Report: Munich High End 2019, day three

My last day at the Munich High End 2019 was the third one. Ironically, it was the one whose night I had the most rest in, even though it was destined to be the least tiring as the time on the show floor was shorter than the others. After this last day I went back home and I started working as normal again. Good things came out of this day, too, so expect some news (and reviews) in the future!

I chose the Q Acoustics Concept 300 as the featured image as their design really struck me. They’re just beautiful!

Audeze

At Munich High End 2019, Audeze introduced the new LCD GX made for gamers. The American company seems to be betting heavily on the gaming market and their upping their game (pun intended) quite a bit with the introduction of the LCD GX. They are quite large-sounding and detailed; as far as I could hear on the showfloor they are warm but still balanced.

iFi Audio

iFi Audio introduced their new speaker set, called the iFi Aurora – an all-in-one device that can do streaming and basically be the music hub of the house. They bet a lot on design, with a bamboo wood finish that really stands out thanks to the contrast with the glossy surface. There’s a tube inside that should provide warmth to the sound. I wasn’t able to audition it due to way larger speakers playing in the same booth.

I also saw the Pro stack – the Pro iDSD, the Pro iCAN and Pro iESL. The latter is an energiser for electrostatic headphones, so it has to be used in conjunction with another source to work – it cannot do amplification on its own.

Q Acoustics

I was especially fascinated by the Q Acoustics Concept 300. These speakers are especially odd from a design perspective: their use of a tensile structure for their stand really makes them stand apart. They use three metal rods held together by steel cables and this should theoretically give them better stability and isolate them from vibrations. They do sound quite good, but the thing that struck me most about them was spatiality: although they’re small, they sound really large.

Focal

Focal’s booth was among the largest of the show – the French company really knows how to impress when displaying their products. I only looked at their headphones: the star of the show was the new Stellia, which were announced a few weeks ago.

The Stellia sound really open and wide, much more than I would expect closed-back headphones to do. They are transparent and thoroughly detailed. They are almost as good as the Utopia in terms of detail and neutrality, and among the best (if not the best) closed-back headphones I’ve heard.

HiFiMAN

HiFiMAN had their full line-up on display, but I concentrated on their highest end offerings: the Shangri-La, Shangri-La Junior and Jade II. All three headphones are electrostatic and they have their own amplifier, though I listened to the Shangri-La Junior on the amplifier that comes with the Shangri-La. The latter are superbly refined and offer uncommon detail and representation of the instruments. It seemed to me like they were a bit warm, and I honestly was not blown away by their soundstage. They are still more than impressive and I would really have liked to try them for longer. The Shangri-La Junior are a scaled-down version of the top headphones, but I could only hear some differences in how they represent detail and soundstage in the brief time I could try them. The Jade II (which I forgot to take pictures of…) are even more scaled-down, which still makes them incredibly apt from a technical point of view given the starting point.

About Riccardo Robecchi

Living just outside of Milan, Italy, I got the the passion for music listening as a legacy from my father and my grandfather. I am currently studying Computer Science at Università degli Studi di Milano. I also happen to have reported on technology for major Italian publications since 2011.
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