The editor: Kazi is our man in Germany. He lives in Munich and could reach the show with public transport.
Had a great first day at the High-End Munich 2022. Met up with a lot of people, especially Vitalie Sandu of SoundNews.net. Couldn’t meet Resolve and Cameron because it was almost afternoon by the time I got there and I had to talk with some people quickly.
Tried the Kann Alpha Max, proper upgrade over OG Kann Alpha. The OS is still sluggish but the mids on these are noticeably more organic. Has the same bass punch and crystalline treble as the original so I think this is a good upgrade.
Then met the awesome people at Final Audio, and tried their latest TWS which I forgot the model number of (will take note tomorrow). They also had Stax SR-X9000 which is a phenomenal headphone. The driver is a thing of beauty, just check the picture.
Spirit Torino from Italy had the Mistral which sounds “grand” for a wireless headphone. Will check it out even further tomorrow. On the DAC side, DCS Bartok Rossini is a good one that I tried today but yeah well it didn’t sound like something exorbitantly exceptional. Need a closer listen tomorrow (today I listened the Meze Elite and DCA Ether 2 on them).
Spirit Torino also had the craziest headphones I’ve seen till now: Spirit Torino Valkyria. Costs $12K, made to order, Titanium housings, weighs like 800gms or so, and of course the cable is fixed. There are also some ruby-like materials inside and a carbon-fiber driver housing because why not.
As for the sound: these slam like a freight-train. One of the most energetic headphones I’ve heard, even though there was no sibilance or harshness upon initial listen. Also they have a very “grand” sense of stage height, though stage depth and width didn’t seem as impressive as the Stax X9000 or the good ol’ HD800S.
Also tried Campfire Audio’s new flagship, the triple-dynamic one. It has very good bass and an energetic signature. Gotta listen again tomorrow to form longer impressions. Mr. Ken Ball was also very welcoming and we had a good chat about the pricing of this, which is more about the exclusivity than sheer performance over the Solaris 2020.
Met with the legend Mr. Axel Grell himself (he came up with the legendary Sennheiser HD-series models as well as the Sennheiser HE-1).
Had a really nice discussion with him regarding his tuning philosophy and how he looks at the recent trend of “target-hitting” headphones and earphones. Needless to say, he’s one of the coolest guys around.
Also had the chance to try out the Heavys headphones, that are marketed towards metal-heads. I have pre-ordered one already so couldn’t help trying the current prototype out. In terms of sound, the tuning is nearly finalized. I offered some feedback regarding certain design decisions as they wanted to hear my thoughts. Let’s see how the final unit turns out.
As for the sound of the Heavys, they were quite coherent for multi-driver headphones. Upper-mids are not drowned out at all, distortion guitars are put forward. Vocals also come through well. Cymbals are present without being sharp or spiky. Decent separation in fast section, with double pedals being separated from snare hits.
Surprise of the High-End Munich show for me was the Meze 109 Pro (I think that’s the model number). They are still in prototype stage but if the final thing sounds even slightly better than this one, well, we got a potential winner.
I asked the Meze Audio reps about some technical details and they’ve shared some information. So far, it’s using a 50mm bio-cellulose dynamic driver. The driver housing is also encased in a Beryllium-plated metal that probably does something, did not get into those details since I was running short of time.
As for the sound, it’s got really nice bass with rich texturing and excellent layering. The mids were warm and smooth but didn’t lack detail. Staging was impressive with surprisingly good depth and height.
Couldn’t test these further but knowing that the pricing will be under $1000, I am really excited to try them out once they hit the market. Planned release: Q3 2022. Looking forward to these.
The Stax SR-X9000 are stupendously good. One of the best headphones out there, without a doubt. They have incredibly lifelike stage depth that rivals that of Susvara. In terms of bass and raw resolution, I think they are better than the Susvara, with the SR-X9000 having a bit more snap in the treble. Susvara still has that romantic smoothness, but the Stax are just as good, in a different way.
I also met up with iFi Audio reps, courtesy of WODAudio where Werner was very welcoming and we had a great discussion about headphones and gear in general. I listened to the new iFi Pro iDSD and Pro iCAN stack, paired with the ZMF Atrium. Needless to say, this was an excellent setup and I look forward to reviewing the iFi Pro stack in the near future.