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High End 2018: Top 5

Top audio tech from the spectacular Munich conference

Gold Note: Valore 425 Plus Transparent Acrylic
PMC: Fact Fenestria
Astell & Kern: A&futura SE1000
Apurna: Apogée Vinyl Vibes
ESD Acoustic: full-horn system

Munich’s High End conference – the Baselworld for audiophiles – is the year’s most spectacular showcase of new and enduring top-level loudspeakers, turntables, headphones and much more. It’s also an attack on the senses – picking out the best equipment among the many brands can be an arduous task. Fear not; we give you our highlights from this year’s edition below.

 

PMC

Coming with the tagline ‘the speaker you’ll never hear’, the beautiful Fact Fenestria has been developed across a five-year period using technology oft employed in Formula One and in skyscraper building. PMC is serious about cancelling out the effects of vibrations in the drive units and cabinets – its 1.7m-tall side panels vibrate in isolation, as does the central aluminium “nest”, killing any unnecessary colouration (sound) and improving the quality of the music output. Visit pmc-speakers.com

ESD Acoustic

Stand in awe of the five-way, carbon-fibre full horn system, ESD’s “Everest of speakers”.  This incorporates pioneering designs, from the round horns to the field-coil drivers to the beryllium diaphragms, all positioned to result in a great listening experience. The casing on the accompanying amplifier gives the setup a little ornamentation, too. Visit esdacoustics.com

Apurna

This husband-and-wife setup showcased a striking range of hand-crafted and bespoke analogue amplifiers, such as the Apogée collection with its audiophile’s dream of crisp sound, the ‘open’ top through which you can see the inner workings, and a choice of sophisticated finishes from Leather Puzzle to Vinyl Vibes. Visit apurna-france.com

Astell & Kern 

Debuted two high-resolution portable music players. The A&futura SE1000 has a five-inch touch screen, 128GB storage and 10 hours’ playback. Targeted at casual listeners, its solid aluminium alloy A&norma SR15 employs features found on the brand’s flagship devices, notably the well-received AK70 series. Visit us.astellnkern.com

Gold Note

This Florence-based manufacturer boasts a strong range of turntables but its Valore 425 Plus catches the eye (and soothes the ear) through its dedication to perfecting sound via the 23mm-thick platter and 9inch tonearm, twinned with an elegant and unfussy design selection, including transparent acrylic. Visit goldnote.it

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