HIGH END Munich 2019
Best Sounds Of HIGH END 2019 In Munich
One of my first stops Friday afternoon was in Hall 1, in a cabin on the main floor designated D-05. Joshua Masongsong, owner of Believe High Fidelity in Hutto, TX (just north east of Austin), had invited me to hear three world-premiers, including a heroic six-chassis SET amplifier, a DAC, and a passive bass horn woofer system, all from Cyprus' Aries Cerat.
A look at a busy section of the ground floor in Hall 3
This was a no-holds barred system, with components from across the globe. The analog source was the Portuguese manufactured Rui Borges Pendulum II turntable ($59,000), using a Swiss Thales Simplicity II arm ($9,450), fitted with the Tokyo based Top Wing's Suzaku (Red Sparrow) cartridge ($16,500), feeding the Aries Cerat Talos SIG phono stage ($65,000). Digital came from the Dutch built Pink Faun 2.6x Streamer ($32,000), which handed off to the first of the Aries Cerat world premier products, the new Kassandra II SIG D/A Converter ($65,000).
The rest of the amplification chain was also from Aries Cerat, including the Impera Il REF preamplifier ($35,000), and the impressive looking and sounding world premiere of the six-chassis Aries Cerat Achilleas Legend Series SET amplifier ($350,000). The Achilleas weighs in at a back-breaking 600-pounds a channel, including its rack, and both signal stages, driver and output, use same type of tubes, the 813 Mullard beam power triode, delivering a sensuous 65 Watts, with 110W peak capability.
The Portuguese manufactured Rui Borges Pendulum II turntable, Swiss Thales Simplicity II arm, and Japanes Top Wing's Suzaku cartridge.
Loudspeakers were also from Aries Cerat, including the Symphonia Horn system ($125,000/pr.) and featuring the World Premier of their new Aries Cerat Erevus S passive basshorn system ($105,000/pr.). The high frequency transducer in the Symphonia system is a RAAL built customized Aluminum foil ribbon. Loaded in a uniquely shaped Zero Diffraction solid wood horn, it has 360-degree continuous flare to help eliminate diffraction in all axes and to improve performance in both frequency and time domain.
The midrange horn is similarly fabricated to address the same issues and houses a large format (4-inch diaphragm) titanium driver, with a huge 11kg magnet. Further, the midrange output can be altered via a multi-tap transformer, allowing fine-tuning of the speaker to the room's acoustics.
The world premiere of the six-chassis Aries Cerat Achilleas Legend Series SET amplifier.
The midbass horn used addresses issues that they feel are often overlooked. It is a 3.3m long, true tractrix flared horn, formed by stacked sheets of plywood, which they claim affords 10 times more stiffness along the horn axis than the more typical conical horns. And, with a very large mouth area for the bandwidth used, they claim it enhances bass extension and weight, while diminishing colorations.
I'm sorry to say that I could unearth no specific details on the new Erevus S passive basshorn system other than its price of $105,000.
The world premiere Erevus S passive basshorn system.
All cabling was from Signal Projects Atlantis Series, and they used Hydra Series Power Strips (~$70,000), while racks and platforms were from Stacore, including their 6-tier pneumatic system (~$60,000).
We started the demo with vinyl, as Joshua knows I'm an analog fan. Listening to some Louis Armstrong was chilling, as Satchmo seemed to be recreated in front of us. This system had Immediacy in spades. Solo piano had such amazing attack, vibrant tone, and realistic texture, it was like it was in the room. This system was just dripping with texture and body yet delivered tremendous resolution and transparency. The result was a soundstage that was three dimensional as hell... Everything just gelled, especially the further back into the room you got.
Moving to digital, he played a cut I'd never heard that featured a very active Flamenco dancer. I don't know if it was just the quality of the recording (as I said, it was unfamiliar), the bloom and resolve of this system, or most likely, some combination of both, but the wood tone of flooring or platform he was dancing on rendered his stomps in the most chilling and off-the-hook dynamic manner I can recall hearing.
Denmark's The Gryphon Audio Design was showing an all-Gryphon system, from source, through electronics, speakers, and cabling in Atrium 4.1, E120. Sourced by their new Ethos Extreme, a top-loading reference CD Player/DAC (28,800), using the flagship Pandora reference preamplifier (24,000), and a pair of their Class A Mephisto Mono statement amplifiers (90,000/pr.) to drive the semi-active Trident Mk II loudspeakers (98,000).
The Trident Mk II is a three-way tower loudspeaker, standing 193cm tall, by 52 cm wide, and 81cm deep, weighing in at some 237kg each. Each tower uses an AMT tweeter with a low-mass pleated metal diaphragm, a pair of 5.5" midrange drivers, and four 8" woofers, powered by an on-board 500 watt, class A/B bass amplifier, with crossover frequencies of 250Hz and 2kHz. System response is given as 16Hz to 27kHz, -3dB (depending on Q setting and room size), and it has a remote control to manage the Q setting, bass level, low frequency cut-off, and mute.
Denmark's The Gryphon Audio Design was showing an all-Gryphon system.
Cabling included their Guideline Reference solid silver/gold interconnects (1,120/1m pr.), and their V.I.P. Series M5 Reverence silver/copper power cords (2,000/2m with IEC socket).
As you might expect, this was a very powerful and transparent system, with bold tone color, a high degree of resolution, and with remarkable transparency. Overall, the unfettered ease and power it presented was most impressive. Whether is was a result of the room interaction or native sonics, I found the presentation to be just slightly to the darker side of natural. But, let there be no doubt, The Gryphon impressed!
One of the more visually arresting systems that still sounded remarkably lifelike (that is not always the case, dear readers), came at the synergistic interaction of Serbia's Trafomatic Audio electronics, Romania's Rockna Audio sources, and Greece's TuneAudio speakers, using a full loom of the Norwegian Skogrand cables in Atrium 4.2, E215.
Sourced by the Rockna Audio Wavelight Sever (7,500), and Wavelight DAC (12,500), the Trafomatic Audio Lara line level preamplifier (9,300) and a pair of Pandora monoblocks (24,000), drove the amazingly lifelike TuneAudio Avaton horn loudspeakers (220,000/pr.)
All cabling was Knut Skogrand's simply gorgeous looking and sounding products. Sadly, no pricing was available from the room handout sheet. Products included the SCD Stravinsky Ethernet 8 cable (which made its world premiere in this system), and digital USB cables were either the SCD Stravinsky or SCD Beethoven. Interconnects and speaker cables were from the SCD Stravinsky (ICs) or SC Stravinsky (speaker cables) lineup, while all power cables were from the new SCAC Beethoven Mk2 series, also making its world premiere here in Munich.
Synergystic system interaction, Serbia's Trafomatic Audio electronics, Romania's Rockna Audio sources, Greece's TuneAudio speakers, and Norway's Skogrand cables.
The Greek Avaton loudspeaker is the result of a five-year development project. According to their website, Avaton is an ancient Greek word that means, "... a place that entrance is allowed only for believers."
Standing an awe-inspiring and impressive 210cm tall and deep, and 102cm wide, the bass horns use a virtual mouth technology and a loading technique they claim delivers a flat response down to 32Hz. The bass driver itself is a super linear, massive 27kg 18-inch unit. The asymmetrical midbass horn has a mouth area of 10,000 cm2, uses a triple layer lamination technique, with damping materials between each layer, and the throat and beginning of the horn are coated with and epoxy/CNT compound for extra stiffness.
First order dividing networks, employing hand-selected components and point to point wiring, (no PCBs) are located in outboard enclosures to provide the space necessary to avoid any kind of induced or radiated component interaction, and to keep the network components far away from all the driver's highly magnetic fields.