The Munich High-End Show is the most important audio event of the year now. It long since eclipsed CES for high-end audio, and sees big hitter distributors, dealers, and press the world over walk the halls of the M.O.C. for the Next Big Thing. As a result, the show is bigger and better than ever. It's become so big in fact that you need a large team to cover it all, if that's even possible.
The show is also
a perfect example of how audio (and in particular high-end audio) refuses to
roll over and die. This year, despite the German economy cooling, the show saw
record attendance by local enthusiasts. Moreover, that image of the hi-fi
enthusiast as a solitary old man obsessed by his two albums of train noises
was neatly dispelled by the presence of younger families as show-goers. It was
'lads and dads', not 'dads and granddads'. OK, so in most cases the
music needs a refresh, because I don't believe that many German teens are
really into Norah Jones or Pink Floyd. And, as ever, some of our presentation
skills leave much to be desired. But the point is, there's a spark to hi-fi
that wasn't there even a year ago.
A lot of this comes down to the vinyl revival. Teens, armed with good, solid entry-level Pro-Ject and Rega turntables, head to the Munich show and drool over the super-statement turntables, in much the same way teens with 30 year old VW Polos go to the motor show and drool over the latest supercars. Can they afford them? Of course not. Will they ever be able to afford one? Probably not. And does that matter to them? It's that spirit of nose-pushed-against-the-glass that drives people to make outstanding things, whether that's the AMG turntable and arm made by a former Lufthansa pilot and engineer with a dream, or by TechDAS' Japanese designer with a life-long passion.
I used the dirty
'P' word. Passion. It's not in favour in some audio circles. People with
a passion and an energy for audio should be lauded for their excitement and
commitment to making sound better all round, not suffer the death of a
thousand cuts from the whiners and whingers. Granted, we need not to be so
starry-eyed that a person's passion detracts from fundamental flaws in what
they are passionate about, but we also need to cut people some slack. It's
what you used to do, when you were a teenager, and still passionate about this
great hobby of ours.