Munich 2019 Show Coverage

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
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www.vonschweikert.com
#1
https://parttimeaudiophile.com/2019/05/14/sunday-highlights-high-end-2019/

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Marc Phillips in Munich 2019 // 1 Comment

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I made it to the end of High End 2019 in one piece. It’s Sunday, the last day of the show, an abbreviated work day that only lasted six hours. There were no major mishaps or frustrations. I didn’t damage any costly components. I’m sitting in my hotel room while I type this, reflecting on my first trip to Europe, and realizing I had a wildly entertaining time–especially when I came to a uniquely nutty assortment of Uber drivers through the weekend. The highs, mostly centered on Bavarian food and dark unfiltered ales, were oh so high. The lows were all temporary, minor mishaps that were easily solved once I took a deep breath and stopped stressing out about stupid crap.

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The biggest highlight of the day was spending time with Damon Von Schweikert, Leif Swanson and Kevin Hayes in the Von Schweikert/VAC room. These guys set the bar so high for the other exhibitors that if I give them the Best Sound Award every show, people are going to start thinking I’m on the payroll! But while the Von Schweikert/VAC system was a (slightly) pared-down version of the groundbreaking systems they’ve been showing over the last few years, this was the lone system that tamed the famously tough rooms at High End 2019 and took those odd dimensions out of the equation. I went back Sunday and experienced it all again, the stunning realism, the nearly unlimited dynamics and, most importantly, the sheer fun factor of their approach. Music is more than rewarding with these guys–it’s celebratory and life-affirming.
 
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Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
594
33
28
California
www.vonschweikert.com
#2
https://parttimeaudiophile.com/2019/05/14/the-von-vac-room-high-end-2019/

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Panagiotis Karavitis in Munich 2019 // 2 Comments
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Decided to start my coverage with a big room, one of those all-out assaults (or close enough); this is what Munich offers after all. You see, visiting Munich evolved in recent years, no more a plain consumer’s show and more of a continuous show off of what each manufacturer is capable of. The Audio Companyhad Von Schweikert (website) bring the … modest … version of their flagship speakers, which were covered a couple of years back from yours truly. Now, the Ultra 11 retail for $300.000 while these Ultra 9 cost “only” $200.000! A bargain?
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New and rather different, as in out of the box different, was the Statement 450iQ integrated amplifier from VAC (website). If you have an idea of what an integrated amplifier looks like, then you are so wrong. This is a form follows function design, as Kevin Hayes explained to me, the input to output path follows a “J” pattern for minimum noise pick up and maximum efficiency when it comes to circuit topology. Up to here nothing special you might think but this is a behemoth, standing some 3ft tall and weighing in something like half a ton. The 450iQ is not yet listed on VAC’s page but the retail will be $150K, so yes, not exactly the integrated for an audiophile on a budget. Then again this is an all-out assault and you wouldn’t expect the gorgeous Von Ultra 9s to be paired with anything less than a stellar amplifier. On the bright side, with such an integrated you don’t need extra interconnects to run from your pre to the power amps and even more importantly there is a truly exceptional tube phono stage built in.
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For this being a showroom, it was one of the best systems from this year’s show, with a very smooth yet detailed sound with no fatigue whatsoever. A typical Von Schweikert wide-open soundstage came together with enough bass to shake the room. The analog front end was an Acoustic Signature Invictus Jr turntable with Air Tight Opus 1 MC cartridge, another 100K there, while on the digital the guys were using Esoteric Grandioso mono DACs/ transport/ network player with Masterbuilt cables and finally Artesania racks.
All in all, we are north of $600K, so yes, this is a system designed to play in the big league and it does so by bringing one of the widest soundstages, a detail retrieval second to none and enough bass to shake even the biggest of the rooms.
What a start!
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Tango

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Mar 12, 2017
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#4
...and Kedar front row filming in the second picture. Looks like he's doing a serious job there. :)
He looked too serious trying to figure out whether horizontal or portrait camera angle be better. I got a headache looking at his videos.

Tang o_O
 
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Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
594
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28
California
www.vonschweikert.com
#5

bonzo75

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#6
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jackelsson

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#7
Talking about the Parttime-Audiophile... He and I seemingly had a bit of a similar tour plan around the rooms on Friday. That was actually a bit of a pain because when I sat there listening to the systems, in every second room he would suddenly seem to pop up out of nowhere right in front of me taking his time to take his pictures... *sigh*

...but not in the Von Schweikert room! :D

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Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
594
33
28
California
www.vonschweikert.com
#8

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
594
33
28
California
www.vonschweikert.com
#9

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
594
33
28
California
www.vonschweikert.com
#10
Stereophile Show Coverage Munich 2019

Von Schweikert Ultra Reference 9 Loudspeaker, VAC 450iQ Integrated Amplifier, Acoustic Signature Invictus Jr. Turntable, and Esoteric N-01 Network Audio Player
Jim Austin | May 16, 2019 | 4 comments

https://www.stereophile.com/content...eaker-vac-450iq-integrated-amplifier-acoustic

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For sheer scale, perhaps the most impressive system I heard at the Munich High End show was in the room shared by Von Schweikert and VAC. The star of the show was—perhaps—the Von Schweikert Ultra Reference 9 loudspeaker, which sells for an impressive $200,000/pair. The Ultra series is, Von Schweikert says, a cost-no-object line. So far there are three speakers in the line: The 9, the $300,000 11, and the $90,000 55. Von Schweikert, of course, also sells more modestly priced loudspeakers; their VR-22 is under $3000 / pair.
I wrote, “for sheer scale.” Very likely, this system is capable of much more than just scale. I'd have enjoyed hearing it on some more intimately recorded small-scale music, but there was no such opportunity. That's a comment more on the demands on my time than on my hosts in this room, who could hardly have been more accommodating.

Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content...grated-amplifier-acoustic#TZG2KHBSu6JC8bwE.99

I wrote that the loudspeaker was “perhaps” the star of the room because I'm fascinated by VAC's Statement 450iQ integrated amplifier, with its unusual, vertical form, 14 vacuum tubes, 225W/channel, multi-input phono stage, and $150,000 price tag. Clearly this is another statement product; the company's other integrated amplifier is priced under $10k. (The VAC amp and the speakers were obviously a good match: the finely finished board to which the vacuum tubes were mounted precisely matched the color and finish of the Von Schweikerts. VAC's Kevin Hayes assured me it was just a coincidence.) Loudspeaker, as the actual sources of sound, are always in a sense the star of the show, but the VAC's visual prominence assures it of at least a major supporting role.
Also in the system: Acoustic Signature Invictus Jr. turntable ($85,000), Airtight Opus 1 cartridge ($16,000), Esoteric Grandioso P1 CD transport ($38,000 USD) and Grandioso D1 monoblock DAC ($19,000x2 = $38,000), and an Esoteric N-01 network audio player ($20,000). This equipment was supported by two Artesania audio racks and one Artesania turntable shelf. My quick estimation—why bother with actual math?—tells me that this system easily surpasses the half-million mark.
Reports about ultra-expensive audio systems almost always raise the hackles of a handful of web-commenters, and that's fine. My interest is mainly in more modestly priced gear—not budget but also not price-no-object. But ultra-expensive, price-no-object systems are necessary not just to develop new technology that can then trickle down but also to remind us of what is possible sonically. And those megabuck customers help to support the industry. As long as companies don't forget about us non-billionaires, it's all good.
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Damon Von Schweikert told me that, a while ago, a customer requested the best custom loudspeaker they were capable of producing. The company saw this as an opportunity to, in effect, fund a research program on how to make the best speakers possible. The proximate result of that research was that client's speakers, which he was, I was told, very happy with. A longer-term result is the Ultra series, which Von Schweikert markets as its cost-no-object line. The series tops out one step up from the 9, with the $300,000 Ultra 11. A still-longer-term result, one hopes, is improvements further down Von Schweikert's product line.
The Von Schweikert Ultra 9 can be tuned to the room in interesting ways—not with just the usual bass and tweeter adjustments but by adjusting the back-facing tweeter and midrange array via a proprietary ambience-control system The idea of ambience control in a loudspeaker system makes me nervous—isn't that a thing for HomePods and Wave Radios?—but the system in the Ultra Nines appears to be tastefully done—think of it as an adjustable dipole, or bipole (I'm not sure which)—and if you don't like the ambience effect you can dial it back.
If it's bass response you're after, the Ultra 9 is spec'ed at -6dB at 10Hz, and—specifications again, unverified—essentially flat down to 16Hz. In part because the 9 includes include a powered subwoofer (utilizing a 15” driver), it's a relatively easy load, rated at 4 ohms nominal with a sensitivity of 92dB.
How did this system sound? About like you would expect: big, powerful and unquestionably full-range. Rafter-shaking. The brief demo of the ambience system I heard was intriguing but not totally convincing. Show conditions. It would take a more extensive demo to render a verdict.
I was impressed by this system—it sounded great—but I can't help thinking that I got only a small taste of its potential. The true measure of a big speaker is how it handles small music: piano by Ravel, or Bud Powell. Bach Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin. A string quartet—especially compelling because it combines delicacy with considerable power. I didn't get a chance to audition any of that—again, not my hosts' fault.
And then there's the room: The room they were showing in had no obvious, serious problems I noticed, but to take the full measure of a speaker like this, you'd need to listen in a room carefully designed and assembled by a skilled acoustician with a very good ear. Maybe Carnegie Hall.
 

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