This coverage first appeared in the May 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reports, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity. - Ed.

The first question I usually hear from friends but also distributors and retailers after the Munich show is, "did you hear anything interesting". I will try to answer that in a moment. First I want to explain why I am always confounded and embarrassed by such questions. There is no good answer. Coming back from a show of this kind—huge, exciting, filled with events and interesting people—I am mostly tired. In addition I don’t remember, exactly, what I saw, heard and whom I talked to. It’s all somewhat of a blur.

It’s much easier to remember what I ate and drank - a lot this year. I had one full day to go on the town. I could not resist places with the Paulaner logo as one of my favorite beers from this city. And in addition, Bavarians serve the best pork in Europe (vegetarians, look the other way). As one of my acquaintances said: "It’s a sin not to sin". After returning from High End 2010, I needed a few days to return to normal, not so much to physically recover—I can move about fairly well—but to reboot my psyche.

During this short trip I listened to about a hundred different systems, attended over twenty demonstrations and talked to a hundred people. More or less. This is something you cannot embrace sanely. My practice of sorting through my impressions and notes afterwards is starting with my photos. This allows me to remember the sound, places and people. Reviews are similar. I do not remember exactly how things sounded as I wrote them down. I need to look at the pictures, read parts of the text and then it all comes back – completely, including the emotions, my attitude and conclusions and the rating.

Over time, ratings tend to sharpen. At first I might have had some doubts related to gaps in my education and exposure, to possible errors in the testing methodology as being newer at it and many other factors that might influence budding opinions. But after many years of doing it, those elements fade and leave behind only a solid core. This perhaps isn’t completely ideal but I think that’s how the selection and memory cleaning processes work.

Anyway, I processed what I saw and heard whilst sorting through my show photos back home. Looking at them and the intensity I applied to capture something specific, I remember clearly what was more—or less—interesting. This year I took a surprising amount of pictures, more than 550 spread over three maxed-out 4GB memory cards in RAW format. I was surprised because at first glance, this show seemed quieter than usual. On press day Thursday, there were fewer people than in years past. But the Polish Reimyo distributor Mr. Krzysztof Owczarek of Moje Audio told me that on Friday and Saturday, things took a serious turn with massive traffic. One couldn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone. Probably this was caused by a slightly different show calendar.

Usually the event was organized over an extended weekend. Perhaps fewer journalists and distributors could attend during the week this time. Perhaps the volcanic ash fall-out too had some effect. I don’t know. But there were advantages. Because there were fewer people, it took no long queues to get into rooms. For me this was the best show installment I attended yet (including the Frankfurt era). True, I say that each year but I can’t help it – each year does get better. Not everyone concurs of course. Mr. Roger Adamek thinks that after leaving Frankfurt, the show no longer is high end. I respect this opinion which actually isn’t solitary. Other manufacturers have similar notions. Mr. Thomas Höhne, owner of Sovereign and Aaron, no longer attends. He views it as an error to approaching high end. This is true to some extent. The so-called high end as the best of the best requires lengthy setups, optimized rooms and equipment combinations and high-quality AC (clean current). This cannot be achieved in a hotel or exhibition room in the M.O.C. where the show is organized now. This is a point taken from people I talked to. I respect it and partially agree.

But only partially. The same uncertainty also makes me think that the High-End Society does a perfect job and is probably the biggest promoter (of course not free) of high-quality audio. Munich hosted this biggest European show for the seventh time and all exhibitors renting rooms acclimated to them such that I did not notice any major problems. Even small spaces with mid-level presentations were really very good for a show. Some even were splendid. This relates to the sound but more about that in a moment. For exhibitors, getting to know their room and AC  shortcomings is the key to success. In addition, some companies improved room acoustics and aesthetics with room-tuning elements. For years Ascendo was a master at that. They employed digital correction which worked wonders in the Frankfurt Kempinsky hotel and later at the MOC. But even classic approaches well configured and blessed by good fortune could have simple analog systems sound marvelous. While DSP correction maxes out fixes, simple coherence can result in equal success.

Now we get to the sound and the in my opinion best examples of premium exhibits I encountered.