The Best of High End 2022

After two years when hi-fi shows have been few and far between, 2022 saw them return in force. First, the Florida Audio Expo in Tampa, Florida, in February; then Canada’s Montreal Audiofest in March; in April, AXPONA in Chicago; and then, the focus of this article, High End in Munich, Germany, in May. No one from our team attended AXPONA, but I was at Florida Audio Expo with fellow-writer Jason Davis and then at Montreal Audiofest on my own, with the express purpose of providing coverage of those events for our SoundStage! Global site.

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Monitor Audio's 50th Birthday Celebrates the Ordinary and the Extraordinary

At the end of last month’s article, “The Best of Montreal Audiofest 2022,” I wrote that I would highlight my picks for the standout products at High End 2022 for this month’s column. We had a team of four at the show—held from May 19 to 22 in Munich, Germany—to produce coverage for our SoundStage! Global site, which we put online as the show was happening. I decided to put my picks on hold, however, because I felt that what Monitor Audio displayed in Munich had to take precedence.

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The Best of Montreal Audiofest 2022

As Gomer Pyle used to say: “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”

That’s what I wanted to say after Montreal Audiofest 2022 wrapped up on March 27. From what I could glean while covering the show for our SoundStage! Global site, the three-day hi-fi show had about 60% of the exhibitors it had had in 2019—the last show before the pandemic shut it down. That drop in exhibitors didn’t surprise me because no one expected that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers would be clamoring to display at hi-fi shows. Many of them have had great sales over the last two years without trade shows. Yes, the pandemic lockdowns were, on the whole, beneficial to hi-fi.

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The Best of Florida Audio Expo 2022

Florida Audio Expo 2022 was held from February 18 to 20 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore in Tampa, Florida. The city and hotel have been home to the Florida Audio Expo since the inaugural show in February 2019, and from what I’ve been told by the show organizers, it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

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Doing Our Due Diligence: Room Gain Revisited with the Stenheim Alumine Two Loudspeakers

On January 15, we published Diego Estan’s Stenheim Alumine Two loudspeaker review on this site. Diego’s review was extremely positive: “The Alumine Twos’ midrange and treble reproduction was, without question, the finest I’ve ever heard in my room, providing spot-on tonal accuracy combined with transparency that was second to none—I could hear the recordings so clearly it was uncanny.” But Diego also highlighted the inability of the small Swiss speakers to generate enough low bass—something his in-room and our anechoic measurements corroborated. However, when he paired them with his dual SVS SB-4000 subs, Diego experienced the “best sound” ever in his current room.

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"Licorice Pizza" and Post-Pandemic Hi-Fi Shows

A day before I sat down to write this article, I did something I used to do every week, but haven’t done in two years—I saw a movie at a theater. It was Licorice Pizza, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who has previously made some films I’ve really liked—Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Hard Eight, and Punch-Drunk Love are the ones that spring to mind.

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Quebec Double Feature—Simaudio, Followed by Triangle at Centre Hi-Fi

At the end of last month’s article about my trip to France to visit speaker maker Focal, I stated that “I’ll travel to pretty much any company of any size, even if it’s in the middle of nowhere, if it means that I can learn something new about the hi-fi industry.”

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The 2021 SoundStage! Network Products of the Year—in One or Two Sentences

Today is the day of the year that many of our readers—and our reviewers—anticipate the most: the day we announce our SoundStage! Network Products of the Year.

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From Focal to the French Riviera—How I Was Floored Twice in France

For about 25 years, I’ve made it a point to visit every hi-fi company that will open its doors to me. Some of those companies—Paradigm Electronics, Axiom Audio, Simaudio, Totem Acoustic, Verity Audio, Benchmark Media Systems, Blue Circle Audio, Classé Audio (when its products were still made in Montreal), and the now defunct Audio Products International, to name a few I’ve been to—are or were about two to five hours from my home by car, so, by my standards, pretty much right next door. But others have required a plane trip—sometimes within North America, but oftentimes overseas—which I’m almost always happy to take.

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Sonus Faber, Evolved—World-Class Loudspeaker Excellence in Italy

Sonus Faber was founded in 1983 by Franco Serblin, in Vicenza, Italy, although Serblin, who left the company in 2008, had been making speakers prior to that. One of his most memorable creations, the Snail, debuted in 1980—an all-in-one satellite-subwoofer system named after the way it looked.

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