High End Munich 2024 Show Report, Part 1: Turntables From Gryphon, Aries Cerat, Technics, Yuki Precision, Thorens, EMT, Clearaudio, Thales, and More

Above, take in the full majesty of the Aries Cerat Pandora turntable. All photos in this story by Julie Mullins.

Held once again at the MOC — a.k.a. the Event Center Messe München, a locale that covers more than 30,000sq ft — 2024’s High End Munich show made one formidable statement. For one thing, I’m happy to report that spirits seemed high among the exhibitors and the general attending public alike.

Here are a few stats about the event that ran from May 9-12, 2024, as reported by the High End Society, the show’s presenters. Munich 2024 hosted 11,237 trade visitors from 92 countries, and 10,373 consumer visitors from 72 countries — or 22,198 visitors in total. There were 513 exhibitors from 41 countries showcasing 1,000 brands, reportedly making this year’s show the first time that brand number had reached four figures.

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This year’s High End Munich had some new additions to its proceedings, including a Start-Up area and a new Gaming Zone — the latter in cooperation with konsolenfan.de, with a focus on associated sound experiences in gaming — to attract more younger visitors. Last year’s show saw the inauguration of a new World of Headphones, something that was continued this year.

High End Munich 2024’s theme was “Diversity in Audio,” something thar was moderately visible across those new sectors — certainly more so it seemed than in previous years. Importantly, there were a number of more affordable exhibits — as in, those comprising €5,000 or less for the entire system — which were designated by “Sounds Clever” signs. (More on that gear to come.)

At the opening press conference and all throughout the show, the continuing importance of analog equipment and vinyl was emphasized through appearances of and discussions among analog proponents and producers — not to mention just the sheer number of turntables and other analog-associated gear seen at the show. Limited editions of special products and physical media also abounded.

Here in Part 1 of my Munich 2024 report, I’ll begin with some of the big guns at the show, at least three manufacturers of which had world premieres of extreme, cost-no-object turntables, before delving into some of the other exciting tables and related analog gear I saw firsthand at the show.

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Gryphon of Denmark presented the Apollo, a new flagship turntable ($128,800) that Helmut Brinkmann designed after having had it in his mind for more than a decade. For that admittedly steep price, the Apollo table comes with one tonearm and a diamond cartridge, which were diamond-coated with assistance from the Aarhus Technical Institute in Denmark. As Gryphon’s Director of Sales and Marketing Anthony Chiarella explained, “The cartridge starts off as an Ortofon MC Diamond, but they do two things — diamond-coat the titanium body, but also the compliance of the cartridge is precisely matched to this tonearm.” The Apollo supports up to two tonearms, and additional arms and/or carts can be purchased as well.

The Apollo table was demo’ed in a system comprised entirely of Gryphon’s top-tier gear since it’s intended to be sold as a complete system, according to Chiarella. Amplifying the phono signals was a Siren phono stage ($58,800) with four inputs (3 XLR, 1 RCA) and an outboard power supply. A 12in single of Prince’s 1984 Purple Rain smash No. 1 hit “When Does Cry” showed off the excellent skills of the artist’s longtime favorite engineer, Susan Rogers, with tight driving rhythms and hard-hitting percussive attacks. Prince’s vocals sounded soulful, and his lilting higher notes came across more realistic than ever.

Speaking of Brinkmann, another room showed the same Brinkmann Taurus turntable setup with the Pi phono cartridge that I covered in Part 1 of my AXPONA 2024 show report last month, this time in a system with a Brinkmann Edison phono preamp and other amplification ahead of Rockport Avior II speakers.

I spied a copy of The White Stripes’ excellent April 2003 Elephant LP, and promptly requested “Ball and Biscuit” — always a treat. This all-analog recording sounded fantastic — almost hyper-real, from the air and pressure of Meg White’s kick-drum to Jack White’s ragged Rickenbacker riffs that came through with nice-and-crunchy distortion — suitably rough around the edges. Call it an “I-can’t-believe-it’s-vinyl” moment.

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Another “extreme” turntable came from Cyprus — the new Aries Cerat Pandora. Aries Cerat’s Directing Manager Stavros Danos shared some details about this elaborate turntable’s design — the company’s first. “In developing a lot of [its] aspects, we tried to re-engineer the whole analog chain from scratch,” he said. “The whole turntable is based on a motor we designed and built in-house.”

The motor sits on a cradle that holds a high-diameter hydrodynamic bearing. “We wanted to develop something that has zero noise, zero surface noise, [and] zero rumbling noise but at the same time has damping,” Danos continued. Their motor uses air bearings for both its radial and thrust bearings. In this motor without an iron core, bushings, or rollers, Danos said that, with “clever calculations of the excitement of the three phases of the motor,” they can achieve constant torque without fluctuations or vibration. It’s coupled to the platter using magnetic coupling — the repelling force, not the attracting or pulling force — in a push-pull mechanism. Users can adjust these forces via two screws. “You can go from a very high compliance drive to full-lock to be fully direct-drive,” he noted.

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The Pandora is a heavy-duty design, weighing around 200kg in all. The whole table sits on a big pendulum and a magnetic suspension. The nearly black base is machined aluminum, and the platter is stainless steel surrounding a graphite center. It’s cast, then sanded to render the graphite, an inert material, flush with the metal.

The platter rests metal-to-metal on the base when the turntable is static. After rotation begins, upon reaching a certain rotational speed (about 10rpm), the whole platter (with skids) lifts from hydraulic pressure in the oil bearing, explained Danos. Two very strong magnets inside repel and unload much of the platter’s weight. Users can adjust the amount, or “feel” of the damping between the platter and base.

The tonearms, three designs of which are available, are linear trackers. The main one in the system (the table comes with two arms, one of which has azimuth adjustment) is made of titanium and is 3D-printed in a single piece from the tip to the bearing. Its open geometry is designed to avoid specific resonant frequencies by spreading out resonant behavior to reduce coloration, Danos said. Besides being functional, it also looks cool. The tonearm — each of the two, I think — had a Top Wing Suzaku Red Wing cartridge attached.

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The Pandora’s air bearing is very stiff. “The linear bearing — the air bearing we use — is very high-load, of very tight tolerance,” Danos confirmed. “You need to do something very solid to hold your tonearm if you have a high-compliance air bearing.” At the same time, it’s extremely low friction. “You can push it with your breath,” he added. Its operation appeared extremely smooth. There’s also a user-adjustable magnetic damping option involving a copper sleeve for the tonearm.

Indeed, strong magnets are an integral part of this turntable design, and they warranted further notice just in front of the turntable — namely, by way of a sign reading, “Magnetic Field, no entry for people with pacemakers or implanted defibrillators.” It’s fine to enjoy the system, but those particular listeners just shouldn’t get too close to the turntable itself. (Now you know.)

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Technics rolled out a special Lamborghini edition of their classic SL-1200 turntable, the “Collector’s Model” SL-1200M7B, in three colors — yellow, green, and orange — reflecting three iconic color options from the Italian car maker. (This special edition table also has reverse-play functionality for the DJs among us.) The new Lambo table was presented on passive display in a main hallway beside an orange Lamborghini as well as in the Technics room alongside other products.

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Also included with this direct-drive turntable is a matching Lambo slipmat and an LP of Lamborghini motor sounds (seen above), among others, from various car models of theirs as recorded in action on their Italian racetrack. The Technics Lamborghini edition table is slotted with an SRP of $1,599, and it should begin shipping to the U.S./North American marketplace in July, according to a Technics rep on-hand.

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Another Japanese maker of a different kind showed a prototype of a new and revised turntable design — the Yuki Precision AP-01EM, the next iteration after their AP-01, with a straight tonearm. (Jun Nagamatsu of Yuki Precision is seen above with the new table.) This new version allows customers to install their choice of tonearm on the universal base, and a second arm is also now an option. The AP-01EM’s belt-driven design is built around a floating magnetic platter that has only a single point of contact at the bottom. The force of repellant magnetic tension supports the rest.

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The AP-01EM table uses an outboard DC motor with feedback control. The tiny belt is made of Kevlar fiber, and is positioned around two pulleys — one active, one passive. The turntable’s platter is aluminum, and the plinth is made of stainless steel coated with a “conductive surface treatment” that’s said to be anti-static.

Yuki Precision tables are assembled in Japan from elements made by metal parts suppliers who specialize in tight-tolerance rotating parts for high-precision applications, including watchmaking, space, and medical fields.

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Clearaudio also presented a new limited-edition turntable of their own, in two versions. On passive display, the company debuted a pair of special “Celebrity” Al Di Meola Edition turntables based on the German manufacturer’s Reference jubilee table with some modifications, such as integrated auto-calibration and other settings.

Not only does the plinth’s form factor resemble a guitar body, but the main control knob is akin to an electric guitar knob and enables start/stop, standby, and speed change, among other functions. The belt-drive design uses the same electronics as the Concept Signature turntable, affirmed Clearaudio’s Stefan Kmuch, but it’s intended to be a “pack-and-play” system and it comes with the buyer’s choice of either a new Celebrity MM cartridge or a Concept MC cartridge. The table’s Celebrity tonearm is based on Clearaudio’s Profiler tonearm, albeit with some different parts.

This package is limited to 1,000 units, and it comes with a limited-edition Impex Records edition of guitar legend Al Di Meola’s April 1977 Elegant Gypsy LP in red vinyl, with a serial number matching the corresponding one given to the turntable.

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This Celebrity edition comes in two finish options — black lacquer, or wood veneer (the latter of which is seen above), both over an MDF plinth — and the platter is acrylic. Both come with a removable curved acrylic “shield” accessory that can keep some dust off the platter, but is mainly made to help protect the arm and the cart.

This project represents a collaboration between Clearaudio, Al Di Meola, and Impex Records, and it is likely to be the first in a series that will feature other recording artists in the future. The SRP for Germany is €3,950, and it is expected to be close to that same figure in USD.

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Thorens showed several turntables on passive display, including — behind red velvet ropes, mind you — the massive and aptly named New Reference turntable, priced at approximately €200,000. This table was introduced at Munich last year as a prototype, but this year, it’s in production — and it’s also available in a new burnt-orange finish.

Designed in conjunction with the German company Seismion, the New Reference features a fully active vibration isolation system. The table’s drive system also works to achieve and maintain accurate and constant platter rotational speed along with active damping. Four very sensitive piezoelectric acceleration sensors are paired with four motors, one in each corner of the system. A small screen on the front shows waveforms from the two precision quartz oscillators. According to Jürgen Wolters from Thorens, the system is also capable of noise-canceling functions, wherein the signal gets multiplied by –1 to cancel the other half of the waveform.

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The table’s isolation system is user-defeatable. A more technical deep-dive that’s on the official Thorens site states, “Seismion fully exploited its expertise in active isolation systems used for semiconductor industry, nanotechnology and scientific laboratories, to create a vibration isolation never seen and experienced in turntables before.” The New Reference table has a modular construction, offers speeds of 33⅓ and 45rpm plus pitch control, and it supports two tonearms.

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Some EMT turntables and gear in a classic aluminum chassis passively displayed nearby also caught my eye, including a 928 II battery-operated belt-driven turntable (€9,370) that can be run either with or without AC power, and an EMT 128 II Micro-Tube Precision phono preamp (€11,870). Although the latter was made to amplify EMT pickups in particular, it can, of course, be used with the cartridge/setup of your choice.

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JR Transrotor released a new version of their belt-driven Bellini turntable on static display in a room filled with the German maker’s turntables, often with clear acrylic and/or chromed elements. The Bellini model has received a new plinth material, slate rock, with two finish options — raw/natural, or polished smooth — in addition to its original acrylic plinth. As savvy AP readers probably realize, aesthetic differences are only part of the story here — slate has more mass and higher resonance damping characteristics compared with acrylic.

The new Bellini table with slate rock plinth is, uh, slated to be in the marketplace by the end of the year, and it will have an SRP of around €5,800, approximately €1,300 more than the current standard acrylic version, which retails around €4,500.

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In the Horch House area, vocalist/keyboardist Boris Blank of Swiss electro-pop group Yello — an artist who has also released solo albums in addition to his other production, composition, and scoring work — made an appearance.

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The occasion was to mark the release of a very limited-edition — as in, there are only said to be 10 units — Revox B77 MK 2 open-reel tape deck in a Yello special edition, along with the Horch House release of the master tape for Yello’s January 1985 release, Stella. Blank is seen at right in the photo above, and he’s flanked by Brian Tucker of Pro Audio Ltd., who represents Revox and Horch House in the U.S. market.

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My Sonic Lab previewed a new cartridge, the My Sonic Lab Signature Diamond, that’s expected in the marketplace by the second half of this year. Its SRP is still TBD, but it will be available via MoFi Distribution (and likely other retailers). It was shown on a Thrax Yatrus direct-drive turntable with Thrax amplification and huge, limited-production Thrax Gaida speakers made of Corian.

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A room with an AI-generated, printed library backdrop set the stage for playback of a new limited-edition double LP from VDM Records, Chopin at Home Vol. 1, which was played by Italian pianist Marco Arcieri and sound-directed and produced by Igor Fiorini, who also designs a line of wooden acoustic treatments called Audys (under the VDM Design Group) that was seen in the demo room. The fully made-in-Switzerland system (apart from Canada’s Modulum Arkitek vibration-control equipment racks and audio platforms, that is) included a Thales TTT-Compact II turntable with Nagra Classic Line amplification (as seen above) ahead of Stenheim Alumine Five LE, a very limited-edition gilded version of the company’s Alumine Five SX speakers.

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The analog source was a Thales TTT-Compact II turntable, which has a battery-drive system and was set up with two tonearms — a Thales Statement tangential pivoted arm and an X-quisite Voro MC cartridge with patented ceramic transducer; and a Thales Simplicity II Reference tangential pivoted arm with a Goldenberg Maestro MC cart.

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The Chopin music felt very close-up and natural on the at Home LP. It came across as a pure, unadulterated reproduction of Arcieri’s expressive playing within his room at home in Rome, with his Steinway’s harmonics and room acoustics also playing a part. Fittingly, a Dartzeel NHB-108 model two power amp and Stenheim Alumine 5 speakers were used in the recording and mastering listening system. (Arcieri is at left in the photo above, and producer/sound director Fiorini is at right.)

And thus, we have reached the end of Munich 2024 Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon to an Analog Planet home page near you.

Author bio: Julie Mullins, a lifelong music lover and audiophile by osmosis who grew up listening to her father’s hi-fi gear, is also a contributing editor and reviewer on our sister site, Stereophile, for whom she also writes the monthly Re-Tales column. A former fulltime staffer at Cincinnati’s long-running alt-weekly CityBeat, she hosts a weekly radio show on WAIF called On the Pulse.

If you’d like to see even more of our Munich 2024 coverage, check out the first of her two postscript show reports here, Ken Micallef and Julie’s video discussion of what they saw at the show here, and/or read through a number of new product announcements from the show as you scroll down here.


Glotz's picture

Thorens, EMT, Yuki Precision and Clearaudio and so many others... what a great treat and a fantastic show I am sure. Analog is in GREAT hands for the future.