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Munich Highend 2019

LTig

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#1
Anyone going to Munich? I'll be there on May 11th (2nd visit in my life, 1st one a long long time ago in Frankfurt).
 

LTig

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#2
Anyone going to Munich? I'll be there on May 11th (2nd visit in my life, 1st one a long long time ago in Frankfurt).
Just back home from a long day.

Best SQ: Grimm LS1be with LS1s-dmf Subs
A very natural and resolving sound without any harshness. I listened to a female classical singer and when she was finished I almost gave an applause before I remembered that this was not live. Astounding. Later listened to rock/blues and string orchestra and just perfect. This combination AFAIK costs around € 30000.

highend_2019_Grimm-1.jpg

highend_2019_Grimm-2.jpg


2nd best SQ: Kii Audio with and without BXT subwoofer

Not as neutral as the Grimm but very dynamic and more direct sound (less room influence). With BXT better. Somewhat lower price range than Grimm.

highend_2019_Kii-Audio.jpg

Funniest Show: Silbatone

Horns with 120 dB efficiency, the driver can handle 6W only (required for 1000 persons in a theater). Speakers from 1930-34, amplifier uses a valve from 1917. Quite a lot of THD but could stem from the recording.
You can read more at stereophile.

highend-2019_Silbatone.jpg


Worst SQ: Devore
Very colored and nasal sound, almost no bass. I've no idea why someone would like this sound.

highend_2019_Devore.jpg
 
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LTig

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#3
Horn Speakers

I had listened to horn speakers only once, some 20 years ago at a demo of Avantgarde Acoustic. We listened to the Trio Classic, a system consisting of 3 horns speakers and a traditional boxed active subwoofer with two 12" chassis (both per channel). I was fascinated by the dynamics of this system, both fine and coarse. But you have to keep in mind that I was used to magnetostatic speakers which have bad dynamic behaviour (I just didn't knew it back then). At last we auditioned a classical tenor and here the high mids were almost unbearable, and I knew that I could never live with horn speakers even if I had the money to buy them (which I didn't, the system was twice as expensive as my car).

Therefore one of the tasks for Highend 2019 was auditioning of horn speakers, to find out whether the situation has changed. There were 2 surprises:
  • With one exception no horn speaker had unbearable high mids. But: it is well possible that the ability of my ears to hear high mids has deteriorated so far that a peak in the frequency response is no problem any longer. For example I had no problem with the 6 kHz peak in my HD800. After I used EQ to get rid of it I noticed a smoother sound but I could still live without EQ.
  • The dynamics of all horn speakers was not better as I had expected. But now I am used to listen to active speakers which are also well known for very good dynamics. The good point here is that active speakers are many times cheaper than horn speakers.
This is what I had a chance to see and hear:

Avantgarde Acoustic: good SQ but not outstanding

highend_2019_Avantgarde-Acoustic.jpg


Stein Music TopLine Bob XL: good SQ but not outstanding

highend_2019_Stein-Music.jpg


ESD Acoustic Phoenix: they played kind of a DJ track which first was very grainy. This must have been the recording because then the track changed and became very clean and very loud.

highend_2019_ESD-Acoustic_Phoenix.jpg


Living Voice R25: not accurate but really charming

highend_2019_Living-Voice_R25.jpg


hORNS: SQ not good

Highend_2019_HORNs.jpg
 
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LTig

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#4
Pointsource speakers

Another task was to listen to point source speakers to find out whether they really imagine better than standard speakers. To make it short: no, they didn't, at least not better than my O300D in 3.5 m distance.

Genelec 3-way coax systems: all possessed a very similar and consistent tonality (also the non coax speaker on the outsides, this is a mid field monitor which can play very loud, and the very small ones on the next photo). Of course the bigger models presented the music with more ease and power. But all in all the SQ was not special or highend - this could be good sign though as @edd9000 has noted below as well.

highend_2019_Genelec-Coax.jpg


highend_2019_Genelec-One.jpg


Audium: fullrange chassis with active subwoofer: nothing to write home about, except that my aging ears did not miss any highs. But no fascination as well.

highend_2019_Audium.jpg
 
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LTig

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#5
DIY and Other Ramblings

DIY
SBAcoustic
: the smaller black speaker (right) was OK, the big one (left) was quite coloured

highend_2019_SBAcoustic.jpg


Hypex: NCore power amp SMPS3K with 3 kW: wow, which chassis can handle so much power?

highend_2019_Hypex-SMPS3k.jpg


Big Mouths

Kii Audio
Demo man: first speaker with cardioid bass radiation!!!
Me: what about Geithain speakers who do this for years?
Demo man: Well, they do it with mechanics, we are the first who do it with DSP.

New Project CD-Drive
  • Heinz Lichtenegger: the best drive built ever (we make it all ourself, all others buy computer drives)
    [Oh oh, the US lawyers are probably ready to act ;)]
  • On their homepage you can read this: Today, we know that the drive is essential for reading all the 16 bits out of a CD and most CD players have never seen more than 10 bits.:mad: How comes that I can record CDs via SPDIF into my PC and see 16 bit data?:facepalm:
  • based on legendary Philips drive
  • manufactoring costs € 400
  • finished product (CD drive with SPDIF out only) retails for € 2400

Top view:
highend_2019_project-cd-drive-top.jpg


Bottom view:
highend_2019_project-cd-drive-bottom.jpg


The CD drive with open top:
highend_2019_project-cd-drive-builtin.jpg


Speakers that were OK:
  • Magico M6: I liked what they played (see below)
highend_2019_Magico-M6.jpg


highend_2019_John-Rutter-Requiem.jpg


highend_2019_Hedd.jpg

  • Harbeth Monitor 40.2: according to the sales people these speakers need no wave guide because of the broad front. Well, there are much bigger speakers by Genelec and they all have wave guides.
highend_2019_Harbeth.jpg

highend_2019_Josephaudio.jpg



Speakers I did not like:
highend_2019_Manger.jpg


highend_2019_Audionec.jpg



Outright stupid stuff (in my eyes):
  • Van den Hul The Grail SB: a phono preamp using inductors instead of caps in the RIAA equalisation stage, because it has the same phase shift as the equalisation in the cutting process. Truth is caps have the same phase shift as well, is proven mathematically. And other than caps coils are very sensitive to magnetic fields.:facepalm:
    As much as I like my MC-1 special, but this is BS.
highend_2019_VanDenHul_The-Grail-SB.jpg
https://www.maglevaudio.com/
  • Mag-Lev Audio ML1 turntable: platter hanging in the air free to tumble while the tonearm is fixed to the housing - whoever designed this has no clue how vinyl playback works:facepalm:
  • Auralic Sirius G2 Upsampling Processor: who pays $ 6000 for something which every DAC already does by itsself?
  • 99.9% of the cables
  • Cable supports
Time to bed ... :eek:
 

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cjfrbw

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#6
I like your 'off the bandwagon' reviews.
 
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#7
You got to visit the multichannel setups from Geithain Merging/Nadac/Artnovion (5 channels) and PMC/Bryston (Atmos-immersive).
I was really impressed

4F7DD053-48D4-45AA-89A1-281A5E46478B.jpeg
BA53F494-351D-4293-AB84-6E44FE0B4A6A.jpeg
 

Juhazi

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#8
So... LTig liked two dsp-controlled 3-way speakers best.

Looking the price tag on Grimm and Kii makes me smile inside. Drivers from eg. SEAS, pair of Hypex FA 3-way boards, some know-how and carpentery can lead to world class sound by DIY at 10% of cost. Making it a business venture is not easy though.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/6AYTfK2GbPwogdbw6

 
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Frank Dernie

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#9
So... LTig liked two dsp-controlled 3-way speakers best.

Looking the price tag on Grimm and Kii makes me smile inside. Drivers from eg. SEAS, pair of Hypex FA 3-way boards, some know-how and carpentery can lead to world class sound by DIY at 10% of cost. Making it a business venture is not easy though.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/6AYTfK2GbPwogdbw6

10% or retail is pretty normal for cars. The other 90% covering R&D, design, marketing, tooling and, of course, profit. Advertising budgets are typically higher per unit than BOM because if you can’t get people knowing about it you won’t sell any.
The R&D pays for the know how and prototypes. Tooling investment makes the individual parts cost lower and varies hugely depending on production volume. Profit tends to be high, if only to allow dealers to offer a discount.
When I worked for Garrard the recommended retail price allowed the dealer to offer a 30% discount, common at the time, and still make a profit.
 
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#10
Did you get a chance to take a close look at the Grimm MU-1? I completely agree about the Devores -- the love they get is a mystery to me. Maybe those who love the sound of the Grimms -- like me and you -- are predisposed not to like the Devores. I'd love to see a review of the Devores by Robert Green at The Absolute Sound. He has exactly my taste in audio from what I can tell.
 

Purité Audio

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#11
What immaculate taste you have LTig!
Keith
Sitting in front of both Grimm LS1bes and Kii/BXT at this very moment .
 

LTig

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#12
So... LTig liked two dsp-controlled 3-way speakers best.
I didn't know the Grimms were DSP controlled. I just like neutral speakers. In 2004 I replaced magnetostatic panelspeakers by active 3-way studio monitors (first reaction after listening to the O300D in my room: "I didnt' knew the Maggies were soooo bad"). Becoming used to linear frequency response and great dynamics all systems were replaced over the years by studio monitors (even the wife's).
Looking the price tag on Grimm and Kii makes me smile inside. Drivers from eg. SEAS, pair of Hypex FA 3-way boards, some know-how and carpentery can lead to world class sound by DIY at 10% of cost. Making it a business venture is not easy though.
With DIY you may be able to make a similar enclosure with identical drivers and electronics. The real knowhow is in the programming of the DSP, and I see no easy way to reengineer this. The only way I can see is to get hold of an LS1, open its foot and do a lot of measurements with first rate equipment to measure impulse response and delays of each driver. Il Grimm is clever there software detects this and outputs nothing or something wrong ...
 

LTig

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#14
Did you get a chance to take a close look at the Grimm MU-1?
No, sorry. I was in a hurry because I was there for one day only and there was so much to see and hear.
I completely agree about the Devores -- the love they get is a mystery to me. Maybe those who love the sound of the Grimms -- like me and you -- are predisposed not to like the Devores.
And the opposite is probably true as well.
 

LTig

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#15
10% or retail is pretty normal for cars. The other 90% covering R&D, design, marketing, tooling and, of course, profit. Advertising budgets are typically higher per unit than BOM because if you can’t get people knowing about it you won’t sell any.
The R&D pays for the know how and prototypes. Tooling investment makes the individual parts cost lower and varies hugely depending on production volume. Profit tends to be high, if only to allow dealers to offer a discount.
When I worked for Garrard the recommended retail price allowed the dealer to offer a 30% discount, common at the time, and still make a profit.
Yes, the difference between production cost and retail price can be amazing. I can tell these stories:
  • In the late '70ies my french teacher bought an Accuphase integrated amp at a befriended dealer and got it for the price the dealer had to pay the importer. He paid 45% of the retail price.
  • In 1997 I made my own DIY preamp. My dealer wanted to hear it (earlier he had also sold a few selfmade preamps) and we compared the line level stage against two Naim preamps, a NAC 62 and a NAC 52. My preamp sounded better then the 62 but not as good as the 52. Using their retail prices as calculation point my preamp was about a factor of 5 cheaper than its estimated retail price - counting material only of course.
    Sometime later I had a conversation with the developer of Avantgarde Acoustic and he confirmed that a factor of 6-8 between production cost and retail price is quite normal.
 
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#17
I was there on the Thursday, It's a great show. I found the Grimm and Kii a but underwhelming, but that is usually a good sign :)
 

invaderzim

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#18
Yes, the difference between production cost and retail price can be amazing. .....
We would probably just end up boycotting most products if we really knew what they cost to make compared to what we pay.

Decades ago I worked at a Ford dealership; Ford would have a fair amount of parts shipped directly to us from their manufactures. One day one of the parts had an invoice attached that was the bill to Ford for the part. It was a small metal bracket that Ford charged us around $25 for. We would then sell that part to a body shop for around $32. The body shop would charge their customer $48.
The price that Ford paid? $2
 

RayDunzl

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#19
Let's see...

My "cost of labor" - about $0.00

Fortunately, my employers saw it differently, for whatever reason.
 

sergeauckland

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#20
Back in the distant past, we used to price our products 5x material cost. That was for Professional Broadcast products, with no software involvement and sold direct to the end user so no dealer margin.
For a consumer product sold through a dealer, that means a 25-50% dealer margin plus 20% VAT, so the retail price would be around 10x material cost. For a modern product where a lot of the development is in software that has next to no material cost, the uplift from material cost to retail is even higher. Material cost therefore is pretty much irrelevant to the selling price of a product except for those products made of unobtanium, rolled on the thighs of Vestal Virgins. Price is even less relevant to any consideration of technical quality as Amir's measurements all too often show.

S
 

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