High End 14 pt.2

Corum Audio
It wouldn’t be Munich without an over the top loudspeaker and this year the hotly contested title goes to Corum Audio from Venice, Italy. The solid wood Sinatra consists of a horn midrange (the sphere) which is 900mm in diameter and the 900mm square bass speaker, both are solid wood and claim a combined sensitivity of 105dB. I didn’t dare ask the price!

Sonus faber Ex3ma 30th Anniversary
Sonus faber launched two loudspeakers in Munich, the floorstanding Lillium and this stealthy looking beast. Restricted to 30 pairs worldwide Ex3ma (Extrema 3) combines aluminmium with carbon fibre and wood in a monocoque construction that must be mighty stiff. It has a diamond coated beryllium tweeter, woven mid/bass and a large racetrack shaped ABR on the rear in place of a reflex port. This model appears to have been created to show that SF can do high tech as well as the rest of them, pity it’s limited to so few and has a price that you have to apply for but is likely to exceed £30,000.

Constellation Audio Inspiration
Constellation has listened to its admirers and produced the first models in its most affordable range to date. The PREAMP 1.0 and AMP 1.0 are still high end in all respects but come in at less than half the price of previous Constellation products. PREAMP 1.0 (£9,000) has the same fully balanced, line stage gain module as its bigger brothers alongside three balanced and three single ended inputs, home theatre bypass and machined aluminium remote handset. The AMP 1.0 (£10,000) is a balanced bridged design that delivers 200 watts into eight and 400 into four Ohms. If you want more power the MONO 1.0 doubles those numbers in two boxes at £20,000. They sounded indecently good driving Wilson Alexia.

Silbatone Western Electric 12/13
No High End event is complete without a set of vintage Western Electric theatre horns from the Silbatone collection. This year they had the 12/13 system of mid and bass horns in place which looked great but weren’t in action when we stepped in. Instead the GIP wooden horns were blasting out classic Queen to highly entertaining effect, and I don’t even like Queen!

Heybrook
We were surprised to find the Heybrook name back in the limelight after what must be 20 years at least. It has been brought back by Peerless India and Peter Hasselriis, the Dane behind Scandyna and a number of other ventures. The prototypes on display featured coaxial tweeters in 6inch woofers and inhabited cubic cabinets made of solid beech. Let’s hope something more classic joins the range.

Graham LS 5/8
Graham brought a pre-production sample of the biggest BBC design to Munich and dressed up in morning suits for maximum Brit factor. The speaker has a 12inch mid/bass developed by Derek Hughes and made by Volt and will be available in passive, active and external crossover versions for around £7,000 this autumn.

M2Tech Mercury
Italian digimaster M2Tech has created Mercury, it’s a bit like a Young DAC doubled up. It runs at up to 32/384 and has two ICs for dual differential operation, analogue input and a raft of digital inputs including I2S which complies with PS Audio’s standard for this connection. Price in Europe will be between €2,500 and €3,000. Mercury (Freddie?) can be used alone or with the Van der Graaf external power supply (c. €700), a two output device that is said to be quieter than a battery supply. Finally Woodstock is a modular stacking system for M2Tech’s smaller components.

Arcam CDS27
Arcam is staying true to the spinning disc with a new SACD player dubbed CDS27, this £800 machine is not so old school however, it can stream wirelessly and be controlled by Arcam’s Songbook app (didn’t Linn bags that name?). It has balanced and single ended outputs and is still produced in Cambridge. For those with other formats to play there is the UDP411 universal with support for Blu-ray, SACD, CD and DVD plus the same streaming function at £1,200.

Sonus faber Lilium
Lilium is a magnificent beast of a speaker, as elegant as any 1.6m high, 103kg design is going to get. It’s unusual in having a separate bass cabinet behind the main cabinet, you can see there are two sections and even the base has two levels with terminals for high, mid and bass drivers. The big driver under the glass at the top is an ABR passive bass unit, the driven bass unit is at the bottom of the cabinet. Mids are covered by a 180mm, neodymium powered unit derived from that made for the Aida albeit with a new chassis and suspension. This is aided by three  upper bass units with sandwich cones and a 28mm ‘Arrow Point’ dome tweeter. Price will be £47,500.

Mark Levinson No.585
Thanks to a new centre of excellence and the arrival of former Krell engineer Todd Eichenbaum, the Mark Levinson brand has finally started to deliver new hardware. First to market is the No.585 integrated amplifier, a $12,000 design with onboard DAC and a card cage architecture which facilitates additional inputs when they are needed. One example being a phono stage which will be available for the No.585 next year. It also embraces contemporary music formats by offering Clarifi, a means of improving the sound of low bit-rate material without using “brute force”. In other words the worse the source quality the harder it works, above red book standard it doesn’t kick in at all and you can even turn it off.

Van den Hul Nano CNT
Van den Hul has always been keen on carbon as conductor so it’s only mildly surprising to see that they have now adopted carbon nanotubes. This we are told is the first commercial application of the cutting edge tech and apparently it’s incredibly slow to make, 500 metres took nine months. Price therefore is proper eye watering, a one metre pair of CNT interconnects will set you back €7,150. But they can be balanced or single ended for that price!

Aim higher!