Munich Hifi Show 07
Munich High End Hifi Show 2007
From the 17th to the 20th May 2007, Munich Germany was home to one of the world’s most interesting hifi shows, “High End 2007”. What sets this show apart from many other shows is the size and the fact that is mainly caters to quality audio, the was virtually no video or anything cheap to be seen. In total 220 exhibitors displayed almost 700 different brands across 15,500 square metres. It was even larger than the 2006 show by about 10% that hopefully shows an increase in interest in this level of audio. Held over the last 20 years, the show has grown and even had to move to a bigger location due to its popularity. Run by the High End Society of Germany, an organisation setup by enthusiast to help foster the industry and gain publicity.
The Thursday was a special trade only day but that didn’t mean any crowds. In fact by opening time crowds had already entered before some of the stands had fully setup. Outside the entrance several car companies had cars on display with bespoke systems to show what was possible in such an environment. Jaguar had a Bowers and Wilkins system and BMW MB Quart. Partnering between hifi brands and car manufacturers had become very popular of late and both side are pushing the connection.
As with most show of this type, demonstrations are limited due to the bad acoustics of the halls. Some stands had small wooden “rooms” set up but they did not do any justice to the systems presented. Upstairs were proper rooms that enabled at least a half-decent listen to equipment and these rooms were occupied usually by the very high-end or those with plenty of capital to spend! Certainly many companies spent a lot and it really shows the difference between the Australian market and that overseas. Musicians were also on hand to entice listeners, I suppose in an effort to show how accurate systems were compared to the real thing. Training and information workshops were regularly held but mostly in German so I didn’t stop to listen very much.
But was there anything new? Sure was but nothing really groundbreaking. I guess most of the really new stuff comes out first at the CES in Las Vegas. Many of the local European manufactures had new models on display for the first time but this was mainly limited to new turntables, a new speaker, amplifier or the like. Some companies had new multi-room systems which while not prevent at the show, are certainly becoming more popular. Small audio systems were also featured, suitable for kitchens or bedrooms; many new devices capable of connecting to an iPod were also on show. Chinese manufactured products were everywhere, many European brands are now realising to compete they must keep the costs down as the audio quality is now so good.
Vinyl was certainly popular from the sublime in any colour you want to the way-over-the-top turntables needing a truck to deliver them. The same was true for cables with some as thick as your arm and a price tag that can buy a car. A huge number of speakers were on show, mostly with traditional technology but some with unusual methods of music reproduction and of course the largest horn-loaded speakers around! It amazed me as to the number of brands that I had never heard of before; many were small operations, all eager to have representation in Australia of course! What was also interesting was who was not there. Many big name brands were not represented, I guess they figured it was not their market or they were chasing other avenues. All in all it was a very interesting show, if only we had something even a tenth of the size here. Two days were not even enough for me to fully take it all in, especially if you stop and talk to people. Virtually everyone was friendly and happy to talk, asking about kangaroos and the like. What is interesting that many exoteric brands said that Asia was their biggest market and they were only exhibiting at the show because so many Asian importers were there looking for the next big thing… The show was really a world event with many travelling from all over the world to see, I wasn’t the only Australian by far!
Written by Leon Gross, originally published in Audio & Video Lifestyle magazine.
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