My favorite rooms at Munich (High end and Hifi Deluxe)

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Switzerland
#1
The first thing that struck me this year was that most of the horn systems at the show were in pretty bad form. It is disappointing as I love a good horn and own horns but I had to admit that most were delivering in one way or another colored and/or overall poor sound.

Cessaro: Big purple horns with literally no bass. It sounded like an oversized table radio, despite having 4 large bass bins (not sure if they were horn but each had a big 16 inch driver). I guess the designer of Cessaro doesn't like bass very much because pretty much every year the Cessaros sound critically bass shy. I suppose it is an easy fix by just turning up the gain (they are self-powered) but since this is how the designer sets it up this is how I rate it...poor. They should just get a smaller room and stick in a pair of Wagners and I bet they would have a better sound.

Tune Audio: Again with the big model ostensibly above the Anima but this system sounds very midrangey and colored as well as being a bit lame on dynamics and integration...very much still a work in progress...and expensive! The Anima was nice because it sounded good and was still reasonably affordable...this was neither. The show model in the room though was very hot so it was worth it to go look at her!

Pnoe: Maybe sitting too close was a problem but it was shouty and the bass would go from nothing to WUMMMPH all of a sudden indicating that there was a hole in the response somewhere. I am not so impressed with these AER drivers, the Voxativs sound smoother to me.

Viva Audio (Hifi Deluxe): Huge multi-driver system with huge vented bass cabinets. Bass was slow compared to the rest and poorly integrated from top to bottom. Given the obvious quality of the constrution and time spent making it what a dissapointment! They also had a small(ish) all-in-one horn box (bright red...pretty flashy) with a ribbon supertweeter that sounded WAY better and was an almost reasonable 25K.

TotalDac: Colored but at least it imaged and focused well (if you sat dead center) and had good alive factor...the rest of the design was conventional cone.

JMF (Hifi deluxe): Bass heavy and not terribly transparent. Huge boxes with zero WAF that neither hid their size or added bling to appeal to the eye somehow and had a big brooding sound that made Patricia Barber sound 20Kg heavier.

Italian horn/open baffle (can't remember the name): Transparent and open but bass shy. My biggest problem was the price: 150K for speakers that were not so big nor so complicated (at least at a glance). WAY overpriced...also for the sound.

ESD designs: Chinese made, all carbon fiber horns with ALE copied drivers. What a joke! Probably the most colored horns I have heard in my life...ironically the drivers are probably superb but the horns had some of the horniest coloration I have ever heard...all for a cool $850K (including active crossovers and amps). We were literally laughing at the sound it was so bad.

On the contrary, I heard a number of good planar speakers (the Alsyvox being the best of the bunch IMO).

Now with that out of the way here were my favorites:

1) Living Voice/Kondo/Grand Prix Monaco 2.0/Canary Audio cd player. Still the closest to live music and having living, breathing musicians in the room with you. Vocals, like opera are just slackjaw stunning and palpable and real. Usual hifi descriptors don't apply here. Total lack of artifice or exaggeration through the mid highs. A bit of imperfection in the bass but not worse than most other rooms and it had serious power, umph and control. Dead Can Dance on vinyl was mind blowingly huge and yet precise. Kondo gear does give a bit of a coloration that is admittedly there; however, it seems to enhance, rather than detract from the realism even though you can hear it clearly and especially in contrast to the other Living Voice room with Engstrom amps.

2) Living Voice and Engstrom: Also huge in scale and nearly perfect in coherence. It is also somewhat more extended and arguably more neutral tonally than the other LV system. That said it also sounded more "hifi" and less like the real thing. Some of that stunning 3d palpability of images was not gone but dimenished.

3) Alsyvox with Omega Audio concepts. Really weird looking electronics but sublime planar speakers. With 94db/watt they had serious dynamics and the purity of tone that good ribbons bring to the party. Would love to hear these with more familiar electronics. Transparency, drive and punch were top notch. Price is also staggering at 87K euro.

4) Zellaton/YS audio/Reed TT. Seamless mutiway design with great balance and projection of convincing images and soundstage. Neutrally balanced, smooth and highly resolved. Quite an enjoyable system; however, the cost is staggering with 300K euro for the speakers alone. Best "conventional" speaker I heard at the show.

5) Odeon/NAT/Reed TT. Open, transparent, lively (great dynamics) and good bass punch was slightly marred by a bit of a gap in the lower midrange that thinned it out slightly. Also, the tweeter could be a bit tizzy sometimes (recording dependent). Still at 25K euro for the speakers it delivers great musical satisfaction for a fraction of the cost of these other systems.

6) Supravox/Line Magnetic. Supravox supplies drivers to the likes of Cessaro and Lansche so I was curious ot hear their own designs. In a tiny shoebox room with a 7K euro Line Magnetic 845 amp the sound of their single driver in a TQWT design cabinet was utterly surprising in the most pleasant way. Then I found out the price! Only 3300 euro for a pair of the speakers!!! Amazing and by far the best value I heard at the show. They also had a prototype multi-way open baffle that will list for 10K euro that was also REALLY promising. These were the find of the show for me. True high end for a reasonable budget.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#2
Brad, as it ever was, poor sound from some of the priciest gear.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#3
P for pricey, P for poor (the sound and the audiophile who buys them)..

As someone who likes Anima, I did not like these big tune audio at all last year, but this year at least on Sunday they were sounding very good. Subs were booming in the room, but the rest had a magic. Ron surprisingly loved these, first horns to his liking.
I think they are a bit laid back compared to the Animas but the shape makes them sound more open and Anima are cupped in comparison

Living voice sounded better integrated but more controlled than these, kind of voiced carefully not to offend. The tune audio was more raw and natural
 

Tango

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Mar 12, 2017
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#4
P for pricey, P for poor (the sound and the audiophile who buys them)..

As someone who likes Anima, I did not like these big tune audio at all last year, but this year at least on Sunday they were sounding very good. Subs were booming in the room, but the rest had a magic. Ron surprisingly loved these, first horns to his liking.
I think they are a bit laid back compared to the Animas but the shape makes them sound more open and Anima are cupped in comparison

Living voice sounded better integrated but more controlled than these, kind of voiced carefully not to offend. The tune audio was more raw and natural
I am expecting and waiting you to comment more on systems and gears in this show. Come on man. Do your job.

Tang :D
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#5
What is it with Ralph of Cessaro and bass from his spkrs at shows?
There’s no lack of bass from Liszts at the dealer, so why does he insist on no bass at Munich?
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#6
Ked is just sharpening his crayon. The authorities took away his pencil.
 

Tango

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Mar 12, 2017
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#7
What is it with Ralph of Cessaro and bass from his spkrs at shows?
There’s no lack of bass from Liszts at the dealer, so why does he insist on no bass at Munich?
Funny thing is he made the new subs to show the bass.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#8
The fascinating thing? Ralph always takes a handful of orders every Munich.
I like the Liszt, but I wouldn’t spend money myself with him based on his sound at Munich.
I think Brad has it right, the joy of a big show is finding a diamond buried under all that coal.
 

Blue58

Active Member
Jan 20, 2013
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#9
Brad, your thoughts on both Avantgarde rooms. Top class Wadax gear use but AG amps on one setup.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#10
Brad, your thoughts on both Avantgarde rooms. Top class Wadax gear use but AG amps on one setup.
The trios were only playing through Tidal. The tone seemed compromised
 
Apr 14, 2018
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#11
P for pricey, P for poor (the sound and the audiophile who buys them)..

As someone who likes Anima, I did not like these big tune audio at all last year, but this year at least on Sunday they were sounding very good. Subs were booming in the room, but the rest had a magic. Ron surprisingly loved these, first horns to his liking.
I think they are a bit laid back compared to the Animas but the shape makes them sound more open and Anima are cupped in comparison

Living voice sounded better integrated but more controlled than these, kind of voiced carefully not to offend. The tune audio was more raw and natural
Ked, it is a good thing i am neither poor nor an audiophile.

This morning I ordered a pair of AER BD5.

On another note;the Cessaro Alpha,first version are excellent speakers.

I am surprised that Arcadian used a kilowatt of solid state.

Kind regards,G.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
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taikoaudio.com
#12
Brad, your thoughts on both Avantgarde rooms. Top class Wadax gear use but AG amps on one setup.
Playing too loud to stay long:

AG1.JPG

AG2.JPG
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#13
Ked, it is a good thing i am neither poor nor an audiophile.

This morning I ordered a pair of AER BD5.

On another note;the Cessaro Alpha,first version are excellent speakers.

I am surprised that Arcadian used a kilowatt of solid state.

Kind regards,G.
G, I was replying to comment that the priciest gear at shows is quite poor sounding, couple of exceptions aside. Related to show only. I have heard a lot of gear that sounds bad here and good outside.

Regarding the AER, it was also a smaller room than what you have
 
Apr 14, 2018
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#14
Ked, very even handed response for a Monday.

I am often confused by some exhibitors not working in harmony.

My personal experience of big horn systems is they require at least 10 metres in order to fully develop their sonic potential.

Kind regards G.
 

XV-1

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May 24, 2010
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#15

Tango

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Mar 12, 2017
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#16

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
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#17
No Tang, he’s only picked the black and white crayons.
He hasn’t chosen any nuanced ones.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
3,152
381
83
Switzerland
#18
P for pricey, P for poor (the sound and the audiophile who buys them)..

As someone who likes Anima, I did not like these big tune audio at all last year, but this year at least on Sunday they were sounding very good. Subs were booming in the room, but the rest had a magic. Ron surprisingly loved these, first horns to his liking.
I think they are a bit laid back compared to the Animas but the shape makes them sound more open and Anima are cupped in comparison

Living voice sounded better integrated but more controlled than these, kind of voiced carefully not to offend. The tune audio was more raw and natural
I heard gross colorations from the big Tune audio and to my hears it held none of the reality illusion the LVs did so easily.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
3,152
381
83
Switzerland
#19
What is it with Ralph of Cessaro and bass from his spkrs at shows?
There’s no lack of bass from Liszts at the dealer, so why does he insist on no bass at Munich?
Good question. Therefore, I have never really heard what a pair can really do...if they can do it. Avantgarde has no such issues. Their Trio setup had plenty of bass and slam. That wasn't half bad sounding (forgot them somehow) actually but their own amps give a somewhat crispy, etched presentation that detracts from them reaching the upper echelon.
 

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