High End 2012

Anyone who has attended a US audio show over the years can't help but notice the decline of vendors selling music -- mostly LPs but also CDs. One of the great differences between such shows in the US and the High End show in Munich is the amount and quality of vinyl for sale, but there are also other differences. For example, the crowds in Munich are not dominated by older white men, but are generally younger and include women, teens and children who show an interest in the show. This year, High End also had vast numbers of turntables and a relatively light presence of music servers, USB DACs and downloading wares.

Consistent with the number and variety of turntables was the large amount of vinyl for sale. In the lower floor of Hall 3, there were vendors whose wares could have more than filled entire record stores as they now exist in the US. Thumbing through the bins of used records turned up lots of really high-quality LPs. Mercuries and Deccas were plentiful, and the vendors did not seem to suffer for lack of customers.

Record buyers, along with attendees, seemed enthusiastic about being at the show, even after paying to gain entry. If the golden age of record stores has passed in the US, some of the spirit seems to have survived in Germany.

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