Munich High End 2013 - Analogue Audio, Part 2 (Hi-Fi+)

Posted by: Chris Martens at 6:06 pm, May 31st, 2013


This is Part 2 of a two-part Hi-Fi+ report on new Analogue Audio components seen at the Munich High-End Show 2013.

For the sake of simplicity, we present products in alphabetical order, organized by the names of their manufacturers.

Manufacturers covered in Part 2 of this report include: Kuzma, Musical Surroundings, Ortofon, Palmer, Primary Control, Pro-Ject, SchuchTronic, T+A, Thales, Theriault, Tone Tools, TW Acustic, van den Hul, and Well Tempered Lab.



Kuzma’s display featured a partially disassembled sample of the firm’s new Stabi M turntable, which allowed booth visitors to verify Kuzma’s claim that the ‘table is even more impressive when viewed from the inside out. But the biggest news from Kuzma was thadvent of the firm’s new CAR range of moving coil phono cartridges, comprising the CAR-20, CAR-30, CAR-40, and CAR-50. Kuzma makes the cartridge bodies while a Japanese firm supplies the motor assemblies built to Kuzma specifications. Shown here is the CAR-30, which will sell for €1,755.


Musical Surroundings

Musical Surroundings showed a new second-generation of its well-liked and very affordable Nova phono stage called the Nova II (€1,200). Like its predecessor, the Nova II sports an extensive array of rear-panel mounted cartridge loading and gain control switches. Euro-for-Euro, this may be one of the most versatile phono stages on the market; it can be adapted to work with most any cartridge.

Musical Surroundings Nova II, rear panel showing cartridge loading and gain adjustment switches



Ortofon displayed its entire range of phono cartridges at Munich, including relatively affordable moving magnet models on up to top-tier, cost-no-object moving coil models. The star of the show, however, was the firm’s new flagship MC Anna (€5,999, and named in honour of the opera singer Anna Netrebko), which is considered by some to be the finest phono cartridge Ortofon has yet produced, which is saying a mouthful.



The British firm Palmer prides itself on taking a holistic approach to turntable design, combining both old and new design elements as results dictate. The lovely and understated Palmer 2.5 turntable (~€6,900) was on demonstration in Munich, fitted with an Audio Origami tonearm.


Primary Control

The Primary Control tonearm (€5,000 and up) is the brainchild of Bernd Hemmen and if we understood Herr Hemmen correctly, the Primary Control combines certain performance aspects of both traditional gimbal-bearing and unipivot tonearms. Primary Control says, "the tonearm-base is in essense a stable mechanical grounding post which also functions as a precise VTA/SRA micrometer instrument." The arm features non-linear magnetic antiskating adjustment, provides for "a partial damping of the arm-cartridge interface," and allows precise azimuth adjustments. Hemmen can supply arm wands made of a variety of different woods, with several on display in Munich.



Munich is gratifying in that it gives visitors a chance to see top models not commonly seen outside of Germany. Two cases in point would be Pro-Ject’s Extension 12 turntable, which can be ordered with an Ortofon RS-309D tonearm installed (€6,500), and the very impressive Signature 12 turntable/tonearm system (€9,500).



Daniel Schuch of SchuchTronics showed a prototype of his Modell 1 tonearm, which drew large groups of inquisitive onlookers throughout the show. It is easy to see why. The Modell 1 is a beautifully crafted pivoting tangential tracking tonearm that uses an unusual system of knife-edge bearings and braided synthetic yarn control strings to maintain tangency between the stylus and the record grooves. If the arm sounds as good as it looks, which remains to be seen/heard, it should be a sonic delight.

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