The Munich High End Show

It’s undoubtedly a cliche’ to refer to Munich as a city full of contrasts—but it’s true. There’re those aspects of history that simply aren’t spoken about, contrasted with the spectacular historic buildings encountered everywhere. There are the quaint/annoying Bavarian outfits contrasted with the gleaming glass and steel buildings. There’s spectacular, almost unreal cleanliness of public areas—contrasted with cigarette butts everywhere. Yuck.

To an American, perhaps the most startling contrast is that between a city and culture geared to extreme efficiency and a populace that very clearly is geared to having fun. At least during the gloriously-beautiful weather we (mostly) encountered while in Munich for the High End Show, there were people on the streets everywhere, mostly in groups, laughing and enjoying themselves. In comparison, New York seems like a grim, smelly tomb—granted, an oddly cacophonous tomb.

Right off the bat, exiting the main terminal at the Munich airport, you’re in a courtyard under a tentlike canopy, with several food trucks and beer stands. Compared to the industrial rigor of most US airports, Munich’s Flughafen seems positively whimsical. 

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The subway is by no means whimsical, but it is efficient, and clean… except for those damn cigarette butts.

The MOC, where the show is held, is yet another airy steel and glass structure of the type you’ll see all over the city. Unlikely most show-venues in the US, the MOC is a facility designed for trade shows, with enormous open halls and sizeable individual rooms. There are also a number of food stands,  a decent sit-down restaurant, and a beer garden. —Hey, it is Munich, after all.

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Inside, the main show floor has open displays interspersed with small, enclosed “cabin” demo spaces. It’s not perfect, but it works.

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NEAT Acoustics, from England.

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One of several striking turntables from Lithuania’s Reed.

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Not sure of the maker, but their speakers seemed oddly retro.

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If you ever need speakers painted like a Russian lacquered box….

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A striking new r-r deck from Metaxas and Sins.

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Kostas Metaxas, with a few more of his creations.

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Nearby, Copper contributor Roy Hall does business his way. Homemade slivovitz, anyone?

Up above, the Atrium levels have large individual demo rooms. All that glass makes for some acoustical challenges.

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Vintage, or no? Frank Schroeder showed an old Gray idler wheel turntable with an arm he built that is somewhat reminiscent of a vintage Gray tonearm.

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Art Dudley is always a focused listener; here, he hyper-focuses upon news of a manufacturer’s upcoming products.

A very talented young violinist played at a party thrown by Astell & Kern.

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The show is run so efficiently, it’s almost a relief to encounter a mistake: Oscar Petersohn, ja?

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Fonica, Maggie-esque planars from Italy.

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Record vendor’s booths pretty much all look alike. This was by far the most colorful one.

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Make your own joke.

There are stunning buildings all over the city, but the Marienplatz is full of them. Here you’ll routinely see buildings that are hundreds of years old…

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…including a restaurant that had been in constant use since 1487? Who knows who you’ll run into there?

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In this case you’ll run into a jet-lagged me, John Darko, Travis Townes of PS Audio, and industry veteran David Solomon.

It’s not the wurst way to spend an evening, no?

And here we have a brief video on the show, focusing on interviews moreso than gear. You’ll see Kostas Metaxas, Jeff Dorgay, Steve Rochlin, Sandy Gross, Michael Fremer, Ken Kessler, Hans-Ole Vitus, Alan Sircom, Art Dudley, Roy Hall, Paul Wakeen, Ole Lund Christensen, Conrad Mas, and Doug White. Pardon the awkward first effort; next time I’ll do better!