The second day of the High End turned out to be the day of streamers for us. Last year’s conclusion was that digital streaming audio still has a long way to go on its way to maturity, this year it is clear once again that development is fast. How you select music as a user doesn’t change, but we see it in the technological solutions that manufacturers are designing into their devices to solve problems. It is striking that the various manufacturers, often of quite pricey streamers with DACs, are all moving in the same direction, independently of each other.
Auralic has released a whole range of new devices, in a nice new look. The G2.2. line is mainly an upgrade of the technological components: newer, better faster. The G3 comes in a streaming DAC and a streaming bridge. The upsampler is now built into the G3 devices, which used to be a separate component. This does make them a lot pricier than before. The streaming DAC, which is also a preamplifier, has analogue inputs and the signal path from analogue input to analogue output is completely analogue. Pretty remarkable for a streaming network player with DAC and preamp.
Aurender introduces the AP20. Is this a streaming amplifier, or a special streamer with amplifier, from a brand best known for its network players? Plug in a pair of speakers and you’re ready to play anything. The AP20 is based on the Aurender streaming platform and Purify amplifier modules. Aurender did create a completely proprietary power supply design to power the Purify amplifiers and it is clearly audible. Also with Aurender, the preamp and volume control is analogue, and the amplifier also has analogue inputs.
At Mytek, we saw the Empire. A ‘cost is no objection’ streamer design, with Dac and preamp. Mytek has built two computers into the Empire. One computer works as a Roon Core, the other is for the Mytek platform. This has been done for a reason. Through experiment, Mytek found that separating the computer power for Roon and for further processing the PCM stream sent out by Roon makes for a better sound.
Increasingly, we see the streamer with DAC also working as a preamplifier. Besides a streaming preamplifier, only a power amplifier and speakers are then needed. The possibility of connecting analogue sources, especially turntables, is also becoming more common. Today’s consumer wants to play both vinyl and stream, and the streaming preamplifier must be able to handle both.
At Neat Acoustics, we saw two new speakers in the Classic line. The revival of the Neat Classic Petite has been very successful on and Neat has added two family members. In addition to the large Neat Classic Elite, the slightly more modestly sized Neat Classic Mystique floorstander has been added, launched in Munich. All three Classic models share the same AMT tweeter, but have different mid and bass units chosen for speaker volume. They are modest-looking speakers, but we know from experience that the Petite has a big sound.
Last year at Audio Physic, we saw a particularly innovative new speaker unit in the Medeos speaker. This was a design from a strong foil with an ultra lightweight 3D printed frame. This design has been further developed, advanced and is now almost production-ready. Be sure to check out our interview with its creator Manfred Diestertich.
We use Yeti’s cables in our reference set. In Munich, Yeti presented its new reference power conditioner in Esoteric’s set to the public.
The undisputed highlight of the day was Jaap’s interview with Garth Powell of AudioQuest. Garth is the engineer behind AudioQuest’s products. Jaap and Garth have a long-running correspondence and at the High End Munich 2023, the men got together to have a good exchange about coax cables. It resulted in a very entertaining video. Go see it on our YouTube channel!