Munich High-End Audio 2015 show highlights and report

Emails and messages are flying in all the time regarding the the commentary of the show. Let me open with these initial comments…
Overall sound? Well some manufacturers and exhibitors finally figured out, that in spite of non perfect room acoustics  conditions they can and must make anything possible to ensure at least some level of high performance reproduction and showing what their products can offer. I simply don’t buy into every year repeated excuses of impossible conditions and presentation. Yes, its though. Yes its not perfect. Still. Why then some of the exhibitors goes all the way in ensuring all possible in fighting the un avoided?
The answer might be simple. Many of exhibitors still didn’t realised that Munich became the epicentre of high-end society. It is a bridge between the west and east, in the mids and the place where especially visitors from Asia love to come. There is no doubt about German punctuality. Its is in their DNA. In this year meetings with friends and collaborators from Eastern side of the globe most of them expressed the complications and non ideal dealings with the CES etc. (visas, instant price increases during the show …). They love coming to Europe and love the effectiveness of the show. 

Thats should do for the open act ranting. Now to the first sound comments.


We’re always wanted hankering for the news and highly anticipate to experience flagships and statement products from few established and renowned brands. Magico is surely among the top. Everyone is expecting something special and in the league of their own when it comes to this brand. This years Magico highlight should be Magico S7 speakers. I’ve tried to find the virtues and returned for the listening many times. But! This was not only my comment, but repeated in and contemplated during the show with people calling me in rechecking of their conclusions. 
Sadly S7 speakers presentation and sound was wrong. A debacle. Wrong on so many fronts. One of non helping things was clearly an issue of wrong phase, that was corrected. Still… Even after the new outcome and 2-3 days burring/settling in these speakers performance were simply nowhere near of what not only me but most of attendees expected to be. To keep the things in the right perspective I’ll give an objective comparing. Soulution and Magico Q7 brought the expect performance on a certain level and I’ve wrote that on my first days direct covering. 
For what Magico represent in industry and for what it should as one of the industry leaders this was for me a clear UN-HIGHLIGHT of the show. They would go better with a silent presentation as did Tidal with their new uber expensive flagship Lassoluta speakers. 


The constant debate on this year show was the industry standard. In past (two) decade high-end audio industry clearly lost its focus and clear grounds. We don’t have an industry standard or reference level to talk about. Everyone these days seems to able to claim the high-end audio status and self proclaimed labelling. And the many of fellow writers are not helping much in this regard :). The situation in high-end audio society reflects  the baron/duke titles in UK. In the past you actually needed to meet certain standards to be even considered for such title. These days you can buy it for 2500 GBP. Similar dealings in our industry is completely wrong and it throws the dark shadow on our industry.  

ZELLATON speakers AND BFA (Beyond Frontiers Audio)

Zellaton speakers are without a doubt a uber hot item and desired by many across the globe. They encompass the German design quality and builds on the very interesting heritage. 
The sound? With the analog front end it was no where near of the expected. It was a bad choice of components synergy and outcome was on mediocre level. 
When switched to digital front end from BFA things changed drastically. Presentation become an airy, ethereal and finally shown some portion of the grander scale that I’ve experienced two shows back at a private listening of Analog Domain Isis prototype and Zellaton Reference speakers. The choice of music was projected in a too narrowing way, so it was not easy to really get the complete full range scale insight and experience. 
I know BFA gear and whats is capable of and Zellaton clearly partnered with them for obvious reasons. When aligned with right music the experience lingered for quite some tim. 


Kaiser Kawero Classic Loudspeakers with Brilliant edition external crossover (Duelund CAST silver parts) were bi-amped with (another highly wanted) Engström and Engström The Lars Modell II amplifiers (4 units for Biamping 32 k€ each) via Monica preamplifier and flagship TotalDac D1-twelve DAC with Totaldac server and Kronos Sparta Kronos Sparta turntable acting as analog front end. 
This room was a great example that taking a step further in dealing with hubris of show conditions matters. Its never perfect, but for those with a bit deeper understanding and an insightful eye for discovering cleverly hidden accessories it was instantly clear, that the exhibitors walked not one, but ten extra miles. 
This vividly reflected with the sound and musical experience. Kaiser Kawero/Engström and Engström/TotalDac was for sure one of the highlights at the show for both the sound experience and what they represent. 
And there is one more thing (in a Steve Jobs manner). Before the torrents of good willing energy starts traveling towards me let me get it literate. Room acoustics and balance was set and aligned for the given amounts of seats and attendees actually sitting.
Now, when the crowd was moving from one side to another and forming the mass on the certain point of the room the balance was not the same. And one could hear this instantly. Later, towards the end of the show I’ve daily recheck the personal highlights and the actual results proven my point.
I really want to experience the Kaiser Kawero speakers in my home situation and put them under the scope. We arranged for the Chiara with Kaiser Kawero’s Rainer Weber. Soon after the show the special version of Chiara (silver) will be sent to Mono & Stereo. Very excited…
Let this be an introduction with more to come very soon…


And few reactions:

Ed van der Ploeg: I don’t understand why the presentation of such expensive gear can’t be much better. I have been to the show in the year 2012 and 2013 and there was the same problem. Unbelievable.

Stefano Berruti: Main problems of the Magico S debacle where created by the weak solution amplifiers, as they where doing the same (bad) work with the big Estellon…


Dear Mr. Isak

“The sound? With the analog front end it was no where near of the expected. It was a bad choice of components synergy and outcome was on mediocre level.“

I absolutely agree with your statement about the performance of the Platine Verdier in the Zellaton demonstration.

I’m the German distributor of this turntable for almost 30 years and can say that this turntable would not have the status of a legend when this quality would be the standard. Here, it was a modified version by a modifyer with his parts: additional upper black platter, tonearm board, tonearm, cartridge. We received a lot of feedback by owners of a Platine Verdier who claimed that there was something dramatically going wrong. 

It seemed to be the target of the modifyer to sell upgrade parts along his feeling for being right. That this is definately not the failure of the Platine Verdier. If this turntable is not able to outperform a digital demonstration there is something very wrong.

With best regards

Keith Aschenbrenner
Auditorium 23