The World's Best High-End Munich 2022 Analog Coverage

The Kuzma Safir tonearm

Explosive worldwide vinyl record sales growth over the past few years produced a powerful response from the audio industry, based on what was on display at Munich High End 2022. A profusion of new turntables, tonearms, phono preamps and accessories spread throughout the sprawling 28,000m2 MOC Event Center made difficult covering it all even with four days available to do it.

According to the High End Society, 19,767 visitors attended the world's largest audio show held in the MOC Event Center. 450 companies from 40 countries, representing 800 brands exhibited at the show—the first in two years following the COVID pandemic that, while diminished, has not yet ended. A few unlucky American exhibitors tested positive following the show and are still overseas in quarantine.

The first video, which runs an epic two hours, includes news from Pro-Ject, Graham Engineering, Ortofon, Thorens, Thiele Wilson-Benesch (which for the first time exhibited a working version of its GMT One system), OMA, Transrotor, DS Audio, Mobile Fidelity, Vertere, Einstein, and Technics.

Pro-Ject displayed a 3-arm, direct-drive "design concept" as well as a jagged looking Metallica licensed turntable and touted its move towards balanced phono connectivity and preamplifiers. Transrotor, one of a number of companies once reliant upon SME tonearms, introduced a pair of "home grown" fully-realized models. DS Audio showed its incredible eccentric groove centering device, while Mobile Fidelity introduced the new Allen Perkins designed Masterdeck turntable and tonearm, both of which have more than a little bit of Spiral Groove DNA in their designs, and industry veteran Peter Madnick's intriguing new phono preamplifier. Vertere's Touraj Moghadden showed off his latest top-tier arm and a new clamping system that allows him to install a cartridge, fully set up the arm and ship it anywhere in the world as an almost "plug and play" item.

There's a great deal to see and hear in this long-form video and shortly there will be another also filled with new designs from familiar and new manufacturers entering the already crowded newly revitalized analog playback arena. This is the best time ever for vinyl enthusiasts! Enjoy the show.

GFaulk's picture

Thanks so much for the excellent video review of the Munich High End 2022 show.

jazz's picture

There’s always something interesting I missed…this time the record centering device, really strange!
Stood next to you once, but you were busy, so I didn’t bug you. People even shoot videos of you, omg, no fun being a celebrity!

eugeneharrington's picture

is interesting and something I missed in Munich the week before last. If I understand the device and its workings correctly however, it is only of use when it is possible to centre the disc? Is it of any assistance when the spindle hole has been 'punched' in the wrong place, for instance? In that case, it seems to me that the only solution is to 'shave' the spindle hole at the correct point in order to achieve concentric revolution of the disc on the platter. Off centre spindle holes are a real bug bear in today's vinyl world even when the record has been pressed at one of the good pressing plants. I have lost count of the number of records from Optimal, Record Industry and RTI that I have had to fix. In conclusion, am I correct in assuming that the DS Audio device is only of use when the spindle hole is in the right place? If that is so, your eyes are the best way to align the disc against the turntable spindle and you need to drop US$5k on this device. The projected price is very off putting.

Michael Fremer's picture

Spindle holes in records are not "punched"! There are no "off center spindle holes". There are eccentrically pressed records due to stamper slippage in the tool that holds the stamper. This device can fix the eccentricity. If you go online you can find videos that show how the hole in the record is molded. A pin hold the biscuit and label centered every record pressed....

jazz's picture

those japanese folks should build a tool then for record presses, so that we don’t have those problems in the first place ;-)

eugeneharrington's picture

I see. 'Punched' is the wrong word to have used as it conveys something entirely different from what actually happens. So the Stampers in the press can move and fall out of alignment? I wonder why is it so difficult to keep the stampers correctly aligned in the press, though? That, of course, presumes that they have been correctly aligned in the first place. Should these be checked for alignment periodically to ensure that they stay properly aligned during a pressing run?

Mind you, I did think that for the price quoted, this DS device had to do more than what I initially understood. What I don't quite follow though is that if it is not possible to align the vinyl disc on the spindle manually, in any direction, to enable concentric revolution, how does the DS Audio device allow that to happen? Most of today's records have some degree of eccentricity, most often on one side only. I had to 'fix' my copy of the new Bonnie Raitt (RTI ) album last Friday and countless others over the years. Optimal vinyl, while usually beautifully pressed, is often eccentric on one side. Fortunately, I have become quite adept at 'fixing' this and the spindle hole(s) looks perfectly normal afterwards. As long as the disc spins concentrically on both sides, I will play it.

I hope you can get a review sample of this device from the U.S. importer of DS Audio products and publish a review in due course? It addresses a very common problem with today's vinyl. The price however is too high for most people to consider purchasing a sample. That is a pity as it is an ingenious and necessary accessory. With some turntables costing up to US$300,000 and beyond these days, one would think that technology like this should be incorporated as part of a top tier turntable package like Nakamichi did in the 1970s?

BillK's picture

In discussing the issue with DS Audio, they intend to include a reamer allowing you to enlarge the center hole to allow you to properly center the side.

Of course this means from now on you will have to use the device to center both sides, but that beats not being able to play one side because it's far enough off to be instantly noticeable.

eugeneharrington's picture

In my experience of 'correcting' eccentricity issues, the part of the spindle hole wall that needs alteration never affects the side that is centred, i.e. the other side. In fact the side that is correctly centred remains unaffected and will spin concentrically. I should say too, that in most cases the level of 'shaving' of the part of the spindle hole wall that needs alteration is usually minimal so you don't need to make a 'dog's dinner' of the spindle hole, in the process. You have to proceed with utmost caution though to achieve the desired result. You get better at this with practice and experience.

I don't know what to say about your discussions with DS Audio, though? I will leave this to Michael, if he wishes to comment.

BillK's picture

I think it would be easier to list the titles on which I have found to be pressed properly over the past few years than to list the many, many titles that have been pressed with at least one side off center, sadly including the UHQR "Kind of Blue." I have to thank Acoustic Sounds for providing a refund after they had sent three replacement copies all with one side off-center.

The same has been true of various UMe releases pressed overseas as well as many newer domestic releases.

It's really become endemic on newer LPs.

Glotz's picture

Rushing the vinyl off of the presses.

azmoon's picture

It's great to see these shows on video. Great job, and I look forward to the 2nd.

openwork's picture

Video is great. The Japanese need to create a tool for the recordings to ensure that these issues are avoided in the first place. It inspires me to do my project well eggy car.

jejonag645's picture

Despite a few post-show quarantine cases among American exhibitors, the audio community remains vibrant and innovative. - sheetrock repair