High End Munich 2019 Day Two Coverage—Even More Turntables!

Day two at High End Munich 2019 brought consumer crowds to the show, adding excitement and a great deal of noise. The video highlights many more new turntables, phono preamps and record cleaning devices and even one useful digital product for those who also play SACDs, DVD-As and Blu-ray music discs.

There was even time for record shopping and some walking around though it took all of day three and some of day four to cover it all and that video will soon be posted.

Day 4 presented an opportunity to hit some rooms and actually sit down and listen to some music in a somewhat less noisy and less crowded environment. Unfortunately the musical choices in most rooms were mundane, played to death "audiophile classics". Playing it safe at this point really isn't. It's boring and annoying—and not just to those of us who cover these events for a living! I heard many consumer complaints about the "same old, same old" they were hearing in too many rooms.

The overwhelming majority of digital music playback was server-sourced and high resolution. I recall seeing CDs used in but a few rooms and vinyl playback available and being used in a larger proportion of them than previously. Reel to reel tape was also being used in more rooms but that number remained small. You'd have to go back to the pre-CD days to see more turntables being played at a hi-fi show. In our world, that's progress!

The improvement in source quality and to a lesser degree improved room acoustical treatment and methods helped produce sound that generally was good and in some rooms spectacular. The result was not surprising: more rooms filled with people sitting quietly, listening intently and enjoying the experience. Now that's progress! NOTE: Warner Music initially blocked this video because Paul Simon's "Homeless" played in the background in one short scene in the Kondo/Kawero! room. So when you get there and there's no sound, you'll know why. In another room I take the blame: the microphone was accidentally off.

volvic's picture

At 6 euros for japanese pressings is a steal. One of these days will make my way there and ship all my purchases.....

Fsonicsmith's picture

Mike (I gather you have concluded that you have grown to "mature" to go by "Mikey" any more); I know that you are not a huge fan of vintage idlers but yet you are aware that many of us, your colleague Art Dudley included, are. So let's talk-if you don't mind-about the decision by SME to display this particular 301. Don't you find it rather bizarre? They reconditioned an original 301 manufactured in 1954-58 by the looks of it (it is rimless, so it should be '54-'56) and placed a non-matching platter on it (I believe the stroboscopic platter did not arrive until the rim appeared on the chassis) and they then simply took a Loricraft plinth and doctored it up a little with their own vibration damping material under the arm and upper plinth and placed an M2-12R on it. I ask you; when it comes to announcing a new product launch in the context of SME's acquisition of the rights to the Garrard name, is there anything more intellectually and physically lazy than this effort? I understand that the market potential likely does not support the tooling-up costs associated with a from-the-ground-up remanufacturing of the legendary 301 but SME could have re-engineered and come to market with it's own motor, speed controller, idler mechanism, main bearing, and even the platter and plinth. As a 301 owner, I am not the least bit upset; SME's laziness means that my 301 is every bit as good if not better than SME's version. So why do I care? Because it is insulting, I guess. Why did SME even bother to acquire Garrard. Why did it bother with this [non]effort?

OldschoolE's picture

Yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with legacy turntables. Fine, the stock ones may not have SRA or VTA adjustment, but that is not a deal breaker in the slightest. To get the same performance quality as say a Pioneer PL-510A for example, you would have to spend at least $8000 maybe more, on a turntable and that is just to match Direct Drive. Legacy tables perform just as fine as the more somewhat expensive tables today. Turntables are like speakers, you can only go so far in the technology before you end up outside of the very item you are talking about or building. At a certain point, the technology doesn’t and hasn’t really changed save the optical carts and novelty mag-left tables.

Anton D's picture

I looked at it like a car show mock up, with future details to emerge.

I was surprised it turned out to be NOS parts slapped together, but like the legacy idea.

volvic's picture

I was hoping for a new built from the ground up Garrard or that they looked at the weaknesses of the Garrard and built new parts and in the video I suppose SME says they cleaned it up and rebuilt it and voila here is a new Garrard 301. Only that is what Loricraft has been doing right? I think there was pressure to display and they offered something - not groundbreaking, not even evolutionary. But to expect something new and paradigm shifting was wishful thinking on my part. That said they did say they will be making one from the ground up and look forward to see what they present. They also said that this will be a very exclusive product so I fully expect a very high price - a la Shindo level. Still, it is good that such a great turntable has the support it deserves from such a great company.

volvic's picture

Michael, why can't we edit after we post like we can on Stereophile's site? I type fast and would sometimes like to go back and make some mods. Surely you can add an edit function so some of us can correct our horrible writing and spelling?

PAR's picture

When SME bought the rights to the Garrard brand they also took over Loricraft. Loricraft's business is reconditioning classic Garrard turntables. They are now a subsidiary company of SME and apparently have a space on the SME stand at exhibitions. This 301 is basically just a continuation of the work that Loricraft have been doing for years though it now seems to be available as a package rather than just on a custom basis.

It is strongly rumoured that SME themselves may show a brand new Garrard branded turntable which is SME engineered at the 2020 High End show. That, I hope, will feature 21st century materials and engineering.

OldschoolE's picture

Hey now Michael, I thought you were not allowed to record shop anymore, because….oh, wait, since when did we vinyl lovers ever obey those rules?:)
I’m somewhat surprised about the music selections being played at Munich as you report. Usually, Europe is more open-minded and progressive in that area as well. In other words, they usually play real music and not the same old, so-called “safe” stuff. I agree the “safe” stuff is anything but. In my mind, if the gear can’t handle real music, music everyday folks play or complex music like classical or prog-rock or what have you, then maybe the piece of gear is not all that good. There is more to life that tinkling piano or pink or white noise.

You Tube is hypocritical.

Ortofan's picture

... the Funk Firm Bo!ng isolation feet to test on his Rega?

What wristwatch was Ken Kessler wearing?

Tom L's picture

Yes, you made me laugh with that one.

garyalex's picture

As usual Michael does an excellent job covering the show. As a veteran attendee of numerous RMAF and other US-based shows I have to say this show looks like a lot more fun than any RMAF I've attended. There are more people, more records, more everything of interest to me. I think maybe I've been going to the wrong shows.

Daniel Emerson's picture

A combination record-cleaner and sous-vide cooker is either genius or insane. Most likely both.

TC's picture

I visited the Kondo room when I was in Munich, so I heard it firsthand. I have to say, while it was good, it was not commensurate with the price level, and really not much different in sound versus other high end systems.
The Wilson room was quite good. I wandered in as Darryl Wilson arrived to talk a bit about the DAW. Really a shame the sound was lost, because it was one of the better rooms. Crowded, too.