It seems like only yesterday we were moseying around the Bristol Sound & Vision Show, yet the next festival of hi-fi and home cinema in Europe is here.
The Munich High End Show, now in its 37th year and which takes place from 11th to 13th May, is one of the staples of the hi-fi industry calendar. It's where you and we alike can see the latest (and, in many cases, greatest) eye-wateringly extravagant products from hundreds of exhibitors - including familiar big-name brands like Arcam, ATC, Bang & Olufsen, Burmester, Chord, Cyrus, Dali, Focal, McIntosh, Monitor Audio, Naim, PMC, Pro-Ject, Quad, Rega, Technics and Wilson Benesch.
What Hi-Fi? is all hands on deck at the show, reporting live from Munich on all the latest kit launches from turntables and speakers to amplifiers and headphones.
So if you can’t be there for sun, some steins and stunning high-end hi-fi, this page is certainly the next best thing. Here’s what caught our eyes (and ears)...
High End 2018 news
Arcam is demonstrating the new CDS50 SACD/CD player/streamer and SA20 integrated amplifier from its HDA range, first spied at CES earlier this year. The range, which sees a fresh fascia design for the first time in almost 20 years, is due on sale in the UK later this spring.
Atlas is launching a new high-end cable (pictured above), which will apparently sit at the ‘top end’ of its line-up. The juicy details are being saved for the launch, but we do know it will be covered in hand-stitched leather with both standard and custom finishes available.
The Chinese electronics company, which has several high-end DACs, amplifiers and streaming products in its repertoire, and who was introduced to the UK just under two years ago, is set to launch the latest addition to its G Series, the Leo GX Reference Clock.
Making its second major outing since it launched at the Bristol Show in February, the £3000 CDA2 Mk2 CD/DAC/preamp doesn’t take its ‘mk2’ duties lightly. It boasts ‘optimised’ circuitry, revised input and output stages, an improved power supply, and a new CD transport.
Audiolab will be unveiling its forthcoming 6000 Series of full-width, midrange hi-fi components, which will sit beneath the brand’s existing 8300 Series, and is due to launch in August. First out of the blocks will be the digital input-toting 6000A integrated amp, and the 6000CDT CD transport.
Audiolab will also exhibiting two new high-end in-ear monitors ahead of their May launch. The two-driver M-EARS 2D and four-driver M-EARS 4D have been designed by ACS in collaboration with the Audiolab team.
Audio Research will be lighting up its room with its £29,000-per-pair REF160M valve monoblocks, which see a new transformer, switchable ultralinear and triode modes, and new audio circuits with shorter signal paths and fewer components than in previous designs.
It may have only just launched its Qutest DAC, but Chord plans to go big this Munich by unveiling a number of new products - with each one covering a distinct area of the brand’s portfolio, and one of which is (according to Chord) set to be a landmark product in the company's history. The curtains will be opened on the first day of the show.
The Danish audio company will be lighting up its demo space with its new CTA 408 integrated valve amplifier, expected to arrive later this year.
Sitting above the Progression, Classic and Momentum ranges will be the new Relentless flagship amplifier. Those attending will be able to attend a full presentation in the Dan D’Agostino room (A 3.1, D111) on 10th May at 11am.
Dynaudio is set to preview a new range, one that we’re told truly embodies the 'High End spirit', and which will mark the first of a series of new 2018 Dynaudio products. The Danish brand won’t be short of things to show off either, with its revised Xeo speakers, forthcoming Music wireless speakers, and - petrolheads - an immersive VR experience for the Dynaudio sound system in the VW Touareg.
Elac will be proudly showing off its new VELA Line, a revised range that replaces its 400 Line and draws design and name cues from the company's maritime roots. This is further emphasised by the name, which is inspired by the constellation Vela and the plural form of the Latin word for sail. In the same room, the smaller variant of the Concentro model will be demonstrated exclusively twice daily (at 11.30 and 16.00). And in the showroom, Elac’s Argo active speakers will be on show, as well as its two latest turntables, the Miracord 70 and Miracord 50.
All we know is there’ll be a new two-way pair of Finkteam speakers, and going from the image (above) the team has provided us, we're going to plump for floorstanders (like the WM4 the company launched at the show last year).
Fyne Audio hopes to show prototypes of its forthcoming F7 speaker series, which is due an official launch around September. Within the £3k to £5k price bracket, the F7 will comprise several models in several finishes – all featuring Fyne’s BassTrax Tractrics diffuser – and will sit above the company’s existing F5 and F3 ranges. Considering how much we like the F501 and F302 – the first Fyne speakers we've reviewed – it's safe to say our interest is well and truly piqued.
Fyne will also be showing off its active subwoofers, the F3.8, F3.10 and F3.12, priced between £300 to £600.
Continuing the trend of being vague, we only know Focal is launching a new product that will sit at the top end of its product line. The rest is, erm, a surprise.
Hi Fi Racks
Hi Fi Racks will be showing off its latest rack range, which it has called Omnium8. Modular and customisable, the range offers a choice of tiers, finishes, sizes and leg shapes, and is priced from £140.40 per tier.
iFi’s long-anticipated flagship Pro iDSD, which should be officially launched in the next month or two for £2500, will be on display. As will the company’s xDSD, a mobile headphone amp/DAC range with full PCM and DSD support, six to eight hours battery life, and aptX Bluetooth streaming.
We’d normally herald a brand showing off its most affordable speakers ever at the High End Show as ironic… but then, Magico’s A3s are the best part of £12,000. Visitors to the show will be able to hear the A3s, which have a new 15cm midrange driver with a carbon Nanographene cone, and dual 18cm woofers employing a version of the new Gen 8 Magico Nano-Tec cone.
Metaxas & Sins
Metaxas & Sins will be pulling on the nostalgic heartstrings even harder than the turntable purveyors at Munich with its new open reel tape recorder. The GQT is a 0.25in analogue tape recorder, running at 15in per second. Munich should be where pricing and availability information is announced, so watch this space.
Metronome will be showcasing a handful of new products, including its DSC1 network streamer, EA loudspeakers, Kalista DreamPlay One integrated CD player and Kalista DreamPlay Stream network streamer.
It’s a full house for Monitor Audio, which is exhibiting its full speaker range at The Munich High End Show. It marks the first European show opportunity to see the brand’s new Studio and Monitor speakers, which will be joined by the Bronze, Silver and Gold speaker ranges.
PMC is launching a new flagship speaker which the brand is heralding its “most significant product launch since the introduction of the first BB5 loudspeaker for the BBC Maida Vale Studio in 1990”. And lucky visitors to the High End Show will be the first to experience it.
Q Acoustics recently announced its new 3000i speaker range (pictured above) to replace its Award-winning 3000 Series, and it’s in Munich they receive their worldwide show debut.
Teased on the brand’s Facebook page, Quad’s first-ever headphones will be making their debut at Munich. The ERA-1s, expected to go on sale in June, have a planar magnetic design, aiming to draw on some of the qualities of Quad’s ESL electrostatic panel speakers.
Famed at What Hi-Fi? Towers for its two-time Award-winning Concerta2 M16s, US-based Revel will this year demonstrate speakers from its PerformaBE Series, giving visitors the opportunity to hear the its all-new Beryllium tweeter.
The renowned Japanese turntable brand will be all hands on deck with its latest reference Air Force turntables, whose platters sit on a glass flat surface, with injected air between them making it float to a height of 0.03mm for a supposedly quiet rotation.
TechDAS’ aim for its Air Force Two Premium turntable (pictured above) was to achieve almost the same level of musicality as its flagship the Air Force One. To that end, it has a gunmetal platter with a solid (as opposed to hollow) construction.
The new Air Force III Premium builds on – you guessed it – the Air Force II Premium, also with a gunmetal platter (taking the turntable’s weight to over 50kg!) that TechDAS claims has improved frequency range and dynamics.
Also on show will be the brand’s most affordable turntable, the Air Force V.
It’s big news for Wharfedale, who is showing off a new budget speaker range to slot below the ongoing Diamond 11 Series (which was launched at last year's Munich Show), as well as two new soundbars – all expected to hit shelves this summer.
Having launched its Resolution speakers at the show last year, the high-end British speaker manufacturer is back on German soil with another addition to its flagship Geometry Series. The new speakers are, according to Wilson Benesch, are the biggest, most ambitious product in the companies history. And they're called Eminence.
Last year’s Munich show turned out to be the first chapter of many success stories. KEF launched its Q Series speakers, of which the Q350 standmounts deservedly took home a What Hi-Fi? Award later in the year, while Monitor Audio’s sixth-gen Silver speaker range also scooped Awards for its Silver 200 floorstanders and AV package. Dynaudio’s Munich-launched Special Forty, which celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary, enjoyed a similar fate, too.
Another 40th was celebrated, this time by Burmester, and this time with its first turntable, the €30,000 Burmester 175.
Naturally for the High End Show, it was one of many, many ostentatious turntable designs spotted on the showfloor. And we can’t help but take every opportunity to bring your attention to the Mag-Lev Audio’s floating turntable you can spy above.
Then there was the launch of PMC’s first-ever integrated amplifier, Cor, Acendo’s 50in 'Monstersub' subwoofer (as tall as our technical editor!), a brand-new SC-C70 all-in-one system from Technics, dCS’ £66,000 gold-plated Vivaldi One network player and many more mega-mind-blowing, mega-pricey high-end products.