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Munich High-End 2024: The Top, Top Fives, Part Two

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Munich High-End 2024: The Top, Top Fives, Part Two

Last week, we tasked Steve Dickinson, Simon Lucas, Ed Selley and Alan Sircom to pick their top five from Munich High-End, 2024. This week, it’s the turn of Jason Kennedy and Tom Martin.

We consciously avoided getting our reviewers to share their recommendations. Rather than avoiding repeats, we wanted to show if there was consensus. Also, with such a large show, the risk of repeats was relatively low. In fact, just one brand was picked by more than one reviewer—Alan Sircom and Tom Martin selected Constellation Audio in their respective top fives.

Picking just 30 (more accurately, 29) names from a show as vast as Munich High-End and all its satellites seems remarkably light. We could all probably pick a top 20 with equal ease. So, next week, there will be a best of the rest, covering everything from Nordost’s new Leif cables to MBL’s reworked flagship loudspeakers.

Jason Kennedy

Living Voice

, Munich High-End 2024: The Top, Top Fives, Part Two

Kevin Scott and company brought along the system first demonstrated at Ascot last year. It’s based around the Living Voice R80 floorstanding speakers, powered by SJS Electroacoustics valve amplification and the source in use whilst I was in the room was the huge Kuzma XL Air with its air bearing supported 44 kilo platter. This had Kuzma 4 Point and Safir arms with a CAR-60 cartridge in the latter. The sound of this system was easy, highly resolved, finely detailed and rich. Kevin played a wide range of records from Shostakovich to Fila Brazilia but it was the Lady Blackbird track that really made an impression, deep soul has rarely sounded so good.


, Munich High-End 2024: The Top, Top Fives, Part Two

EAR/Yoshino Germany always makes a good sound in one of the smaller rooms at High End and this year was no different. The system consisted of a source and loudspeakers that are no longer made which is a rash move but not one that produced an extremely open, fresh sound. The EAR turntable provided the source when I was there and this combined with EAR/Yoshino amps and Quad Musikweidergabe renovated ESL57 loudspeakers which are available for a very reasonable €6,890 plus €290 for the hardwood stands. Some newer examples from EAR/Yoshino included a closed or open-back headphone and a Class A headphone amp with output transformers that will soon be available.

Vivid Audio

vivid moya m1

I for one was very keen to hear by far the largest Vivid Audio loudspeaker yet created. The Moya M1 takes Lawrence Dickie’s damped, tapered tube design to its ultimate conclusion by including eight C225 bass drivers per channel, each with this form of termination behind it. These drivers match the 120dB potential of the mid and treble drivers at the lowest frequencies. Numbers expert Gracia Baco (pictured above) gave us some interesting stats about refinements made to the catenary dome drivers but it was the clean high-power sound of this Mola Mola powered system that blew me away.

MSB Technology


MSB Technology has a new Cascade DAC that comes in three chassis with an unusual distribution of jobs. The top and most attractively hewn unit contains all the digital electronics; controls, display, processor, inputs, power supply and analogue volume control. The middle unit connects via SFP optical and contains the ladder DAC, analogue inputs and discrete volume, the base unit is a power supply for the analogue section. This €115,000 design will replace the current Select DAC and was used with MSB M500 monoblock amps and Ikigai cables to drive Magico S3 loudspeakers. It proved to be one of the best digital systems I heard, with a total absence of glare and huge resolution delivered in a controlled fashion.

Vertere Acoustics


Touraj Moghaddam had a room in the Motorworld across the road from High End and managed to make some superb sounds despite its glass and concrete construction. He was there to announce the Calon phono stage, Vertere Acoustics’s most ambitious piece of electronics to date. This takes a piecemeal approach to gain, adding it both before and after the RIAA equalisation stage, with both sides being user-adjustable. By feeding a bigger signal to the EQ process this is said to result in lower losses and thus higher sound quality. Using an SG-1 turntable, a new SG-II PTA arm, FM Acoustics amps and PMC Fenestria speakers made a very good case for Calon.

Tom Martin

Linkwitz LX 521.4MG DAC/Amplifiers/Speakers

The Linkwitz active system rendered the spatial presentation of well-recorded music in a more convincingly “real” way than almost any other two channel product at Munich (and certainly better than a multi-channel system would). Linkwitz got the sound off the speakers, they presented the performers on a wide and deep stage and the performers were placed in a believable way. Maybe you’ve heard that said about stereo before, but I would advise hearing what the Linkwitz system can do to calibrate your understanding of the possible. That Linkwitz do this for around $20,000 Euro including amplifiers and DACs is stunning.

Borresen C3 Speakers with Aavik U-588 streamer/DAC/amplifier

Audio Group Denmark

Audio Group Denmark showed two new products together, the C3 floorstanding speaker (Euro 35,000) and the Aavik U-588 one box streaming integrated amp (also 35,000 Euro). The sound was dynamic, with notably tight, punchy bass and open mid-range. Detail was well-rendered and there was a sense of control to the sound that is missing from some systems that do dynamics well or systems that work on modern pop.

Martion Audiosysteme powered horn speakers

Basil Martion of Martion Audiosysteme showed a new powered 3-way full-range horn design. Showing complete disregard for convention, this Euro 75,000 prototype includes a DSP crossover feeding one class-A solid-state amp for each driver. The speakers themselves are very large, with a corner-loaded horn woofer and two flared horns for midrange and treble frequencies. On a wide variety of music, dynamics were a cut above most, if not all, of the other displays at Munich. Percussion simply sounded real in a way that allowed your mind move away from parametric hi-fi thoughts and toward a connection with the music.

Constellation Revelation Stereo Amplifier and Preamplifier with Wilson Sasha V speakers

Constellation Audio

Constellation Audio showed their new electronics featuring advanced switch-mode power supplies. Intriguingly, they chose to demonstrate products from the Revelation series, which is one up from the “basic” Inspiration Series. These were feeding the well-known Wilson Audio Sasha V speakers, which seems a good match from a pricing standpoint. More importantly, the sound, based on multiple listening sessions, was outstanding, with a sense of naturalness and verve that was beguiling. This is not an inexpensive system, but I sensed it might be the one a wide variety of listeners would find got the most elements right.

Wilson Audio Sasha V

Magico S5 Loudspeaker with Pilium electronics

Magico S5

The new Magico S5 (70,000 Euro estimated), which debuted in demonstration form at Munich, delivered a level of purity that stood well above the crowd. One of the challenges of show listening is separating the room effects from intrinsic qualities of the equipment. Purity, which we could more casually call low distortion, tends to be less determined by show conditions and more by the gear itself, though the noise level at shows makes this challenging to hear. In any event, I was able to hear the S5s, driven by the giant Pilium Zeus power amp, late in the day and it was quite impressive in a way that is rare at shows.

Part One

Part Three

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