We found 5 surprisingly affordable hi-fi gems at High End Munich

Meze in ear headphones on a table
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

High End Munich 2024 is coming to a close, and despite what the name suggests, our team on the ground has found a wealth of surprisingly affordable hi-fi on the showroom floor.

But, with most of it yet to pass through our listening rooms, and more than a few questionable items having made their debut at the show, knowing which products are worth your attention can be tricky. Here, to help you find the diamond in the rough, we have created this guide detailing the top affordable hi-fi we’ve seen at the show and are excited about.

The Meze Alba 

Meze Audio Alba in-ear wired headphones

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Meze lifted the lid on its surprisingly affordable new Alba in-ear headphones at High End, and from what we have seen they could be a cracking option for hi-fi fans on a more realistic budget. 

The Alba was unveiled alongside the more premium 105 AER open-back, over-ear headphones and a new white finish alternative for the brand's flagship planar magnetic headphones. 

Set to launch later this year, they will cost around £150/€150 (we are chasing Meze for the final retail price). That may sound expensive for non-hi-fi fans, but when you consider its other cabled in-ears, the Advar, retails for £649/$699 and the flagship Empyrean II costs £2749/$2999, it doesn't seem quite so steep.

For your cash, the brand is promising you will be treated to “the unmistakable Meze sound: a neutral sound profile with an added touch of warmth." As an added bonus, the headphones are also bundled with a USB-C adapter with a built in DAC, which will be a welcome bonus for people who want to use them with their phone. 

Hopefully, we’ll get to hear how they perform in the real world and our listening rooms soon.

The Q Acoustics 3000c series


(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Q Acoustics has a strong record of developing great-value speakers. Look at our best speakers and best surround sound package buying guides and you will see plenty of examples. 

At Munich, the company has clear plans to keep this trend alive, with the unveiling of its new 3000c line of speakers. The new line includes three standmount models in increasing sizes, one floorstanding pair and a centre channel for creating a home cinema package. Pricing for the smallest stereo speaker option starts at £329/$399, which makes them a reasonably affordable option for people just starting their hi-fi journey.

Q Acoustics also has some pretty bold aspirations for the new speakers, saying to our writers on the ground that the line will offer “a sonic performance and high-quality design and build way beyond its class."

Sadly we didn't get a chance to listen to them at the show, but on paper there’s enough there to get us excited. The headline feature is the inclusion of the same Continuous Curved Cone (C3) midrange/bass driver as the five-star 5050 and 5040. If they can replicate even a smidgen of what makes those speakers great, then they could easily earn a place in our best budget speakers guide when they launch later this year.

The only slight downside is that, despite being cheap, as pointed out by many of you our lovely readers, they are a lot more expensive than past 3000 series speakers. 

The Elac Debut 3.0 

The Elac Debut 3.0 line up at the Munich High End Show

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

German brand Elac also launched a new line of affordable speakers at Munich lifting the lid on its new Debut 3.0 line. The series is set to include two sizes of two-way bookshelf speakers, two sizes of three-way floorstanders, two centre channel options and an upward firing Atmos speaker. Unlike Q Acoustics’ 3000c line we don’t currently have pricing for every speaker, but what we do know paints a pretty picture, with the various options floating between €219-€399 per speaker.

The price is pretty good when you look at the Debut 3.0 line’s specification and Elac’s strong record of creating great-sounding, affordable speakers. Highlights include the use of a new 25mm aluminium-dome tweeter, which will work with the same aramid-fibre woofers used in the previous version. Considering how much we love the firm’s older Debut B5.2 we can’t help but get a little excited about the new Debut 3.0. Here’s hoping they deliver the goods when we get them in for review.

The WiiM Ultra and WiiM Amp Pro 

WiiM Ultra streamer with touchscreen display

(Image credit: WiiM)

WiiM is rapidly becoming a favourite among our readers, with our forums and social channels being flooded with questions about its products. Which is why we were very happy to see it unveil not one, but two new products at High End Munich

Specifically, it unveiled its new WiiM Ultra streamer and Amp Pro. The streamer is a completely different beast to the firm’s older, Award-winning WiiM Pro Plus. The new model has a reworked design which includes a lovely touchscreen display and  an upgraded DAC, which can handle hi-res audio files up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD512.

Meanwhile, the Amp Pro is a tweaked version of the original, that addresses “user feedback”. Key changes include unspecified upgrades to its internal circuits and minor cosmetic changes. Outside of this, it features a Class D amplifier that outputs 60W per channel into 8 ohms, and file resolution support up to 32-bit/384kHz. 

WiiM has confirmed that the Ultra will cost $329 / AU$599, while the WiiM Amp Pro will retail at $369 / AU$699 when they launch in Q3 this year.

The Activo P1

Activo P1

(Image credit: Astell & Kern)

Astell & Kern unveiled a new Activo P1 portable music player at Munich High End. Activo is a subsidiary of Astell & Kern dedicated to more affordable hardware. The P1 is a successor to the older Activo CT10. 

Pricing hasn’t been announced, but based on the older model we are expecting it to be cheaper than anything in Astel & Kern’s main portfolio; which means it should be less than the SR35, which retails for £799 / $799 / AU$1299.

If we're right, then, based on its specifications, it will be a direct rival to the Sony NW-A306 we reviewed and gave four stars to last year. Key stats include a quoted 20-hour battery life, support for 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 audio files and 4.1-inch touch-screen input.


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Alastair Stevenson
Editor in Chief

Alastair is What Hi-Fi?’s editor in chief. He has well over a decade’s experience as a journalist working in both B2C and B2B press. During this time he’s covered everything from the launch of the first Amazon Echo to government cyber security policy. Prior to joining What Hi-Fi? he served as Trusted Reviews’ editor-in-chief. Outside of tech, he has a Masters from King’s College London in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion, is an enthusiastic, but untalented, guitar player and runs a webcomic in his spare time.