Munich High End is a hot spot of high-end electronics, but it needn’t all be high-end. Value driven British audio brand Arcam, for example, may have been showing off its new FMJ DAC, but behind the scenes it was also showing off its latest rBlink, a wireless Bluetooth converter with an anticipated price of £149 in the UK. This joins the rPAC headphone DAC, drDock iPod/iPad dock and rLink converter, for a complete set of entry-level digital products.
At the other extreme, French digital experts Audioaéro was showing its new digital music center upgrades to its upmarket LaSource player. Don’t expect much change from $35,000 for a transport-less LaSource and about $10k on top for the model with a VRDS transport. This was played too loud through a pair of CAT monos and Vivid Giya loudspeakers, but even overdriving the room, the quality was apparent. The French digital experts were out in full force; elsewhere Devialet was showing the next round of upgrades and updates to the D-Premier amp/DAC, Metronome Technologie were showing the T5 CD transport (€7,600) and C5 converter with USB (€7,590) to excellent effect (the company was also showing everything from its entry level CD8 Reference player at under €7,000 right up to the multibox Kalista Ultimate/C8 combination at beyond €65,000) and Micromega was showing its €299 MyDAC converter, the first of a new range of small, slim products.
Burmester has made the transition from CD to what comes next with effortless ease. This year’s big launches by the Berlin brand included the 111 MusicServer, a €29,000 that processes up to 32bit, 386kHz precision, and features an interface designed by ex-members of the Apple team, and the 113 D/A converter (which features apt-X Bluetooth as well as a host of wired and wireless connections, and is a development of the MMI module for the company’s high-end CD players). And it also announced the Burmester in-car system for the new Porsche 911, which many felt was the best sound of the show in many respects.
Perhaps the high point in the Munich Electronics sound was the launch of the Constellation Centaur monoblocks. Belonging to Constellation’s Performance Series – rather than the extremely expensive Reference Series – the equipment represented a level of precision and clarity that is rare to find at any show. The Constellation of great designers really does seem to make a difference.
British manufacturer Chord added a revised version of its CPA8000 flagship preamp, an as yet unnamed network music player to match the flagship line and a network player for the Chordette range, the Index. Meanwhile Creek Audio is about to release a new budget line, comprising DAC with built in CD transport and integrated amplifier the Evolution 50A series. The source component featuring the digital dream team of John Westlake and Dominic Peklo suggests the player will punch above its weight, while Creek is an expert in making budget amps. Prices on both are expected to be in the £500-£600 mark.
Streamers made by CD experts were commonplace. Some added streaming functionality to new or existing CD players.
Others made new streamers altogether. Densen went for the both options. Its new B-475 Superleggera CD player includes a digital input and its range of upgradable Oxygen streamers that can work by AirPlay, DNLA or other streaming options, all 24/192. Going through the models adds better rectification, more transformers and a better DAC or two, with prices ranging from about £1,200-£4,000.
Esoteric showed its three latest high-end models at the show. The K-07 and K-05 CD/SACD players and the D-07X digital converter. All feature 32-bit DA conversion and asynchronous USB connection, the big difference between the two players is the K-05 sports a VRDS-NEO transport mechanism while the K-07 features a VOSP transport mechanism. The D-07X is a true dual-mono design described as ‘also for music servers’. More details on these exciting new components will follow soon.