Munich, Part 1

After last year’s High End show in Munich, I filed a fairly brief report. This year’s show left me with more questions, and a lot more pictures. We’ll see how this goes, but I’d expect this year’s report to be at least a two-parter…perhaps even three.

After a 10-hour flight, gray skies and spitting rain were not happy-making.

Last year’s report mentioned “gloriously-beautiful weather.” Skip that this year: most days were overcast with the threat of rain, if not actual rain. Aside from that, Munich is still Munich: a curious mixture of the old—really old by American standards—and the stunningly-new, with stainless steel and glass everywhere. There is a whimsical side to the city, perhaps helped along by the prevalence of beer. Whatever the reason, I’ve never seen a food truck like this one at any US airport:

Heading in to Terminal 1 to catch a train to our hotel near Marienplatz, we were immediately greeted by evidence of the show. I don’t recall seeing such airport displays for any US show.

After a very gray beginning, the next morning was bright and clear. Morning temperatures were usually in the 40s (F), going up to 60 or so later in the day.

Heading into the Marienplatz. Kansas, it ain’t.

Compared to the colorful, organic buildings of the Marienplatz, the MOC show site seemed plain in comparison.

After getting past the wristband police to enter Halle 1, I was amused by this demo Sugden amp, beautifully-constructed with four front panels to show finish options.

Did you realize the IAG Group owns all these brands—plus Luxman?

No idea what that vintage Ducati had to do with US-made Spatial loudspeakers, but it was glorious.

The robo-aesthetic of Goldmund speakers hasn’t changed much over the last 30 years, but they’re still in demand.

Still more gold: Italian brand Gold Note, with beautifully-made turntables and electronics.

Colleagues everywhere: Lee Scoggins from Part-Time Audiophile; industry vet Chris Sommovigo; tall guy John Darko from Darko Audio, cut off by the frame as usual.

The innovative KEF LSX…now in colors!!

Can Jam’s Ethan Opolion showed me his headphone travel kit, including this megabuck aftermarket cable…

…and these gorgeous IEMs.

German lautsprecher artisan Wolf von Langa with two relatively subdued models, and gorgeous Air Tight amps.

The Atrium levels were the busiest I’d ever seen them on a Trade day.

For anyone interested in audio history and technology, nothing compares to Silbatone. A Korean billionaire has one of the world’s foremost collections of important vintage gear, and ships some of the collection to show at every Munich show—at God knows how much in shipping costs. This was a group of early Western Electric drivers and horns, supplemented by a pair of ultra-rare Racon horns (the big square-mouthed recurved horns on the floor). Why are they so rare? They’re made of papier-mache’! Few have survived. As you’d expect, the sound was dynamic and sweet, if a tad limited on the top end.

New but vintage-inspired Silbatone amps are designed by American jc morrison, often utilizing irreplaceable ancient NOS tubes.

Speak of the devil: designer/wild man jc morrison himself, with writer Michael Lavorgna.

At the end of day one, the trip back “home” showed the incredible contrasts of Munich, from this stunning skyscraper…

…to the Bavarian National Museum:

Part 2 of my Munich feature will be in the next issue of Copper.