After two years without High End Munich, the otherwise-annual internationally renowned audio exhibition did not let us down – and if you’re looking for the best audiophile headphones money can by, there’s no better place to start your search.
So what did we see and what did we like – at first glance, at least? Without further ado, we’d love for you to join us on a virtual tour of the best in High End Munich headgear. Then, if you’re feeling inspired, keep your eyes peeled for a local dealership to test-drive your favourite pair. Feeling super adventurous? You could always check out flights to Munich for next year. We’ll see you there…
1. Campfire Audio Supermoon
Supermoon was a timely release from Campfire Audio, having launched days before the actual lunar event on May 16. It is the third custom-fit option model within Campfire Audio’s extensive and jewel-like IEM oeuvre – buy them and you get to choose between ‘Audiophile’, which offers a shallow seal depth, or classic ‘Artist’ fit – but it is the Portland Oregon-based company’s inaugural planar magnetic driver design.
Supermoon features a single, full-range planar magnetic driver within each earpiece, which is surrounded by patent-pending solid bodywork using the latest in 3D printing technology. Delicacy, expansive soundscapes and detail across the frequencies is the name of the game here – and they’re yours for a cool $1,500 (around £1,200 or AU$2,124).
2. InEar ProMission X in-ear wired headphones
If you’ve yet to become acquainted with this charming family business, allow us to introduce you: InEar launched in 2000 and Marius Schmitt, who is showing us the flagship product in this dedicated headphone manufacturer’s offering, proudly tells us that his dad Andreas Schmitt is the company’s founder.
ProMission X’s configuration comprises no fewer than 10 (yes, ten) drivers in a four-way system. The housings are crafted from jet-black violet wood in your choice of finishes (our favourite is undoubtedly the flagship shimmering mother-of-pearl sky-blue acrylic) and although a smaller size is available, Schmitt is confident that the universal fit will suit – the basis for InEar’s universal housing designs was created by digitally “superimposing” hundreds of different ear molds.
At the end of the development, an in-ear universal monitor was created that the company says is “almost perfectly adapted to the anatomy of the ear”. And we can tell you that they certainly suited even our smaller ears when we tried them.
Interested in prices? Good stuff. ProMission X retails for €2,100, which is around $2,225, £1,780 or AU$3,145.
3. T+A Solitaire T
Premium German hi-fi brand T+A Elektroakustik’s latest wireless reference headphones are called Solitaire T and aren’t even available to buy yet – they will launch in July for $1,600 (£1,200, around AU$2,120) in your choice of white or black finishes.
It’s the ultimate claim: sound that’s just as detailed and pleasing when listening wirelessly with active noise cancellation deployed as it is using the supplied wired connection.
To achieve it, Solitaire T feature special cellulose transducers and 42mm drivers, plus an optimised low-bass system. In order to more closely match the headphones’ wired level of performance but using a Bluetooth connection, these 326g / 0.7lbs cans also include support for the latest Bluetooth codecs, including LDAC and aptX HD, using a Qualcomm QCC 5127 chip and Esstech ES9218 Sabre DAC.
Solitaire T’s active noise-cancelling circuit can be toggled on as you wish. Since they were presented to us in a case, we cannot yet vouch for those wireless music chops, but we’re definitely intrigued.
4. Final D8000 Pro Edition
Even a cursory glance at the machined aluminium magnesium alloy housings on these high-end over-ear headphones leaves us in no doubt that we’ve entered high-end territory.
The D8000 Pro Edition is billed as the over-ear to finally marry the sensitive high ranges of planar magnetic designs and the volume and open-feel bass registers of dynamic models. Final explains that amplitude of the low range is always the challenge with conventional planar magnetic models and, since the diaphragm is in contact with magnets here, engineers have raised the frequency of bass tones to a level that the driver unit can reproduce. Final has also implemented a new proprietary AFDS (Air Film Damping System) and the inside of the earpads has been tightly sealed, with the front section of the diaphragm now a closed space. Why? It’s the same idea as smaller earbuds with sealed earpieces – these have to reproduce bass frequencies despite their bijou nature.
Compared to competing dynamic models with the same diameter, D8000’s diaphragm is one third lighter, too, because the super thin aluminium coil has actually been etched on the extremely lightweight film diaphragm, and as such, no adhesive (which could potentially have a detrimental effect on sound quality) was needed.
Final’s D8000 Pro Edition over-ears have a price tag of €3999 (around £3395, $4238, AU$5995) and while we can’t vouch for those sonic claims fully, initially we found plenty to enjoy…
5. Campfire Audio Trifecta
Another entry for the dedicated Portland Oregon headphone craftsmen, but they deserve it; these are a very different proposition – and not just because they would look just as glorious presented in a dark velvet jewellery box as they do slung beside our phone.
Trifecta’s clear nylon housing provides a window to the three 10mm dynamic drivers nestled within, each crowned with chronograph-esque gold-plated cases, but said vented drivers face one another in a unique triangular configuration. This creates a remarkably comfortable shape in our ear, aided by the silver-plated, high purity copper ribbon cable snaking nicely around it. This is premium kit though: when Campfire Audio’s Trifecta in-ear monitors become available to buy on July 30, 2022, they will retail for $3,375, which is around £2,710 or AU$4,800…
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