Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

May 3-6, 2012

All prices in euros unless indicated otherwise

The Growing Disconnect Between High Fidelity and the High End

The world is indeed a smaller place these days. Social media has connected people from all walks of life and makes for the instant transfer of information around the world. Technology is, in fact, the vehicle for the convergence of cultures and the examination of disparate ideas by diverse groups of people even worlds apart. Our connectedness and its effect on our lives are unprecedented in human history.

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High-End In-Ear Hi-Fi: Sennheiser's IE 800 Earphones

Sennheiser's new IE 800 earphones so intrigued me when I shot them for our product coverage that I went back to my hotel, grabbed my B&W C5 earphones, and then went back to compare the two through listening. The IE 800s are priced at 600€, the C5s at 179€. I use the C5s all the time. Could the 800s be that much better and worth that much more?

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The Mystery of Qualia & Co.

Qualia & Co.'s marketing department is based in Los Angeles, their materials research is conducted in France, and their products are designed and manufactured in Japan. The products' prices and build quality are extreme by anyone's standards. So just who is behind Qualia & Co.?

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KEF's Killer Compact Monitor: The LS50

KEF's new LS50 speaker is said to be a modern-day homage to the classic BBC-designed LS3/5A monitor that was created in the '70s and used KEF-made drivers. It was, at least to some, the ultimate nearfield monitoring tool. To others, like me, it was an interesting little speaker, but with some problems. Perhaps more important, I'm a "minimonitor" guy, but I never wanted a pair of those. I'm not sure why; it's just that nothing about it excited me. But I can't say the same thing about the LS50. Read on . . .

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Tidal’s Watershed Moment: The Agoria Loudspeaker

There are watershed moments that can mark a shift in a company's direction. Certainly, when Tidal Audio of Germany introduced their Sunray loudspeaker back in 2003, that product informed Tidal's offerings for almost a decade. But time and technology march on, and yesterday's flagship is, well, yesterday's news. The brand-new Tidal Agoria might just signal the next watershed moment in Tidal's relatively short history of competing in the Age of the Superspeaker.

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King of the Gryphons: The Pendragon Loudspeaker

It was 2004 when I first heard the Gryphon Poseidon four-tower loudspeaker system (then $130,000 USD per pair). I was the first reviewer in the world to hear that speaker, as I traveled to Gryphon's home in Denmark for just that purpose after that year's Munich-based High End show in Germany (at that time, High End was held in Frankfurt). That listening session was an experience not to be missed -- the sound I heard that day left quite an impression. I remember coming away from that visit thinking that Gryphon had accomplished a remarkable feat: a company known mostly for its exceptional electronics had successfully transitioned into the realm of the superspeaker. That does not happen very often.

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More Magico, Less Money: The S5 Loudspeaker

High End 2012 began on Thursday, May 3, but on Wednesday Doug Schneider and I attended the German premier of Magico's S5 loudspeaker, held at Life Like HiFi Studios, a retailer that seemingly carries every audio product under the sun. (The Magico event was sponsored by German distributor Audio Components.) We attended the event because Magico was promoting the S5 as having the highest price/performance ratio of any speaker they've ever offered. We were obviously anxious to hear just what the buzz was about and to decide for ourselves if it was indeed true. The S5 retails for $28,600 per pair in the United States.

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