Munich is a magnificent city and it is only my second visit, and my first for the High End Show!
I had the opportunity to spend 3 full days there - out of 4, the duration of the Show - and being kind of short of time, I decided to structure my days around a particular topic...
So Part One of my reportage will feature the numerous French brands who were exhibiting.
Some famous names indeed like Focal and Devialet, but some new and unknown to me like Audionec, a highlight of my visit. So on we go!
Germany is one of the biggest export markets for Cabasse, hence why Christophe Cabasse has become fluent in German, not a mince feast! Not a great amount of new products there, but a solid traditional offering with the new improved Baltic 4 mated with the new Santorini 38 subwoofer. Impressive comes to mind!
AMADEUS PHILARMONIA by Jean Nouvel - Merging-Nadac
I had met the people from Merging-Nadac at RMAF 2017 where they were showing their wares thru a pair of Definitive Technologies speakers.
In Munich, they went a notch higher in price, specifications and design by teaming up with audio pro French manufacturer Amadeus, showing off their new Jean Nouvel designed Philarmonia speakers. I have to admit that I spent an inordinate amount of time listening to them in non ideal conditions and I was quite taken by their precise, but still smooth sound.
SUPRAVOX - BC Acoustique
One of my very first speaker designs was indeed based on this iconic driver, the engine in the Elipson spheres developed for the national French Radio ORTF. Supravox has been through a number of iterations and ownerships, not all respecting the original design, but still trying to capitalise on the famous brand. I have been assured by the new owner BC Acoustique that we are back to the original design and performance... I am tempted to buy a pair to recreate the famous "event laminaire" cabinet and enjoy the benefits of a very efficient full range driver.
New kid on the block! Starting with a DAC/Streamer and then moving onto an integrated solution, B Audio have certainly spent some time and money on the look of their products... I have been assured that the inside is as beautiful and well designed than the outside. It was their first foray into exporting, so we wish them all the best in their marketing efforts!
MULIDINE, YBA and friends
And so the story goes: I met Jacki Pugh, the charing lady in the photo above in the 90s at CEDIA Expo, at the time a small gathering of 30 exhibitors in a hotel in Dallas, Texas. She introduced me to Len Wallis and other Australian Hifi characters way before I had any idea I would one day relocate to Australia.
By a twist of fate, she ended up working for Shangling, a reputable Chinese audio manufacturer who bought over YBA, a very famous French brand of amplifiers designed by Yves Bernard Andre, for which she has become the International Sales Manager.
One could be tempted to transfer the "Paul Emile Victor" the famous French explorer joke to Yves Bernard André and ask which one of the three is actually the real inventor, lol...
But rest assured that this holy trinity is one and unique gifted electronic engineer.
Now, when Jacki was planning to exhibit in Munich a few years back, she turned to me for a recommendation of a French speaker manufacturer who would be interested to join.
Well, it just happened that one of my ex-colleague and distinguished audiophile Marc Fontaine has taken over another iconic French brand Mulidine. Et voilà! As they, the rest is history...
I live literally 5 minutes drive away from Len Wallis Audio, but it takes the two us to travel to Munich to spend some quality together, and in this case on the Triangle stand who Len distributes in Australia since losing the Focal agency after their merge with Naim Audio. I also had a chat with the son of the relatively new owner, Marc Le Bihan, a wine enthusiast - that's how he befriended Renaud de Vergnette the founder and eventually bought the business when Renaud decided to retire - who has by another twist of fate bought over Mas Amiel, a winery in French Catalogne, near Collioures, who used to belong to a distant cousin of my grandfather... Small world!
Do I need to present Metronome? They make arguably the most expensive CD player on the Planet, but that doesn't prevent people to buy heaps of them... What you might not know is that their first products were...speakers! And to celebrate new ownership and 30 years in business, they have designed those amazing speakers, part vintage Triangle 1180, part Focal Grande Utopia, but certainly not for the faint hearted or the poor audiophile, lol...
And obviously, they are still making the most expensive and arguably best CD player on the Planet!
A pink Grande Utopia? Why not? What success and brand awareness allow you to do...
GOLDMUND - not exactly French, but...
They look familiar, but these are entirely new speakers powered by DSP and digital amplification! Static demo unfortunately, so a trip to Geneva will be "de rigueur"
A very innovative company and new kid on the block too, Dyptique Audio is making a range of planar speakers and they sound fabulous, built and assembled in Montauban, the city made famous in the audio industry by Bouyer, the purveyor of sound reinforcement for all our beautiful French churches...Amen!
Under the new technical management of Philippe Penna, Elipson has come up with very decent speakers at a very competitive price as Made in China. Joseph Leon is probably turning in his grave, but eh the brand is still alive, so who am I to complain? The turntable is also a great addition to the range.
AUDIONEC - JADIS - au temps futur...
That was the big surprise of the Show! These speakers are about the same price as a Grande Utopia from Focal...But they do make the most amazing music! Probably one of the best speakers I ever listened to in my 50 years Hifi career. That paper dipole. open baffle sounds absolutely amazing... I will rephrase: it doesn't sound anything...It is the most transparent driver I have ever heard, effortless, highly efficient, reproducing instrument timbres accurately.
The two 38cm woofers and the super ribbon tweeters are there to extend but not compromise the full range main driver. Astonishing! Driven by Jadis tube amplifiers... Best exhibit at the Show by far...
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.