Show Reports

High End 2024 highlights pt.2

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net

High End 2024 Munich

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
CAD 1543 MkIII

CAD

It was exciting to see that Computer Audio Design (CAD) have revised their original creation the 1543 DAC now in MkIII guise. This non-oversampling converter was the first to be dedicated to USB and remains a single input device, it runs 16 TDA 1543 multibit converters as ever but now has a new power supply based around an EI transformer, with custom made Japanese capacitors providing greater capacitance, and goes to greater lengths to control noise getting into and out of the box. Designer Scott Berry uses an CPLD rather than XMOS USB interface for reduced noise, he says that the MkIII offers greater dynamics and better defined and extended bass. Needless to say we are very keen to hear this updated classic in the listening room.

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Axess L3
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Børresen C1 & C3

Audio Group Denmark

Michael Børresen at AGD has been very busy, his group revealed four new loudspeakers several of which are part of larger ranges. All the new Børresen speakers feature the distinctive chequer pattern spread tow woven carbon fibre drivers, with 4.5inch being a favourite size. What differentiates the €5,000 Axess L3 from the Børresen C series and the €200,000 T5 is the nature of the resin that bonds the fibres within them. Each step up the range uses a more expensive resin and this results in increased stiffness for the more pricey models. The T5 floorstander (€200,000) with its 3D printed titanium driver baskets sounded super sweet playing early Beatles while the Axess L3 pounded out the XL banger Sunshine of Your Wub by Yookie to highly entertaining effect. Axess also showed its first power distributor, which should bring down the asking price for the company’s noise killing tech to almost affordable levels.

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Børresen T5
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Living Voice R80

Living Voice

Living Voice demonstrated their R80 loudspeakers (gloss ebony £52,000) to highly entertaining effect on the end of SJS Electroacoustics Model 3 phono stage (£38,000), Model 4 preamp (£33,000) and Model 10 monoblock (£88,000) valve amplification and a pair of very nice turntables. There seemed to be a preference for the massive Kuzma XL Air (£55,000) which was in use every time I visited, it wasn’t hard to hear why, the sound was absolutely beautiful with Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa, emotionally charged with Lady Blackbird’s Fix It (Black Acid Soul) and fat and juicy with Fila Brazilia’s The Sheriff (Retrospective: Redux 90-22). If you want to hear a wide variety of interesting music at its best this room is the place to be. The LX Air had two arms onboard but the Kuzma Safir 9 with CAR 60 to cartridge was doing the lion’s share of audience capture. We will persevere with our requests to review these charming speakers.

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Kevin Scott of Living Voice spins the wheels of aluminium and bronze
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Revival Caravel

Revival

French speaker maestro Revival was across the road from the High End in the Motorworld. There they had a prototype floorstander that’s bigger than anything yet seen from the brand alongside some virtually finished new bookshelf models. Named Caravel this has updated drivers from the Atalante range with an 8 inch passive radiator rather than reflex loading plus adjustable EQ via jumpers. The asymmetric ‘wing’ shape of the baffle was derived using computer simulation and created by ex Focal engineer Alain Pineau. Caravel is expected in Q4 with a price in the region of €7,000.

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Revival Caravel
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Dali Rubikore 2

Dali

We got superb results with the Dali Epikore 11 last year so were excited to see the Kore tech trickling down to more affordable loudspeakers at High End 2024. The Rubikore range uses the same SMC (soft magnetic compound) in place of ferrite magnets and has a very similar high frequency section combining a dome and a planar driver in the floorstanders. There are three models: Rubikore 2 bookshelf (£2,600), 6 floorstander (£5,000) and the largest Rubikore 8 (£7,000). These have wood fibre drivers, ferrofluid free tweeters, and SMC in the crossover inductors which is said to significantly reduce distortion in this area. The sound produced with a NAD M66 streamer/pre and M33 amplifier had much of the ease and power we found with Epikore, and Nils Frahm’s Sunson (Tripping with Nils Frahm) was most delivered at level but without obvious distortion.

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Dali Rubikore 6
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Dali Rubikore 8
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Lumin P1 Mini

Lumin

Lumin’s P1 streamer/preamplifier made a very positive impression when we reviewed in last year so it’s exciting to see that they have made a Lumin P1 Mini at nearly half the price. This £4,200 streamer/DAC has one analogue and four digital inputs, a linear power supply, femto clock and dual DACs plus the luxury of control knobs and a remote handset, the former a first for Lumin.

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
Luphonic R2

Luphonic

French turntable maker Luphonic have discovered that the market is a surprisingly conservative place when it comes to styling. Their new R2 (€3,850) turntable is a more conventionally shaped version of the H2 shown last year, its plinth and platter are made of Solid Surface synthetic stone, the plinth being a sandwich with a compliant filling and the platter having a new bearing. It also has the brand’s distinctive speed puck which changes RPM from 33 to 45 when flipped over.

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
NAD C 379

NAD

An entry level model has been added to NAD’s amplifier range in the form of the C 379 at €1199. This Class D design has onboard digital to analogue conversion and runs a UCD output stage to deliver a minimum of 80W per channel at what NAD calls real world listening, which is the opposite of ‘music power’ and means it will deliver 80W from 20Hz to 20kHz into any normal load. NAD make the Hypex UCD output stage under licence and modify the output filter to avoid any of the hardness associated with affordable Class D designs. It also has BluOS streaming and a modular MDC2 digital stage which offers a degree of future proofing.

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
Soulnote E3

Soulnote

Soulnote are becoming one of my go to brands at Munich, this year they demonstrated the E-3 (€17,990) phono stage or phono equaliser as they call it. This has a fully balanced, non feedback circuit which combines voltage amplification and output stage in a single circuit that involves the signal passing through only four transistors. The power supply contains three transformers for fully independent left and right channels, plus one dedicated to optical cartridges. Using a Vertere MG-1 MkII with DS Audio Grand Master EX optical cartridge and YG Acoustics Sonja 3.2 speakers the E-3 helped to deliver some superb sounds, not least when playing Sera Una Noche a 45rpm release by MA Recordings who were sharing the room. The experience made me re-evaluate my notions about both the cartridge and the speakers which have rarely sounded so good.

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Soulnote E3 with Vertere MG-1
high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
Primare SC15 Prisma Mk2

Primare

Some might be interested to hear that the Primare SP25 (€4,750) 11 channel AV processor is designed for music as well as movies with attention paid to sound quality for both styles and separate power supplies for digital and analogue circuitry. I think however that the SC15 Prisma Mk2 streaming DAC is more likely to appeal, this €2,000 unit offers digital and analogue inputs, volume control and is Wisa enabled for wi-fi flexibility, it even includes Platin room EQ software that’s said to be easy to set up.

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
MSB Cascade

MSB

Digital doyenne MSB is taking its DAC technology to a new level in the Cascade, a three box converter that incorporates analogue and digital preamplification. The top and most elaborately machined chassis contains digital electronics, switching controls, display, digital inputs, processor and power supply. This connects to the middle box via SFP optical (a first outside of networking to our knowledge) which is where the analogue electronics reside. MSB consider its ladder DAC to be an analogue device because there is no processing in this part, which also has analogue inputs and a discrete volume control. The base unit contains a power supply for the analogue electronics. Price looks like being in the region of £95,000 and a review sample should be with us soon.

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MSB Cascade
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Tannoy Autograph 12

Tannoy

The first Tannoy Autograph was launched 70 years ago, at High End the company revealed the new Autograph 12 at £24,000. This has a new dual concentric driver where the tweeter is further back in the central horn than usual and the system is powered by a combination of alnico and neodymium magnets. Word on the street is that Tannoy brought in the talents of a rather exceptional loudspeaker engineer to work on this model, which might explain why they sounded rather good on the end of a Linn Klimax DSM and Primaluna valve electronics.

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
Gryphon Apollo

Gryphon

There were a number of gigantic Gryphon amplifiers at High End including in the Danish company’s room, less expected was the Apollo turntable and Siren phono stage. This is a joint project with Brinkmann but that company has never made a two motor turntable before, nor has it added diamond like carbon (DLC) coating to its slender 12 inch tonearms. They may have used bearing heating and digital speed control but that part was included in order to sync two motors so could be specific to this design. The final part of the package is a moving coil cartridge based on the Ortofon MC Diamond which also has a DLC coating for extra stiffness. Price for all three elements is a cool €149,000. The Siren phono stage (€60,000) has many similarities to the Gryphon Commander preamplifier, it weighs nearly 50 kilos, has four inputs, remote control and two gain settings. If you want more level use the preamp says Gryphon.

high end highlights pt.2 https://the-ear.net
AFI Flat Duo

AFI

The AFI Flat Duo is a German warp remover that warms the vinyl up to 52 degrees and will flatten a record in two hours but apparently delivers better results (more flattering?) if left on for six.

Part 3 of our High End coverage is here

Location:

Munich, Germany

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