7 of the best hi-fi separates at High End Munich 2024

Quad 33 preamp and 303 power amp on display
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Never has the world of hi-fi separates seemed so wide-ranging and variable, both in design and price. At the High End Munich 2024 show this weekend, we spotted a dazzling variety of amplifiers, CD players, streamers and turntable products that impressed and tempted us.

What set this year's High End show apart from previous years is that it no longer feels the preserve of the mind-bogglingly expensive and ostentatious. Of course, impressively weird and wonderful hi-fi kit does still dominate the show, but the products we got most excited about from this year's launches include genuinely affordable, real-world-use electronics from the likes of Mission, WiiM and Pro-Ject.

Of course, that doesn't mean we weren't also salivating at the sight of Vertere's new innovation or at Quad reviving one of its iconic 60s-era electronics, whose space-age retro visuals look incredibly appealing. Without further ado, here's a list of our favourite hi-fi separates from High End Munich.

Mission 778CDT transport & 778S streamer

We’re already looking forward to Mission’s new additions to the 778 series that are set to launch this autumn. The 778CDT CD transport and 778S music streamer previewed at Munich are designed to match the very capable and likeable 778X integrated amp, and while details aren’t confirmed, the sturdy half-width chassis design, crisp screen and promise of most popular streaming methods (in the case of the 778S) are enough to whet our appetite. 

More appealingly, this promises the kind of compact hi-fi separates system that would fit in a normal-sized home without breaking the bank, especially if the new components remain close to the very reasonable £549 price of the 778X integrated.

Read the full story: Mission's 778 series CD transport and music streamer could be half-width hi-fi heroes

Quad 33/303 pre/power amplifier

We know even less about this retro-tastic Quad pre-power combo, but look at how gorgeous it looks.

Teased at Munich to see how visitors respond to the design, the Quad 33 pre and 303 power amplifiers are revivals of the iconic 1976 pre/power combo. It is inspired by the success of parent company IAG’s other retro-modern products (such as the Wharfedale Linton, Mission 770) and will likely have modern circuitry that is tuned to deliver a sonic character close to the original’s.

The appearance isn’t 100 per cent finalised, but we spy a headphone output on the preamp which the original didn’t. The pairing is expected to cost around £2500-£3000, but final details will be confirmed at the autumn launch. We do hope they keep the striking orange lights and accents to mirror the original design.

WiiM Ultra music streamer

We already know this is going to be a popular one. The WiiM Ultra is designed to be a step up over the winningly affordable Pro Plus music streamer, with more connections and features packed into its petite dimensions than seems possible. 

We had a short play at the show, and the touchscreen display is responsive to use – you swipe across the screen to get different views showing full album artwork, a now playing screen with track and sampling rate information, the playlist queue – while the home menu button takes you back to the menu and sources. The volume dial worked responsively as well during our twiddle. It has a reassuringly solid feel (especially for this price), while the aluminium-and-plastic-clad body strikes a good balance between smart and functional. Price? About $329 / AU$599.

Read the full story: WiiM Ultra and WiiM Amp Pro are updated, versatile, multi-tasking streaming units

NAD C 379 integrated amplifier

It's easy to get your head turned by all the extravagant, shiny and intricate hi-fi kit at the High End Munich show. But it would be a shame to judge a book by its cover and ignore the rather plain-looking but actually very versatile NAD C 379. Yes, it's a basic black aluminium box we've seen before, but under its hood lies 80 watts of Class D amplification and a wealth of connectivity including digital and analogue inputs from HDMI ARC to a phono stage. 

But its party trick is two module expansion slots at the back, where you can upgrade the amp with, say, BluOS network streaming with Dirac room correction and/or any emerging AV technologies as they come along. This level of versatility and future-proofing is certainly attractive and negates the need for multiple boxes or for the product you bought to be obsolete in just a couple of years. NAD says that this Modular Design Construction tech allows the C 379 amp to grow alongside the owner, maybe even encourage them to hand it down to the next generation to be fitted with The Next Big Thing in hi-fi tech. For £899, it’s a pretty good deal.

Read the full story: NAD reveals flexible, future-proofed C 379 amplifier ahead of High End Munich show

Pro-Ject Debut Evo 2 turntable

We see some of the most stunning turntables ever created at the show – from Transrotor's multi-storeyed decks to AVM's RGB colour-changing Rotation spinners – but it’s Project’s new Debut Evo 2 turntable that we kept getting drawn to, thanks to its attention-grabbing display of all the finishes on offer, from bright yellow to sophisticated dark green to a rather gorgeous new wine red shade. While many turntable brands offer a choice of finishes, we applaud Pro-Ject for offering such a wide variety of colourful hues and making the vinyl experience look more fun, appealing and accessible. 

The Evo 2 deck uses Project’s own Pick It MM Evo cartridge, has an 8-6in tonearm with new sapphire bearings, and can be yours for a fairly modest €699. We’re already wondering which finish will look best in our listening room…

Read the full story: Pro-Ject's eye-catching deck is here to put the colour back into your records

Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 600.2 integrated amp

Musical Fidelity has recently updated its flagship Nu-Vista range, with the 800.2 integrated amplifier boasting tube valves, mammoth 330W of power into 8 ohms and a hulking big chassis that acts as a Faraday cage to protect the internals from magnetic interference. 

There is now a smaller sibling launched at Munich: the Nu-Vista 600.2 integrated amplifier, which sports 300 watts of power into 4 ohms, ample analogue connectivity (line-level RCA and balanced XLR) and comes in a similarly bulky but impressive chassis with VU meters on the front panel. It is set to cost €9000, which is only slightly less expensive than its bigger brother's €11,990 price tag.

Vertere Calon phono stage

Look, this is the High End show after all, and no list would be complete without something outrageously expensive. The selection here has been fairly modest – well, relatively, considering the show's more illustrious exhibitors – but now it's time for Vertere Acoustics to end this list with a showstopper.

The Calon MM/MC is a carefully considered product, from its power supply to the dual mono construction. The four-layer amplification boards are packed with high-quality components chosen for their most accurate and musical properties, and the signal path from cartridge output to RIAA equalisation is unusual, but designed to "preserve the detail and dynamics inherent in the signal." There is ample adjustability for your chosen cartridge, too. And just look how beautifully neat the internals are.

It costs £15,500 / $19,995. Yes, just the phono stage. That might sound bonkers, but considering founder/designer Touraj Moghaddam's career highlights (which include the Award-winning DG-1S turntable and five-star Dark Sabre cartridge to the esteemed Roksan Xerxes), we imagine he's on to something special once again. Time to start saving up.


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Kashfia Kabir
Hi-Fi and Audio Editor

Kashfia is the Hi-Fi and Audio Editor of What Hi-Fi? and first joined the brand over 10 years ago. During her time in the consumer tech industry, she has reviewed hundreds of products (including speakers, amplifiers and headphones), been to countless trade shows across the world and fallen in love with hi-fi kit much bigger than her. In her spare time, Kash can be found tending to an ever-growing houseplant collection and hanging out with her cat Jolene.

  • Ian AV
    That QUAD 33/303 combo is like back to the future for me. I owned the original 33/303 back in 1974 bought for £145 or there abouts. My parents thought I was mad. Then I went out and bought a pair of the very first speakers with Air Motion Transformer (AMT) units. ESS AMT1's, 'sound as clear as light'. I still have them to this day, no longer in use though.