Hits (And Misses…) Munich High End – 2023

If the sheer number of turntables is any guide, the vinyl resurgence is in rude health. CH Precision certainly thinks so and launched its flagship P10 phono-stage at the show. A two-box affair, the P10 builds on the considerable strengths of the P1, a unit that is already by some considerable margin the best phono-stage I have ever heard. CH was confident enough in the quality of their products and system to run (convincing) comparative demonstrations. Dusty Springfield’s ‘Just a Little Lovin’’ made the point very clearly. I’m not overly familiar with this song, though I’m reliably informed the recording (from the Dusty In Memphis album) is usually problematic. Through the P1 it sounded entirely unproblematic, but it wasn’t until we moved to the P10 that her voice, inflection and phrasing really drew out the atmosphere and emotional content. Moving even further up an impossibly tall ladder to the four-box P10, using two mono audio chassis, each with its own dedicated power supply, the backing band also upped their game to match and this otherwise unremarkable track revealed depths that surprised and astonished everybody in the room – and that with the air-con chugging away noisily in the background! Performance-wise, the P10 offers lower input noise, more gain, more inputs, greater flexibility and a wider selection of available EQ curves, including Capitol and Philips. While the P1 arguably started (or at least reinforced) the trend towards trans-impedance phono-inputs, CH claim that the conventional, voltage-sensing inputs on the P10 have been substantially improved, making it more widely compatible with different cartridges. Given the four separate, independently configurable inputs, I guess that’s a good thing. Now where am I going to fit that second, double-tonearm turntable? The good news is that the P10 is a clear step up from the already excellent P1 and (somewhat surprisingly) I find that there’s little doubt in my mind that it’s worth the extra €47000; the bad news is that the four-box, at around €140,000 releases even more of the magic. So if you’re thinking of budgeting for a P10, better make that two!

The CH Precision P1, and now the P10, has rekindled my appreciation for and interest in vinyl. I’d pretty much concluded that CD had reached the point where its performance effectively eclipsed that of LP, relegating vinyl to an immensely enjoyable, but ultimately second-string source. Well, I’ve been wrong before – and on this showing I’ll likely be wrong again. Still it’s always fun enjoying the fruits of your hard learnt lessons, once you get over the taste of humble pie…

The range and breadth of turntables from both new and long-established names was heartening. These were not simply budget offerings for hipsters, with plenty of serious and costly engineering in evidence. But among the familiar names and the new, often vastly expensive flagship productsthey were generally showing, a new name caught my eye. Luphonic seems to be the brainchild of one man, Thomas Luh, who has almost singlehandedly produced a range of three turntables (priced between €2000 and €6000) whose fit and finish challenges anything from the established builders, let alone at these prices. He makes his own slim and elegantly beautiful tonearms, while the turntable is powered up by a very cool little black and white puck, which you place on one corner of the top plate, black side up for 33rpm, white side uppermost for 45. That means you can hide the puck from the kids, preventing them from trashing your vinyl while you’re out. It also means you can be guaranteed to lose it down the back of the sofa, so better buy a spare. These ‘tables contain some very interesting ideas about isolation and energy management, and the flagship model offers a novel eccentric armboard to seamlessly accommodate tonearms of different lengths. There was no opportunity to hear the Luphonic ‘tables at the show, but if it sounds anything like as good as the engineering, finish and looks promise, it should be a winner. I’m hoping to get to hear one quite soon, so watch this space.