If there is one time of year to circle on your hi-fi calendar, it’s May. That is the month when High End Munich tends to happen and all that is wonderful in the world of hi-fi comes together under one roof at the MOC Event Center.
Normally, there is no shortage of interesting product launches to attend and 2023 was no different. In fact, we are struggling to think of a High End show when there were as many launches in all the core areas What Hi-Fi? covers. The show not only gives us an idea of the general trends that are happening in the industry but also of what might be coming through our test rooms in the next few months.
And there were a few new speakers that certainly caught the eye. Of course, many boasted eye-wateringly high price tags – this is the High End show after all – but there were others that we would consider within reach for us mere mortals. Here are our highlights…
JBL L100 Classic MkII
It was a case of double the fun from JBL at High End Munich with the MkII versions of its JBL L100 Classic (left) and L82 Classic (right). The originals both fared well in our test rooms and now we have updated versions, which feature JBL's “Performance Package”. The package promises a number of internal upgrades, including upgraded drivers and crossover. JBL claims all the changes add up to a big step up in performance.
Sonus Faber Stradivari (2nd Gen)
On show in a hotel in central Munich, we had to be physically pulled away from the second-generation Sonus Faber Stradivari. Powered by a rack of McIntosh amplification, the new Stradivari £45,000 (€50,000 / $50,000 / AU$89,995) looked absolutely stunning (and didn’t sound too bad either). We can’t wait to get a pair in our test rooms.
Musical Fidelity LS3/5A
Musical Fidelity’s LS3/5A (£2349 / €2499, pictured) is a two-way standmounter, built according to a BBC R&D design from 1976. It’s a squat, closed-box design with a 19mm tweeter dome and an 11cm woofer. The original BBC model was initially made for smaller, space-restricted areas such as TV mobile control rooms before becoming popular with audio enthusiasts. How will Musical Fidelity’s version sound? We can’t wait to find out.
McIntosh ML1 MKII
Retro-modern was one of the big themes at High End Munich this year (again), and McIntosh was one of the brands with a reimagined speaker based on an old classic. The four-way speaker uses five separate drivers: a 30cm (12 inch) woofer, two 10cm lower midrange drivers, one 5cm soft dome upper midrange driver, and a 2cm Titanium dome tweeter.
Meridian used High End Munich as a launch platform for its brand new DSP9 loudspeakers. They boast a new-look aesthetic, based on “the geometry of the eclipse”, which the company claims also helps when it comes to sound. Spaces inside the cabinet enhance performance, while the curvature reduces unwanted sound diffraction produced by the drive units. It is also packed with proprietary tech and, thanks to Meridian’s Select service, can be painted in the colour of your choosing.
Dali Epikore 11
Dali’s new Epikore 11 borrows much of the tech found in the company's high-end flagship Kore speakers. This includes Dali’s SMC Gen-2 magnet material tech, which is used in Kore’s bass and midrange drivers. It also borrows the EVO-K hybrid tweeter which partners a 35mm soft dome with Dali’s ultra-thin ribbon tweeter. Add four 20cm bass drivers and a 16cm midrange, and you’ve got an impressive-looking tower.
PMC kept things relatively simple at Munich with a new, two-strong speaker range named Prodigy. Consisting of the prodigy1 standmounter (£1250, left) and prodigy5 floorstander (£1995, right) the new series traces its lineage all the way back to PMC's QB1 flagship studio monitors. They share similar visual cues and also include similar technologies such as Laminair, a special vent tech that promotes more efficient airflow and aims to deliver improved bass performance and dynamics.
Q Acoustics 5000 Series
High End Munich saw the first public outing for a whole new range of speakers from Q Acoustics. The 5000 Series is positioned between the 3000i range and the Concept series and consists of five models: the 5010 bookshelf; 5020 standmount; 5040 floorstander; 5050 large floorstander; and 5090 centre-channel. The main highlight here is the C3 ("C-cubed") Continuous Curved Cone profile used for the mid/bass drivers. The cone tech claims to combine the bass performance of a straight conic cone with a flared cone's high/midrange frequency control.
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