HIGH END 2022 Show Report
After two uneventful years, audiophile caravans have once again moved towards their mecca, Munich, and the high-end show organized by the German HIGH END Society Service GmbH, which has achieved world supremacy over all other hi-fi shows currently being organized in the world.
Due to the relative proximity to Zagreb (about 550 km, or 6 hours of driving), my colleague Neven Kos and I chose car transport because we have complete freedom and comfort during the trip, compared to any other form of transport. In the middle of the week there were no traffic jams, and with nice sunny weather we had almost tourist sightseeing scenery while passing through the mountainous regions of Austria and the plains near the Bavarian capital Munich.
While we were waiting for the official opening and the beginning of the first day of the show on Thursday, in the lobby of the MOC center we came across the cult car DMC DeLorean -- a time machine from the movie Back to the Future. This car was not there because a new sequel to this popular movie hit is being shot, but because Dynaudio has built into it, modeled on Bowers & Wilkins and Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH exhibits from previous years, their premium audio system. A great reminder of my youthful days, but without a real desire to own this relic of the past, given today's fuel prices.
Across from the DMC DeLorean, within the premises where the press center of the show was located in previous years, Dynaudio impressively arranged an exhibition space where they presented their entire range of speakers, including the premiere of Focus series of active speakers (replacing the current Focus XS product line).
The new Dynaudio Focus series consists of three speaker models (Focus 10, 30, and 50), they all support streaming services and wireless connectivity including Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Qplay, UPnP, Netradio, and Bluetooth. In addition, they have built-in Dirac room correction software, support Roon and WiSA wireless connectivity, and have control possible with the Dynaudio app or with the included remote control. They are available in several finishes for €5,000 (bookshelf Focus 10), €7,500 (two-system stand-alone Focus 30) and €10,000 (three-system Focus 50).
If you happen to be at such a big event, it is necessary to have an organized plan of action, otherwise you end up on a random tour where you miss a lot of exhibitors, as well as encounter the same ones several times. So I made a plan. The first day we started from the second floor of the MOC, after that we went downstairs, and finally on to the ground floor with the belief that in the morning most visitors will still mainly remain on the ground floor. My theory proved effective, but only for the first half-hour, after that all of the hallways and exhibition spaces were comfortably filled. Okay, I forgot there were elevators in the MOC. However, the decision of the organizers to extend the show to two days for this year proved to be a great move, because it was not as crowded as in previous years, enabling me to leave the area of the ground floor, with the largest exhibition area and stands, for the second day of the tour.
Arriving on the second floor, I opened my notes to check the list of exhibitors who have sent me the announcements of what they would be exhibiting in Munich. Among them was the invitation of the French company Davis Acoustics for the premiere of their new flagship model -- Stellar. As their room is right at the beginning of the hallway on the second floor, I started with them.
In the room, next to his new creation - Stellar, present was the owner of the company and the main designer Olivier Visan, the son of the legendary French designer Michel Visan (1938 to 2012). With slightly wider proportions than what is common among today's new speaker designs, this three-way speaker uses a 25 cm bass unit with a carbon fiber diaphragm, a midrange unit (17 cm) with a Kevlar diaphragm, strong magnets (TiCoNAl), and a 20 mm conical tweeter. All speaker units are in-house production, and the first deliveries of Stellar speakers are expected in September for €35,000 (black finish) or €40,000 for any other color the customer wishes. Listening to the Atoll ST300 Signature streamer and Gryphon Essence Stereo power amplifier as a sound source, Davis Stellar provided a wide sonic picture with a pleasant and very airy tweeter-induced spaciousness, and with precise and powerful bass. A very interesting speaker.
For his peculiar approach to the design of ultra-high-end audio components, many would say perfectionist, Stavros Danos is today considered as one of the most talented young audio designers whose products, branded under the Aries Cerat brand, do not leave many indifferent. Listening to an audio system made entirely of its electronics and the Aurora speaker shown for the first time, I was struck by the naturalness and ease of reproduction of musical material that simply hovers in the space in front of you. Without any hesitation, Aries Cerat was for me the most impressive sound at this year's HIGH END show in Munich. It would take a lot more space to describe the technical details of the Aurora speakers, so I'll leave that for another time, and the only thing I need to add - bravo Stavros, bravo!