High End 2017 - Munich, Germany
- Written by Super User Super User
- Parent Category: High End 2017 High End 2017
- Created: 21 May 2017 21 May 2017
Companies featured in gallery below: Hegel Music Systems, Gato Audio, Ayre Acoustics, Pro-Ject, McIntosh Laboratory, EMM Labs, Totem Acoustic, Auralic, Alluxity, Furutech, SGR Audio, Wharfedale
All prices in euros (€) or US dollars ($) unless otherwise indicated.
Hegel Music Systems' new H90 (est. $2000) is an updated version of the company's outgoing H80. The H90 differs from the H80 in that it has a network input and will accommodate AirPlay and DLNA streaming. A headphone output has been added, too, and sound quality is said to be improved over the H80 due to the inclusion of SoundEngine2 circuitry. Power output is 60Wpc into 8 ohms, and it's apparently stable into 2 ohms.
Gato Audio showed two new three-way floorstanding loudspeakers, the larger FM-50 (€7500/pr.) and . . .
. . . the smaller FM-30 (€5500/pr.). Both feature the company's FuseMass cabinet construction and user-adjustable crossover controls -- Detail, Focus, and Bass -- that help better integrate the speakers into the room. Both models are made in Denmark, which is apparent . . .
. . . in the fine build quality seen in the small details.
Ayre Acoustics used High End 2017 to introduce a new entry-level series of electronics -- the 8 series. First up is the AX-8 DAC-integrated amplifier ($7500), which is rated to output 80Wpc into 8 ohms. The AX-8 incorporates Ayre's Double Diamond output stage, an AyreLock power supply, three analog inputs, three digital inputs, and a streaming module. Second is the . . .
. . . QX-8 digital-to-analog converter ($4500), which includes a digital volume control and nine digital inputs. Like the AX-8 integrated, this, too, has a streaming module. Both the AX-8 and QX-8 will be available in the fall of 2017.
Pro-Ject Audio Systems displayed the 175 Vienna Philharmonic Recordplayer at High End. This model commemorates the 175th anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic, founded in 1842, and will be limited to 175 pieces. The wood used -- in this case maple -- is the same type of wood used in classical musical instruments. The lacquer is said to be the same used for violins. The two finishes available are Dark Cello (shown) and Bright Violin. The price is €7000 in either finish, including a tonearm and a specially made Ortofon cartridge.
We caught sight of a couple of new McIntosh Laboratory products. The first we saw was the the MT2 turntable ($2500), a lower-priced alternative to the company's MT5 ($6500) and MT10 ($9500) turntable. The scaled-down M2T will be a welcome sight for those looking to complete their full McIntosh system with an vinyl source, but at an affordable price. The prices include a tonearm but no cartridge. Then there was the . . .
. . . MA8900 integrated amplifier ($7500). The MA8900 features what the company refers to as McIntosh Monogrammed Heatsinks, which have better thermal behavior than previous designs, as well as a higher-quality finish. The MA8900 is rated to deliver 200Wpc into 8, 4, or 2 ohms. The digital input section of the MA8900 is deemed the DA1, which is a module that can be upgraded by McIntosh should the need ever arise -- and it almost always does with quickly evolving digital technology.
EMM Labs, founded by legendary audio designer Ed Meitner, used High End 2017 to release an updated version of the DAC2X digital-to-analog converter: the DAC2X V2. Running at eight times the speed of DSD (i.e., DSD512), the DAC2X V2 uses Meitner-designed single-bit DACs and uses the company's latest-generation technologies for upsampling (MDAT2), jitter removal (MFAST), and reclocking (MCLK). The DAC2X V2 has numerous digital inputs: one USB, one AES/EBU, two coax, two optical, and one EMM Optilink, which all support PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD64. In addition, the USB input can support DXD and DSD128, while the EMM Optilink input can support SACD playback in addition to PCM when connected to an EMM Labs transport. Although the DAC2X V2 represents an upgrade over the original DAC2X, the price remains the same at $15,500.
EMM Labs has shown prototypes of the MTRX2 mono amplifier at previous shows, but the design is now 100 percent complete and High End 2017 was the kickoff for it. "Conservatively rated at 800W into 4Ω," the MTRX2 is said to keep total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) and intermodulation distortion (IMD) to less than 0.005 percent, and is also claimed to be stable down to 1 ohm, which means it can likely drive any loudspeaker on the market today. The MTRX2 is a hefty beast, weighing 180 pounds, and it sells for $85,000/pair.
Totem Acoustic used High End 2017 for the European debut of the Sky Tower (it was first shown at the 2017 Montréal Audio Fest, in March). Priced at $2500/pr., the model is available in three different finishes -- Black Ash, Satin White, and Mahogany. The two-way has a 1.3" soft-dome tweeter and 5.25" midrange-woofer allied to a second-order crossover. The Sky Tower comes with a magnetic grille for a clean front cabinet profile, as well as Totem’s signature Claw isolation feet.
Totem Acoustic also showed the upscale Tribe Tower (it was first shown in Montréal as well). Pictured here with Totem's founder and chief designer, Vince Bruzzese, the Tribe Tower is available in two versions -- the gourmet, $6000/pr. version shown in the photo is available in premium Dusk and Ice multi-coat polyester-paint finishes, and comes with annealed aluminum rear terminal plates and WBT four-way binding posts. The standard version retails for $5000/pr.
Electronics manufacturer Auralic debuted the first two models of an impressive four-component digital stack. The Vega G2 streaming DAC retails for €6299 and features galvanic isolation, a fully passive volume control, and an Orfeo class-A output module. The streamer has Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Tidal support built in, and is also Roon Ready. The Vega G2 has both single-ended and balanced outputs, as well as the usual array of digital inputs that accept sample rates up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM, and up to DSD512. Of particular note are the Vega’s dual Femto master clocks, for practically jitter-free operation. Auralic also introduced . . .
. . . the Aries G2 wireless streaming transport (€4199). The G2 is powered by a 1.2Ghz quad-core processor with 2GB of system memory and 8GB of internal data storage, and there's an internal bay for an optional 2.5" HDD/SSD to be installed. Network inputs include Gigabit Ethernet, as well as tri-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Like the matching Vega, the Aries includes dual Femto clocks and dual linear power supplies. Both of the handsome new Auralic models will be available in September.
Alluxity introduced its Mono-One mono amplifier, a class-AB, fully balanced design that eschews feedback of any kind. It develops 250W into 8 ohms, with a peak power rating of 720W into a 4-ohm load. The pictured Titanium Orange finish looked fantastic, and it joins Black and White as standard colors for the Mono-One. The projected price when released should be approximately €20,000/pr.
Furutech brought its top-shelf NCF-series connectors here to Munich. NCF, which stands for Nano Crystal2 Formula, is a special crystalline material that has two active properties, and the company's literature claims it has a twofold benefit: "First, it generates negative ions that eliminate static and secondly, it converts thermal energy into far-infrared." The three-pronged, silver-plated carbon-fiber connectors in the foreground, from left to right, are the FI-50 NCF (€349), FI-E50 NCF (€349), and FI-50M NCF (€349). The IEC extenders in the rear are the FI-C15 NCF (€74) on the left and the F1-C15(G) (€49) on the right. Furutech also showed off its . . .
. . . nifty little cable elevator, holder, and clamp, which has a "multi-material hybrid construction," and like the aforementioned connectors, also features NCF technology. This device is yet to be released, so its price is to be announced.
Australian manufacturer SGR Audio showed its new Discovery series here in Munich, and it looks very promising. The series is composed of the DS1 two-way standmount (€8000/pr., stands included), DS2 two-way floorstander (€9000/pr.), DS3 2.5-way floorstander (€10,500/pr.), and flagship DS4 three-way floorstander (€16,500/pr.). Notably, each model . . .
. . . features an inlaid aluminum front baffle and waveguide, but an optional carbon-fiber version, shown on the DS4, is available for an extra sum. The standard finishes include Satin White, Matte Black, and Gloss Black, though the company also offers custom finishes for a 20 percent surcharge. We were very impressed by the exceptional build quality all the models exhibited, particularly because Discovery is the company's "entry level" line. The Discovery series is available now.
Wharfedale, of England, debuted the newest version of its Diamond 11 series of loudspeakers. The line has three very affordable bookshelf models: the 11.0 (€199/pr.), 11.1 (€349/pr.), and 11.2 (€449/pr.). The fit and finish looked phenomenal despite their modest asking prices. Three . . .
. . . floorstanding models were also announced -- 11.5, 11.4, and 11.3 -- but pricing and details were TBD. The bookshelf offerings will be available in mid-to-late August, with floorstander availability coming one month later. It should also be noted that two center-channel speakers will flesh-out the remainder of the range at some point in the future, but they weren't shown here in Munich.