Three years after the High End fair had set new records, a reduced fair had to rise from the ashes after almost two years of covid-19.
What was considered by many to be perhaps the most important trade fair for high-end hi-fi had traditionally been very well attended.
Nearly 500 exhibitors welcomed over 400 journalists and 20,000 paying visitors each year, and the fair was duly covered from the west coast of the US to the east coast of Japan. Everyone who was anyone in high-end – and quite a few who weren’t – were to be found at High End Munich.
So how would it go, opening for the first time after a long global shutdown? Beyond all expectations, it would turn out!
Naturally, the fair had fewer exhibitors in fewer square metres than in previous years. Many of the exhibitors who were usually there stayed home. This was true not only of 90 percent of the Asian exhibitors, but also of many from Europe and the United States. The three main markets for high-end hi-fi.
The public was first admitted on Saturday 21 May, but even before the opening at 10am there were long queues outside the entrances to the MOC centre on the outskirts of Munich.
Exhibitors, distributors and the press had been meeting in the days before, and in many places there was a great sense of reunion. In fact, there was a very positive atmosphere at the High End fair, more so than before, and most attendees were just walking around, smiling and greeting. And the bearhugs were plentiful.
As usual, there was a lot of strange music to be heard, and it varied greatly how successful the sound was in the different rooms. Some of the most expensive systems didn’t sound good at all, often because the small spaces were a problem for large speakers, which often favour models with more moderate physics.
But there were many options for a goosebump-inducing listening experience, including the DALI Kore and Monitor Audio Concept 50. Several others had hit the mark with the setup in the room, and in some places the sound was so good it was almost beyond belief. And it was rarely the most expensive systems that accounted for the biggest jaw-droppers.
Another feature of the fair this year was the sheer number of turntables on display. Analogue was everywhere at the fair.
Nor should we forget Dynaudio’s very interesting Focus wireless speakers, which we can’t wait to test. The same goes for Yamaha’s RN-2000A wireless. A hefty integrated amplifier – with DAB radio (!).