The latest, cutting edge, premium audio equipment on the market…

The High End Audio Show in Munich is a yearly showpiece for all the latest, cutting edge, premium audio equipment on the market…

This years meet-up was no exception, and with premium audio giants such as Denon, Cambridge Audio and Marantz in attendance, audiophiles have plenty to be excited about in 2012.

We’ve been out in Munich to check out what the year has in store, and managed to stop drooling for long enough to pull together the most interesting bits of tech on display.


1. Focal Nomad Spirit One Headphones

Now, if you aren’t aware of Focal’s eccentrically brilliant Grande Utopia floor standers then a) check them out and b) bear in mind how serious this lot are about audio when reading about its new headphones. The Spirit One cans sport an around-ear, closed-back design with a boasted sound insulation of 20db. In layman’s terms, they clamp around your lughole like a limpet, blocking out all background noise leaving just your heartbeat thumping away. Sound quality is exceptional, as it should be for a pair of cans costing around £200.

Price: £190, | Best for: Those wanting a more hi-fi version of Beats.


2. Marantz Consolette

In concept-yet-coming-out stage, the Consolette is the first streaming dock from Marantz. You can’t dock an iWhatever, but it will suck music from AirPlay and Android devices. Marantz also told T3 that Windows Phone will be supported later in the year. At the back are ethernet and USB connections for playing audio files over DLNA. On the front are basic control buttons, an LCD screen and a volume jog dial. We saw it playing from an iPad and were mightily impressed with the sound reproduction. Damn loud! Can’t wait to get our hands dirty on a review model.

Price: €£899.90 (out Sep), | Best for: Batting most streaming docks out of the park.


3. Vivid Audio Giya G3

Half squid, half teardrop, full-blown badass loudspeaker, the new Giya G3 is a four-way unit capable of handling power up to 800RMS. There’s no getting away from why you’d want this in your house, though – it’s a massive talking point where you can ramble on for hours about its ‘tapered tube loading, short-coil long-gap motor design’. Or, you could put on some Bauhaus and showcase the awesome sonics.

Price: $40,000 per pair, | Best for: Psychedelic audio chat and equally mesmerising listening.

4. Cambridge Audio StreamMagic 6

A network music player that has an integrated up-sampler to squeeze every last inch of musical code from files played from a uPnP computer, NAS drive or internet radio station. It’ll also buff the audio from external devices connected to its twin – or USB 24-bit digital – inputs; Blu-ray players, iPods. iPhones, that kind of thing. Add the aptX-compatible BT100 Audio receiver (£70) and you can stream high-quality tuneage over Bluetooth. Impressive.

Price: £700, | Best for: Releasing hi-fi standard music from your mobile devices

5. Cambridge Audio Minx

The British-based hi-fi specialist has upgraded its mini speaker system for 2012. Tweaks to the drive unit configuration mean better bass response and finer detail, helped by a more flexible speaker cone. Like the previous incarnation, the satellites are available in two sizes; single (Min11) and twin-driver (Min21) design. The Subwoofer comes in 200W, 300W and 500W flavours. Still great sounds from an impish system.

Price: £500, | Best for: Sneaking a 5.1 sound system into the living room without your partner noticing.

6. Chordette Index

High-end hi-fi squeezed down into bite-sized chunks is Chord’s aim with its Chordette range. The new Index streamer sucks music via DLNA and can be controlled via the integrated control panel or, preferably, a third-party app such as Twonky. There’s a USB port on the front, internet radio and support for loads of high-quality formats, including AAC, WAV and FLAC. It also neatly fits into Chord’s Carry Case module (£1480) where, accompanied by the Scamp power amp (£990), morphs into a neat (yet admittedly pricey) portable system.

Price: £990, | Best for: Smart portable streaming for serious audiophiles

7. Denon Cocoon and Cocoon Portable

Details are sketchy, as is the early paintwork, but Denon’s upcoming Cocoon dock looks like a great little system. AirPlay and Android streaming compatible, the bulbous unit comes in black and white and also in a portable variant that can run for five hours on a single battery charge. There are USB and ethernet inputs on the back and it’ll support most audio file formats. A pop-out tray on the front houses an iPod/iPhone and the small LCD screen displays track names. We’re looking forward to this when it launches in August.

Price: Cocoon DSD300 and DSD500 both priced at €£499.90, | Best for: Summer garden parties

8. Audio Research Reference 750 Amplifier

Looking like the spawn child of a radiographer’s workshop and The Borg, this mental valve amp can chuck out 750 watts per channel from 16 vacuum tubes. It weighs a bone-crushing 77kg and has has taps for four, eight and 16 ohm loads. Four buttons under the top meter control meter brightness, bias power and fan speed.

Price: £25,000, | Best for: Extraordinary large rooms and budgets

9. Dynaudio Xeo 5

Billed as the world’s first ‘high-end’ wireless speakers, the Dynaudio Xeo 5 are active monoliths capable of belting out top-drawer audio straight from your laptop, pod dock or any source with a USB, digital output or phono output. Well, kind of. You need to buy a Transmitter which acts as the link between source and speaker but, apart from mains power, CD-quality audio can be piped from 100 metres away.

Price: Xeo 5 (€2700 ) Xeo 3 (€1300), | Best for: Minimalist, wire-free homes.


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