Munich High End Show 2012

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When William offered me the chance to go with Tannoy to the Munich High End show I snapped his hand off. I have always loved speakers, hi-fis, sound and music. I always remember my Dad’s Pioneer tuner amp and KEF speakers, playing LPs and 45s on the thing gave me a real kick. This gave me an on-going fixation and through my time as a musician I’ve had the chance to listen to a lot of amazing equipment. The chance to go to a show like this however was a different prospect from my humble audiophile perspective. I have never heard a residential system costing more than a few thousand pounds, the systems on show in Munich rarely fall below this threshold, add a couple of zeros and you get the general picture. It’s not called high end without reason.

Tannoy were showing off two new systems. The Definition DC10A which is a single 10″ dual concentric design, simple, elegant with a sound that really is world class even amongst the illustrious company present at the show. Along side were the 4c designed Precision 6.4 a 4×6″ configuration with one dual concentric at the top handling the treble. Check out how dual concetrics work here.

I’ve always been a big fan of Tannoys and I was not disappointed by the new products. The Definitions are different from what I expected, less the Tannoy sound of which I’m accustomed, having two sets in the house and worked on countless pairs of dual concentrics in various studios. The Definitions still have that classic Tannoy sound but it seems more in step with the competition than before, offering a very crisp and refined top end but still with that classic round, fatness which I would label the British sound. The Precisions are a far more bombastic offering, pilling out that unmistakable kick that I love Tannoy for. The guys had some Frank Zappa firing through them and I was in my element, totally banging, nyupp.

 

From these comments you can probably ascertain that I am not a bona fide audiophile – more into ethno, ska, funk, metal than Vivaldi. and to be honest judging by a lot of the music being played across the show I wasn’t the only charlatan. I don’t care how expensive, technically excellent you system is if you play “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins through it, it is going to sound bad. Not to mention the varying degrees of obscure Oompa Euro Pop, Celine Dion and even Shania Twain. Man, I tell you no amount of electronic / acoustic trickery is going to make that stuff sound good.

It took me a long time to trawl the whole show, 3 floors and two buildings, the exhibitor list is long. Some systems are amazing design pieces but to my ears failed to perform, some are just ridiculous like the Aries Cerat and Tune Audio Speakers combo. With speakers that look like two over-grown phonographs and amplifiers that look like they were designed in Hades. Add a magnificent Studer Master Recorder reel to reel and you have an insane system that Beelzebub himself would be proud to own. Dynaudio had some cool technological tricks up their sleeve like their wireless xeo speakers. Genelec had a truly engrossing surround setup that made the film “Pearl Harbour” properly scary. The most impressive system has to be the Sonus Faber along with Dan D’Agostino amplifiers. This Italian pairing instantly stood out on walking in to the room from anything else I had heard. It filled the room up with this thick sound, every element of the music whatever they played from classical to jazz and even some bluegrass sounded tangible, in the room and larger than life. I have never witnessed anything like it, truly extraordinary. I’ve been told the Tannoy Kingdom is in the same league as this lot so I’m looking forward to hearing them one day.

There were these Swiss guys across the corridor from Tannoy. I can’t remember who they were representing but they had this old Thorens record player with a 1950s Tannoy cartridge and lots of valves. To be honest I can’t remember what sound system they had but what I do remember is the music they were playing. They had a magnificent record collection and this I suppose is the moral of the story. For all these hi-fi systems are amazing in technical audio performance, aesthetics and gravitas it doesn’t matter a jot if you don’t love the music coming out of them. As much as I love amps, woofers, valves and tweeters I love music more, the music is what makes all this stuff live and breathe. Before I went to the show I was afraid I would come home with a fervent desire to buy some high end, brutally expensive hi-fi equipment but what I’ve come away with is an idea to fix my Dad’s pioneer Record deck and buy some LPs.

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