The figures have now been evaluated and confirm the outstanding impact left by the HIGH END 2023, which ended on Sunday and attracted an international audience to the MOC Event Center in Munich from 18th to 21st May. 

With halls fully booked down to the last centimetre, atrium and conference rooms packed to the brim, and the new Press Center flooded with natural light in Atrium 2, the 40th HIGH END pulled out all the stops to put on a successful show. A total of 22,137 visitors from around 100 different countries attended the world’s largest audio show to find out about the new products and innovations of its 550 exhibitors from 54 nations. This was the highest number of visitors ever recorded by the HIGH END. 
The result far exceeds the expectations of the event organiser, the company HIGH END SOCIETY Service GmbH. Alongside the abundance of positive feedback from those involved in the trade show, these figures underline the fact that this anniversary event was the most successful in the history of the HIGH END. They also show that extending the show again to cover two B2B days after doing so successfully in 2022 was very well received in the industry. 
While trade visitors made up approximately 38 percent of the visitor total in 2019, they represented nearly half of all guests at the HIGH END 2023, which welcomed 10,748 trade visitors compared to 10,860 visitors when open to the general public. These were joined by a total of 529 media representatives from 43 countries reporting on the world’s most important audio show.

The best HIGH END ever

The HIGH END 2023 was a hive of activity characterised by its captivating, positive and emotional atmosphere. According to the feedback received by the man behind the show, Stefan Dreischärf, and his team during this event, it was the best and most outstanding show they have ever hosted. “The response to this year’s show is truly overwhelming. Every single person I have spoken to was impressed by the fantastic atmosphere in the MOC,” reports Dreischärf. “We had hoped to be able to repeat the terrific success of the last HIGH END but didn’t expect to even go one better.” While exhibitors praised the perfect organisation of the event, their impressive world premieres and the large number of product innovations captivated and excited their audience to a huge extent. The diverse programme of events organised by the HIGH END SOCIETY to accompany the anniversary show also attracted a great deal of attention and filled the event venues to the max.

The concept of a balanced combination of an industry gathering and interactive exhibition has yet again been a complete success in 2023. The decision to again split the HIGH END into two trade visitor days and two days for the general public ticked all the boxes. The largest specialist show of its kind is the most important marketplace with the highest international involvement for exhibitors from all over the globe. It is only here in Munich that all significant players in the industry come together at the same time. The jam-packed schedule of talks and meetings on the B2B days confirmed that the decision to appeal to both target groups in equal measure represented an important new approach. And indeed, the companies participating in the event were very well prepared for their business meetings at the HIGH END. In fact, discussion areas and meeting rooms are no longer a rarely seen occurrence at stands. The requests for B2B cabins at the event venue came in so thick and fast that the event organiser was also unable to meet them all due to the limited space available.

No other audio show offers as much to discover as the HIGH END. With a virtually endless range of exhibits on show, the event is a true treat for both the eyes and ears of music aficionados, audiophiles and technology lovers. All visitors to the HIGH END were able to immerse themselves in captivating sound demonstrations, enjoy music of all genres, admire both subtle and eye-catching devices and gain an insight into sophisticated state-of-the-art technology. The event shone the spotlight on major international companies, small independent labels and start-ups in equal measure, all of which presented their broad spectrum of new technologies and services. The brand-new products showcased included turntables with active vibration decoupling, innovatively networked hi-fi loudspeakers, modern amplifiers that combine a wide variety of functions with outstanding sound quality, and many other highlights.
A huge selection of models in the WORLD OF HEADPHONES

Another proven visitor highlight at the HIGH END 2023 was the WORLD OF HEADPHONES, a special area in Hall 1 where manufacturers and distributors presented all kinds of different headphone models. Given that more and more companies are now discovering this market and decided to showcase their products in the WORLD OF HEADPHONES, this year’s special exhibition area was twice as big as when it was launched in 2022. It is an attractive addition to the HIGH END that attracted young people in particular and encouraged them to spend time exploring the models on show. “The headphone show is like a magical visitor magnet, attracting people to try out products directly without any interruptions,” states Stefan Dreischärf, delighted about how visitors flocked to the stands on all four days of the audio show. Some of this year’s trends included Bluetooth headphones, in-ear variants and high-quality portable audio players, which can also be used as high-end hi-fi components thanks to their streaming and wi-fi functions.

Another convincing performance was displayed by the audio systems under the SOUNDSCLEVER label — not only those from individual exhibitors but also, for the first time ever this year, four systems presented by different hi-fi magazines. With this initiative, the HIGH END SOCIETY wants to debunk the myth that excellent music reproduction is only available in the luxury price segment. After all, companies that want to appeal to new target groups and encourage them to explore a premium hobby need to take new approaches. At the end of the day, high-quality musical enjoyment not only needs to be fun but must also be affordable. The components of the SOUNDSCLEVER audio systems have been assembled in such a way that they offer excellent music reproduction with top-quality sound yet cost no more than 5,000 Euros in total.
An illustrious visit by our brand ambassador Al Di Meola

Never before has a brand ambassador attracted such a buzz of attention. At the opening press conference with Al Di Meola, there wasn’t a free seat in the house, and even the standing room was fully packed. Wherever the artist went during his time at the HIGH END, a crowd of excited visitors soon gathered. His presence at the “Meet the man” expert interview with Lothar Brandt also received excellent feedback, with the 45-minute talk providing listeners with an interesting insight into the life of the musician who was once the fastest guitarist in the world. The autograph session attracted a long line of patient fans waiting to get their hands on an authentic signature from their star. These fans and everyone who encountered the artist throughout his time at the event were able to experience his friendly and welcoming nature and also his keen interest in all things audio. Al Di Meola also made the most of the opportunity to enjoy the event with all of his senses, to discover the exquisite sound reproduction that he supports as the ambassador of the world’s largest audio show and to confirm why he perfectly embodies this year’s motto, “Loving Music”. His live performances are not the only evidence of his virtuoso ability; many of his albums also take centre stage with their outstanding recording quality. Surrounded by such premium sound, the artist was immersed in an audio heaven: “It has overwhelmed me and is truly stunning,” he exclaimed in his emotional summary of the HIGH END. In the run-up to his visit to the largest audio show, a number of special exhibitor events were already planned in cooperation with his record company Impex Records. Together with his wife Stephanie, who accompanied him to the show, Al Di Meola compared playbacks of his own live recordings on a variety of exclusive audio systems. At the end of the event, he even happened to run into Rick Rubin, who was visiting the HIGH END out of personal interest. The world-famous music producer is now one of 600 owners of the limited-edition version of the album “Saturday Night in San Francisco”, which was produced by Impex Records, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the HIGH END. What’s more, he is one of just a handful of people to own a copy signed by Al Di Meola himself.
The HIGH END KOLLEG shines in a new light

The HIGH END KOLLEG series of presentations experienced a revival at this year’s event. It welcomed new stage formats that invited listeners to follow exciting panel discussions or expand their technical knowledge of the audio world. Thanks to the cooperation with the ALTI Association, which presented its ALTI Pavilion as part of the supplier trade show IPS – International Parts + Supply, held in parallel with the HIGH END, the spectrum of topics covered by the presentations was much more extensive than in previous years. Under the title of “Future-fi – what’s next?”, the hosts of the two panel sessions, Olaf Adam from HIFI.DE and the YouTuber Dimi Vesos, dared to take a look in the crystal ball and discussed what they consider necessary to secure the future of the hi-fi industry with their panel partners with various focuses. The guests involved in the English panel discussion hosted by Olaf Adam included Michael Fremer from the USA, Ljubiša Miodragović from Serbia and Stuart Smith from Great Britain. Dimi Vesos welcomed the hi-fi journalist Bernd Weber, the YouTuber Patrik Scholz, the specialist retailer Markus Wierl, and Lars Baumann from the company ELAC onto the stage for his session. To everyone who could not attend the HIGH END 2023 or missed out on the HIGH END KOLLEG events: you can watch the live recordings of the sessions on the YouTube channel of the HIGH END SOCIETY. You can also, of course, be sure to look forward to the next HIGH END. When? From 9th to 12th May 2024 at the MOC Event Center in Munich.

Here is what our exhibitors had to say:

"We would say overall it was very successful. Made lots of connections, and liked the diversity of the show offers."

"The HIGH END 2023 gave us the ideal platform to launch our latest product and it has been a storming success. We look forward to returning to Munich in 2024!"

"Good show, very well organised. We can only be positive about the complete show. Big thanks to Stefan Dreischärf and his team."
The Quest Group

"Overall very good show. Great international attendance. Very busy on business days and good organisation."
Esprit Cables

"Munich 2023 has been a great opportunity for Tannoy to reconnect with their loyal distributors and customers from around the world. The show has created great visibility for the brand with worldwide press, journalists and end customers taking a keen interest in the Tannoy room."

Information on the HIGH END

The HIGH END, the internationally renowned audio trade show, is the undisputed leader when it comes to impressively setting the tone for top-class music reproduction. It has been providing ideas and impetus for producers, sellers and consumers of high-quality consumer electronics for four decades. On the four days of the event in May, the entire world of audio experts and professionals will gather in Munich to visit hundreds of exhibitors from more than 40 different countries as they showcase their latest innovations in the halls and atriums of the MOC Event Center.

Claudia Kazner
Press and Public Relations


Art Is Now a Crime in Russia

Zhenya Berkovich has directed more than a dozen plays. Last year, her production of a play co-written with her now co-defendant won top honors at Russia’s leading theatre festival.

The arrests of a director and a playwright in Moscow signal a new chapter in the Putin regime’s eradication of dissent.

On May 5th, a Moscow court placed two women, the thirty-eight-year-old Zhenya Berkovich and the forty-three-year-old Svetlana Petriychuk, under arrest for an initial term of two months.

About a year earlier, I was startled to realize that Berkovich was still in Russia. Most of my extended circle had left in the days and weeks following the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in February, 2022. Russian authorities had brutally disbanded protests, passed a set of laws banning antiwar speech, hounded independent media out of the country under threat of arrest, and banned Facebook. Those who stayed took a newly standard set of precautions, including “locking” their Facebook accounts so that only their “friends” could see their activity. Berkovich spent ten days in jail for protesting the invasion and then kept posting openly, publishing poems, and writing about her reactions to the war and her frustrations with her teen-age daughters, both of whom she had recently adopted.

I didn’t know her well. We met perhaps a decade ago, when I was still living in Moscow, and Berkovich, freshly graduated from the famed Moscow Art Theatre School, was involved in the production of a play based on interviews with people whose grandparents had been Stalin’s henchmen. The play was staged at the Sakharov Center, which was shuttered by the government last week. I had also seen one of the first plays that Berkovich directed, “The Man Who Didn’t Work,” which was based on an activist’s notes of the courtroom proceedings in the trial of the poet Joseph Brodsky. Soviet citizens were required by law to be engaged in productive work. Brodsky was found guilty of “malicious parasitism” and sentenced to internal exile and mandatory labor. (The play was staged at Memorial, a human-rights and history organization that was shut down by the government last year.)

In the play, a judge demands of Brodsky, “What did you ever do to benefit the motherland?”

“I wrote poetry,” Brodsky responds. “That is my work. I am certain that every word I’ve written will benefit many generations of people.”

. . . . “Tell the court why you didn’t work.”

“I worked. I wrote poetry.”

“Answer the question. Why didn’t you labor?”

“But I labored. I wrote poetry.”

“Why didn’t you study that at an institution of higher learning?”

“I thought . . . I thought it was a gift from God.”

I took my older kids to see both plays. For years afterward, Yolka, who was ten or eleven when she first watched them, would return to the one about Brodsky. When I was writing this column, I asked what had stuck with them, and Yolka texted back, “I remember it seemed a little too related to how it was in Moscow at the time.” Back then, this response would have sounded hyperbolic. Russia was cracking down on dissent, but poets weren’t going to jail for writing poetry.

Berkovich directed roughly a dozen more plays. Last year, her production of a play written by Petriychuk—now her co-defendant—won top honors at the Golden Mask, Russia’s leading theatre festival. The name of the play, probably best translated as “Finist, the Brave Falcon,” is a reference to a Russian fairy tale about an elusive male love object who has the ability to turn into a bird or a feather. The play is based on the stories of young Russian women who met isis fighters online, converted to Islam, married the men in virtual ceremonies, and went, or tried to go, to Syria to join the fight with their husbands. Many of the women were later arrested and prosecuted in Russia, and the play made use of the transcripts of their police interviews. It was a subtle, tender, and slightly absurdist portrayal of loneliness and the longing for love. The production opened with the cast singing, in English, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Before the Russo-Ukrainian war, I didn’t know that Berkovich wrote poetry. The first poem that caught my attention went viral in the Russian blogosphere about a year ago, as Russia was staging its annual grand celebration of victory in the Second World War. In the poem, the ghost of a man who fought in the war visits his grandson in present-day Russia and asks him not to make use of his image or legacy. “We don’t need you to be proud of us / Nor to be secretly ashamed of us. / All I ask is that you / Make it so I am finally forgotten,” the grandfather pleads.

But then I’ll forget how we looked for that painting
In the Russian Museum
How I woke up wet
And you dressed me
How we read Prishvin together
And looked for the North and South Poles in the atlas
How you explained why planes
Leave a white stripe in the sky.
How you gave me
A magnifying glass.
That’s all right, the grandfather says
As he disappears.
None of that did you any good.

In times of crisis, Russians write poetry, and this was one of many poems making the rounds. Gradually, though, I realized that Berkovich was probably the poetic voice of this period. One after another, her poems, posted on Facebook, put words to the agony of wartime. Many of them had the form of litanies.

Needed: clothes for a woman
Age seventy-nine
From a city that no longer exists.
A T-shirt, size M, for Mariupol,
A jacket, size L, for Lysychans’k.
A bra with a B cup,
For Bucha and Borodyanka.

So began one poem. Another listed imaginary—but typical—cases of Russians getting arrested.
Andrey Alexandrovich Lozhkin
63 years old
A dentist

He raises a blindingly white sheet of paper overhead
His beard is flying in the wind
Everyone will be looking for him until morning
By then he no longer has a poster or a beard or any hope of getting out . . .
Daniil Yegorovich Milkis
24 years old
A student, a nerd

He “likes” a joke on someone else’s Instagram
He has a girlfriend named Sonya and an inarticulate beard
He will send the ring with his lawyer
Sonya will say yes
He will talk about god and won’t be allowed to sit down in court
He’ll get four years and eight months
Thank god for that
The prosecutor asked for six years.

Like many people, I came to depend on Berkovich’s poems as a release for my own feelings. I nearly stopped marvelling at her decision to post openly. It helped that she interspersed the poetry with some decidedly prosaic rants, some about everyday life and some about politics. It was as though, in a way, she was the last person still living in prewar Moscow, where it was possible to use social media to say what you thought, if only to stay sane.

On May 4th, police searched the St. Petersburg apartment of Berkovich’s mother and grandmother (both women are well-known writers and human-rights activists) and detained Berkovich in Moscow. Petriychuk was detained at a Moscow airport. The following day, they appeared in court, where investigators asked that they be placed in pretrial detention. They are being charged with “justifying terrorism.” The charges are based on the play “Finist, the Brave Falcon.”

Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet working in exile, obtained a copy of the expert opinion that formed the basis for the charges against the two women. It says that the play contains elements of isis ideology and, simultaneously, “the ideology of radical feminism,” including “images of the denigration of women in an androcentric world in any space where a woman encounters men, which gives her the right to fight against this state of affairs.” Both perceived ideologies are seen as evidence of support for terrorist tactics. The charge can carry a penalty of up to seven years behind bars.

I have found it hard to write about the ongoing crackdown in Russia. After a while, it seemed that there was nothing left to say—even when, last month, the journalist and politician Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for “high treason.” The sentence should have been shocking, but, just days earlier, the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich had been arrested on analogous charges. The arrests of Berkovich and Petriychuk, though, do signal a new chapter. For the first time in the post-Soviet era, Russia has explicitly arrested people for creating art. They are not charged with high treason, like Kara-Murza, or espionage, like Gershkovich, or “discrediting the armed forces” or “spreading false information about the special military operation”—the charges created to punish journalists for covering the war—or for “hooliganism,” as the protest group Pussy Riot was, but for the content of a play they wrote and staged. And also, of course, in Berkovich’s case, for acting as though she could keep expressing her thoughts and feelings out in the open. On the other hand, even as I write this, I understand that the novelty is subtle, if it exists at all: parsing the distinctions in how the Putin regime eradicates difference is a fool’s errand.

Last Friday, as the two women were being charged, several dozen people gathered outside the courthouse in Moscow. After the hearing, one of Berkovich’s friends wrote on Facebook, in a post visible only to “friends,” “I wanted to write what I think, but then I remembered that I live in Russia and decided not to. You know anyway.” Berkovich’s own Facebook account has vanished. 

Masha Gessen

Munich High-End 2023

I’ll be back. Come again? It’s the annual HighEnd show taking place this month at Munich’s MOC. In parallel, the Hifi Deluxe event beckons like a cuckoo’s nest at the nearby Marriott Hotel. While many makers follow tradition by springing their novelties on an unsuspecting public come show day, others find that divulging their latest ‘n’ greatest ahead of time drives far more guaranteed traffic to their exhibits. And let’s face it, this is one huge event. Attendees suffer sensory overload already a few hours into their first day. A few late nights later, it’s a zoo of headless chickens. That makes it all too easy to miss things only to see ‘em in sundry post-show reports and think, “by tarnation, I’d have loved to have seen and heard that”. To preload your plate with a few items you might find of interest, here goes:

Axxess Acoustics is the fourth and latest brand of the Audio Group Denmark umbrella which also operates Aavik, Ansuz and Børresen. A lot of their kit aims at ne plus ultra kaboodle to mean stickers commensurate with Hifi Formula 1. The aptly named Axxess now means to romance less turbo-charged budgets though tractors are still out. Their first product is the Forté platform, FutureFi which combines a DAC, preamp, streamer, amp and headphone amp in one case. It means two USB host ports, RJ45, USB Audio, BNC and Toslink plus one analog input and a variable pre-out. The internal amplifier is based on a 100wpc Pascal class D module driven from a resonant-mode switching power supply said to increase operating frequency and peak power. The DAC is a 1-bit type developed in house “for faster data processing and insensitivity to noise”. The streamer module incorporates Aavik precedents to shun microcomputers. The headfi section operates in class A. Proprietary high-frequency noise attenuation includes Ansuz Tesla coils. It’s the amount of built-in noise filtering which distinguishes the Forté 1 [€5.5K], Forté 2 [8K] and Forté 3 [€11K]. The three models otherwise share identical featurization and the same chassis which combines metal with composite plates and industrial design by Flemming Rasmussen, original founder of Gryphon Audio Design.

At the AudioNEXT booth, check out Sino brand Cen.Grand for whom 2023 is the debutante ball to global export. Having reviewed their flagship headphone amp and DSD1’024 DAC, I’m convinced the brand is this year’s Denafrips discovery. Depending on what their German importer bought in for Munich, brand new are this dedicated preamp and pair of 1’000-watt class AB monos. A network player with novel ‘synchronous’ connection was previewed at this year’s Beijing show and should start shipping by October. Perhaps AudioNEXT will have a sample of that as well?

As the Bang & Olufsen of France, Devialet will bring Gallic Mania to the proceedings. Priced from $790 – $990, it’s a portable all-in affair of a “360° stereo sound” speaker with four small wideband drivers, two woofers and (cough) bandwidth from 30Hz-20kHz. But there’s also WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2. For juice on the go a 3’200mAh battery builds in. This balcony, porch or beach party affair measures just 18x19x14cm and lengthens our arm by only 2.3kg. Various trim levels apply. At first glance we might dismissively think Sharper Image catalogue or a retail emporium like Harrods of London so a glitz blitz with little sonic substance. But Devialet have proven already that despite very noisy marketing laden with whiz-bang acronyms, they’ve also got excellent engineering and manufacturing chops on their side.

Estelon of Estonia have always promoted very costly ceramic Accuton drivers and sculpturesque composite cabinets to position themselves firmly in our hobby’s higher heavens. So even their new entry speaker Aura [€17.5K/pr] sits where other portfolios would run out of breath, not kick-off. But for those of us dreaming of a hot rod inside a banger chassis, Aura could be just the thing. Simply ditch the banger bit. Whilst these drivers go ‘soft’ by way of a ScanSpeak Illuminator textile tweeter set into an oval waveguide bracketed by two 5” SB Acoustic Satori papyrus- paper mids plus a 10” down-firing sealed paper woofer from Faital, the enclosure remains very curvaceous synthetic stone. Available in white or black, that means true Bay Watch lookers. The filter network includes custom OFC air-core inductors, supercap-type capacitors and wire-wound resistors pair-matched then wired point to point into Cardas terminals.

Poland’s Ferrum Audio is part of HEM, a company that also does OEM/ODM work and hifi distribution. They used to design/build Mytek kit before branching out into their own brand. That’s named for iron-ore deposits close to their hometown of Warsaw. Their newest product is the Wandla flagship DAC built around an ESS 9038 chip. There’s IR remote, a remote app, a choice of buffered digital on-chip/analog Muses or no volume, one analog RCA input, RCA/XLR outputs and on the digital input side, USB-C, coax, AES/EBU, Toslink plus I2S and ARC via HDMI. Where Wandla leaves the usual reservation is with a touch screen, extensive menu options and their proprietary Serce processor board. That handles signal routing, DSP even I/V conversion. As part of their custom DSP, Ferrum have installed user-selectable filters including some custom filters from HQPlayer. There’s MQA, PCM up to 32/768 and DSD up to 256. The initial I2S pin configuration follows the PS Audio standard shared with Denafrips, Jay’s and Singxer. As requests arise, Ferrum will add alternates by firmware update. Lastly, Wandla can be powered by the company’s hybrid Hypsos power supply as part of their in-house upgrade path.

China’s FiiO has its new FT3 [349] full-size headphones looking to compete against a Darko/6moons favorite, Meze’s 99 Classic. Tucked beneath alpha-male ear cups are N52-powered 2.4-inch dynamic drivers with diamond-like carbon membranes and beryllium-plated gaskets. Voice coil wiring is all of 0.035mm thick, load behaviour 350Ω. 391g of weight will wear slightly on the heavy side. Included are a 3m 23-gauge mono-crystal copper cable, 6.3mm adapter and both pleather and suede pads for some custom tuning.

iFi’s world of budget wonders expands with two novelties for the show. The first is the LAN Silencer [€89], a self-powered inline galvanic isolator aka noise stripper for networked audio. The second is something quite gnarly called GO pod which turns wired IEM into wireless wonders. iFi have collaborated with 64 audio, craft ears, Meze, Symphonium and Westone to bundle select IEM. After the first 1’000 combos are gone, raw GO pods will sell with “loops for MMCX and 2-pin IEM, Pentaconn, T2 and A2DC connectors” to mate with other IEMs. There’s a charging case with 1’500mAH battery. A pair of pods is said to last for up to seven hours whilst the case will refuel them multiple times for up to 35 hours total. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon handles Bluetooth 5.2 with QCC144 processor. Supported codecs are LDAC/HDC up to 32-bit/96kHz. The Cirrus Logic MasterHifi DAC has five user-selectable digital interpolation filters. The volume control is analog, the built-in mic is augmented by Qualcomm’s cVC noise suppression tech. There’s true wireless mirroring and the analog output stage is balanced and discrete.

Lotoo of China will show their battery-power portable Mjölnir all-in-one in the booth of German importer audioNEXT GmbH. Main specs are an AK4499 DAC, 2.5wpc/32Ω balanced power, Roon/AirPlay support, 94Wh battery and 2.7kg of mass. Analog outputs are on XLR and RCA and there are digital i/o, an SD card slot and USB media port. Should the design conjure up Nagra, that’s no coincidence. For more entry-level kit which the storied Swiss brand can’t manufacture in their own Lausanne facility to hit intended price points—I’m thinking of my small portable recorder—they collaborate with Lotoo. Given such credibility at stake, we might say that Nagra has pre- shopped mainland China suppliers on our behalf so that when we go Lotoo, we’re fully Nagra approved. At least that’s what my wallet tells itself.

Mobile Fidelity from the US has the latest Andrew Jones coaxial design, the SourcePoint 8 [$3K/pr] with a 1.25″ soft dome in the throat of an 8″ paper-pulp mid/woofer crossed over at 1.6kHz. Measuring 18×11.4×13.2″ Hx”xD and weighing 28lbs, this speaker is 87dB sensitive and never drops below 6.4Ω. Finish options are black ash, satin walnut or satin white.

Q Acoustics from the UK has the new 5000 models to show. With the familiar form factors and driver tech as their flagship Concept range, the baffles are laminated with butyl rubber and black acrylic for vibration damping. Finish options span a generous satin black/white, rosewood or oak.

If salt and pepper are what chefs call seasoning, tubes and solid state are hifi’s equivalent. How to get both into one shaker Rogue Audio show with their new DragoN monos which embed a 12AU7 voltage-gain stage in the loop of an nCore class D power module whilst running the lot off a classic linear not switching power supply.

More wicked than the witches of Eastwich is Soundsmith with its new MosTube One, “a long-lived solid-state replacement for the most popular power tubes featuring extreme stability, automatic matching, no adjustments, tube-type 2nd-harmonic flavor and an automatic 30-50% power increase. Replaces 6550, KT66 through KT150, EL34, 6L6 and more.” Before you think April’s fool, Brinkmann and Schiit have already done this for some of their own models. Soundsmith is simply the first to propose rolling transistor outputs into any valve amp with the right tubes.

German pro-audio brand spl has crossed into ConFit (Fi fit for consumers) years ago. Its new Phonitor 3 [€2’599] might actually straddle the prosumer fence by adding mastering features like adjustable cross feed, soundstage angle and width, stereo/mono and more. Two VU meters shout mastering console but McIntosh devotees would demure by demanding VU meters at home. This deck also includes a premium DAC and pre-amp outputs.

// Intermission. Toilet break. Head over to the Frankfurter stand between the atriums for some Germanic calories. Chew the fat with other showgoers. Stomach duly fortified, Pilsner swallowed, you’re now ready to spend big; or at least pretend you could. //

For that, take the shuttle over to the Marriott Hotel where Acapella Audio Arts from Germany will show off its new Hyperion. Think 2.5 meters tall and 300kg each. Think 4 x 15-inch woofers; per side. In stereo, that becomes the equivalent of one compound 42.5” woofer! But there’s more. Think 2.5” midrange loaded into a 78cm diameter hyper-spherical horn. Think horn-loaded ion tweeter with essentially zero mass. Outboard crossovers weigh 30kg each. If you need to ask about the price, you’re categorically in the wrong place. So don’t ask. Just sit down politely and hear how the Jones listen.

If Børresen finalizes its new M6 loudspeaker in time, that’ll be another occasion to spend vicariously; to the tune of €540’000/pr I’m told. If not, you could slum it with the €260’000 M3, a 5- driver 2.5-way tower whose drivers rock ultra-light composite cones with N52 motors, solid-silver pole pieces and baskets 3D-printed from zirconium. Anything that fits into the factory’s own vats is deep-cryo’d to boot; and the crossovers incorporate active analog dither spun off sonar radar tech plus active Tesla coils.

For another me-and Mrs.-Jones deed, consider the Clarisys Audio exhibit with their Auditorium dipoles driven in Munich by a full Soulution stack. If you didn’t know, Clarisys of CH is Apogee Acoustics reborn. Of sorts. The company does host an Apogee restoration panel to help owners of Jason Bloom speakers which need repairs. Hence their own products continue where Mr. Bloom left off. That makes this an ideal opportunity to sample true 3-way ribbon speakers at the very top of that game. Think 2m tall, 210kg a side and extreme resolution.

Speaking of ribbons, I would check out Raal-Requisite’s new CA-1a, [€2-2.5K], its circumaural follow-up on the winged AKG K-1000 reminiscent SR1a. It comes with a new impedance interface to run off any standard headphone amp. The Serbian designer is keen for us to know that these are far more than SR1a with ear cups to feature all-new motors and more. Some people are all hot for headfi, others bothered. Even if you’re amongst the latter, don’t miss an opportunity to hear what might be one of the best headphones extant. It may not convert you; but at least you’ll have a renewed respect for what’s possible.

To go gaga over what cost no object can look like in turntables, this year Thorens celebrate its 140th year of operations and bow its New Reference priced “between the Airforce Zero and Nagra Reference”. Designed by Helmut Thiele, its active vibration isolation is from Germany’s Seismion to exploit piezoelectric acceleration sensors in a system called sky-hook damping. This collaborates with an adaptive levelling system with 20μm tolerance. The three-phase synchronous belt-drive motor is powered by three linear amplifiers with 120° phase-shifted signals. The bearing is a hydrodynamic type. The speed controller is based on two precision quartz oscillators with a claimed 3ppm max deviation over 20 years. The table can be fitted with up to three bases to suit tonearms from 9″ to 12″.

Not to be left out to dry, VPI Industries will counter with its new magnetic direct-drive table, the €60’000 aptly named Titan Direct.

If you’re still in the mood for rarefied air but speakers in particular, check out the Monitor Audio Group’s finalized Hyphn [€82’500/pr] which last year merely previewed. I think of it as an ‘inverted’ KEF Blade whose coax executes with seven discrete drivers; whose outfiring quad-woofer array fires inward. It’s an 11-driver dual-concentric 3-way with force-cancelling 8” woofers and 6 x 2″ flat-membrane drivers encircling Monitor’s own MDP III aka AMT tweeter-like flower petals. Loaded into the central slot are two pairs of face-to-face so self-damping woofers. Available matte finishes are white, black and heritage green. Each half of the thermoformed mineral-loaded acrylic ‘H’ enclosure obscures a vertical down-firing ~50cm long large-diameter 26Hz port tube for -6dB/16Hz extension.

by Srajan


Cary Audio SLP-98P Tube Preamplifier

Audiophiles that might be reading this are most likely very familiar with Cary Audio, originally the brain child of Dennis Had who is something of a legend in our industry. The venerable Cary 805 Mono Block Power amplifiers are legendary, and the audio equivalent of the Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari 512 Testa Rosa. Many of us had a poster of one or the other car on our walls as youngsters depending of course on marque loyalty. If you were well heeled you had both posters. I had pictures of the 805s framed on my desk until I obtained the real thing for my stereo system. The performance, quality, fit, finish, and sound have held up well over the years and they are still one of the most beautiful pieces of audio art out there. Both visually and sonically they are stunning, eye catching and the sound is to die for. Suffice it to say the commitment to the art is very strong with Billy Wright, now running the entire operation after Dennis retired a number of years ago. Billy has handily taken the company to the logical next level. Another legend in the making! Go Billy!

This review is about the latest version of Cary Audio SLP-98P tube preamplifier with a moving magnet phono stage (hence the last P in the name). Five out of six of my cartridges are moving coil, but I do have a very nice Sumiko Moonstone that is moving magnet and I review MM cartridges from time to time. That makes the SP-98P a great fit for my needs.

This is a first for me I believe. I actually bought the preamplifier to mate up with my Cary 805 mono block amplifiers prior to even discussing the review. I wanted to mate the Cary preamplifier for a more symbiotic coupling with the amplifiers to maximize my tunes. I have heard the preamplifier in the past, but not the latest version until I bought it sight unseen. It has not been very often that I have bought something sight unseen that retails in the vicinity of $6-7k. Would I do it all over again? Yes, I would and would not even begin to second guess the decision. Thinking of it now is the best reason to examine the decision and the outcome. The following is the down and dirty answer to those two questions.

Cary Audio has been in business since 1989, and has always produced some of the finest audio gear in the industry. Is there more prestigious gear out there? Who can forget the Cary Audio 1610 two story amplifiers? One of these days I may possibly trade up. I know there is plenty of gear out there that is more expensive, but how much better would entail a vigorous debate, and it could be quite contentious but definitely arguable. From my experience you would definitely pay a great deal more, feature for feature, to even begin to render a Cary product to secondary status. My very first Cary product that I purchased was the Cinema DVD player, ,I bought primarily to serve as both a CD and DVD player. I still have it, and aside from needing a new infra red sensor it has never faltered in its ability to play any disc I throw in it. Cary products are stoutly built, the fit and finish is outstanding, and the sound they produce, as I have already stated, is absolutely superb.

The SLP-98P preamplifier is only bested in the Cary line by the Cary SLP-05, which is a full two chassis affair. When I bought the SLP-98P my thoughts were focused on downsizing and ease of placement. It is a small unit for the main chassis with an outboard power supply. Very compact and elegant in look and feel, but huge in terms of performance and features. Let's get to the specs for that info right up front:Circuit Type: Class A Triode
Output: Rated 2 volts, 12 volts max
Gain: 20dB - Line Stage, 43dB - Phono Stage (SLP 98P only)
Hum and Noise: 88 below full output
Input Impedance: 50,000 Ohms - Line, 47,000 Ohms - Phono
Output Impedance: 440 Ohms
Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 163,000 Hz
Tubes: 4 ea. 6SN7 Line Stage, 2 ea. 12 AX7 Phono Stage, 2 ea. 12AU7 Phono Buffer
Power Transformer(s): EI Laminate, 200% Duty Cycle
Resistors: 1% Metal Film
Capacitors: Polypropylene Film with hand soldered copper terminals (optional upgrades available)
Power Supply Capacitors: 4 ea - 560 uF@400VDC
AC Cord: 2 Conductor, Detachable
AC Power Requirements: 117/234 VAC @ 50/60 Hz
Consumption: 44 Watts Operation
Warm Up Time: 3 Minutes
Break In Time: 100 hours of playing time
Finish: Anthracite black finish with silver or black faceplate
Weigh:t 22 Pounds
Dimensions: 5" H x 12.5" W x 12" D

Available UpgradesMundorf SilverGold Output and Coupling Caps
Kimber Kable throughout

My unit has most, if not all the upgrades available, sans the Kimber Kable wiring. I wanted a built in MM phono stage since I do review cartridges that are MM from time to time.

As mentioned at the outset, there is a very good argument for the symbiosis that comes from components made by the same manufacturer, and the familial design DNA that just seems to make sense, and that is certainly the case with the SLP98 and its ability to seamlessly blend in the with 805 amplifiers and to bring the absolute best out of those amplifiers. It was when I replaced my old preamp with the Cary SLP98 that the system seemed to come into a whole new realm of sound quality. The preamplifier is perfectly mated to the 805 amplifiers. I can only imagine it would be stellar with any amplifier, especially with other Cary products. Someday when I am rich and famous I may upgrade to the CAD-211FE amplifiers or perhaps a set of well taken care of 1610s for more headroom. But, I will keep the SLP-98P because I just do not see the need for anything more than this.

Setup is nice and easy and the main unit's smaller footprint (1 square foot) allows for a lot of flexibility and the outboard power supply comes with a reasonable long umbilical so it can be placed on another shelf altogether. I actually set my power supply below the preamplifier proper. This placement also gave the preamplifier and its 8 tubes room to breathe in the cabinet. That setup has worked just fine.

The fit and finish is superb. My choice was the silver face plate, and it is a very elegant piece. (My only complaint when buying was that the gold/champagne face plates are no longer available to match my amplifiers, boo….)

Controls are easy to use and logically laid out. On/Off/Standby on the left side with another rotary knob next to it for input selection makes for easy selections. The large center volume dial can be adjusted remotely (thank you Cary from all of us older people). In the middle is a mute switch and there is an identical switch for the Tape Monitor. Some find this switching method counterintuitive. On the right side are a pair of input knobs to balance out sound if needed. Overall it becomes very easy to use the SLP-98P in everyday listening.

This is the first time that Cary Audio has built a unit around the venerable 6SN7GT dual triode. This is tech from back in the 1940s, and a great choice. Two of them are used per channel. Like the SLPs before it it is available with or without a phono stage. The unit I chose is the SLP-98P with the phono stage that adds a pair of 12AX7 for gain and a pair of 12AU7 tubes for buffering.

The other interesting part of this setup is the outboard power supply containing the transformer, a choke and a couple of large capacitors, a rectifier bridge, relay and other odds and ends. As stated before there is a sizable umbilical cord to link to the preamplifier chassis. Everything in the setup is hand wired point to point. Having visited the factory numerous times over the years, it is really a pleasure watching the team build and wire these units. The craftsmanship is world class and a clear source of pride for the Cary family.

A special note about the included MM phono stage. I found it more than just a bit convenient. It did a great job of handling my Sumiko Moonstone MM cartridge. As long as the cartridge has a relative high output it performs admirably. If you only run MC cartridges you will need a step up transformer to get enough oomph to use the phono stage. I have multiple phono stages for my MC cartridges so I did not try running any of them from the on board phono stage.

In then end, as with all things, Audio preference is an individual thing. I have listened to many, many top line preamplifiers. Most recently I have spent a good deal of time listening to Nagra's top tier preamp, no doubt at the upper echelon of available kit. Anyone who listens to the SLP-98 will come away with their own truth as to how well it fits their needs. For me it checked every box I was looking for. Exceptional quality, tube smoothness, plenty of inputs, and at an affordable cost. I am currently running two turntables (no microphone though. Get it?), a streamer, a reel to reel, and could still add on another component.

The SLP-98P is a very fine addition and distinctly musical. I consider myself a tube friendly audiophile (okay, maybe a bit of an understatement) and the Cary delivers the goods in a way I could only describe as truthful and faithful to the source material. Soundstage is broad, detail is pinpoint and depth is amazing. Speakers completely disappear. Air and vibrancy around all the players are the order of the day. It is that kind of delivery, along with incredible fit, finish and high quality build, with a price that is incredibly fair considering the components that have gone into it, makes it a very solid bargain and a preamplifier that should be on anyone's list who is shopping at this price level or even twice to three times the cost. I bought it and it was easily one of the best audio purchases I have ever made!

One of the first things that struck me about this preamplifier was during one of my first in-depth listening sessions. After about 40 hours of break in, as I will listening to "You Are the Music, We are the Band" by Trapeze from the album of the same title (Threshold Records THS-8). This was a pretty loud listen (as so much rock is meant to be). At the end of the first side my Tru Lift brought up the tonearm and there was an astonishing lack of sound. When I say lack, I mean stone silent! Not a whisper, zero tube hum, no line noise, absolutely nothing with my ear right at the speakers. Just blackness.

Glenn Hughes has an amazing voice and this is a performance that really cemented his legend as a singer with astonishing range. Some of the passages are a bit on the edgy side, and through certain amplification his voice can be painful and penetratingly shrill when hitting the really high notes. The SLP did a great job of knocking the harshest edges off. This made for a listening session that was delivered with tonal accuracy (like an opera singer breaking glass) with all the energy and sense of urgency he put into the vocals without the "nails on the chalkboard" effect I have heard with other gear before. The SLP smoothed it out without taking anything in the way of the dynamics and in your face nature of his singing. Amazing difference in how the overall presentation sounded.

While in a bit of nostalgic mood for good 70s era hard driving rock, I pulled out Ronnie Montrose's album Open Fire (Warner Brothers RSK 3134) and the opening five songs on side one are almost one long tune. It starts with the spacey sounding, orchestral "Openers," drifting into "Open Fire," a flat rock and roll classic that screams right into "Mandolinia," which is reminiscent of the Who's use of synths in "Won't Get Fooled Again." The finale, "A Town Without Pity" is a lilting and lovely remake of the classic Gene Pitney 1962 theme song from the movie of the same name. Full of soaring guitar work over a very subtle orchestra underpinning. I consider this to be Ronnie Montrose's finest performance. What a talent, and greatly under appreciated as the melodic master that he was. The first side ends with the incredible acoustic "Leo Rising," which smacks of some early Jimmy Page acoustic work, and it is a thing of beauty.

This particular album was produced by Edgar Winter and engineered by Dick Bogart. Primary musicians besides Ronnie were Edgar on keyboards, Ronnie Shlosser on drums, Jim Aclivar handling sequencer programming and co writing, and Alan Fitzgerald on bass. The time of the total suite is approximately 14 minutes of non stop thrill ride. The guitar work is inspirational, melodic with a sense of fierceness, and the SLP delivered it without breaking a sweat. Balanced, front and center guitar, and all other musicians in the proper space. I could also see an elevated orchestra behind the cabinet that holds my gear. This is the best my system has sounded thus far, and it made it a joy to pull out these albums for a fresh listen. Drums were impactful. The kick drum felt at times as though you were hit by cannon fire. Cymbals had a natural ring to them and a very realistic decay compared to live. If you have never heard this album may I suggest you purchase a copy. I doubt you will regret it. To this day one of my favorite all time albums, and well worth the listen. It will tell you a lot about your system's ability to handle huge dynamic swings. The SLP handled every bit of it with missing a step anywhere.

Up next I thought it would be good to change up things and went right to Luther Vandross' breakout album Never Too Much, Epic FE 3745. The title song is a rollicking soul/pop love song. Great melody and catching lyrics. Supported by Buddy Williams on drums, Marcus Miller on bass, Nathaniel Adderly Jr. on keys, Steve Love on guitar. There is also a great a string orchestra joining in for flavor. What stood out on this track was the velvety texture of Luther's vocals. It's little wonder that he rocketed to superstar status on the heels of this recording. Range, control to die for, and just unwavering smoothness. The SLP delivered him as though he was back among the living and singing in my audio room. The rhythm guitar provided by Steve Love was a thing of beauty. His strumming was crystal clear, and very consistent in terms of applied pressure of each stroke. A great system will show every misstep of a guitarist. Steve's playing is flawless, in the way he never wavers. No fireworks just pace and tempo like a metronome. It actually jumped out at me for the first time. So much so that I played the track a few times, as I simply don't recall every hearing it this clear and present. It wasn't distracting in its place, but rather just noticeable how perfect it was for the first time. It also reminded me of how the world at large is worse off for losing Luther at such a young age.

I followed up with an album by Cal Tjader, La Onda Va Bien (Pure Audiophile Records PA-600 2.) This is a double album on 180 gram vinyl, and recorded for 45 rpm from the original tape masters from 1979. The first track "Speak Low" had Cal on his vibes with Mark Levine on piano, Roger Glenn on flute and percussion, Vince Lateano on drums, Rob Fisher on bass, and Poncho Sanchez on congas and percussion. This is a limited edition album with outstanding sonics and very well balanced engineering. Every musician takes a turn with some solo work. Each is elevated to the same level as Cal when soloing, and the presentation is smooth and creamy. Every instrument on this recording is clearly present in its own space with plenty of air between the musicians. The music builds throughout, and the pace is furious. It is clear that each of these performers are masters of their craft. The soundstage is very precise and broad. The most stunning aspect however was Vince's drums. Within the soundstage and placement the drums were to the back and right. What was not common and was wholly unexpected was the fact that the ride cymbal was delivered as slightly in front of the snare drum. That is an extremely accurate reproduction of the drum kit. The fact that I suddenly heard that slight difference in placement of part of the kit threw me a serious curve ball. I don't recall ever hearing that significant split in placement anytime before. The drums always seem to be properly placed and each of the drums or cymbals are always clear from side to side, but I simply have never heard that front to back of the kit so clearly before. Unfortunately Cal died three years after this recording while on tour from a massive heart attack. It certainly is a fitting album for one of his final recordings. The SLP just delivered the goods on every level. All I can say is wow!

I finished the LP part of this with a play of Rimsky-Korsakoff's Scheherazade performed by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, (Living Stereo LSC-2446). Scheherazade is something of a cornerstone of classical music, and there are many different recordings. This recording is arguably one of the best. There are some that have suggested that this performance, along with others, be put on a five to ten year moratorium since they might be overplayed. I say nay to that. Great musical compositions deserve to be recorded periodically by different performances to render the nuances that come from different venues and orchestras to provide as much diversity of performance as the market will bear. I have gone on record more than once saying that I was not a classical music lover. Over the past ten to twelve years recordings like this one have moved me closer and closer to the lover side of the equation. Every aspect of this recording is just superb. Rhythm and pace are outstanding. The swells and drops in music are palpable and emotive. Of special note within the record is the performance of the guest violinist Sidney Harth. His performance is just inspirational. Exceptionally smooth and precise with an appropriately delicate touch. In the midst of the bombastic nature of many parts of this performance the tone of flesh on the strings still came through during his solo takes. The SLP delivered every bit of the music in its entirety without interjecting any of its own personality. While the term "neutral" is ubiquitous in this filed and not always associated with the "warmth" of tubes this is as good as it comes to the neutrality of playback. I felt like standing to applaud at the end of the first side.

While my listening notes are all pulled from vinyl sessions that were the primary source for the most critical listening, I also spent a good deal of time streaming music, and running a number of my reel to reel tapes through the system. The Cary SLP-98P handled every bit of other sources in the same way it handled the vinyl. That is to say, close to flawlessly. This preamplifier came incredibly close to being completely neutral. Some will say that tubes never render a neutral sound, but that is just not true. It may not measure on the bench that way, but to my ears it was as close as I have come in my own system to that hallowed ground. Yes there is an inherent tube warmth, but it is also so subtle as to not draw attention and focus away from the pureness of the music. There is nothing remotely perfect in the arena of audio gear. Everything must give way to some types of compromises, no matter how small. Much like it goes with hand grenades and horse shoes, "close" often counts for the big points. So it goes with the Cary audio SLP-98P. I will gladly trade that slight warmth for ease of listening, low fatigue, and exceptionally high fidelity that delivers an incredibly satisfying listening experience. Detail, massive soundstaging, depth and breadth of the soundstage. Thanks to the absolute spot on mid range, vocals are creamy smooth, especially female vocals, and the SLP-98P delivers them in a way that drags listening sessions from a couple of hours at a session to a full day long event. Upper frequencies are delivered with sparkly, sizzle and realistic decay without and annoying edge or shrillness. Bass slam, while never being a strong suit of 300B tubes, is very present with the addition of the 845 tube in the mix. I continue to be impressed to this day with the level of bass depth and slam that I get from my 805 amplifiers and the SLP-98P just conducts everything so smoothly to the amplifiers that it all blends into a seamless delivery of audio nirvana

As I said earlier on in this review I have not had a single regret about buying the SLP-98P. It has proven to be a very high performing preamplifier and one that I plan to live with till I move on to the next phase of existence. It would take me winning a mountainous lottery to think of replacing it with anything. At that point I would go out of control on everything including building a specific listening room with room correction built in to the room. Since I do not see that happening to me I am quite content to live out my life with my current amp and preamplifier setup. Thanks to Billy and all the great people at Cary for providing me with so much musical joy. If you are looking for an absolutely stellar tube driven preamplifier and want the biggest bang for the buck you simply cannot beat the SLP-98P without spending double the money or more and even then I would not bet against this preamplifier being out performed at even at the increased cost. As my friend Tony says, "Come get ya some!"

SLP-98P Preamplifier
Retail: $5495 before any upgrades.
Cary Audio
6301 Chapel Hill Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27607


What Vivian Maier Saw in Color

Self-portrait New York NY May 5 1955

From the 1950s until a few years before she died, in 2009, destitute at the age of 83, Vivian Maier took at least 150,000 pictures, mostly in Chicago, and showed them to nobody. Now she has earned her place alongside Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Lisette Model, Garry Winogrand, and other giants of the American street. See her vivid photos, which might have languished in obscurity if not for a chance acquisition.

A photograph is a secret about a secret,” Diane Arbus said. In the case of Vivian Maier, the photographer was a secret, too. From the nineteen-fifties until a few years before she died, in 2009, destitute at the age of eighty-three, Maier took at least a hundred and fifty thousand pictures, mostly in Chicago, and showed them to nobody. It’s telling, perhaps, that one of her favorite motifs was to shoot her own shadow. For decades, she supported herself as a nanny in the wealthy enclaves of the city. But her real work was roaming the streets with her camera (often with her young charges in tow), capturing images of sublime spontaneity, wit, and compositional savvy. When pressed about her occupation by a man she once knew, Maier didn’t describe herself as a nanny. She said, “I am sort of a spy.” All the best street photographers are.

Maier’s covert work might have languished in obscurity if not for the chance acquisition, in 2007, of a cache of negatives, prints, contact sheets, and unprocessed rolls of film, all seized from a storage locker because she fell behind on the rent. When John Maloof, a Chicago real-estate agent, bought the material, everything about Maier’s identity was a mystery except for her name. It was only when he ran across her death notice, two years later, that her story began to unfold. (His wonderful documentary on the subject, “Finding Vivian Maier,” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2015.) Maier shot in both color and black-and-white; perhaps to establish her credibility as a “serious” artist, the first of her pictures to be widely disseminated were the latter. Now that Maier has earned her place alongside Arbus, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Lisette Model, Garry Winogrand, and other giants of the American street, a new book, “Vivian Maier: The Color Work,” and a related exhibition at Howard Greenberg Gallery (opening on November 14th) consider her eye for the vivid.

Chicago, 1978.

Maier is such an original artist that it feels a like a cheat to play games of compare and contrast. But, leafing through the book, it’s remarkable how often other photographers spring to mind. On an unknown date, at the Art Institute of Chicago, she pulled a Thomas Struth when she documented a mother (a nanny?) and a child staring raptly at a painting on the wall, both dressed in navy and white; the composition is centrally anchored by another child staring, defiantly, directly at Maier. 

In another image, a red-headed boy, who sucks his thumb while slumped against a wood-panelled wall on which four framed handguns are hanging, could be the shy, sullen cousin of Arbus’s manic boy with a toy hand grenade. The detached bumper and crash-crumpled metal of a Volkswagen Beetle, shot in Chicagoland in 1977, assumes sculptural proportions that invite thoughts of Arnold Odermatt, the Swiss policeman whose forensic photos of automobile accidents deserve to be more widely known.

Location unknown, 1960.

The Beetle was yellow, a color that brings out Maier’s best. In 1975, she took one of her shadow self-portraits against a green lawn dotted with little gold blossoms; cropped by the lens, the dainty, painterly landscape splits the difference between a Warhol silkscreen of flowers and the allover compositions of AbEx. (Note that Maier was shooting her shadow in the nineteen-fifties, roughly a decade before Friedlander, who is renowned for the gesture, did the same.) 

The same year, she came across two men on a sidewalk—one standing, one striding—both wearing canary shorts and lemon-fizz socks. To their right is a woman in a sensibly dark woolly cardigan and a daffodil-colored skirt. Their outfits are almost absurdly sunny, but not one of them is smiling.

Chicagoland, April, 1977.

Maier can pack an entire short story’s worth of details into a single frame. Consider the overly tan, skin-baring couple shot in an unknown location in 1960. They stand peeping through two cruciform holes in a high wall separating them from a swimming pool. The woman’s dingy white curls echo the hue of the stucco; his peeling, freckled back repeats its mottled texture. The ruched fabric of her bitter-orange bathing suit is the same palette and pattern as a poolside cushion in the near distance.

Past the man’s ear, there’s a lively brunette whose blue one-piece is a shade darker than the water below. She’s thrown her arms in the air, as if describing a wild night at a party. The elderly pair are on the outside looking in, and it’s worse than having their noses pressed against glass—they can smell the chlorine. When you see that she’s clutching a wrinkly brown paper bag, the mise en scène becomes somehow sadder.

Location unknown, c. 1960–1976.

The Art Institute of Chicago, date unknown.

One question that has dogged the discovery of Maier’s photography is how a lowly nanny could make such high art. Let’s call that sexism. I’ve never heard anyone ask how another exceptional Chicago outsider, the visionary writer and artist Henry Darger, could have produced his fifteen-thousand-page magnum opus while holding down a job as a janitor. The photographer Joel Meyerowitz contributed a foreword to the new book, a canny choice given that, like Maier, he learned how to shoot on the streets. He also co-wrote (with Colin Westerbeck, who also contributes an essay) an esteemed volume on the genre, “Bystander: A History of Street Photography.” 

He concludes, rightly, that “Maier was an early poet of color photography.” But he also floats a wince-inducing theory about her knack for snatching secrets, what he terms all great street photographers’ “cloak of invisibility”: “She’s as plain as an old-fashioned schoolmarm. She’s the wallflower, the spinster aunt, the ungainly tourist in the big city . . . except . . . she isn’t!” Has Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” ever been defined in terms of his looks?

Location and date unknown.

Location and date unknown.

Chicagoland, March 1977.

Chicago, December 1974.

Chicago, 1975.

Location unknown, 1976.

Chicago, 1973.

Self-portrait, Chicagoland, 1975.

Self-portrait, Chicagoland, October 1975.

Andrea K. Scott


The Coronation Weekend : All about King Charles III

King Charles III, formerly known as The Prince of Wales, became King on the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022.

In addition to his official and ceremonial duties in the United Kingdom and overseas as The Prince of Wales, His Majesty has taken a keen and active interest in all areas of public life for decades. The King has been instrumental in establishing more than 20 charities over 40 years, including The Prince's Trust, The Prince's Foundation and The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF).

His Majesty has worked closely with many organisations, publicly supporting a wide variety of causes relating to the environment, rural communities, the built environment, the arts, healthcare and education.

Early Life

The Prince of Wales, eldest son of The Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Buckingham Palace at 9.14pm on 14 November 1948. A month later, on 15 December, Charles Philip Arthur George was christened in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher.

The Prince's mother was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, when her father, King George VI, died aged 56 on 6 February 1952. On The Queen's accession to the throne, Prince Charles - as the Sovereign's eldest son - became heir apparent at the age of three.

The Prince, as Heir to the Throne, took on the traditional titles of The Duke of Cornwall under a charter of King Edward III in 1337; and, in the Scottish peerage, of Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

The Prince was four at his mother's Coronation, in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. Many who watched the Coronation have vivid memories of him seated between his widowed grandmother, known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and his aunt, Princess Margaret.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that The Prince should go to school rather than have a tutor at the Palace. The Prince started at Hill House school in West London on 7 November 1956.

After 10 months, the young Prince became a boarder at Cheam School, a preparatory school in Berkshire. In 1958, while The Prince was at Cheam, The Queen created him The Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. The Prince was nine-years-old.

In April 1962 The Prince began his first term at Gordonstoun, a school near Elgin in Eastern Scotland which The Duke of Edinburgh had attended.

The Prince of Wales spent two terms in 1966 as an exchange student at Timbertop, a remote outpost of the Geelong Church of England Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.

When he returned to Gordonstoun for his final year, The Prince of Wales was appointed school guardian (head boy). The Prince, who had already passed six O Levels, also took A Levels and was awarded a grade B in history and a C in French, together with a distinction in an optional special history paper in July 1967.

The Prince went to Cambridge University in 1967 to read archaeology and anthropology at Trinity College. He changed to history for the second part of his degree, and in 1970 was awarded a 2:2 degree.
Investiture and military career

His Royal Highness was invested as Prince of Wales by The Queen on 1 July 1969 in a colourful ceremony at Caernarfon Castle. Before the investiture The Prince had spent a term at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth, learning to speak Welsh.

On 11 February 1970, His Royal Highness took his seat in the House of Lords.

On 8 March 1971 The Prince flew himself to Royal Air Force (RAF) Cranwell in Lincolnshire, to train as a jet pilot. At his own request, The Prince had received flying instruction from the RAF during his second year at Cambridge.

In September 1971 after the passing out parade at Cranwell, The Prince embarked on a naval career, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and both his great-grandfathers.

The six-week course at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, was followed by service on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates.

The Prince qualified as a helicopter pilot in 1974 before joining 845 Naval Air Squadron, which operated from the Commando carrier HMS Hermes. On 9 February 1976, The Prince took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last nine months in the Navy.
Family and Married Life

On 29 July 1981, The Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul's Cathedral.

Lady Diana's father, then Viscount Althorp and later the eighth Earl Spencer, had been an equerry to both George VI and The Queen. Her maternal grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a close friend and Lady-in-Waiting to The Queen Mother.

The Prince and Princess of Wales had two sons: Prince William, born on 21 June 1982; and Prince Harry, born on 15 September 1984.

From the time of their marriage, The Prince and Princess of Wales went on overseas tours and carried out many engagements together in the UK.

On 9 December 1992, The Prime Minister, John Major, announced to the House of Commons that The Prince and Princess of Wales had agreed to separate. The marriage was dissolved on 28 August 1996. The Princess was still regarded as a member of the Royal Family. She continued to live at Kensington Palace and to carry out her public work for a number of charities.

When The Princess was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997, The Prince of Wales flew to Paris with her two sisters to bring her body back to London.

On the day of the funeral, The Prince of Wales accompanied his two sons, Prince William, aged 15 and Prince Harry, aged 12 at the time, as they walked behind the coffin from The Mall to Westminster Abbey. With them were The Duke of Edinburgh and The Princess's brother, Earl Spencer.

The Prince of Wales asked the media to respect his sons' privacy, to allow them to lead a normal school life. In the years that followed, Prince William, who is now heir to the throne, and Prince Harry accompanied their father on a limited number of official engagements in the UK and abroad.

On 9 April 2005, The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles were married in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall, Windsor. After the wedding, Mrs Parker Bowles became known as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were joined by around 800 guests at a Service of Prayer and Dedication at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

The Service was followed by a reception at Windsor Castle hosted by Her Majesty The Queen.

Work as The Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales supported Queen Elizabeth II as the focal point for national pride, unity and allegiance and bringing people together across all sections of society, representing stability and continuity, highlighting achievement, and emphasising the importance of service and the voluntary sector by encouragement and example.

Military Duties

His Majesty The King is a strong supporter of the Armed Services and saw them as one of the most important parts of his role as Heir to The Throne. The Prince of Wales’s relationship with the Armed Services consisted of three main activities:Promoting the role of the Armed Services within national life, through operational visits, ceremonial duties, and commemorative activity across the UK and around the world.
Supporting the welfare and interests of Service personnel, Veterans, and their families.
Maintaining the history and heritage of the Armed Services through links with Regiments, Units and Formations both in the U.K. and around the Commonwealth.

Working in the United Kingdom

Becoming The Prince of Wales at the age of nine, The King had a long and enduring relationship with Wales and that relationship remains today. As The Prince of Wales, The King was Patron of a number of Welsh Charities and organisations such as The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Ty Hafan and the children’s hospice in Wales.


His Majesty The King shares a fondness for Scotland. The Duke of Rothesay spent time in the country both carrying out public engagements and privately at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire. His Majesty is Patron of a number of Scottish organisations such as the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society, Glasgow School of Art and the Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Northern Ireland

His Majesty The King has visited Northern Ireland regularly and many of his charities such as The Prince's Trust and Business in the Community are active in the province. The King is also Patron of charities such as The Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Foundation and the Ulster Watercolour Society. As The Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness took particular interest in the redesign of the house and gardens at Hillsborough, and has helped Historic Royal Palaces in their work to make the castle into one of the most significant tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.


As well as conducting many of their engagements each year in England, The King has attended a number of important national occasions in England. His Majesty is Patron of a number of specifically English organisations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the Safer London Foundation, the Mary Rose Trust, the Sussex Cattle Society, the Turner Society, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Age Concern England, the Elgar Foundation and Taste of the West which promotes produce from the South West of England.

Working Overseas

As The Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness travelled abroad every year at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to further British diplomatic interests, raise the UK’s profile in the country visited and promote British excellence. Royal Tours provided an opportunity for the Heir to familiarise himself with a wide range of international issues and to meet many Heads of State and senior officials.

Promoting and Protecting

As well as supporting The Queen in fulfilling her role as Head of State and acting as a charitable entrepreneur, The Prince of Wales also seeked to promote and protect the country’s enduring traditions, virtues and excellence.

Among other things, this work involves:Highlighting achievements or issues that, without his support might otherwise receive little exposure;
Supporting Britain’s rural and farming communities;
Promoting tolerance and greater understanding between different faiths and communities;
Protecting the Arts and championing traditional craft and heritage skills.


For over fifty years, The Prince of Wales used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future.

In the context of global challenges that include the climate crisis, deforestation, and ocean pollution, The Prince promoted sustainability to ensure that the natural assets upon which we all depend among other things soil, water, forests, a stable climate and fish stocks endure for future generations.

Over the decades, The Prince of Wales launched a number of sustainability initiatives aimed at delivering practical outcomes. In late 2019, His Royal Highness launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative. As well as addressing environmental challenges, The Prince promoted a more sustainable approach to planning and designing homes and communities in ways that enhance and add to the social, natural and built environment.

Charities and Patronages

Following His Majesty The King’s Accession, the Royal Household is conducting a review of Royal Patronage. The review will cover the organisations of which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was Patron and those organisations to which The King and The Queen Consort were connected through Patronage or Presidency as Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.