This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below
As though to rub in their father'n'son connection, Vitus Audio and Alluxity had an otherwise very similar display and system.

Being mentally of more a blue- than white-collar streak, I chatted with the younger Vitus (he's only 21 or 22 years old) whose lower price points are closer to my personal comfort zone.

Oliver Göbel again showed with Analog Domain mono amps as he had last year and once more had their tower-of-power line-source sub in the mix.

As these fore/aft photos show, Göbel's big speakers center on their wood-composite flat bending-wave driver flanked by paralleled mid/woofers for an ambitious two-way design.

Here's the control box for the mighty subwoofer. With this type of driver horsepower on hand, running such a short lap at the MOC made an obvious mockery of this system's full potential. But that's actually true for most flagship speakers today. They're far more than most people need or ever get to tap. That's why my personal interest in the super or luxury leagues is focused on monitors or 'stumpy' floorstanders. Paying for top quality is necessary if that be your ambition. Buying more than you need or can use is silly excess and as such rather inelegant. But it's just as easy to appreciate why makers would want to show their biggest and best. It's a classic catch 22.

Apparently already reviewed formally in the UK as a showgoer told me, Javier Guadalajara's new Mizik components as technological trickle-downers from his hi-tech Wadax kit come in at €2'000 each for the DAC, streamer and phono stage.

Having met Javier at an Istanbul hifi do a few years ago to be well informed about his Wadax products and the decades-long engineering which he and his father pooled into them, seeing these vertical components generated in me an instant sense of having chanced upon the perhaps technically most exciting find at the show. I better find that review now to see whether my suspicions were correct.

Finally we get to my personally most important new product: Octave's new HP700 valve preamp with outboard power supply. Starting at €11'000, its fully modular concept allows the user customization including MM and MC boards with or without transformer coupling; transformer-coupled true XLR inputs; a 47-click stepped volume control to change the remote-powered continuous version; a tube-powered tone-control module (see the six top knobs in the second photo); and more.

Why did I select this deck as my personally most important new product? Because I'm one of those fossils who believes that analog attenuation beats digital especially at low listening levels; and that a truly superior valve preamp with modern bandwidth and noise performance exceeds source-direct drive in 99% of all cases.

In short, a premium valve preamp is nearly mandatory for 'my' kind of sound. Here Andreas Hofmann is the sort of modern tube kit designer who approaches this matter with a proper grounding in real engineering and something novel to contribute to the art. Heck, who else would dare tone controls or even think of them in the first place?

Now we'll close my lengthy book on München 2014 with a photo that'll momentarily fluster my competitors by suggesting a room they strangely missed. No, Blackwood from Croatia wasn't there with any physical product. Relax. Their Mano Pavetic merely roamed the highways and byways of the MOC with a prospectus and business cards in hand. But he does have rather ambitious plans. When asked whether he could get these rakish aluminator cabs made domestically, he nodded his head. The company he sources from specializes in surgical implants like replacement hips. For very large parts they have a factory in Germany. For smaller to medium parts they work out of Croatia. When I mentioned the many reports on metal finishing issues I'd somehow picked up like a walking lint brush, he shook his head. His guys seem to be well beyond any such complaints. Which does come at a price. Perfection costs no matter how much DIYers love to claim that they can achieve the same for so much less; or some armchair cat wants to break down for us what stuff should really cost (if you wanted to be out of business in a few months' time that is). There's theory and idealism. And then there's reality. Which, like it or not, bites.

From the always capable Renata Paxa of Germany's High End Society running this show, let's consider these bytes of a different sort. From her concluding report we learn that this 33rd installment had 452 exhibitors with ca. 900 brands who came from 40 different countries (that's a 25% uptick over last year) and welcomed a total of 17'855 visitors for a 10% growth in attendance. And unlike Las Vegas, there were no casinos to deal with, no porn convention skanks in the elevator or mob-era unions asking for cash to carry your laptop into your room.

As John Darko from Down Under put it who'd never attended before, "this show leaves all the others in the dust. I'm seriously debating now whether I should ever return to another US show." If it were purely about scale, I'd tell John that München is the only show to do all year. In Europe #2 would be Warsaw. In Asia Guangzhou is the big one. Of course us journos feel obliged to support our regional or domestic events no matter how small or insignificant. That's how it ought to be. But if it were solely about catching the most birds with one stone—or whatever hifi's equivalent is, exactly—this event be the one. Move over, Keanu Reeves.

To do this show proper justice would require a team of at least two but preferably more. Since I solo'd, I refer you to show reports on SoundStageGlobal, TheAudioBeat and HifiStatement to plug the holes I left and the things I missed. John Darko will have his own coverage spread across his site and social media pages. If you combine all of us—Stereophile's Art Dudley and Michael Fremer were there too—you might cover everything from the comfort of your chair. But probably not. This thing was huge...

PS: About an hour after I'd uploaded this final page, my phone range. It was Kerem from Absolare calling in from Istanbul whilst driving his car. He wanted to know what the name of the Funda Arar track was we'd played in his room off my show CD. It had been"Yagmur" from her Sevgilerde album. He'd really enjoyed it but forgotten to ask right on the spot. Now that's the true colour of a diehard music lover. Our sort will chase down a particular music track that went under our skin no matter how long it takes or what is involved. If I entertained any subconscious doubts as to whether we were an endangered species, this call set me straight again. We're still here!