Here at the Munich High End 2011 show, instead of the usual rundown of a plethora of products per my past show coverage I have decided to highlight what I felt was the very best products and companies. This will encompass historic items, longstanding companies, newly
rebirthed manufacturers and of course new technology. The items/companies show here are awarded my personal
Enjoy the Music.com High End 2011 Award, as they deserve extra special recognition for their diligent work. As there are many Web sites giving endless photos and brief descriptions, my choice is to focus on a small handful of the outstanding high-end audio items here at the High End 2011 Munich show. This is Part 1 of my two
part show report. My hopes are to have Part two online in the next day or two so check back as it is not to be missed!
For me, the easiest way to star my Munich High End 2011 Award show report is with something truly historic! Specifically, the Silbatone room deserves an award not just for their truly marvelous products I have had the honor to review, yet also their playing a Western Electric 16B wide range horn from 1928! It is a rare treat to hear this horn as it highlights the Golden Era of Western Electric's theater system. Many decades low power tube amplification mated to horn-loaded speakers were a trip to nirvana, and it is amazing that nearly 100 years later this still holds true! Horns have the ability to
produce not just high volume levels, they also produce the subtle delicacy of microdynamics. The Western Electric 16B wide range horn has two of each driver, unlike the 'A' version with a single driver per, and thus gives you more ease and fullness. Of course I'd be remiss if I did not mention that Silbatone manufactures award-winning vacuum tube amplification devices. To this day their C-102 battery powered
preamplifier is the very best my ears have ever heard (see review at this
link). Their products are hand assembled and use silver in as many places as possible, as silver is the best signal conductor for analog high-end audio. When your head circuit designer is none other than J.C. Morrison, who also did a stint with Sovtek during their audio tube rebirth and rise to fame, you definitely know the high credentials are a given.
Silbatone is not afraid to use ultra-rare high-cost New Old Stock (NOS) tubes either. Silbatone's new Reference 300 Silver Signature ($45,000) stereo integrated amplifier is special edition of the Reference 300 as it adds remote control and silver
Autoformer volume control. A newly upgraded direct coupled circuit, 5965 as voltage amplifier and 5687 driver tubes aid the Western Electric 300B, with output being 8 wpc. The company uses their exclusive semi-silver nickel core output transformer, pure silver
Litz wiring and Teflon circuit boards. The chassis is precision machined aluminum with an eye on shielding plus heat reduction and reducing unwanted vibrations. While modest in size, this unit is a very substantial 85 lbs!
Silbatone definitely deserve my Best Of 2011 Award.
Harmonix had a wonderful room filled with their Reimyo electronics including their new KAP-777 as seen recently within the Enjoy the Music.com Industry News page. The award earning Combak Corporation's Reimyo series KAP-777 stereo solid-state power amplifier is unique as it employs a single MOSFET and
creates 200 watt @ 8 Ohms (400 @ 4 Ohms) per channel. It is designed and manufactured through "High Tech Fusion", which is a technology cooperative program by four major audio and recording studio technology leaders. The "High Tech Fusion" includes accumulated knowledge of K2 technology, Recording Studio technology, their own traditional and Harmonix Resonance conditioning technologies. The Reimyo KAP-777 heat sink is made from a 7mm thick aluminum block, while the rear panel unbalanced RCA input jacks are of the company's in-house design. Balanced inputs via balanced XLR is also included. Custom designed high speed and neutral sound internal wires, custom-made RIFA capacitors, custom-order toroidal transformers, special designed Harmonix tuning feel are also part of the Reimyo KAP-777 design. Frequency response is from 5 Hz to 100 kHz, SNR is better than 100dB and THD is better than 0.05%. Dimensions are 200 x 430 x 460 (HxWxD in mm) and weight is 72 lbs.
Cessaro hornspeakers caught my eye and after careful listening and looking has earned the High End 2011 award due to their quality and modular design. This German brand of speakers were showcasing their fully fledged out
Gamma I system (€250,000) with subwoofer cabinets. Enthusiasts can start out with a basic setup of two horns and over time as space and finances allow augment them until they achieve the full system. The Cessaro Gamma is a five-way horn loudspeaker system with a modified TAD compression driver with cobalt magnet and beryllium diaphragm used as a supertweeter while normal treble is handled by a spherical wood horn with a 1" TAD compression driver also with beryllium diaphragm. The midrange: spherical wood horn has a 2" TAD compression driver with beryllium diaphragm and lower mids are produced by a horn-loaded paper cone driver with Alnico magnets. Lastly, the bass unit is eight back-loaded 16" TAD Alnico drive units, with the entire bass section being driven by two special solid-state power amps with 1200 watt transformers each.
When you hear the words Gryphon Audio there really is little more that needs to be said. This legendary and longstanding high-end audio company is based out of Denmark and headed by designer Flemming E. Rasmussen. Naturally top engineering and sound quality are a given and seen have personally had the pleasure to recently review their complete system (Atilla Integrated, Scorpio CD Player
and Mojo speakers plus Gryphone Audio cables). Here at the Munich High End 2011 show we have a world premiere of their Pandora fully balanced two-chassis preamplifier (€24,000). It uses a highly innovative rotary dial that has 84 volume steps via
relays to ensure a short signal path. There are three stereo balanced inputs via XLR, one stereo set of unbalanced inputs via RCA plus tape loop. Output is via two stereo sets of XLR balanced to handle either single or bi-amplified systems. Gryphon Audio has decades of experience and manufacturers state-of-the-art 32-bit digital source units, preamplifiers, amplifiers, speakers and very top-flight cabling. Build quality is truly supreme, with even minute details being taken into account. Every unit they
manufacturer should easily last a lifetime and provides nearly endless musical
pleasures. Gryphon Audio's outstanding dedication easily deserves a Best Of
YG Acoustics is a relatively new company based out of Colorado USA, as it was established in 2002. Do not let
the relative youth of this company fool you as they utilizing highly advanced in-house proprietary software for designing our speakers. Unlike most manufacturers that use off-the-shelf or slightly modified drivers, YG Acoustics produces their drivers in-house, cabinets in-house and most other high-precision parts. This ensures ultra-tight control to guarantee the quality of their speakers. Proprietary toroidal air-core crossover inductors are also part of their designs. Seen here is their new Kipod II Signature speakers ($49,000) that has an innovative aluminum midrange and woofer cone. YG Acoustoic's Kipod II has a
deviation of a mere +/-1dB in the audible band and a phase accurate +/-5°. Each pair is carefully matched, which guarantees
outstanding stereo imaging. The Kipod II is truly wide range as it outputs sound from 20 Hz to above 40 kHz. The solid cabinet is made from precision-machined aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and assembled with a vibration-free pressurized assembly.
Instead of the cone being stamped, thus stressing the metal structure and possibly cause an outcome of less than optimal output, YG Acoustics' cones are produced in-house from a solid block of aluminum! Each sold block is precision CNC machined down and they had a photo showing how their drivers, on an ultra
magnified level, have an incredibly smooth and even surface versus the lesser pressed cones as used by others. Seen above is the backside of the YG Acoustics 10-inch cone. The geometry is such that a 6-inch cone can handle 550 lbs of pressure on the center of the cone and it will not crush down. You could literally stand on the center of the cone and it will hold you up, yet don't try this on other
drivers! With such high-tech innovation it is easy to understand why YG
Acoustics gets a Best Of 2011 Award!
Click here for Part II of the Munich High End 2011 Awards.