I was curious to see Soundaware's $1'850 MR1 fully balanced portable player whose standard XLR outputs via outboard block and umbilical easily welcome it into a high-end stationary context. I really like the concept of a battery-powered SD-card transport/DAC without moving bits but a quality screen, intuitive OS and scalable memory. Nothing is easier than swapping out SD cards.

With the rise of cellphones sporting better DAC chips like LG's, the costly DAP genre of course sees competition heating up to possibly become irrelevant over time. Quality headphones with the necessary sensitivity ratings to plug straight into a cellphone are here already to hasten this progress. But for now, super DAPs including those from Astell&Kern or Questyle should still have their day in the sun.

Like Living Voice, Goldmund cater to the absolute elite with their flagship products yet also a very different audience with the Job products. Despite the near antediluvian state of the latter website, nobody to whom I've recommended the Job 225 amp or equivalent integrated has ever been anything less than over the moon. Flashy HTML does nothing for sound. Would Goldmund bring new Job applications?

In Munich I usually run into Simon Lee, previously with April Music but since flying under his own banner of Simon Audio Lab. At least that had been the direction last year. WIth the associated FaceBook page not updated since, I simply didn't know whether this project had born fruit or died on the vine.

The French team of Apertura had announced a new speaker model, new lacquer finishes and scheduled demoes with Roy Gregory of The Audio Beat to demonstrate the importance of proper replay EQ for vinyl. Ken Kessler is another reviewer who routinely lends his presence to certain exhibits and themed presentations. I've been asked myself but politely declined. This type of activity is simply not what I'm going to Munich for. My show MO is more that of a reef shark who believes he must keep cruising the aisles lest he die.

In the über-über integrated sector, Audionet of Germany would bring their new Humboldt for those not married to their separates. Given the mounting acclaim for the latter, this flagship integrated was likely to make a similar victory lap in years to come. Meanwhile Wilson Audio had aired a pre-show teaser video of their TuneTot, announced as their most compact speaker ever.

With a few exceptions, the really big ultra exhibits are usually not where I stop. They're well covered elsewhere by those who are more comfortable with their illustrious price points and more familiar with the associated life styles. The same goes for brands who obviously prefer to pursue their reviews by magazines other than ours. After 16 years of 6moons, certain trends now have solidified to understand and accept such preferences.

A show as important as Munich attracts global press coverage to spread things around such that remote attendance via all subsequent reports tends to cover nearly everything of note. We're just one page in a far bigger book. The informed reader knows exactly where else to look to fill in the holes this report will leave. Except for the Hifi Deluxe, I also avoid outliers in other hotels. This year Fonel of Berlin would show in the Eurostars Grand Central. Urs Wagner of Swiss luxury house Ensemble would hold court at the Pullman hotel [his Massimo Fuoco amp and Ondiva monitor below left]. Such micro events are for dealers and distributors who must make just a few scheduled stops on their itinerary. They aren't for regular press.

Back to things very much for this presser at least would be Questyle's QP2 in its hifi hub. The latter outputs S/PDIF via coax to feed one's resident DAC, turns the DAP into a pure digital transport whose battery remains permanently charged by the dock and whose IR remote navigates the SD card contents in lieu of the click wheel. The dock also outputs analog on RCA, perfect for a mini system with active speakers which converts to upscale mobile with one tug on the player.

This would appeal to me far more than the ubiquitous costly 'audiophile' server were it not for, ahem, the small display. That I couldn't read at any distance which factors in our non-desktop systems. Had such a dock an HDMI or other video output to a big external monitor... then I'd be all in. I'd get a dock for the desktop, one for the main system, one for the bedroom rig and one source would serve them all plus accompany me on the road. And yes, this colours me an antique from the days when men owned their favourite tunes rather than streamed them off the tangled Interwebs for a subscription access allowance.

From the above you'd rightly suspect that exhibits built around expensive servers wouldn't tickle me for their servers. Already on my 3rd iMac with FusionDrive and PureMusic, I just don't get the genre. To date and over our setup, I haven't yet heard any performance deltas significant enough to want to put up with their expense or reliance on Wifi tablets. If your relationship to servers is infinitely more modern and affirmative à la Antipodes, Aurender, Innuos, Lumin or Xodos, Darko.audio's report should have you fully covered. Where I'm all with the program again is active speakers. For the right customer, they're the only sensible solution. With the likes of Dutch & Dutch, Grimm and Kii serving the upper end, A.D.A.M, Dynaudio, Focal, KEF and their kind the middle ground and Audioengine, Vanatoo & Bros. the entry-level, what new finds would Munich have this year on that score?

For old-timey power-hungry passive speakers, Merrill Audio might suggest their new 400-watt Element 18 monos [$36'000/pr] which power double to 1.6KW into 2Ω and run on gallium nitride transistors with zero negative feedback to suggest a very fast-switching circuit though details in the press release were deliberately sparse.

Finally I was curious about any real lookers, i.e. gear—and particularly loudspeakers—which would be unusually attractive like the well-dressed Danes of Davone. Eye candy has its very own appeal. If it sounds swell to boot, I'd call that a winner. Now you know my mind set and how my hit list was tuned going into Munich. For what actually happened, flip the page...