The High End Show in Munich gets bigger every year, with new product launches from both big brands and niche companies alike, flaunting vintage designs and cutting-edge technologies.
As the name suggests, this show is catnip for anyone with a penchant for extravagant-looking and extravagantly priced hi-fi products. Scroll down to see a selection of our favourite - and in some cases wildly eccentric - products we spotted this year. From colourful horn speakers and skyscraper-like speakers to six-figure amplifiers and a turntable in a fish tank, we're pretty sure there's something for everyone.
Let's start with our new Munich High End Show tradition: finding the 50in subwoofer.
The gargantuan Ascendo SMSG50 has a 50in (127cm) driver, features 2500W of amplification, weighs 400kg and measures 180 x 170 65cm. It’s huge.
Who wouldn’t want these gigantic horn speakers blowing in their house? Standing over 7 feet tall, the Pnoe speakers by Arcadian Audio are available is a variety of finishes and are yours for £60,000.
We had to resist the urge to climb into them.
Avantgarde Acoustics never disappoints: their stunning range of horn speakers (pictured here are the TRIO XD) always turns heads.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Cambridge Audio’s new flagship Edge series makes its debut at the High End Show. Pictured here is the Edge A, a £4500 integrated amplifier, due out in June.
The Edge range was supposedly created with a ‘listen first, measure second’ ethos. Performance trumps considerations about price, specs and measurements and we can't wait to hear it in our test rooms.
Cambridge Audio's first ever product - the P40 integrated amplifier was (and still is) a beaut. The first amp in the world to use a toroidal transformer, the P40 was engineered by Professor Gordon Edge, after whom the 50th anniversary Edge series is named.
You can always rely on Dan D'Agostino to bring out the bling.
Relentless is its new reference monobloc. A behemoth 1500W power amp, Relentless weighs 220kg and will set you back an eye-popping $250,000 per pair. Out in June.
Dynaudio took the wraps off its revised Confidence speakers: Confidence 20 standmounters and Confidence 30, 50 and 60 floorstanders. Prices range from £11,000 to £35,000 and the new ‘midnight’, ‘smoke’ and ‘raven wood’ high gloss finishes look particularly fetching.
EAT (European Audio Team) - whose turntables are built by a specialist team within the Pro-Ject factory - put on quite an impressive display with its reference turntable.
We're big fans of bright yellow (or 'gold') finishes for our hi-fi. This superb EMT JPA 66 MkII pre-amplifier with a built-in phono stage can be used with any modern or heritage cartridge, has four phono inputs (two MM, two MC), two line level inputs, and RCA and XLR connections.
What's so special about this model? Well, besides the fact it looks amazing, you can adjust all the sound parameters on the fly thanks to over 10 phono adjustment dials. It can be yours for £42,000.
Active speakers and a turntable made out of concrete? Startup company Gravelli Bespoke Audio seems to think it's a good idea. Pictured here are Gravelli's Virtuoso active speakers and an EAT turntable complete with concrete plinth.
A rather lovely vintage-but-new Luxman CL38uC amplifier - we spent a lot of time flicking those switches and turning those dials.
More after the break
Mag-Lev's levitating turntable uses a clever arrangement of magnets and made another appearance at the High End Show. Funded by Kickstarter, pre-orders for the ML-1 are open now.
Canadian brand Moon had its new 390 all-in-one on show: it combines the functionality of the brand’s 350P pre-amp and 380D DAC with its latest network streaming architecture.
The 390 squeezes in a network streamer, DAC, preamp, headphone amp and MM/MC phono stage, supports CD-quality/hi-res streaming via Tidal Masters, Qobuz Sublime+ and Deezer Hi-Fi, has aptX Bluetooth, and is Roon Ready. Not bad for £4750.
Got half a million to spend? Burmester’s shiny new Signature series comprises its BC 350 speakers ($295,000), new flagship 159 mono power amps ($225,000 per pair) and the 175 turntable ($45,000) - all available towards the end of the year. You'd better start saving...
PMC's flagship Fact Fenestria speakers stand 1.7m tall and take inspiration from the way skyscrapers handle earthquake damage. High-mass damped side panels oppose and cancel out any vibrations coming from the main speaker assembly.
They also feature PMC's trademark transmission line bass-loading technology and Formula 1-inspired twin Laminair vents. Sounds like £45,000 well spent.
The Yellow Submarine is the latest Beatles-themed deck from Pro-Ject and was displayed in a rather fitting way at the Munich High End Show.
Ortofon has created a yellow Concorde cartridge, called Sonar, especially for the new design. The deck will cost £389 when it goes on sale later this year.
The new Astell & Kern A&norma SR15's off-kilter screen looks and makes much more sense when holding it in your hand. Norma can play hi-res files up to 24-bit/192kHz and will cost just over £500 when it's out this summer.
Quad's first ever headphones: the ERA-1 are planar magnetic headphones designed to capture the sonic advantages of electrostatic speakers. Specifically, Quad claims they're "similar in performance to the world famous ESL loudspeakers". A bold claim. Pricing is set to be around £650.
Meet “Bob”. Also known as Stein Music’s Top Line XL loudspeaker, “Bob” is a combination horn speaker with a matching ‘integrated’ subwoofer tower with 18in drivers delivering 3000W of amplification. Both speaker and sub stand 7 feet 6 inches tall.
A Studer reel-to-reel player, a welcome sight at any hi-fi show.
T+A is celebrating its 40th anniversary with new Criterion CTL range of speakers and this M 40 HV monobloc power amp (pictured). It's designed to meet the 'highest audiophile demands' - built with high-quality components, all amplifier stages of the M 40 HV are designed to operate in a purely linear fashion to minimise unwanted distortion. We suspect a hefty price tag.
Are we about to get new versions of the retro-tastic Wharfedale Denton 2s? These speakers - Denton 85 - are reinventions of the classic Denton 2s from the 1970s, and are due out later this year for a limited production.
MORE: Wharfedale Denton review
Kudos to Acoustic Signature for displaying one of the most visually impressive turntables at the show, the Invictus. Yours for €126,500.
Chord Electronics's brand-new Etude power amplifier brings the first major change to the company's amplifier design in 30 years, heralding "a new era for powerful, wide bandwidth, low noise and low distortion amplifiers".
We can't wait to hear how this £3900 amp sounds when it goes on sale this Autumn.
The massive Focal Grande Utopia EM Evo flagship speakers ($120,000) display a similar posture to us after three days at the Munich High End 2018 show.
Of all the eye-catching hi-fi designs we see at the Munich Show, Metaxas & Sins is definitely up there. Here's its new open reel tape recorder: the GQT. It's a is a 0.25in deck, running at 15in per second. No word on pricing just yet, but expect it to be suitably extravagant.
Many a blue checked shirt around the show has been camouflaged by Quad's fittingly-named ESL XL electrostatic speakers, which have an extra two panels over the legendary ESLs.
We spotted Audiolab's new 6000 range, as well as the teeny-tiny M-DAC Nano. Pictured here is the 6000A - at £600, it's the cheapest integrated amplifier that Audiolab has produced in years.
Avengers assembled! VPI's new Avenger turntable comes in three variations: Avenger (£10k), Avenger Plus (£15k) and Avenger Reference (£20k, pictured).