Anthony & Sven. Not as glam as Anthony and Cleopatra, a juxtaposition of Gallo's near legendary Reference 3.5 and Boenicke's not yet W11 nets common ground. Both go as narrow as possible. Both orient their woofers sideways. Both go after wide-dispersion tweeters, Anthony with his trademark CDTIII, Sven with his Fountek augmented by rear-firing Monacor. Both fancy larger cone surface for the midband, Gallo with two paralleled 4-inchers, Boenicke with a single driver of equivalent size. Either man's midrange is proprietary. Both favour 1st-order filters or none. Where they do need them, Anthony's are series filters, Sven's parallel. Both eliminate a filter in at least one junction (no high-pass on the cylindrical diaphragm tweeter or wood-cone midrange).


Then come the differences. The Reference 3.5 used a metal enclosure and was made in China. The W11 uses solid wood and is made in Switzerland. Country of origin and retail infrastructure—with Gallo's far larger—explain the different price positioning. Whilst both designers are tweaky to the hilt, Anthony Gallo's focus is on top value and everyman reach. Sven Boenicke's appreciation for costly esoteric tweaks and locally sourced wood builds puts him squarely in the audiophile insider category. Still, both men would agree to hating boxes. This led one to the RoundSound™ ideal of spherical and cylindrical enclosures, the other to complex innards designed to prevent his enclosures from acting like boxes. Both men place very high importance on gargantuan precisely mapped soundstaging. Both think wildly outside the box when it comes to speaker design and how not to do it like everyone else.


Having owned models from either, I profess to a weak spot for such inventiveness in a genre usually dominated by endless narrow variations on the rectangular theme. For a final connection, this one to Sven's new midrange, I invoke Holger Adler of Voxativ. This ultra-efficiency widebander expert from Berlin seems to have been first to champion a wood-cone driver with rather spectacular effects. And that's the W11 basics.


A temporary setback occurred May 19th after the Munich 2016 show. "I am sorry to inform you that W11 production has hit a snag. I've been waiting for almost half a year on their Dayton woofers. The supplier keeps postponing and no longer replies; a real bummer. I will let you know more as soon as I have news." This felt like W5 déjà vu when Peerless had discontinued the mid/woofer in the wake of my review. It had led to lengthy delays, then a W5se with a newly sourced replacement driver and concomitant filter changes.


The W11 delay tested the patience of a few readers who were keen on more sonic comments given the brilliant show mentions from Marja, Henk and Dawid. In their report, M&H wrote that "there were plenty of cubic metres of air to excite and this speaker used no trickery to exploit room boundaries for gain. There clearly was no need to, either. Freestanding, the W11 on its Swingbase projected an open, tangible and very 3D sound towards the listener. That experience had to to be attributed to the loudspeakers – the biggest part that is. 


"However, the amplification couldn't have been innocent either. For that, Sven introduced his class A/B E2 integrated amplifier. This offers 200wpc into 8Ω. When impedance drops to 2Ω, there are a potent 800wpc on tap. For voltage gain, the E2 relies on "ultra-high quality transformers" from Switzerland's Audio Consulting whilst the output stage includes proprietary error and distortion correction. Volume control is achieved with just one series resistor. When that remote-driven control turns down all the way, its flat edge aligns with the chassis top. When the volume is turned up, the point of its flat edge sticks up as shown. In true Boenicke style, there's lots of wood with rounded edges contrasted by aluminium. The aluminium uppers reminded us of Dieter Ram's amplifier designs for Braun which in turn inspired Apple. But we digress. We really loved what we heard here and regretted having to move on."


In a report for his own HifiKnights site, former contributor Dawid Grzyb, happy owner of both W5 and W8, concluded that "... the sonic outcome here rang many bells. It was spacious, full, with a great low end, detailed and smooth and very impressive overall. Subjectively one of the best rooms, I came here to gather strength for further escapades."


By mid August, Sven confirmed imminent receipt of his Dayton woofer shipment. After all, no redesign with a new driver would be necessary. He suggested the CHF13'018/pr SE version because his UK dealer would stock the loaner post review. I'd been upgraded.

By now, astute readers might have a question or two. They took note of what appeared to be a serious design concern for the time domain—minimum-phase 1st-order filters or none, plus physically time-aligned drivers for the core bandwidth—yet a simultaneous employ of a ported woofer alignment that would seem to dilute that very concern. Of course Wilson Audio too promote minimal group delay and physically adjustable time alignment plus bass ports aka Helmholtz resonators. Second, given Sven's prior exploitation of the ancient formula that two identical but opposing forces cancel each other out, why not a force-cancelling pair of woofers for the W11? Why go after an asymmetrical single woofer whose back stroke attacks the cabinet from just one side?


As Sven explains, if you go passive, you must always balance enclosure size with efficiency and the -3dB figure. To arrive at the W11's compact enclosure with very low bass and still decent efficiency but seal the bass alignment wouldn't work. It'd eliminate almost a full octave of reach plus cause an upper bass bump. Once one goes active, the rules change. Here a look at Boenicke's new W13 shows how. 1/ it's a sealed design; 2/ it runs two horizontally opposed 13-inch woofers for symmetrical force cancellation. As befitting its new flagship status, the W13 also gets two 350-watt PowerSoft class D amps to power those woofers; plus DSP facilities with four user presets to optimize in-room response. So the answer to our two questions really is one of more money. If one wants those specifics from a similarly sized enclosure plus "bass power usually reserved for PA systems", the price of admission goes up. Back to 'w' for wood, "we sadly had issues with our supplier and had to throw away almost a ton of wood. This put us back six weeks." When dealing with organic not manufactured materials, such setbacks are part of the game. Farmers losing a season's harvest due to bad weather would know all about that.

Then kind Uncle Murphy had another trick up his sleeve. The review pair had participated at a Japanese trade show in Tokyo before shipping on to Sven's UK dealer. "It didn't get packed the right way after the show. One speaker got damaged in transit. I'm in the process of evaluating whether this pair can be easily repaired and forwarded to you." As it turned out, the UK dealer declared it fit for use, with one bent speaker binding post good only for its banana not spade connection. I had plenty of banana-terminated cables to not worry about it. I mention this only to show how despite best intentions and schedules, many things behind the scenes can go awry to postpone a review or delay a product's first production. As the Chinese sages put it, "Tao happens". In reverse, too. Here it meant that due to their prior show participation where Sven wished to make their sun rise to the max, my loaners had been upgraded to SE+ status. I'd now look at the fully loaded version twice as expensive as the base version. I'd been upgraded. Again. I needed no Chinese sage to tell me not to complain.