It's in the name. Unlike CES where high-end audio has become the ever more underinflated spare tyre of the consumer electronics umbrella, the annual German show in Munich has always been dedicated to HighEnd audio. Whilst the occasional exhibit might include video, what doesn't compete for our attention are hookers, skanky porn convention stars, endless smoke-filled casinos and the equivalent of the Las Vegas convention center with its smartphone, IT, giant screen, computer, drone, game and gizmo exhibits. That doesn't mean the Munich event is free from offboarders. For years, a cadre of manufacturers who either couldn't get M.O.C. space or who were unhappy with its acoustics have supported a parallel show called hifideluxe. That's in the Munich Marriott hotel with direct shuttle service from the M.O.C. Other outliers have popped up in a building right across from the M.O.C. Years past have even seen exhibits in the Four Seasons Hotel. Be fruitful and multiply?
 

Whether one views such sideshows as coocoo's eggs, 'the resistance' or unavoidable spillover wherever exhibit space fails demand, the special appeal of having everything within footwalk under one giant roof dilutes.

Still, for those who opt for a parallel venue, the lure, of even at a fraction tapping the massive audience which the main event draws to town, outweighs not being there at all. There are even manufacturers who don't host exhibit space anywhere. Instead they roam the hallways incognito to collect industry intelligence and hold impromptu meetings. If one means to scope out the competition and develop feelers for where the global market is headed, Munich is the perfect place for stealth attendance. For most press members easily recognized, flying below the radar is impossible even though it might be an attractive way to work a show again. Should I shave my beard, get a nose job, tan and blond wig? On second thought, perhaps not. Such anonymity is reserved for the forum posters. Unlike CES, Munich welcomes them and general consumers without fake ID. Only the first day is reserved for the trade. Fri-Sun is open house. At least for audiophiles inside Europe, this event really is the very best way to see and hear the vast majority of makers and shakers. For members of the press then, it's an opportunity also to meet those readers who attend and say hello. If you're there, do!

What's up with those earlier cherries? The event has grown so big that to report on it all would end in a War & Peace epic. Anyone not with a completion complex thus cherry picks. It reflects not only personal interest and focus but pure chance and timing. Some rooms could be so crammed when one happens upon them that to get in, take a listen and snap pix is impossible. Others could take place behind closed doors not scheduled to reopen in time. A demo could be so obviously bedeviled by issues—possibly sorted an hour or day later—that one decides to skip it. Then there's sheer oversight from sensory overload; unintended and sorely regretted after the fact but now too late. Finally there's the human element. Where throughout a year of reviewing and reporting the average journalist communicates with folks exclusively by email, a show is a chance to put faces to names, rekindle acquaintances and shoot the breeze in person. Such occasions can deflect methodical coverage plans and take out big chunks of time. Any show report is thus always a clash between discipline and improvisation, between doing the job and just having fun. Bigger magazines send a team of writers with specific assignments each. Such focus narrows the playing field. For my part, all and everything is the starting point. It's the tree from which certain fruit gets shaken while others remains unpicked. Bon appetite and do check for the rest elsewhere. There'll be coverage from our syndication partners at DAR, fairaudio, Audiophile Magazine and HifiKnights plus colleagues from many more publications around the world. I knew I'd be checking them all out as soon as my own report had wrapped.