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High End 2008 Show 
High End Society Munich Germany
High End 2008 Show High End Society Munich Germany

  Opera, who also offers the Consonance brand, is celebrating their 15th year anniversary and this is the first time they are showing their M12 smaller hornspeaker and M15 larger model (3500€ and 5500€ respectively). As their model states, one has a 12 and the other a 15 inch woofer. The upper horn-loaded compression driver is crossed over at 1kHz and the entire system is wrapped in stunning natural wood cabinetry in either Walnut (seen here) or Rosewood. We have many reviews of the Opera/Consonance audio gear including their Consonance Cyber 10 multifunctional tube amplifier, their Opera Audio Droplet LP5.0 turntable and the award winning Consonance Cyber 211 tube amplifier (with a follow up seen here).


Each year the High End Society has an afternoon press conference to discuss events and industry concerns. From left to right are Wilfred Ehrenholz, Brano Glisovic, Kurt Hecker, and Alex Maniger. They began by saying Beethovens 5th symphony has a proper place in classical music and, like the significance of this piece of music, so does this Munich event. In 2008, this event has further grown to accommodate the increasing amount of companies that desire booths to show their products. This year also is experiencing growth to members of the press and visitors who have come here from other countries from around the world. While stereo audio is important, Mr. Hecker wanted to be sure everyone realizes that video and things like the iPod can be integrated into a home system. Mr. Glisovic feels that the extension of the show's footprint represents this show is very much an international affair. Mr. Ehrenholz feels the longstanding tradition of the High End Society is close to their heart and their motto of 'Best Sound, Best Image' echoes their desire. The high-end scene, unlike that of mechanical watches to sports cars and other industries, they are more off the shelf whereas high-end audio is very personalized and customized. Of concern is that more consumers needs to be aware of better quality products versus those simply made to meet a very minimum of normal basic mass market standards.

In the news here in Germany is that the EOP (Energizing Using Project) may place certain consumer electronic product groupings to adhere to a set of standards for maximum power consumption when in standby or off mode. Right now parliament has passed it, though the final values of power consumption per type of device has not been fully chosen at this time. This could affect high-end audio, as manufacturers must adhere to these stands, with no exceptions allowed. This is in conjunction with the CE label (and approval) as now seen on many electronic devices. Bottom line seems to be to reduce the overall amount of power consumed by device when not being actively used (turned on).


Of interesting note is the press conference is in the same hall as the kindergarden... (insert your own childish joke about audio reviewers here).


Clearaudio, perhaps one the very best German turntable manufacturers with the most diverse lineup, had their world premiere of their PS1 (9900€) that includes a Unify 12-inch VTA-adjustable carbon fiber arm and special Golden Ear MC cartridge. The total weight of this system is 50kgs, as it has three continuously adjustable magnetic dampeners within the suspension. Note that the Golden Ear MC cartridge is only available with this turntable. As for the motor system, a very strong DC version was chosen that has an integrated speed controller. There is a special ring with 1500 markings so that in real time the speed may be very precisely adjusted. The platter itself is constructed with a 20mm stainless steel layer topped by a 70mm acrylic form, in total being 16 kgs in and of itself. Lastly, the new Clearaudio magnet bearing is employed. PHEW! Oh, dust cover is also included. Ok, one more thing, included are two center spindles, with one being of the normal variety while the other has a smaller center nipple so that you can custom center those nasty off-center albums (and yes an included record clamp works with both center spindles).

One more thing, as Patrick of Clearaudio is holding the company's new 9-inch carbon fiber tonearm, called the Universal (3000€), has VTA adjustment, azimuth adjustment, magnetic anti-skating, precision ball bearing on X and Y axis and several counterweights to match the arm to low and high compliance cartridges. In fact different counterweight materials can be used for full customization. The detachable headshell allows for fast cartridge changing. Enjoy the Music.com has done a special Clearaudio issue of Superior Audio (seen here).


Here in Germany you have a diverse group of DIYers, and so here at the KaCsa booth they had a wide variety of various connectors for cables. Just pick and match and pay on the way out.


Naim's world premier of their HDX (4000£) has a plethora of uses and upgradeable both in firmware and power supply. The HDX is a CD player/ripper, hard drive storage, external HD/Thumb reader via USB... and lots more! According to Naim, PCs have shown that a CD can be copied to hard drive within a couple of minutes. Unfortunately, due to the weak error correction system implemented on audio CDs, the resultant audio files can be not bit perfect. The issues can range from subtle but audible unnecessary interpolation, to random clicks and pops when copying used CDs. This type of ripping is known as “Burst mode” and assumes that the sectors being read from the disc are perfect; hence a fast copy can be achieved. Some mechanisms provide hardware-assisted correction in this mode, but typically it results in unnecessary interpolation of the audio, rather than trying techniques to get the real audio samples from the disc. The Naim audio servers use a superior technique called Secure Mode Ripping on a specially selected audio grade CD mechanism.

Secure mode works by using a CD mechanism that does not cache data and reads the sectors multiple times. It also uses the un-correctable C2 error feedback information supported by the CD mechanism, so known problematic areas can be re-read and handled accordingly. The Naim engine typically spins discs at peak speeds of 16x, but when problematic areas of the disc are reached, the disc rotation speed is reduced, as this can help on reading the data off the disc. Naim have developed a custom PCI audio driver to ensure correct bit for bit data is transferred to the audio environment. The PCI card is actually two six layer PCBs. Each PCB has been designed for high speed signal paths using the latest ECAD systems. Careful tracking design techniques are required to ensure the data in the parallel bus arrives at each PCI Audio controller without corruption. As with all high speed design the route of the tracks must ensure no overshoot or undershoot on the fast edges of digital signals. Ground planes are also utilized to reduce electromagnetic radiation.

Furthermore, the PCI card has separate regulation for each stage in the PCI card, there are four low noise regulated power supplies on the main PCI card; there are a further three on the PCI daughter. Only the PCI main is used in the HDX design. There are two Naim designed extremely low jitter auto switched master clocks on the PCI main board: 49.152MHz and 22.5702MHz. These clocks are separately buffered to each PCI Audio controller. DAC processing is via 24-bit/192kHz stereo and handles 400GB of data via a pair of hard drives. One for use, the other is for automatic backup. Color touch screen front panel, it'll play DVD-Audio, and formats it handles includes AAF, FLAC, wma, wav, AAC (m4a only), and mp3.

Lastly, other features include, but are not limited to:

Toroidal transformer - linear power supply - for audio with double regulation
Naim thru-hole component audio output stage
Naim Extended Music Database to easily find music
Multiple regulation for very low noise power supplies
Stream to up to 6 StreamNet devices
British design and built (umm, like Lucas refrigerators... my personal joke about warm beer)
Extremely Low Jitter
Multiple methods of control
Rich Metadata
Network Scanning
Plays portable music direct from drive

If it sounds like i like this device you'd be wrong. i simply love this unit and it is about time a high-end audio manufacturer offers these diverse features... especially wireless use, color touch screen and multiple USB drive input capability. Yes indeed, Enjoy the Music.com has reviewed various Naim products including their Naim Audio Nait 5 integrated amplifier, the Stageline Phono Stage and Flat-Cap 2 power supply, their CDSII CD player, for subwoofer the Naim N-Sat, and lastly the complete Naim X Series system.


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