High End Munich 2019: A Tradition In Listening with Silbatone

It’s difficult, at least for me, to make appointments during show hours because time at the massively massive and heavily crowded High End Show is dear and I prefer to wander where my interests take me.

I have but two scheduled stops on my High End coverage and one of them is the Silbatone room. Korea-based Silbatone Acoustics is a one-of-a-kind exhibitor for a number of reasons—nothing of theirs is for sale, they show/share the rarest-of-rare choicest vintage hifi, and they exhibit to remind show attendees of our rich hifi history. I also suspect that their exhibits put a rather large dent in the false perception of linear progress.

JC Morrison

I begin and end every Munich High End Show with a visit to the Silbatone room because I love learning things, I love listening to great (great) music played through a wall of sound driven by a few watts, and I love seeing and talking to some of the people responsible for this room including J.C. Morrison, Frank Schröder, Thomas Schick, and Joe Roberts who unfortunately could not make the tip this year. Yes, there’s a whole lotta love in the Silbatone room, at least for me. This experience also works as a complete reboot of the listening-to-music-on-the-hifi expectation / experience / what we think we know mechanism.

Frank Schröder who, as it turns out, is unphotographable

This year’s system included a pair of Racon/Amplion papier-mâché (c. 1930-1934) horns which are as rare as anything made of papier-mâché from 1930-1934 only much, much rarer.

The J.C. Morrison / Dr. Stefano Bae designed Silbatone RP-100 Mono Power Amplifiers—a Western Electric 205D Vacuum Tube / MOSFET -based 22W wonder (don’t try this at home)—were responsible for the driving.

The perfectly-proportioned Schröder turntable (not for sale-dammit!) and tonearm

DJs Thomas Schick and Frank Schröder kept the joint jumpin’ with tunes from Eartha Kitt (“Love For Sale” which I cannot get out of my head), Iggy Pop’s “Pablo Picasso” (“was never called an asshole”), Einstürzende Neubauten, and many more smile- and seat-dance-inducing tunes.

I’ve heard and read many people talk about the sound in the Silbatone room at High End Munich in some sort of comparative way throughout the years (including my own failed attempts) and let me just say all of those words all put together, added up, and multiplied by 1M come about as as close to describing the sound in the Silbatone room at High End Munich as this description of the Grand Canyon: it’s like a big hole.

Part of this gross failing of trying to describe the sound in the Silbatone room at High End Munich in some sort of comparative way is due to the fact that it misses the entire point because this is a singular experience.