THE AUDIOBEAT Munich 2015 show coverage by Roy Gregory

"Of course, this being Munich, the Vox Olympians were far from the only extravagant speaker system on show. After getting everybody all excited last year by announcing a diamond-midrange speaker, only to deflate that expectation by showing it sat in a display case, TIDAL redeemed themselves this time around with not one but two speaker models using the driver.

The system playing was the "more affordable" of the two, the Akira, featuring just one of the exotic 5" drivers per channel, naturally paired with a 1.2" diamond tweeter. The midrange driver itself is similar in design to a massive tweeter, driven by a circumferential voice coil with an annular-ring motor structure that is specifically designed to avoid rear reflection.

That’s an expensive setup, even if it’s still comparatively modest by Vox Olympian standards. But musically speaking, the performance didn’t disappoint. Utterly seamless, it was fluid, unforced, expressive and finely nuanced. Intricate and delicate when necessary, it was also capable of remarkable power and sudden dynamic shifts when necessary. Subtle musical shadings and textures were explicit without being exaggerated, and the Akira made a powerful argument for its exotic driver technology.

Once again, TIDAL were one of the few companies that showed a traditional big-box, wide-bandwidth system and made it work. Once again it got better as the show went on, but past experience made sure I went back on Sunday and sure enough, the resulting musical coherence and astonishingly lucid performance were more than worth the wait.

For those who find the Akira disturbingly affordable for a serious high-end speaker, there’s always the "If you have to ask" La Assoluta, with its twin-diamond-midrange driver array, a speaker that’s actually taller than its designer, Jörn Janczak -- and that’s saying something!"