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  • Writer's pictureGianluca Sperti

Was ist ES? (a quick summary of the 2018 Munich Hi End show seen from a newcomer’s angle)

Was ist es? (a quick summary of the 2018 Munich Hi End show seen from a newcomer’s angle)

We are away from the mainstream.

After this (first for us) 2018 Munich Hi End, we can draw a very positive balance! We thank all who stopped by at our stand. And we thank the Hi End Society for the perfect organization.

We have been blessed with well over 200 visits and passionate dialogues with potential customers, interviews with journalists, engagements with distributors and dealers and conversations with other companies. Every single word we heard is food for our ideas. The most useful words came from the few who didn’t actually like our design as they proved to be strong and very valid: we will keep them as the most precious suggestions. The most encouraging words came from the ones who instantly fell in love with our design: thank you again for your smiles, your waiting for the BeCubes and theSma will be rewarded.

Day 0 – before leaving

It’s is 4:00 in the morning of Wednesday may 9th 2018, we just finished assembling the last of the few BeCubes we will bring to the Munich Hi End. It is glossy patina green RAL 6000 with matte patina green RAL 6000 front panel. It is shiny and clean and the contrast of glossy and matte surfaces gives it an unusual elegance. Our eyes are tired but happy. We can now see the result of the hard of work of the last days, they have been so intense as we had to collect all the parts from our local suppliers. We have been waiting for the knobs until the very last minute literally and without them there was no chance of going to the Hi End show 2018.

Day 0.5 – leaving and arrival

We are making it. We are driving from Turin from West to East and through the beautiful mountains of South Tyrol, road is winding curve after curve under the sunny sky. We couldn’t be happier. Worried, excited and just curious to understand what the public will say of the BeCubes the next day. We will exhibit our new collection of electronics at the most prestigious show in Europe, nobody saw them except us and the sneaky previews on our web site are not the real thing. People, expert people, will actually hold the BeCube, touch it and judge it. Months of reasoning, doubts and decisions will be condensed into the very first moment somebody else will see them and say … ‘I like it’ or ‘well, it is not what I like’.

We arrive at MOC and 18:30 of may 9th 2018 and park just below Hall 1, a few steps away from the elevator to ground floor. Three hours of sleep, seven hours driving, a couple hours to set up the stand but just a split second to shake the hands to our fellow newcomers close to us and understand how nice and smart they are. Our friendship will grow stronger: you made the show such a rewarding personal experience.

Day 1 – Professional public

Curtain is at 10:00 of Thursday 10th 2018! Dealers, distributors, importers, manufactures … big names. Surprisingly we are having lots of visits and encouraging dialogues. Maybe the vivid colors, maybe the unusual shape, maybe our smiley faces we don’t know why but people just keep stopping by. Faces are puzzled, they give the BeCubes a look from 3 meters and then come closer. 2 meters and closer. ‘What is that??’ Yes, this is the first question. ‘What the heck is that stylish box doing? Is that a preamp of what? I mean I like the form factor, the appearance and even the colors.’ I explain what the BeCubes are: a step up, a phono preamp, a line preamp and in the next months a DAC, a streamer and whatever other idea will pop up in our minds. ‘Do you really use jFETs for that and a separate power supply? No opamps, chips or the like? That sounds interesting. When will you be ready to ship them?’ Yes, people are caught by surprise to learn that in such a simple and sharp chassis there is so much Hi End content. If we had the chance to let them listen to theSma, our hybrid jFET-Tubes-Mosfet amplifier, they would be really impressed. But the chassis for theSma was late and we couldn’t bring it to the show. Our greatest regret. The BeCubes are heavy even thou they are relatively small (15cm side) and our visitors handle it with two hands to estimate the weight and feel the solidity. They touch the knobs, look at the printed back panel with all the professional XLRs and Cinch connectors and their faces turn from puzzled to smiley. And ours too. This is getting more and more rewarding visit after visit.

Not all the pro’s like it. Some just don’t, some hate it and they do not see a future for the idea as it doesn’t match the classical Hi End look even thou the BeCube is using hi quality expensive discrete components. ‘How can you compete against giants, you will never succeed as the message you deliver is confusing the classical Hi End consumer: a small box and colors but expensive stuff inside. These people are used to heavy CNC machined chassis and your BeCubes look like a lego to them. Will they ever believe and accept the idea they sound great? Are you targeting younger generations? Well, they don’t even know what a tube or jFET is and they don’t care about technical details.’ Point noted, Sir. We still don’t know if BeCubes will be successful and theSma will sell but we know now, after the first half day at the show that there are lots of people liking it and looking forward to give them a try.

Day 1 continues – We are not mainstream

The first day at the Munich Hi End show is reserved to operators and it is not crowded as Friday/Saturday/Sunday. We walks through the halls and floors is the spare time as we alternate at our stand to have a look at the magnificent products the manufacturers from all over the world are showing. We like them all as we can understand the countless hours that are behind every single part, the listening tests, the measurements, the design and redesign of circuits, crossovers and drivers, the tuning of the manufacturing process.

I personally rate the TotalDac room as the best in the show: real music is flowing out of the speakers. Congratulations. I met Vincent by chance at the parallel show Hi Fi Deluxe and just said ‘congratulations, your system is the best in the show’; he was surprised and happily accepted my candid and sincere appreciation and admiration.

So yes, the BeCubes and theSma are not following the mainstream but I am glad to see many others are offering different colors and customized materials finally in the Hi End market. Also shapes are departing from the classical CNC machined aluminum boxes: something fresh and new and different; people are changing, tastes are changing, homes are changing and music is changing too. Don’t be mainstream. We are not mainstream.

Day 1 ends – I need me a Weiss beer

18:00 of Thursday 10th 2018, the first day at the Munich Hi End closes. We are tired and exhausted but visibly satisfied. Now I need me a weiss beer. As a professional in the Aerospace business, I frequented Munchen so much in the past years and I missed the city. I was here last time I believe 6 or 7 years ago, excluding the quick connections flights stopping by at the airport. Seating in downtown Muenchen and sipping a Weiss is something I have been drooling over before leaving from Turin for the show. We go to Haxnbauer, the best place for the knuckle in Munchen. If you are in the city do not miss that restaurant, it is very close to the most famous Hofbrauhaus.

Day 2, 3 and 4 – Packed with visitors

Visitors are welcomed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A long queue has been extending at the entrance gate since 9:00, when we reach the show to set up the stand in the morning of Friday 10th, and at 10:00am it is 10 and plus meters long. Ok, we are ready! We see people glancing in the hall from the entrance door while they wait for the last minutes before hostess’ and stewards let them in. We are very satisfied of the many positive insights and declaration of interests we received the day before from the professional audience and from the press, let’s see what customers say.

They make questions after questions after questions and happily handle the BeCubes. Some would buy them right away, some would buy the classical black or silver anodized, some brave enough would go for colors, some would never buy it but all of them are liking the design and wishing us good luck. Thanks! Our BeCubes will be available in a few weeks, we are excited to start taking preorder shortly.

The most visitors came on Friday. Saturday audience at the show was a bit lower and Sunday was another crazy day with so many visits at our stand.

Fast forward to 15:30 Sunday, half an hour before the curtains are called over the 2018 Hi End show. We are almost deciding to start packing everything when a very well dressed gentleman stops by with a portable camera for an interview. He is very expert in analogue reproduction and I am glad to speak about our SUT no3 in front of the camera of my favorite and long admired journalist. This is making my day. I am myself a vinyl lover. When available we will publish all the link to the interviews, articles and reports from the show.

Day 5 – The end of the game

It is 1:30 in the morning of Monday 14th 2018 when I turn the light off in my room back in Turin. 5 hours driving in the car and a stop by to get back my motorbike from a friend in Brescia. I left it there one month ago for maintenance and I only trust his hands. 3 hours riding in the night under the rain from Brescia to Turin happily smiling behind the visor regardless of the rain, the cold and the fatigue, without having touched food basically for the whole day.

Back to work now, we do have tons of things to do to start delivering the BeCubes and theSma.

We have so many new ideas.

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