High End Munich 2024 Postscript, Part 2: Great New Gear Options From Benny Audio, Supatrac, Levin Design, Vertere, EAT, Vinyl Acoustic Laboratories, Acoustic Signature, AMG, and Nagra

Above, the eye-opening EAT Fortissimo turntable, in its yellow matte finish option. All photos in this story by Julie Mullins.

Today, I’m officially wrapping up my Munich 2024 coverage with the second installment of my show report postscript. By all accounts, this year’s High End Munich Show — once again held at the MOC, a.k.a. the Event Center Messe München, from May 9-12, 2024 — was a resounding success. Attendance soared to more than 22,000 visitors over the show’s 4 days, all of whom had the opportunity to take in new gear offerings from the approximately 520 exhibitors showing their wares at the MOC.

To kick off this final installment, here’s my Odyssey experience with the fine folks at Benny Audio.

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Benny Audio of Poland introduced a prototype of their Odyssey turntable late last year at the Warsaw Audio Video show, and it is now set to enter production “in about 3 or 4 months,” according to what the turntable’s designer/maker Tomasz Franielczyk told me. The Odyssey table’s design involves one belt, one motor, and various platter materials, including Delrin/POM and stainless steel.

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The Odyssey has an outboard motor, and its motor “microcontroller” operates with soft starting and stopping to minimize belt wear — but it gets up to speed in about 20 seconds, and, as Franielczyk noted, its open-loop microcontroller approach enables minor speed adjustments and fine-tuning in real time in eight increments of 0.01 steps. There’s a fun design touch behind the front panel’s speed selection knob too, as the LED colors are user changeable.

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The Odyssey can accommodate up to three tonearms. It ships with one arm, and it’s made to simplify the switching of them. “There’s only one thing to remove if you want to replace the tonearm,” Franielczyk (seen above) clarified. The included arm is a unipivot design with side stabilization, and it has a carbon-fiber wand and headshell with titanium at the end;. The demo model I saw and heard had a Mirasakino Sumile MC cartridge mounted. (For more details on the Odyssey, see AP editor Mike Mettler’s product writeup about it here.)

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The Supatrac Blackbird tonearm initially caught my attention at AXPONA. And in Munich, that tonearm’s inventor, Richard Braine, introduced his new, upper-tier Supatrac Nighthawk tonearm — a late-stage prototype of a “medium mass design” that’s “functionally mechanically equivalent” to what will enter production, Braine said. It has a thicker and stiffer arm pillar that he mentioned would not be compatible with Rega decks, for example.

There were a few Supatracs around the show — including a Blackbird arm with a Kuzma CAR-40 MC cartridge on a Grand Prix Audio Parabolica turntable in the Vienna Acoustics room with CH Precision — but the main demo setup I heard was with an Audio-Technica ART 20 cart (an old one that Braine said he bought used) on the Nighthawk tonearm mounted on a Garrard 301 Transcription turntable (as seen below) in a room that also had a Technics SL-1210G turntable. By using a basic bargain cartridge, Braine wanted to show how much difference a tonearm can make.

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Amplification was from Moonriver Audio, including the Model 404 Reference integrated amp. Just as it was at AXPONA, Supatrac again showed with OePhi Acoustics speakers, but this time with a tower speaker and different stand-mount. Braine said he expects the new Supatrac tonearm’s SRP will be in the $13,000 range, as this model is more costly to make in terms of both materials (including carbon fiber) and production.

Instruments and voices on “Bonny Light Horseman” (Side A, Track 1), the title track to Bonny Light Horseman’s self-titled 2020 LP on the 37d03d label, emerged from dead-quiet backgrounds in 3-D. Vocal harmonies showed the right mix of blending and individual separation that felt natural, while microdynamics came through on a sax reed’s gentle, breathy buzzing.

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Frank Levin (seen above) and Kim Levin became known for their analog accessories — such as elegant and functional record-cleaning brushes with boar’s hair, for example — and in Munich, they showed some new namesake Levin Design wares.

For one thing, Frank Levin designed a new phono preamp housed inside a natural slate rock chassis with a “peep hole” of about a half-dollar-diameter that allows a peek into the electronics (as shown below).

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Other Levin Design offerings included a record-platter mat of contrasting materials with buffalo leather on one side and carbon fiber on the other, with a “resonance minimizing layer” sandwiched in between. A quick blind A/B test on two tracks comparing one side to the other revealed subtle yet audible differences on a live version of “Solsbury Hill” (Side C, Track 3), from Peter Gabriel’s Live in Athens 1987 2020 2LP set on Real World. There was sharper detail and a bit more liveliness on the carbon-fiber side, and a shade warmer and slightly more lush sound on the buffalo leather side.

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The Soul Note room showed a Vertere MG-1 MKII turntable with a Vertere Super Groove tonearm equipped with a DS Audio Grand Master EX cartridge in a system with YG Acoustics Sonja 3.2 speakers and Soul Note amplification. When I stopped in, an LP of a jazz piano trio was playing — an airy, natural-sounding recording that turned out to be a track from Opening, a 2009 180g 2LP 45rpm release by pianist Mathias Landaeus on the MA Recordings label.

The three musicians seemed well-placed within the soundstage, with Landeaus’ Hamburg Steinway Concert Grand piano front and center, Palle Danielsson on upright bass to the left, and drummer Jon Fält’s soft brushstrokes and cymbal and snare taps audible just behind. Bernie Grundman mastered the album, which was recorded at the Swedish Radio Broadcasting Studios in Stockholm by SoCal-based engineer/producer Todd Garfinkle of MA Recordings. (In case you’re wondering, MA stands for Minimalist Acoustic.)

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An EAT F-Note turntable with a 12in tonearm — whose headshell can be changed, but in this case, was outfitted with a Luxman LMC-5 cartridge — was playing in room featuring the latest Quad ESL2912X electrostatic speakers. EAT also supplied the system with their EAT Petite 2 phono preamp, a tube hybrid design that uses EAT’s ECC-88 tubes in the input stage. This revised version, which was also reported to have an improved power supply and better transistors, retails for €5,400.

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Several more EAT turntable models — including the Fortissimo turntable, a dual belt-driven design with outboard power and speed control — were passively displayed in Halle 3 downstairs. The Fortissimo table came in a couple of finishes, including not-so-basic black gloss, or matte yellow (seen above) or white with matching leather trim. Nice touches all — not to mention, nice to touch!

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Also in Halle 3, I came across a number of adorable, colorful cartridges from Vinyl Audio Laboratory of Japan — some with detachable headshells — that looked like candy. A couple of the designs featured interesting inlay and lacquer finishes with mix of materials, including Japanese artisan Urushi lacquer. A range of MC cartridges is available, as are other specialty stereo, monoaural, and SP models for 78s.

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In addition to having at least a couple of turntables on active display, Germany’s Acoustic Signature presented on static display in Halle 3 a couple of new phono preamps and a new tonearm, the top-line TA-10000 NEO (€49,998).

The Tango Reference NEO phono preamp (€5,998) is a streamlined and sturdy design that amplifies signals from moving magnet, moving coil (low and high output), and moving iron cartridge types. Users can select from four gain steps and adjust load impedance. It claims to have a “super precise” RIAA curve and a Class A single-ended output stage with very low distortion. The aptly named Tango Apex NEO phono preamp (€24,998) is a fully balanced “double mono construction” with three inputs: one balanced XLR, and two unbalanced RCAs.

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Each input has individually adjustable gain (4x 10dB steps, from 40dB up to 70dB), while input impedance and capacitance are also individually adjustable per input. All of its functions are remote-controlled. There’s also a built-in headphone amp, accessible via a ¼-inch jack. The power supply is isolated in a separate part built into the chassis base.

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Also from the NEO series and displayed passively were a few special editions of Acoustic Signature’s Typhoon NEO turntable — test models are under consideration, though most likely to be targeted for Asian markets, I was told. Another Typhoon NEO turntable without the fancy finish was part of an active system in a room with Von Schweikert speakers with VAC amplification.

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In Halle 4, AMG, a.k.a. Audio Manufactur Germany, showed their new Giro MK II Wood turntable ($13,500, with AMG 9W2 tonearm), the version with the cherry skirt that I reported on at AXPONA. (You can read more about right here.)

There’s also some bigger news: In Munich, they — i.e., distributor Sierra Sound’s Michael Fajen and AMG’s owners — also mentioned a new Ventus phono preamp, a first for the German makers, would be forthcoming, possibly by the end of the year. The design represents a collaboration between the head of AMG (who’s also a master machinist there) Julian Lorenzi and engineer Marko Borovac, who brings expertise from years of turntable and electronics design, AMG said.

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The solid-state Ventus will deploy discrete, true dual-mono circuitry housed in separate chambers, and use zero feedback. It’s said to offer fully balanced operation from input to output without the use of tubes or op-amps. It will have three inputs and support adjustable gain and loading for cartridges for up to three tonearms. Fajen said he expects the SRP for the reference-level AMG Ventus phono preamp will be in the $8,000 to $12,000 range.

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In the Nagra room with the Swiss manufacturer’s new HD Phono Preamp (and tape stage), it was a treat to have the chance to hear some reconstituted music from the legendary 1976 Jazz at the Pawnshop sessions on a 2022 deluxe edition reel-to-reel tape from 2xHD now renamed Jazz at the Pawnshop – Late Night: New, Unreleased Tapes (as seen below). Nagra supplied all amplification and source gear, including their Reference turntable and a Nagra IV-S tape deck providing analog playback. Speakers were Stenheim Reference Ultime 2.

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Nagra’s Sales and Marketing Manager (America/Canada) René Laflamme, who’s also a recording and mastering engineer (seen In action, below), gave a brief introduction to the music, which sounded remarkably smooth with quick, clean, and impactful attacks on percussion — and all instruments — and a strong sense of swing. Apparently, 2xHD discovered these “lost” tapes of the ensemble’s last two late-night sets while they were looking for the master tapes of the original album release’s Volume II. (The original 2LP Pawnshop set was released in the U.S. by Proprius in 1977.)

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And there you have it! We’ve now reached the end of my three-part Munich 2024 journey. Let’s do it all again next year, shall we?

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 Julie Mullins’ first Postscript installment here, then read her first longer-form Munich 2024 show report 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.


Anton D's picture

“They say that looks don't count for much
If so, there goes your proof.”

No offense to anybody.

funambulistic's picture

Mssr White's color schemes have gone from red & white (White Stripes) to yellow & black (TMR). I have the Pro-Ject RPM 1.3 Third Man Records edition, and this would certainly be an awesome upgrade!


Julie Mullins's picture

Speaking of Mr. White and Third Man Records, you might be interested in this:

Tom L's picture

a beautiful, aged copper blue-green patina color. Shaking the can right now. Looking forward to greatly improved performance.

rich d's picture

...unless Homer Simpson is in the room.

rich d's picture

Does the yellow turntable sound brighter than the other colors? Will Tom L's Thorens sound, er, burnished?

Tom L's picture

Now my turntable looks like it's owned by a Smurf. Or Bluey the dog. Muddy Waters sounds great on it, though!

James Kelly's picture

I have to say these are the most ugliest turntables I have ever seen!

Julie Mullins's picture

Apologies in advance for the cliché, but beauty, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder.

tommyy11's picture

يوفر تكييف أوبتيماكس إنفرتر تجربة تبريد متميزة بدون ضوضاء مزعجة وتوزيع متساوٍ الهواء في الغرفة. كما يتميز بقدرته على التكيف مع التغيرات في درجات الحرارة بسرعة وكفاءة، مما يجعله خيارًا مثاليًا للمناخات المتغيرة.

تكييف كاريير 2.25 حصان