Our TOP highlights from the HIGH END 2023 in MunichKate Kuptsova
The High End Munich stands as a globally acclaimed trade exhibition showcasing top-tier consumer electronics.
For these few days, High End Munich 2023 has attracted a staggering number of 800 hi-fi brands all gathering to unveil and showcase their latest audio equipment, and over 20,000 visitors within the walls of the MOC München as the event celebrates its 40th year.
From innovative speakers and amplifiers to state-of-the-art streaming devices and audio accessories, this event introduced an array of groundbreaking offerings that will shape the future of high-fidelity audio.
Now, let’s delve into a recap of the most remarkable products we encountered at this esteemed showcase.
We got our hands on a version of Dali’s brand-new top-of-the-line wireless headphones, the IO-12. These headphones stand out with Dali’s patented Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC) technology, which reduces distortion. The design features a large 50mm driver with a paper fibre cone, and the headphones include damping material for improved sound quality. The IO-12 offers Bluetooth connectivity, a 3.5mm socket, and a USB-C connection. The headphones can be used wirelessly, wired, or passively. They have a 35-hour battery life and intuitive controls.
During our brief test, we found the sound quality to be clear and detailed across the frequency range. Switching between bass and hi-fi modes made a noticeable difference. The sound exhibited maturity and refinement, surpassing entry-level wireless headphones.
PMC Prodigy1 and Prodigy5
PMC, renowned for its high-end speakers like the acclaimed Fact Fenestria, continues to impress with its latest offerings unveiled at High End Munich 2023. Introducing the prodigy1 and prodigy5, these speakers provide a more accessible option without compromising on PMC’s studio-grade and audiophile quality.
The prodigy1 is a standmount speaker, while the prodigy5 is a floorstander, both featuring a 27mm tweeter and a 130mm bass driver inspired by PMC’s flagship QB1 studio monitors. With a goal of bringing the studio experience home, these speakers share visual and technological elements with their prestigious predecessors.
Incorporating the Laminair technology found in PMC’s exceptional Twenty5 series, both speakers optimize airflow for precise bass response, improved dynamic range, and enhanced efficiency. The prodigy1 utilizes a bass unit from PMC’s ci series and a soft dome tweeter from the result6 studio monitors, while the prodigy5 offers room-filling sound, wide dispersion high-frequency response, and exceptional detail.
PMC’s signature Advanced Transmission Line (ATL) bass loading technology is present in both speakers, delivering deeper, tighter, and more powerful bass with clear midrange reproduction. The ATL design efficiently utilizes energy from the bass unit and minimizes unwanted frequencies.
Naim Nait 50, Classic 300 Series
Naim is embracing its milestone birthday with a series of exciting releases. The British audio company is now introducing the 300 Series as part of its Classic product range at the High End Munich show. The new lineup includes the NSS 333 music streamer, NAC 332 pre-amplifier, NAP 350 monoblock power amplifier, NVC TT phono stage, and NPX TT power supply.
Naim has made a grand entrance at the High End 2023 show in Munich by unveiling the Nait 50 special edition integrated amplifier, commemorating the company’s 50th anniversary. This amplifier pays homage to Naim’s iconic Nait 1 model, originally launched in 1983. The Nait 50 joins a series of anniversary releases this year. Rega recently introduced the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Planar 3. Bluesound also marked its 10th anniversary by enhancing the performance of its Node X.
Fans of the Nait 1 will immediately recognize the strong resemblance between the two amplifiers based on the accompanying images. The Nait 50 sports a half-width design with an aluminum chassis and chrome bumper-style, resulting in a refreshingly compact size of 8.7 x 20.7 x 32.1cm. The Nait 50 follows a full linear integrated amplifier design with an A/B power stage. It delivers a modest 25 watts of power per channel into eight ohms, 40 watts into four ohms, or 60 watts into two ohms. Diverging from its predecessor, the Nait 50 incorporates a 6.35mm headphone output with a new preamp. Additionally, vinyl enthusiasts will appreciate the inclusion of a new MM phono stage featuring discrete transistors, promising improved sound performance. Connectivity options are completed with two DIN inputs labeled ‘Stream’ and ‘Aux’ at the rear.
The NSS 333 is a high-resolution network streamer that supports top-tier file formats from UPnP devices and various streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Qobuz. It offers convenient playback options such as Apple AirPlay 2, built-in Chromecast, and high-quality Bluetooth. The NSS 333 is also compatible with other Naim streaming products, including the Uniti and Mu-so systems. Naim recommends pairing the 333 with the NAC 332 preamp and either the NAP 250 or NAP 350 power amplifiers for an optimal setup.
When combined, the Classic 300 Series delivers the pinnacle of Naim’s hi-fi separates. These products are set to hit the market in June.
AURALiC Aries G2.2, Aries G3, Vega G2.2, Vega G3
The newly introduced streaming components, AURALiC Aries and Vega, in their G2.2 (wireless network transport) and G3 (wireless network processor) variants, were showcased at the High End Munich 2023 exhibition. According to , these four devices represent a generational shift in the UnityChassis II G series, maintaining a refined elegance and classic design. It is worth noting that the UnityChassis II incorporates a secondary chassis made of pure copper and a multi-point spring base.
The new releases feature the proprietary Tesla G3 network platform, utilizing a 64-bit architecture. Its computational power has increased eightfold, with memory capacity reaching 4GB, including direct memory access (DMA). Audio processing circuits are directly connected to the system memory, resulting in a tenfold reduction in latency and jitter. The new products also incorporate Dirac technologies.
AURALiC claims that the Aries G2.2 and G3 models are made up of over 90% new components. The built-in music storage now employs NVMe solid-state drives, while external storage can be connected via USB 3.0. The USB DAC output benefits from the second-generation galvanic isolation and is compatible with a wide range of DACs. The power output of the low-noise Purer-Power supply has also been doubled. The Aries G3 can also be used as a preamplifier (without analog switching). Both Aries models, G2.2 and G3, are compatible with the reference clock LEO GX.1.
The VEGA G2.2 and G3 models retain all the functionality of the previous G2.1 version. They continue to feature the proprietary AURALiC Fusion DAC, direct data recording (DDR), galvanic isolation, passive analog volume control, and an analog preamplifier. It is also stated that the Vega G2.2 and G3 are “immune to distortions and jitter in the input signal.”
Both new releases utilize the Tesla G3 platform, and the Vega G2.2 and G3 models are equipped with new dual femto-clocks of 60fs. Like the Aries, the Vega G3 utilizes the Proteus X1 co-processing platform. Additionally, the enhanced Vega G3 DAC can operate in Pure DAC mode with streaming disabled. The Aries and VEGA models with the G2.2 index will be available in July, while those with the G3 index will be released in August..
McIntosh’s ML1 MKII
While McIntosh has been in the business of manufacturing loudspeakers since 1970, it is not a common occurrence for the electronics specialist to introduce a new addition to its lineup. That’s why the launch of the ML1 MKII at High End Munich 2023 is generating considerable excitement. Furthermore, these speakers represent a modern reinterpretation of the company’s initial model, the ML-1C. And if you need yet another reason to be intrigued, just take a look at them.
The ML1 MKII speakers stand out as some of the most remarkable retro-modern audio devices to emerge in recent years, and if you’ve been following the trend of bringing back classic speakers, you’ll know there have been many. Those who are familiar with the original models will appreciate that McIntosh has retained the two-part baffle design of the polished American Walnut wooden cabinets and the veneers with a satin finish. However, this time, the cloth grille does not feature the slats found on the ML-1C.
Another noteworthy addition with the ML1 MKII is the introduction of a matching stand that boasts a vintage name badge made of die-cast aluminum at its base. Nevertheless, the most significant changes have been made internally, as McIntosh claims to have fully modernized the speakers to meet their current sonic standards. These four-way speakers employ five distinct drivers: a 12-inch woofer with a polypropylene cone housed in a sealed enclosure, two 4-inch lower midrange polypropylene cone drivers in a separate sealed sub-enclosure, a 2-inch soft dome upper midrange driver, and the same 0.75-inch Titanium dome tweeter found in the company’s XR50 bookshelf and XR100 floorstanding models.
According to McIntosh, the ML1 MKII can be paired with amplifiers of up to 600 watts, and while they promise a “similar base response” as the M1-LC, thankfully, these new speakers no longer require an equalizer like their predecessors did (which necessitated either the MQ101 or MQ102).
What’s the secret to improving a timeless classic? Well, if you’re JBL, you take a legendary speaker like the iconic L100 Classic from the 1970s, retain its retro charm, and infuse it with new engineering and technology to cater to today’s audience. The result? A thrilling and capable sound that pays homage to its roots while delivering a modern experience.
A few years ago, we had the pleasure of reviewing the revived JBL L100 Classic loudspeakers and were enamored by their bold, dynamic character that effortlessly transitioned between powerful and delicate moments. However, JBL is not one to rest on its laurels for too long. So, how do you improve upon a five-star Classic? Simple – you introduce a second edition with comprehensive enhancements.
Say hello to the all-new MkII versions of the L100 Classic and its smaller sibling, the L82, both recently unveiled at High End Munich. These two models have received “significant internal upgrades” as part of JBL’s “Performance Package,” promising a notable leap in sound quality compared to their MK1 predecessors.
Now, you might be wondering, what exactly does the “Performance Package” entail? Well, for starters, all the drivers in each speaker have undergone refinements. The woofer (30cm in the L100, 20cm mid/bass in the L82) boasts an upgraded design that enhances linearity and further minimizes distortion. Meanwhile, the tweeter – a 25mm titanium dome shared by both models – and the L100’s 12.5cm midrange cone have received refinements aimed at delivering higher performance levels, according to JBL.
In addition to driver improvements, the crossover design has been updated to support dual inputs for bi-wiring, and the binding post terminals have been meticulously polished and now feature two sets of “premium gold-plating.” This enhancement ensures a more secure connection with a wider range of speaker cables and connections.
The overall speaker design remains unchanged, including the vintage walnut veneer finish and the three-way configuration of the L100 Classic (and two-way for the L82). Both Classic MkII speakers retain the charming and quirky Quadrex foam grilles, available in orange, blue, or black. These upgraded editions are expected to hit the market in the second quarter of 2023.
As for whether these new editions will live up to their promises and meet the expectations set by their predecessors, we eagerly anticipate receiving review samples in the coming months. Only then will we truly discover the sonic wonders that await us in our listening rooms.
JBL Spinner BT
JBL is expanding its turntable lineup with the introduction of the JBL Spinner BT, a Bluetooth-enabled turntable that offers aptX HD wireless streaming at an affordable price.
With a sleek all-black design accented with orange details, the JBL Spinner BT allows for convenient wireless streaming of your vinyl records. Using aptX HD technology, you can enjoy 24-bit high-resolution audio without compromising on sound quality, streaming to compatible wireless speakers, soundbars, and headphones.
In addition to its wireless capabilities, the Spinner BT features analog outputs and a built-in, switchable moving magnet phono stage. This means you can connect it directly to active speakers or integrate it into a traditional separates system with an external phono preamp.
The turntable employs a belt-drive design and incorporates an aluminum platter, an MDF plinth with damped feet to minimize vibration, and a dust cover for added protection. The included tonearm comes with a high-quality Audio-Technica moving magnet cartridge, housed in a removable headshell that allows for easy cartridge replacement and future upgrades.
To ensure precise and accurate playback, the JBL Spinner BT utilizes a speed sensor that locks the 33 1/3 and 45 RPM speeds, guaranteeing perfect pitch reproduction.
The JBL Spinner BT is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2023.
Yamaha R-N1000A, R-N800A, R-N2000A
Yamaha is unveiling new affordable products at the esteemed High End Munich show, including the R-N1000A, R-N800A streaming amplifiers, and R-N2000A integrated amplifier. These network receivers adhere to Yamaha’s strict engineering standards, featuring meticulously symmetrical circuit layouts, optimized signal paths, and low-vibration chassis. The R-N1000A goes even further with a reinforced enclosure and iron damping plate. These models boast high-quality audio components like custom-made power transformers and block capacitors.
Both receivers are equipped with Yamaha’s YPAO audio calibration technology, compensating for room acoustics. They also integrate Yamaha’s MusicCast streaming platform, offering DLNA streaming, access to streaming services, and compatibility with Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, and AirPlay 2. Alongside the expected analog and digital connectivity options, the digital stage incorporates ESS Technology’s 32-bit/384kHz SABRE ES9080Q DAC, supporting high-resolution PCM and native DSD 11.2MHz files via USB.