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HIGH END 2019 Show Report Munich Germany

HIGH END Munich 2019
The Largest High-End Audio Show On Earth!
Getting there isn't always half the fun...
HIGH END 2019 Show Report By Greg Weaver

 

The new stand mounted Raidho TD1.2 monitor

 

As an aside, they were also showing the new TD1.2 stand mount monitor, which they had introduced just three weeks earlier at AXPONA 2019 in Chicago, and which sell for 20,500 in gloss black or 22,900 in walnut burl or custom colors. And, when I stopped by late in the afternoon on Friday to play a few tracks from some of my personal LPs (I had wanted Benno to hear a favorite, a UK MCA 12-inch 45 RPM pressing of Cat People (Putting Out Fire), the title track to the 1982 Paul Schrader film, Cat People, with music by Giorgio Moroder and vocals by David Bowie), they even rotated into play the flagship GamuT Zodiac's ($159,000/pr.) that I spent many months with while reviewing. It was big fun.

This room was sourced by either the world premiere of Slovenia-based Pear Audio Blue's Odar turntable, with the 12-inch Pear Audio Blue Cornet 2 arm, and separate power supply & platform ($18,000), fitted with a Top Wing ( I warned you, they were everywhere) Blue Dragon cartridge ($12,000), using Great Britain's Chord Symphonic phonostage ($4,495), or the Chord Blu MK II transport ($10,500) and Chord Dave DAC ($11,500).

The linestage was the Chord CPA-5000 ($17,900), feeding the world premiere showing of the Chord Ultima monoblock amplifiers ($41,000/pr.), driving Denmark's Raidho TD3.8 loudspeakers. All cabling was from Denmark's GamuT Reference line of cables, including a 3m bi-wire speaker cable ($6,190), 1m interconnects, XLR/RCA, ($2,990) and 2m power cables ($4,190).

 

The world premiere of Slovenia-based Pear Audio Blue's Odar turntable, with the 12-inch Pear Audio Blue Cornet 2 arm, separate power supply & platform, and the Top Wing Blue Dragon cartridge.

 

The TD3.8 project was born out of desire to build speakers with physically larger drivers, and to take Raidho to the next level. Though it is a completely new design, the design team chose to stay with the established Raidho look. But this is the first midsized floor standing speaker with large drivers, taking advantage of their new patent-pending 8" woofer in a dual configuration. This new driver was developed to offer deep, articulated low frequency reproduction that is lightning fast and controlled.

It also employs a pair of similarly designed and executed new 5" midranges. Both midranges and woofers are the new 5-layer TD-cones (Tantalum/Diamond). Adding the coating of the elemental metal tantalum to the already excellent diamond-impregnated drivers yields a higher inner damping and increased stiffness. Together with a new magnet system, a new proprietary, edge-wound voice coil, and one of the most powerful motors used in any speaker (greater than 1.1 Tesla), and you have extremely dynamic, accurate transducers.

 

The world premiere of the Denmark's Raidho TD3.8 and Slovenia's Pear Audio Blue Odar turntable.

 

The new ribbon tweeter is also completely redesigned, with a more powerful magnet system and a modified chamber-design, reducing internal reflections and lowering distortion by an additional 35dB, while increasing sensitivity by 2dB!

Finally, while the enclosure bears the familial look, it too is a new design, with optimized internal acoustic flow. The dividing network is also a complete redesign, with increased out-of-band filtration, lowering distortion further, as well as significantly increasing the power handling on each drive unit. The result is an increased efficiency (91dB/W/m @ 4 ohms) and significantly lower levels of distortion than previous Raidho designs.

This rest of the system was quite like what had been presented at AXPONA just three weeks prior, but it really capitalized on this bigger, more appropriately sized room. In this room, the rather diminutive looking new TD3.8s offered amazing detail, speed, microdynamic expressiveness, dynamism, and an impressive sense of heft, weight, and power. Their ability to render realistic texture to voices, a sense of both credible space and body, and to recreate instruments in realistic size, texture, and tone, were beyond inspiring.

 

Hall 4's open expansive Atrium area

 

I've been a fan of Swiss based Soulution electronics since I first encountered them at CES 2010, where, coincidentally, the then 700 series of electronics were powering a pair of Magico M5 loudspeakers. I admit that I fell hard. Saturday saw me spending a good deal of time in the Soulution/De Baer/Critical Mass Systems room in Atrium 4.1, E107, as Critical Mass Systems Joe Lavencik, had invited me to do my Audiophile DJ thing for an hour or so in that room.

This room was remarkable. Sources were either the Swiss based and built De Baer Saphir turntable (58,000) and Onyx arm, (19,000), using an EMT cartridge (3000), connected to the Soulution 755 phonostage (51,000), or the Soulution 760 DAC (54,000). My time in the room was spent exclusively with Kurt Baer's LP transcription system.

The linestage was the Soulution 725 preamp (39,000), while a pair of Soulution 701 monoblocks (130,000/pr.) drove the US built Magico M6 loudspeakers ($172,000). All sources and electronics rested on the US built Critical Mass Systems OLYMPUS-V12 Luxury component and amplifier stands. At $10,250 per component, this system was valued at $82,000.

 

Swiss based Soulution and De Baer one all US Critical Mass Systems component and amplifier stands.

 

The Magico flagship Series M6 uses construction techniques that form multiple layers of carbon fiber into a monocoque enclosure some 0.5" thick, leveraging the latest Aerospace materials and technologies. Much like the external shell of an F-35 fighter jet, Magico says this construction technique increases the strength to weight ratio by 60%, reduces the overall weight by 50%, while affording a 30% reduction in overall dimensions without compromising the internal volume. This new enclosure allows for a more curved, and therefore less diffractive, enclosure than any of Magico's previous extruded aluminum bodies.

It features their 28mm diamond-coated Beryllium dome tweeter, their proprietary single six-inch midrange, and three ten-and-one-half-inch woofers, all fabricated from XG Nanographene, in a new, ultra-stiff proprietary carbon weave they laud as both 30% stronger and 300% stiffer than any cone materials used in earlier Magico offerings.

While I've no way of accurately determining how much impact each new feature affords this statement series from Magico, my bet is that the newer, more curved and sweeping carbon fiber enclosure accounts for a great deal of the obvious spatial improvement, while the monocoque and driver construction yield the enhanced resolution and transparency I noted.

But when powered with the flagship 700 series Soulution electronics, digital source, and De Baer analog front end, the M6 simply sprang to life. The sound was transparent, resolute, and rendered an amazing midrange presence. Their ability to render sheer speed, relevant musical detail, dense and vivid timbre, and to recreate the most tonally correct piano and articulate sense of space was remarkable. Bass, and I mean deep bass, was fast and detailed, with superb pitch definition. Midrange was magical, with robust texture and exceptionally faithful color. This was the most engaging sound I've heard from any Magico audition since I heard the Q7 introduction at CES 2012. My hat is off to the partners in this room, Cyrill Hammer (Soulution), Joe Laverncik (CMS), and Kurt Baer (De Baer), for pulling off one of the very best sounds at this year's event.

 

 

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