Random (Access) Memories from High End 2019
Updated: May 17, 2019
A recurring theme at this year's High End hi-fi show was 'how to listen' - but think more mindfulness than audiophile finger-waving. The Munich show continues to grow, but it remains manageable and, while like London and rats, you are never more than six feet away from a six figure system, there is still plenty of more affordable, and equally satisfying, gear on display.
Also on view this year, was a gaggle of 'names' from the music industry, all freely issuing opinions on the world of music, including the process of making it, recording it, and - crucially - actually listening to it.
One panel event, held in downtown Munich, at the opening of the HARMAN's Luxury Audio Studio, included wise words from HARMAN's own Dr Sean Olive - be sure to direct a chunk of your spend on speakers was one of his messages - as well as Frank Filipetti, the Grammy-winning producer, and Dr Hauke Egermann, assistant professor in music psychology at the University of York. Frank couldn't have been more in praise of digital audio, while Hauke took a deep dive into the emotional responses to music - watch his TEDx Talk on the subject here.
Back in the MOC exhibition hall, we chanced upon Antoine 'Chab' Chabert, the French mastering engineer. Appearing as a guest of Swiss maker Nagra, Chab - whose credits include mastering, along with Bob Ludwig, Daft Punk's Random Access Memories - was discussing working with different formats. He proceeded to unwrap a vinyl test pressing of Daft Punk's 2013 smash, announcing that this was the first time he actually played the pressing, which in his (understated) words was 'quite cool'! He also explained how he had - cover your ears, audiophiles - chosen to compress the vinyl recording. We know! But the listening results justified the action - interesting stuff. Et l'honneur et un privelage, Monsieur Chab.
We also made a point of being in situ for the show's Friday afternoon MQA Live performance. Here, wilting show-goers could choose from a number of sumptuously-equipped exhibitor rooms and sit back for a live performance from Ana Silver and Jasper Hølby, all streamed in real-time MQA studio quality, direct from the Black Tornado studio in the home of hygge, Copenhagen. It sounded as sweet as a fastelavnsboller tastes, so when you get a chance to hear MQA Live, grab it with both ears.
Lastly we took in some more live music, this time from Munich's answer to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. When in Bavaria...
Tschüss für heute.