hears.


Finally, we want to give our readers more of a flavor of the show. Munich is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and High End has a vibe that’s a thrill to experience. As the show goes on, we want to convey that vibe in our reports. Truth be told, right now we don’t know exactly how we’re going to do this. But it’s on our minds and our agendas, so I’m sure we’ll find a way.

Our coverage of High End starts on May 18, the first day of the show, and ends on May 21, the last day.

Doug Schneider
Founder, SoundStage!