High End always comes good with extreme gear and 2023 was no exception. The Marco Serri Design Gladiator above was actually at the off site show Hi-Fi Deluxe and weighs in at 250kg per channel. It has 420mm bass drivers, external crossover, open baffle mid and tweeter and comes from Modena. I didn’t dare ask the price.
Dong Bum Kim seen talking to Frank Schroeder above runs Analog Technik and restores vintage Ortofon SPU and Neumann cartridges, the DST15 stereo and DMT25 below are examples of the latter but we love his tool kit just as much.
Zeiler make this tube pre/power in machined casework, the power amp is a 10W SET using KT150 output tubes, price is €30,000 a piece. They introduced some wide shallow speakers called SP01 with an oval dual concentric driver using aperiodic loading for the thin walled cabinet, sensitivity is quoted at 97db and price €36.000.
M2Tech have built a regular sized integrated amp to sit alongside their excellent compact components. It has traditional through hole build with a linear power supply and an MM/MC phono stage with balanced and SE inputs plus control via app/Bluetooth or IR. Power is rated at 50W but it’s good for 150W if required, price will be €3.000 “or less”.
Wilson benesch have finalised the extraordinary GMT turntable (£215,000) and arm system, this has a 21 coil three-phase Omega drive, 70mm cable from Gravitron arm to step-up transformer in the box above, air suspension, VTA adjustment via app using a piezo motor and a dedicated R1 rack for £18,000. It looked great in moody lighting and sounded superb via Wb Osmium speakers and Ypsilon electronics.
Marten Mingus Septet speakers (€108.000) have diamond inverted dome tweeters, a beryllium upper mid dome and Accuton ceramic drivers with an ABR on the rear.
The Reed 2B arm has separate antiskate settings for the inner and outer parts of a vinyl record. There is always a compromise with antiskate systems in this regard so it will be interesting to see if this design overcomes the issue.
The HSE Masterline 8 preamplifier from a man who’s obsessed with phono stages and preamplifiers. It has high and low EQ controls for each channel, fully balanced operation and is available with a custom Weiss DAC. Built in Switzerland, it will not be inexpensive but could be extremely good.
Frank Schroeder took a different approach to his usual hardwood with this space frame arm for the OMA K3 turntable. The framework is achieved with selective laser melting so that no two struts are parallel and rigidity is maxxed, it certainly gets our vote for best looking arm of High End 2023.
Pro-ject are aiming to join the exotic ranks with this concept RPM 12, a multi arm beast. The Classic Reference below will actually be available to buy for around €2.000 in the not to distant future.
High End 2023 saw the return of Silbatone to the event. The Korean owner of the company has the biggest collection of Western Electric theatre horns in the known omniverse and this is the 12B, made apparently for the first ‘talkie’, Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer. Silbatone are building a museum of vintage audio in Seoul, Korea that looks like being a spectacular place if the renders are any indication, I know I certainly want to go when it opens in December.
Tech Das launched the Air Force 10 tonearm at High End 2023, details are scant at present but I’m guessing it’s a 10 incher!
This monster is a prototype Constellation mono block of the unliftable variety, Irv Gross couldn’t tell me anything about it except that it sits above the $125,000, Hercules 1kW model.
Kaiser brought along the Furioso (in black), this has a Panzerholz baffle with sandwich cabinet, 8 inch Purifi main driver and modified Elipticore tweeter and forms the brand’s entry level at €30.000.
The smallest device found at High End 2023 was the Little Fwend tonearm lifter from Norway. This has a lovely action and is available in three heights to suit different turntables, the one with the black base is for Technics SL series models, price is €199.
TAD brought the CE1TX (€36.500), this has a slot port under the aluminium side panels and a magnesium/berrylium mid/treble concentric driver above a woven bass driver.
The Kondo G700i (€65.000) two box preamplifier can be seen under the turntable in their system, it has RCA and XLR inputs and runs four 12AY7 tubes plus an EZ81. The GE-7i beneath it is an MM phono stage with two inputs and silver capacitors for €50 – €55.000.
The Boenicke W22 is a floating loudspeaker with suspended drivers, a wooden chassis on the 15 inch woofers which are powered by a 600W Class D module, and a Supravox 285mm mid/bass in a leather isolation gasket. The pair sounded rather good thanks in part to the adventurous choice of music being played on Boenicke electronics and a Clockwork Audio modified Sony CD transport.
The D’Agostino M40 MxV is classic muscle with a 400W output that doubles into four Ohms and doubles again into two, a pair comes in at £90,000.
Over at Hi-FI Deluxe I found the substantial Audio Nostrum Jupiter loudspeakers which uses alnico and beryllium, has 15 inch bass drivers and a tube friendly 97dB sensitivity. Each one weighs 180kg though so I’m not getting them in for review!
See part 4 of our High End coverage here