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As happened at CES
with the outboard T.H.E. show, already four years ago HighEnd Munich* (originally in Frankfurt) generated its own called Hifi Deluxe. Such parasitic events obviously undermine the stellar under-one-roof convenience of the Munich convention center called the MOC. It quite brazenly poaches audio visitors who are in town only because of the HighEnd show's massive PR machine. Responsible for the present cookoo's egg in the Marriott Hotel on the Berliner Strasse are Volker Bohlmeier of Einstein Audio and Dieter Mallach of Malvalve.

* Spelled München in German, the Italians spell it - yes Monaco. That turns the famous Bayern München soccer club into Bayern Monaco. München as Club Med is a bit farfetched, wouldn't you agree?

Munich Marriott

With 58 brands opting to support the renegade show for 2014—this included Audiopax, Audiomachina, ModWright and Rethm which I wanted to see—it's become much harder to ignore as I've done in years past. Shuttle busses between both locations take care of getting you there every quarter hour from the Heidemannstraße stop off the MOC. Even so it does rather bust Munich's appeal of a single location. And as though that weren't enough, Stenheim's new CEO Jean-Pascal Panchard once again would go entirely off the reservation by soloing it at the Kempinski. On Friday after regular show hours he announced a presentation for those with sufficient attention, stamina and curiosity. Since my hotel sits right around the Marienplatz to accommodate my annual CD grab at Beck's and to put me close to a lovely sushi bar and organic food store with a small deli counter, I can easily walk to it from the Kempinski. That said, I still wish manufacturers showed unilateral support for a single venue and stopped wasting our time by having to cover multiple locations!

On my list of mandatory destinations were Albedo Audio whose small Accuton-fitted floorstander I'd loved to pieces during its review; Analog Domain's new Isis amp available in multiple configurations as stereo, mono and integrated; the French Apertura speakers because of Grand Cru Audio's Horizon on review; AURALiC for their new Aries; Bakoon Products Intl. for their new trickle-down headphone amp priced below the stellar HPA-21; Basso Continuo's new Reference Aeon rack whose low-mass Carbon-composite structure and viscoelastic suspension mirror Grand Prix Audio's concept; Boenicke Audio's newest Anna showing with Serbian brand Auris Audio if Sven finished his first pair in time; the second Swiss/Serbian showing of Trafomatic Audio and soundkaos whose Wave 40 speakers were rumoured to be 4cm deeper than mine for larger cubic volume and more bass reach...

Boenicke's new 3-way Anna concept - 11.4cm wide, 77.6cm tall, 26cm deep

... Dan Wright's Elyse fully tubed D/A converter; the crew from EnigmAcoustics whose Mythology M1 had impressed me during its review; Living Voice's Kevin and Lynn Scott whose demo last year had cleaned everyone else's clock by many hours if not an entirely different time zone; Mola-Mola's Bruno Putzeys for an update on his amps; Nagra's HD DAC finally in full production rumoured to show with a prototype of their first high-power amplifier; Octave's new HP700 preamp; Oppo's HA-1 DAC/headfi amp to match the PM-1 planar headphones I had in on review; Rethm which I expected would run either their full tube or hybrid integrated amplifier I'd never yet heard; Suesskind's Joachim Gerhard for a demo of his Puls widebander; and Tune Audio from Greece for whatever new speaker they might show. In general I was keen on finding a music server that'd be as functional as my 27" iMac + PureMusic + DAC combo, cost roughly the same yet seriously improve upon its sound. Fat chance?

Munich Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten

I knew that John Darko of Australia's DAR webzine would be in town. A first meeting in person was de rigueur. Ditto to see and thank our ad sponsors for their continued support without which 6moons wouldn't exist and you'd not read us. There had to be the team at making the rounds and other collaborators past and present whom I might run into entirely unexpected. Which is the prime reason for attending any show after all: the element of surprise and the unexpected. And I'm not talking about the annual alp horn fanfare.

It's different for all of us. So very much depends on exactly where one finds oneself at any given moment. That's true for the sound, the music playing, whether the room is full or empty, one's attention still keen or already dulled by sensory overload. It's true also for which host is present and whether a demo is accessible only by prior appointment. A person you hoped to meet could be at lunch, on the loo, in a meeting, behind closed doors or at a second exhibit they're supporting. Some hit'n'miss is inevitable. As usual, my plan was most basic. Start with the MOC's upper floor on trade Thursday. That'd give me the best chance at active demos before the public might clog the most popular rooms on Friday and Saturday (I'd leave early on Sunday). Hit Hifi Deluxe Friday afternoon capped off with the solitary Kempinski room. Use Saturday for the MOC's ground floor exhibits. Any time remaining would send me back to favorite rooms to soak up good sound and discover new tunes. But in essence the overriding motto would be to improvise and follow the spur of the moment. I'm so not one to make appointments. They force you to rush and buzz to particular rooms at fixed times. I hate that. I prefer going with the flow and see where things take me. I'd make for a terrible show organizer.