SoundStage! Australia’s High End Munich 2018 10 Favourite Exhibits… And Special Mentions

Now that the dust has settled on the largest high-end audio show, it’s time for SoundStage! Australia to ponder in retrospect on some of the best displays at this year’s audio fest. The SoundStage! Network team presented an industry-leading report with excellent images and comprehensive information here. Our game plan strategy was for me to focus on covering Australian products (see Feature article here) and then author a ‘Favourite 10’ piece post-HEM. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favourite rooms…

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The Australian Audio Contingent at High End Munich 2018

While the gathering of the world’s audio community sees companies from around the world congregating at the MOC Munich I, while of course shuffling to see as much as is possible under the almost overwhelming audio fare, had a particular interest in home-grown exhibitors. Our SoundStage! Network’s multiple part report (link here) covers nigh on the entirety of High End 2018’s smorgasbord of quality audio offerings, so here I concentrate on some scrumptious savourings from Down Under. By the way, although Döhmann Audio is not part of the story because the company did not exhibit, I came across several rooms where the Helix turntables were used as the analogue source. Kudos Herr Döhmann!

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SoundStage! Australia at High-End Munich 2018

And the greatest audio Show on Earth begins! And yes, SoundStage! Australia via the prestigious SoundStage! Network, will have one of the most comprehensive show reports on the planet. We’ll be featuring the latest releases from the best brands in high-end audio. That will be our angle and focus for 2018. (You’ll find the SoundStage! Network’s extensive High-End Munich 2018 report here).

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Record Store Day at Len Wallis Audio

Record Store Day 2018, which fell on Saturday April 21, was celebrated throughout Australia with live music events, vinyl sales rich with bulging bargain bins and general black disc camaraderie. At one of Sydney’s high-end audio institutions, Len Wallis Audio – with the man himself being there to meet and greet – the celebrations saw Mark Döhmann debuting the new Döhmann Helix 2 turntable while also making an appearance on the day were the superb Brigadiers Audio BA-2 standmount speakers by renowned engineer Brad Serhan.

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Melbourne International Hi-Fi Show 2017 - Part Four

The Pure Music Group and Sonic Purity’s system configuration was extremely well-chosen. Analogue was fluid and musical via an all-Kuzma rig (just over AU$23K) while digital sounded equally enticing with the Antipodes Audio DX Gen 3 Music Server (AU$6900) and Playback Designs’ Merlot DAC (AU$9100). Amplification used was all Audionet in the PAM G2 Phono Stage (AU$8,500), EPX Power Supply (AU$8,500), PRE G2 preamplifier (AU$21,200) and Audionet MAX Monoblocks (AU$28,000). Speakers were the medium-sized floorstanding Gauder Akustik Cassiano Mk II in gorgeous Makassar Ebony (AU$22,700) while cabling was via Argento Flow. The massively-built Ictra Designs KEO rack from Germany looked extremely serious with a commensurate price at AU$54,900! Kii Audio KiiTHREE speakers were on static display at the time of my visit.

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Melbourne International Hi-Fi Show 2017 - Part Three

The Sound Gallery in conjunction with Absolute Hi End showed a system par excellence. A Gold Note turntable package including the PH-10 phono stage was the analogue source of choice while digital was provided via DigiBit Aria 2, Weiss DAC502 and Bel Canto. The Bel Canto Black EX amplification was cycled with the excellent new Audia Flight FLS-10 integrated while speakers were Franco Serblin’s speaker-porn Accordo and Wilson Benesch Endeavour standmounts. Tara Labs provided the wiring throughout while GigaWatt was the AC filtering of choice. A welcoming and enveloping sound in this room.

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Melbourne International Hi-Fi Show 2017 - Part Two

Sennheiser Australia had a multiple headphone display (including a showing of the new HDV 820 digital headphone amplifier) while also holding private sessions showcasing the masterpiece flagship HE 1 system.

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Melbourne International Hi-Fi Show 2017 - Part One

Now in its second year, the Melbourne International Hi-Fi Show has firmly made its mark on the audio show calendar in this country. And indeed that mark is a robust one and may become indelible; the show is efficiently organised, is well-supported by exhibitors and enjoys a wide demographic including future audio enthusiasts.

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Sonic Purity with the Pure Music Group

The showroom of an audio distributor is not what generally comes to mind when you think of ‘sonic purity’. In reality, your average audio showroom sound is frequently sullied by the reverberation of a dodgy commercial drywall partition job or by the noise of a home theatre system blaring down the hall. Combine that with the bothersome clamber of other patrons and the low-level bass blur from all the passive movement of the drivers of every unused speaker randomly crammed into the corners, and you’ve got a recipe for sonic disaster.

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Nocturnal Vision – SoundStage! Australia at the KEF LS50W Nocturne Launch in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, among the coolest and most beautiful cities in Europe with its iconic channel-seared winding network ever-circling, was the locale for the launch of the new KEF LS50W Nocturne. I, along with press from around Asia and Europe, was invited to attend the event which was launched by KEF Managing Director Grace Lo. The new special edition speaker, a variant of the highly successful original design, has been created via a symbiotic spawning from the technical and artistic minds of Dr Jack Oclee-Brown KEF’s Head of Acoustic Engineering and one of Europe’s leading high-end designers Marcel Wanders.

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Tokyo International Audio Show 2017 (TIAS) – 10 Of Note

The following short report and photography was kindly submitted by John Ong*.

Japanese are serious people, they take everything seriously and that attitude was clearly evident at the Tokyo International Audio Show.  It could be seen in the way the show was organised. The rooms sounded a lot better than most other shows I have attended over the years around the world. The attendees were very polite and understanding. They are also surprisingly engaging, or try to be, despite the difficulties of the language barrier. Throughout the three days of the show it was clear that concerted efforts were made to improve the sound while always complying with visitors’ requests and questions.

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HQ Visit – dCS, Cambridge, United Kingdom

While many high-end audio companies offer digital products alongside a wider variety of electronics and speaker systems, dCS (Data Conversion Systems) of Cambridge in the United Kingdom is a specialist manufacturer dedicating its considerable engineering and design expertise to a single pure aim: the reproduction of digital playback at its utmost pinnacle.

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