Magazine article Gramophone

Why Isn't More Classical Music Played at Hi-Fi Shows? Munich's Audio Event Revealed Plenty of Products to Inspire, but Not Much Music to Excite

Magazine article Gramophone

Why Isn't More Classical Music Played at Hi-Fi Shows? Munich's Audio Event Revealed Plenty of Products to Inspire, but Not Much Music to Excite

Article excerpt

Now firmly established as one of the world's better hi-fi shows, or possibly even the best, the annual High End show in Munich provides a showcase for those manufacturers wanting maximum exposure before serious audio enthusiasts, not to mention a platform for those with rather more radical design ideas, or companies just dipping their toe in the hi-fi waters and wanting to sound out visitors as to the viability of their products.

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It's moved beyond being just a show for German manufacturers and distributors to sell to home-market enthusiasts: this year's event attracted over 500 exhibitors from more than 40 countries, with over half of those being non-German, while of the 20,000-plus visitors almost a third were from outside Germany. More than almost any other event, it's a must-see for those involved in the audio industry, and it's also noticeable that increasing numbers of enthusiasts are being tempted by low-cost flights and accommodation--oh, and the local beer--to get together with some friends and make a weekend of it.

While the show was perhaps a bit light on groundbreaking new launches, there was no shortage of novelty, with the attention being grabbed by a massive wooden horn speaker on display in one of the main glass-ceilinged atrium areas, and a tempting array of cars with high-end audio systems fitted on show in another of the halls.

And as an indicator of how seriously the car industry is now taking standard-fit or optional factory-fitted audio systems, to the chagrin of those companies involved in the aftermarket car audio industry, the brands represented ranged from Porsche, with Burmester audio onboard, to a much photographed Rolls-Royce Wraith, complete with an audio system developed by German company Eton, and the new Skoda Superb, which comes with a 12-speaker, 610W system developed by another German company, Canton.

On the home audio front, one thing many people were keen to investigate further was the Meridian-developed MQA system, which promises high-resolution downloads and streaming using no more bandwidth than CD-quality music, plus a means of delivering all the quality of original recordings and an assurance that what you're hearing is the sound as the artist or producer intended it to be heard. That's the 'Authenticated' part of Master Quality Authenticated, and the news at the show was that the company is now in discussion with more than 100 potential business partners, from streaming service providers to hardware companies such as Arcam and Onkyo. However, beyond Meridian's own products, there's still no firm news as to when MQA-enabled hi-fi equipment will start to hit the market, the company only promising that the 2015 IFA show, to be held in Berlin in September, will bring the next wave of announcements. …

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