Munich High End Show 2016

Music need not be a strictly aural pleasure, as our selection of the finest examples proves.

The mecca of high-end audio, The High End show in Munich just shut its doors until next year, but not before we could bring you a peek at some of the most extravagant new temptations from the show floor...


Supersonic listening


If you appreciate any sort of sound besides the incoherence of an 18in woofer mounted in the hatch of an Alto, chances are you have heard of Bowers & Wilkins. But the spanking-new 800 D3 isn’t something you might have heard of yet. B&W took seven years to develop the 800 series with its all-new cabinet and drivers, but it’s really down to this, the 800 D3, which will serve on active duty inside some of the world’s finest recording studios and those who want to bring that studio sound home. Twin 10in Aerofoil bass drivers, a continuum cone midrange driver and a diamond-domed tweeter headline the specs, but it’s also what you don’t see that makes this a must-have for sonic geeks.

Inspired by a ship’s hull, the Matrix cabinet construction ensures extreme rigidity and almost zero flexing of the cabinet with all the internal bass pressure. The cabinet itself is curved from the front, held together by an aluminium spine at the back to reduce joints and focus all the speakers energy forward, into the room.


The Renaissance reborn


You don’t always have to be an art collector to appreciate an artist’s creation. The Martin Logan Renaissance ESL 15A is a speaker that will start as many conversations over wine as a da Vinci masterpiece. But it’s best experienced in solitude, with only your favourite music for company. The Renaissance is the culmination of over 30 years of knowledge Martin Logan has amassed making electrostatic speakers. Their transparency extends beyond the visual, into the sonic realm too. The panels are gently curved and emit sound from both front and back to widen the perceived soundstage, meanwhile eliminating any side wall reflections that would confuse your baby ears.

Laser-engineered woofers, room-correction software and dual 500-watt amplifiers are just some of the words you can drop while persuading whoever you have to for buying these beauts. Using 24-bit DSP to keep the woofers in check for multiple parameters, the Martin Logan is a tour-de-force of tech, designed to bring your music to life.


A concert waiting to happen


Living up to its German DNA for more than 90 years, the only thing Elac was missing was some of the cowboy swagger and gun-slinging ways of the Wild West. And this is the loudspeaker that aims to change the perception once and for all. Designed to be loud, in more ways than one, it will be available in either wood, carbon fibre or leather lashings that will help it to stand out, if you happen to miss the striking oval shape. All of Elac’s greatest hits are present here, and a few new ones to boot. Aluminium sandwich membranes, VX-JET tweeters and more voodoo than your ears can thank you for.

Cleverly putting the tweeter in the middle of the midrange driver has many benefits, but Elac takes it a step further with the VX-JET design. The user can control the suspension of the tweeter, basically moving it further in or forward, thereby changing the acoustic character to match the room and personal preferences.

Formula for success


Normally reserved for race-bred automobiles and watches for the pure-bred racers, carbon fibre isn’t an inexpensive material, but then, Wilson Benesch isn’t your average loudspeaker either. The A.C.T P1 is exactly like its name, business-like. Advanced Composite Technology is the essence of the brand and the P1 wears the world’s first coloured carbon fibre on its sleeves, thanks to Hypetex, a company that hires Formula One engineers on a regular basis.

The resulting sound may not induce the wearing of ear plugs like in an F1 race, but rather make you listen to missing details in Bailamos.

Of course, the cabinet should draw your attention.

After all, it comes in Enzo red carbon fibre and the driver units are made from the elusive material too. But it’s a mix of everything from the design of the cabinet, stand and the drivers themselves that makes this such a stunning achievement.


The Holy dip of gold


A certain Mr. Sakamoto san is responsible for this. Not (insert appropriate Bappi da reference) who you think. He’s been at the helm of many iconic Sony audio projects, but this is what fuses the human and engineering gene together, as per the claims. Each speaker grille is crafted individually and is optional. Not for us (insert appropriate Sindhi reference) since we don’t reside in the Far East or the Middle East. Its sonic credentials are suspect, but really, do you care?

It wasn’t a case of stumbling upon a heavy metal. Anodic Supply has developed a process for making enclosures from aluminium and anodised surfaces, and eventually struck gold. There’s also a sterling silver version in the making, so hold on to that Tanishq purchase just yet.