Munich High End 2012

MSB Analog
One of the most desirable products that I found at the High End was an entry level DAC from MSB dubbed Analog. I can forgive the erroneous spelling on account of its 22mm thickness, thumbwheel volume knob and the perforated display cover. The Analog is still not exactly inexpensive at $7,000 plus another grand for the volume feature but it does bring MSB’s proprietary ladder DAC technology down to a slightly more affordable point. It is also available with any variation on three inputs, so you can have three USBs or a mix of SPDIF and USB or if you want maximum R’n’B make it a single input device. Switches, as we all know, do not good sound make. And what wouldn’t you give to have a milled slab of aluminium of this precision in your listening room?
Mass Fidelity
New for High End 2012 was a newcomers area which managed to attract Canadian start-up Mass Fidelity from Toronto. So far its founder Ben Webster has built a distinctly cool integrated amplifier called the Model 1 whose looks owe something to Braun supremo Deiter Rams (the key influence behind Apple’s Jonathan Ive). It’s not just good looking minimalism however, this 11.5cm (4.5inch) tall cube packs a 50 watt Burr-Brown op-amp based amplifier built with SMD components and has inputs for four sources on the rear. More in keeping with its appearance however is the Bluetooth receiver that will be incorporated into the product so that you can stream your tunes from a mobile phone. Other features that the company has lined up are an ARM computer module with a Stereos OS that will be called The Core. Watch for this circa $1,000 beauty in your style magazines soon.

Silbatone/Wester Electric
Korean valve amp and horn aficionado Silbatone Acoustics continued its quest to expose the audiophile community to vintage Western Electric theatre horns by installing yet another extraordinary system at the High End. This time it was the turn of the 15A horn system with 555 compression drivers and a 597A horn tweeter bolted on top. Bass was courtesy of a single corner unit that housed two Altec 515B 15inch drivers which were clearly not sufficient as they were backed up by a pair of 30inch Electrovoice drivers for good measure. It’s certainly the first horn loaded bass system that I’ve heard reproducing church organ with authority.

Original Resource is The Ear