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04 Apr

High End 2018 Munich, Still the Greatest High Fidelity Exhibition in Europe

High-End-Munich-2018-EntranceAs every year, and now for 37 years, the High End of Munich will bring together the Top of the Range and High End of our world of High Fidelity and Music Reproduction. If the 2017 High End has exceeded all the expectations of audiophiles in terms of listening, new electronics and loudspeakers, I guess we are about to expect as much from the High End 2018.

Considered as the largest European fair of High Fidelity without price or emotional limits, the 2017 edition of the show has enabled audiophiles from around the world to enjoy outstanding audio demonstrations. The organization of the show is particularly accurate and the space of the MOC of Munich is fully exploited during these three days. The 2018 High End Munich will take place from May 10 to 13, 2018. Presenting all types of digital and analog electronics, speakers, accessories, cables and other furniture with sales and services related to audio performances, we can expect an avalanche of innovations and novelties in terms of High End in High Fidelity…

More than 500 High Fidelity and High End exhibitors will gather at the Munich MOC Exhibition Centre

High-End-Munich-2017Large and small brands of the High Fidelity, more than 500 exhibitors will be present at the MOC of Munich to make you discover the best of the High End, innovations and novelties of the small world of the High End in High Fidelity. Just imagine that this High End 2018 will again benefit from more than 140 rooms on the floors of the show, not to mention the many listening rooms on the ground floor, next to the static displays.

Again, it’s a safe bet to say that more than 20,000 visitors on nearly 28,000 m2 will be coming this year to the show, bringing together unconditional fanatics of High Fidelity from around the world. Expecting more than 20,000 people at such a special event means that the MOC of Munich certainly receives the largest number of visitors from Europe. Site of all superlatives of High Fidelity, the German High End is also a place of particularly interesting interaction. Each manufacturer and designer presents its brand while listening plays succeed each other at the four corners of the show. It is quite hard under these conditions, to listen to everything or make an exhaustive visit of the High End in just three days.

High-End-Munich-2018Hoping to meet audiophiles coming from all walks of life who, like last year, had enriched me with their passion, I also hope that the French people and French speakers (from Switzerland and Belgium) will be many to take advantage of this High End 2018, a show that promises answer at least to the best audiophile expectations.

Just like last year, I expect a large dominance of vinyl turntables and digital files, not to mention the headphones that begin as well to represent a dominant part of the market. As evidenced by the Sound Days of Paris, the trend is now in headphones and vinyl, not to mention the astonishing profusion of DAC who are likely to swarm into the show, such as an essential electronic to the most musical listening of our Hi-Res digital files…

Munich’s High End 2018 brings together passionate audiophiles of all nationalities and backgrounds

Hor-Bar-High-End-Munich-2018For my part, I hope to see you all during this High End 2018, just as I had the pleasure of meeting passionate audiophiles during the 2017 edition of the exhibition. French, Belgian, Italian, Swiss, German, South African, English and other nationalities still, as professional distributors, manufacturers or resellers as audiophiles people who had come to discover so much music and new technologies. It was a pleasure to meet them and to be there, enriching this great exhibition. No doubt that these few days (which are really too short) of the High End 2018 will however satisfy our passion for music, reproduced by the best electronics and loudspeakers in the world…

For those who have not yet come to the MOC of Munich, it is actually very simple. Just start by reaching the centre and the pedestrian street, as if you were going to join the place where the Oktoberfest is held. A little before you get there, you will take the subway entrance Odeonplatz. Take Metro line 3 or 6. Go through Universität, GiselastraBe (…) stations until you reach Freimann. Go out there, head to the right to exit the subway. Then follow the small street that borders the metro (you will find a bakery / sandwich maker on your left). At the end of the street, follow your path on the left and continue straight across the street lined with residences. At the end of this street, turn right and follow the sidewalk for 200 meters. Here you are at MOC and High End 2018 🙂

I will see you soon in Munich,

Eric Mallet

Categories: Non classé Tags:
05 Mar

Magico A3 Presentation at Presence Audio Conseil, The Musical Exception So Close to Your Hand…

Magico-A3-Presence-Audio-Conseil-ParisMagico is an American brand of speakers that began recently to make its way in Europe and in France with several models and series of loudspeakers whose design quality does not suffer any complaints. A fact that already excludes some competitors, Magico has budgeted for the research and manufacture of uncompromising loudspeakers to achieve a kind of technical and musical perfection, as far as it is possible to do so. Acoustic speakers renowned in Europe, Magico is naturally part of the High End of High Fidelity, accessible to those who already have a budget to invest in a pair of exceptional speakers. For my part, I had already listened the S3 MkII, a pair of speakers I appreciated in Brussels on Nagra electronic. The stereophonic image, the coherence and the precision of these speakers had strongly left their mark on me at the time.

The story of Magico began in 1994 in Hayward, California, more than 20 years ago… Its founder, Alon Wolf had the project to manufacture its own speakers, in a concern for perfection. Again, many competing brands are based on other considerations. Many manufacturers probably prefer to offer good speakers to their customers, without necessarily having the idea of the High End in mind. This breadcrumb of acoustic perfection is a specific idea to rare manufacturers, of which Magico belongs to. With ranges of speakers divided into several series (Q, M, S, Limited), the Magico A3 inaugurates a new series with an obvious talent to listen, to put it mildly. Présence Audio Conseil will have made us discover it in World premiere

My first visit at Présence Audio Conseil to discover the new Magico A3 loudspeakers

Magico-A3-ParisIn fact, it was my first visit to Presence Audio Conseil even though I had already met Jérémy at the Son & Image 2017 Festival in Paris. Listening to the Magico S3 MkII with the Soulution electronics had already impressed me. I really enjoyed this system even if the conditions of demonstration in hotel and with a patio door were not really optimal. Regardless of this event, this Saturday, February 10, 2018, a few months after listening to the Magico S3 MkII, I went with great pleasure to Présence Audio Conseil to discover the new model of this American brand of High End speakers.

Certainly… you will tell me that Magico speakers are known to be sold at a very high price that makes them moreover inaccessible to most audiophiles who can not spend 36.000 Euro in a pair of speakers. It was a bit because of this fact that the Magico A3 came into being, presenting a pair of exceptional speakers for a budget that has become more affordable, however without compromising on the quality of manufacture but with the experience of the higher series of range.

The Magico A3 benefit from the technological advantages of the higher ranges of the brand…

Indeed, with the Magico A3, we benefit from the closed reinforced aluminium charge that has made the success, if not the hallmark of the brand. The A3 and the other loudspeakers present in the US manufacturer’s catalogue do not compromise on the excellence of the design: Complete aluminium fabrication, careful and precise filtering, micro-metric precision of the assembly, beryllium tweeter and membranes in Graphene, a material even more rigid than carbon while keeping the advantage of the lightness of the material. The enclosure design exudes quality from the first to the last millimetre, with total rigidity. The A3 Magico breathe excellence in detail, so they have the best arguments to please me. But what about listening?

Magico-A3-Ayre-electronicsFor my part, I was arriving in Paris and I jumped out of the bus. I quickly took the Metro to come out a few stations further, rue des Filles du Calvaire, in the historic district of the Marais. In short… I was felling immediately at ease. A few steps from the Metro, the window of Presence Audio Conseil was discreet and I entered with a little impatience.

After the presentations and a very interesting discussion on the demonstration of the Soulution electronics at the Paris Novotel Exhibition, I finally found Jérémy and I entered the back room where the Magico A3 were associated with the Ayre AX5 and QX5 electronics that I knew already, at least for the integrated amplifier. The vast majority of the demonstration will be carried out via streaming; a Cyrus transport, coupled with the QX5 DAC, however, was increasing the possibilities of listening sources.

Ayre and Magico A3, an Association of Equilibrium, Finesse, Details and Emotions…

I already knew the brand Ayre for having listened to it several times in different exhibitions. I was finding again this delicate blend of clarity, liveliness, and sonic matter that is so typical of the American brand of Boulder, Colorado. Such as an exercise particularly difficult to achieve, there are few electronics in the world capable of also brilliantly combining the clarity of listening essential to the understanding of the finest details of the music with the exact sound matter and the respect of the timbres that we expect from the instruments. The Ayre electronics can precisely create this masterful tour de force without any shine to the listening. And for the occasion, the marriage with the new Magico A3 is a spectacular success because you are at the show… you really enjoy live music, and very closely.

Magico-A3-Ayre-AX5-Crystal-CableIndeed, it is extremely rare to find yourself in a listening situation where the character of electronics and speakers completely disappears to make its way to music. The relation to the direct, and to the idea of a veil or a colouring between the music and you will fade away instantly or we would rather say, at least for 99.9999%; perhaps a bit like the quality of a copper or silver conductor whose extreme purity would be synonymous with absolute transparency of the musical signal.

In this, the association between Ayre and Magico is exceptional because the speakers of Alon Wolf show a staggering transparency, to the point of transcribing  the character of the associated electronics with impressive accuracy. Here, I can actually compare with the listening of the Magico S3 MkII on Soulution electronic where the magnitude is more present compared to the integrated Ayre AX5, without falling into a sound too rich in matter that would erase the details. Let’s say that with such transparency, it becomes very easy to discern the character of an electronic or a particular brand of cables.

Crystal Cable perfectly conveys the complexity of the sound message translated by the Ayre AX5 to the Magico A3

Magico-A3-Paris-Ayre-electronicIn this regard, Crystal Cable was in charge to transport the musical message released between the Ayre amplifier and the Magico A3 loudspeakers. Brand of cables that I have criticized in the past, at the contrary I found that the marriage between Magico, Crystal Cable and Ayre was particularly judicious on this high fidelity system. Cables as well as electronics were going in the same direction and complement each other with an astonishing wealth of detail and balance; the integrated Ayre AX5 was just as transparent as to show a sound materiality very close to reality.

As I pointed out above, the impression of musical as well as acoustic reality was particularly successful. In this regard, the transparency was such that the slightest misstep in recording or mixing was heard immediately; the verdict was without appeal. In this perspective, I had taken the album “Blood” from Lianne La Havas, an album that I appreciate but that goes very bad on my high fidelity system, precisely because of a heavy and unwelcome emphasis of low frequencies. On the title “Green and Gold“, the trio Ayre AX5 / Magico / Crystal Cable has reproduced this defect with a sharpness just as unpleasant as at home, if not a little more. From there, it becomes very easy to sort the wheat from the chaff…

Magico gives you all the truth to hear, a quality not always accepted by all ears…

Then, it’s up to you to consider if you like to hear the truth or if you prefer a more conciliatory sound but Ayre is not known to round off the angles, and the Magico loudspeakers transmit perfectly this quality. About listening itself, we have appreciated some classics but also jazz, blues, contemporary music and a few artists that I did not know yet. For example, the very subtle “Si j’étais blanche” from Josephine Baker taken over by Cécile Mc LorinSalvant where the voice of the singer can be appreciated just as if you were a few meters from the stage only. The intonation, the phrasing and all the subtleties of voice of this extraordinary singer are reproduced with a flexibility and a facility that we can still listens too rarely in the world of the High End of High Fidelity.


Front: Magico A3 speakers. Back: Magico M6 !

On Manu Katché’s “Live in Concert“, the precision of the instrumental timbres is astounding in terms of accuracy. The notes and melody of a piano are coming with an equally astonishing suppleness. The rhythmic precision is such that we do not ask any question but we are literally lost in the music, and it happened several times for me… Here again, it is rather rare. The drums also allowed us to enjoy the equally amazing bandwidth of the Magico A3 that perfectly associate precise instrumental tones, harmonic richness and sound materiality. The bass drum is easily recognizable, both in terms of descent into the bass frequencies than to hear the hammer hitting the skin.

Everything comes together with astounding ease, with an accuracy just as impressive as the bandwidth, able to be wide in bass frequencies as in treble, as long as the recording requires it. The stereophonic image is perfectly consistent with the recording, there is no overlap between the instruments and nothing will create any doubt about the musical interpretation. The small orchestral formations such as – Michel Godard Monteverdi “A trace of grace“, is staggering of realism whereas the great symphonic formations suffer no flutter, from the first to the last row of musicians. Finally, let’s underline the quality of the treble, very easily reproduced by the beryllium tweeters of the Magico A3 speakers. They can rise very high in frequency with a total realism of the instrumental timbres, without tiring the ear. however, I could still give you other examples because I really took a great pleasure to lose myself in each of the songs played during the afternoon, just like everyone that day at Presence Audio Conseil in Paris.

I would just add that for my first visit, I really spent a great moment of listening, with the kindness and the obvious professionalism of the entire Presence Audio Conseil team as well as the designer of the A3, Mister Alon Wolf, this Saturday, February 10, 2018. I can only thank them warmly. Last point that I wanted to clarify in this article, despite the fact that I rarely mention prices on my blog – because of the bad talkers and their critics, is that a pair of Magico A3 is sold at 12500 €. Just compare the Magico A3 with other brands on listening and other criteria; most of them will have a hard time keeping up the comparison. Without a doubt, these speakers are born with an exemplary seriousness of design but also a genuine respect for music as well as an obvious respect for those who know how to listen with the utmost discernment. It is a rule still too often forgotten in our little world of audiophiles…

Eric Mallet

Categories: Non classé Tags:
17 Dec

Ultimate I & Ultimate II Charlin Interconnects to go a bit further in perfect musicality


Charlin Ultimate I Interconnect Cables

Finally, here is the second part of my Charlin interconnects cable tests, which were lent to me by Olivier Robert, CEO of Roboli Design, creator of Charlin electronics and cables. In fact, a long time of listening passed between I placed the Ultimate I on my High Fidelity System, the listening and the test of the Ultimate II, the Top the Range of Charlin modulation cables.

I spent more than two weeks listening to the musical results of each cable before moving on to the next. Then, I plugged in another modulation cable before replacing the Ultimate I and finally, the Charlin Ultimate II. It is only after this break-in time that I could fully appreciate the exceptional quality of these two modulation cables, with the unique Charlin Signature…

Already impressed by the Blue Charlin cable for its transparency and naturalness, I’m convinced that it is certainly a multi-stranded modulation cable that would suit most discerning audiophiles, already possessing a very good high fidelity system. The Black, the first cable of the range, had already left me a very good souvenir. It was a perfectly comfortable cable with high fidelity systems where low frequencies need to express themselves better. Cables to be proposed with a good high fidelity system ending on bookshelf speakers for the Black or bigger loudspeakers for the Blue Charlin interconnect cables, Black and Blue Charlin cables have in common to present the music in a very natural aspect in timbres, a quality often difficult to find in others brands. Here, the stereophonic space unfolds very naturally, without question, depending on what your amplifier is able to render in terms of sound space.

Neutrality and musicality are sometimes hard to find in the same cable…

Charlin-Ultimate-I-Interconnects-CablesIn fact, most brands that I have tested have a particular sound or a specific frequency range expressed when you listen. For example, I often noticed that Van den Hul, directly plugged out of their box, tended to favour the low medium frequencies, a particular sound signature that gradually faded over time. For me, Van den Hul is a talented cable maker but their cables will flatter your ear a little bit. More pleasant, Synergistic Research presents a beautiful and very large medium, also easily recognizable. This American brand probably flatters a little more than Van den Hul but they have nothing neutral. On the other hand, Shunyata will be more neutral and very fast while being also musical but I sometimes had the impression that they lacked something that I never really knew how to define. Always in the US, I really liked JPS Labs with their Superconductor, and I can not live without this brand of cables today. They are among the few cables that you don’t hear but prefer to let the music go without adding anything, more or less. The Inakustik cables are also very pleasant to listen, nervous with a slightly fruity side in the medium range that reminds me a bit of the sound of my tube guitar amps when I get a fluid and warm distortion.

When the Audio quest and the Wires of the World come to wrap your ears with plastic

For lack of time, I will not speak to you about these beautiful “American” cable sheaths made in China while you just have to turn the box to realize the deception (in English language, Made in Taiwan). With a completely clogged sound that is not natural at all, some well-intentioned resellers will even still sell them to you at a very high price!

Just try to sell ​​a piece of copper surrounded by a beautiful sheath, saying that it is a cable made in the USA and you’re ready to wire big systems with mono blocks, preamp and CD/DAC/streaming players and a few others, built like blocks of aluminium. They will make an illusion in the listening room the first 30 seconds before you realize the problem and the discomfort that suddenly settles… No doubt that these cables will make the pleasure of some “box pushers” and so-called “specialists” of our small world of High Fidelity but they will have trouble convincing you if you had other serious cables in the ear recently…

The naturalness of the timbres will be my first listening criterion in test condition…

Charlin-Ultimate-I-Interconnects-CablesTo talk about more serious cables, Charlin Ultimate I and Ultimate II cables surprised me again while going even further than the Blue which had already very natural timbres, near reality of what you really hear in live condition. So I tested them one after the other for several weeks with several speaker cables, Inakustik Atmos Air 309, my Superconductor + and Synergistic Research Tesla Quad.

During the tests, I also changed the power cable of my Eera Tentation, from an Audio PS to an Accoustic Zen Tsunami. The level of transparency and naturalness of Charlin’s Ultimate cables makes it possible to hear these changes very clearly, even when it is a mains cable. It is all the more surprising that I had never enjoyed such a quality of listening until then. The very singular character of the Tesla Quad, even if it is an entry-level at Synergistic Research, is perfectly in tune. In the same way, the Charlin Ultimate modulation cables allowed me to enjoy even more the musical neutrality of my Superconductor +, with even more pleasure in listening.

The transparency and naturalness of music still surpasses the high level reached by the Blue Charlin Cable

Let’s say that I quickly noticed the superiority of the Charlin Ultimate I and II on the Charlin Bleu from the first hour of listening. The naturalness of the timbres is even better that it really let me appreciate the body, heat and fluidity of a perfectly saturated tube amp or to accurately differentiate the difference of body and timbre of two crash cymbals on a set of drums, the two cymbals being perfectly positioned in space. Each drum is a pleasure to listen to, a drummer would recognize his drum set very easily. The Ultimate Charlin gives the impression of a listening totally devoid of the slightest blur, the perfect diction on the voices is hallucinating. Nothing is then simpler than to perfectly follow the voice of the singer. Each voice inflection is nicely transcribed, as well as the distance that separates the lips from the microphone.


Charlin Ultimate II Interconnect Cables

In parallel to this crystalline transparency, the fluidity of the musical message is perfectly transcribed, to the point where you realize that you had never really listened to an album as it had been recorded. The naturalness and musical veracity of the listening is even more troubling that the absence of the slightest distortion gives you a feeling of reality and proximity with the piece of work rarely to be obtained with other interconnect cables. Here, the noise level goes down very deep to only release the music, a bit like if the signal to noise ratio of your electronics had improved.

Transparency, naturalness, and fluidity rarely reached to this level, the softness is also surprising with the Charlin Ultimate cables. No tightness will tarnish the listening, each cymbal is perfectly reproduced, with an unusual softness despite the rising in the high frequencies. Listening to your favourite albums is no longer tiring and can continue until late into the night… To tell the truth, if a lot of manufacturers have one day boasted of offering you a listening as if you were there, this is the first time that the bet is actually held. Nothing prevents you from raising the volume to very high levels; no sinking of the musical message is heard. On the contrary, music is still open and the listening pleasure becomes more intense, especially with the Charlin Ultimate II.

The Charlin interconnects cable Ultimate II opens the sound space with a naturalness yet never heard by my ears

Charlin-Ultimate-II-Interconnects-CablesObviously, I found the same listening qualities with the Charlin Ultimate II as with the Ultimate I. Transparency is equally advanced with an ideal positioning of the various instruments in the sound space. The difference also occurs in the bandwidth that seems even wider than from the Ultimate I, especially in the low frequencies. This characteristic is welcome because it astonishes widely. I realized more easily the potential of my small speakers in the bass and the astonishing diversity of timbres that could be appreciated in this frequency range. You will notice that on some albums of rock or heavy metal, the sound of the bass sometimes tends to be confused with the bass drum; a detail easily audible in concert but already much less obvious to hear in a differentiated way on an album. It is this kind of characteristic that the Charlin Ultimate II relays you effortlessly. The slightest resonance is heard, the slightest inflection of voice or the slightest gap of microdynamics is heard without any auditory effort. On classical music, the orchestral masses unfold without the slightest approximation on the placement of the musicians. Each detail of the reproduced work is easily perceptible while blending perfectly with the orchestra and the symphony.

At the same time, the Charlin Ultimate II will not forgive any flaw of your system. An imbalance will be heard quickly, as will a good marriage with your speaker cables. If you have a CD source or a good DAC and if you really want to get the quintessence from your electronic devices, the Ultimate I or II will allow you to go to the end of the possibilities of your high fidelity system. On jazz, I enjoyed listening to the differences of timbres from one snare drum to another or the often truncated richness of sound of a piano note with all the resonance of the instrument, from the key to the depths of the body’s instrument.

And what about the break-in period for theses cables?

When I connected the Ultimate cables, I thought that the running-in time would probably be quite small because the listening was already very satisfactory, superior to the Charlin Blue interconnects while going even further in terms of naturalness of timbres. Several hours had gone by without I noticed great changes when listening. After a little more than two weeks, I connected the Charlin Ultimate II with the same observation. The listening was excellent, with a wider stereo opening than for the Ultimate I and a better perceptible bandwidth with always this impressive crystal transparency. Then, I removed the Charlin Ultimate cables to reconnect a Van den Hul interconnect. Although very good but in budget terms, it had nothing to do with Charlin Ultimate modulations.

I therefore reconnected the Ultimate I before starting to write this article. After two hours of listening, I heard no change in sound. I turn off my system, working on the computer as usual and finally I went to bed like any other night. The next day, I decided to listen the last and excellent album of Leave’s Eyes King of King. With astonishment, I noticed something had changed. The natural restitution reached a new limit as if the sensation of live performance with the music and the musicians was total. After a few albums, I replaced the Charlin Ultimate II and again, the naturalness was slowly increasing with time. Olivier Robert had warned me that the specific welding of the cable and its manufacturing complexity itself was requiring a fairly long running-in period, which could exceed 10 to 20 hours initially and still last up to 100 hours after the first break-in period.

Exceptional cables to combine with an exceptional High Fidelity System

To conclude, I must confess that these are exceptional cables, especially since their sale price reserves them to systems just as exceptional as they are. However, if you decide to invest a large sum of money for a CD player or a DAC of the latest generation, also think of joining a cable that will allow it to express itself to the maximum of its possibilities. For my part, I would place the Charlin Ultimate, with the Aluminata of JPS Labs, in the very closed range of exceptional cables, reserved for systems just as exceptional in their musicality.

I only have to thank Olivier Robert for the loan of his creations, which allowed me to spend moments of musical emotion, quite out of the ordinary…

Eric Mallet

Categories: Non classé Tags: