Hits (And Misses…) Munich High End – 2023

The nay-sayers are going to point to the limited bandwidth, the premature top-end roll-off and question the quality of the sound. But those that get what this product is about will be too busy enjoying themselves to care. That phase coherent and communicative mid-band, the lively dynamics, the immediacy and presence are easily going to eclipse any perceived ‘hi-fi’ shortcomings. More to the point, not only can you drive the Colibri from just about any amplifier available, it’s compatible with a whole host of affordable, active subs. AvantGarde produce their own, matching sub, with a shallow, easily accommodated cabinet and an impressively specced 18” driver. Add a pair of the C18 subs and you’ve got some serious, rib-rattling performance potential on your hands. There’s an array of stands and brackets that will allow owners to mount the C2 vertically or horizontally, in free space or on a wall, or even nested with the sub to create a stylish little ‘PA stack’, but at around €4,500 each, I suspect the subs are going to be outside most purchaser’s initial budget. Still, I guess you can always add them (one or more) later… Either way, separate sub(s) or not, these speakers are generally going to find themselves on the end of a streaming source and, with the DSP functionality incorporated in the likes of Roon to help fill out the bottom end, I can easily see a set of wall-mounted C2s delivering a seriously satisfying sound for a seriously approachable total system ticket. In Munich, AvantGarde were running them from a diminutive streaming amp they sourced from the internet for considerably less than €100!

I can’t wait to get my hands on a pair of C2s. I can’t wait to enjoy the essential simplicity and expressive honesty of their proposition. But I also can’t wait to hang them on the end of something a little more serious to find out just how far they can go. Is this the antidote to audio angst? With a small but increasing number of enthusiast turning to the likes of vintage Lowthers in search of whatever their existing systems lack, is this a timely reminder of the musical issues confronting low-efficiency systems and small boxes? It’s way too early to say. The C2 platform is just a start: a start that can develop in any number of directions, with active, wireless operation being the next obvious step. But what I can say, without a doubt, is that the Colibri is going to be fun. In fact – make that FUN! Isn’t that exactly what’s missing from so many products and systems these days?

The Vienna Acoustics Mozart Infinity

More than any other system at the show, this one demonstrated just how wrong so many rooms get it. Located in a huge space at the front end of the Atrium 4 corridor, with a square footprint and glass covering two complete walls, it’s a room that’s perhaps best described as acoustically hostile. Yet time and again, following people into this light, airy and cool space, you could see them almost visibly relax. That was partly down to the temperature and the actual daylight filling the space – but it was mostly down to the unforced and beautifully natural music that was in evidence. Walk in, sit down and enjoy. Which is exactly what so many people did, without even wondering what it was they were listening to…