As Andreas Friedl put it, "I'm chaos, Peter is order." Hence their neat split of responsibilities. Out of Vienna, Peter handles their logistics, finances and sales & marketing. Out of Graz some 300 miles away, Andreas oversees all their design work. Assembly is subcontracted to a local ISO-9001 certified shop. "They do it better and cheaper than we could." Andreas also does OEM contract work for other speaker firms where he gets to explore avenues he doesn't for himself. Peter also runs an IT business. Whilst Trenner & Friedl the brand goes some 20 years back, its current identity really only formalized fully about 7 years ago. That's after Andreas had "gotten seriously bored" with narrow baffles, MDF and the ceramic Accuton drivers he used before. Going to instead Plywood, paper drivers and broad baffles was his return to something deeper and more satisfying. 2011's flagship Duke model named after Ellington serves as the line's trickle-down pater familias. "It is a modular design incorporating numerous innovations which all contribute to a unified goal of absolute naturalness and musical insight in an ultra-resolution ultra-bandwidth high-sensitivity 'last word' loudspeaker design and construction. Originally conceived as our first project, six years passed and numerous other models appeared before the first Duke was ready in 2000. Planned as an acoustic electron microscope for the production of the company's recordings, Duke 2000 still maintained a high level of musicality and fun, the two main standards of all Trenner & Friedl offerings.

"From the ground up, Duke 2010 sets itself apart from other 'statement' speakers by eschewing the usual 'high-tech' design novelties and materials in favour of natural materials and time-proven concepts - above all, symmetry and golden-ratio proportions. The cabinets are constructed from a unique sandwich of bamboo and Birch plywood, resulting in a very stiff yet relatively low-mass cabinet. Cabinets are faced with leather from the supplier of several top automobile manufacturers. High-tech materials like aluminium, steel, plastics and woven fibers are avoided wherever possible out of tonal and musical considerations. The bass modules, of which there are two per channel, represent an in-house development of a hybrid form of horn resonator and bass-reflex design. This is comprised of 14 individual channels that create a sandwich structure which also reinforces and stiffens the sidewalls. The calculations and computer simulations for this system alone were so complex that each required almost 30 minutes to complete (a process normally requiring only a minute or two). Andreas Friedl went through hundreds of steps on his path toward the final result. These 14 channels are arranged such that they greatly amplify the effective radiating surface area of the 12" woofers and enable optimal coupling to the listening room. The cabinet interiors are fully symmetrical and dimensioned in the golden ratio to minimize any nonlinearities in back pressure on the driver, which can cause wobble in the driver membrane."

"The 12" woofers are a cooperative development with SB Acoustics. The cones are comprised of fiberglas-reinforced paper cells which, compared to the usual aluminium honeycomb such as with Eton, reduce weight/moving mass as well as significantly reduce internal resonances. The large voice coils are wound at 12Ω each to create a tube-friendly load when paired together. The massive generator alone weighs 22lbs., contributing to precise control and tremendous power. The mid/high-frequency module is coupled to the bass modules with an adjustable assembly that makes it possible to precisely set the driver time alignment for the exact listening position in any given room. The modules are coupled via three spheres of varying hardness to dissipate/drain vibrations at differing points with varying speeds. The cabinets have hardwood inserts at the points of contact to further enhance the dissipation of vibrational artifacts. The mid/high module employs a special papyrus-cone midrange manufactured specially for us by Seas, with proprietary lower-mass voice coils installed in the symmetrically dimensioned cabinet (indeed even the magnets of the tweeter have been designed for symmetry). The magnet system for this driver is AlNiCo, the tonally best and most powerful (and expensive!) magnet material. The basket spider is acoustically completely transparent, which aids in the free movement of the cone. Even the phase plug is turned from elm wood to keep Duke a 'NoMetalspeaker' as much as possible. The cabinet has a special 'acoustic sink' made of felt from locally raised sheep. This prevents reflections of back waves from passing back through the thin cone membrane and into the listening room.

Outsourced Pharoah assembly.

"The tweeter too is developed in-house and manufactured in Italy exclusively for us. It has an ultra-rigid rather large titanium-nitride diaphragm coupled via a proprietary tractrix horn assembly. A large neodymium magnet assembly provides a powerful and dynamic magnetic field. This is in order to have a high-frequency driver that does not fade dynamically relative to the midrange. On axis this driver delivers distortion free to above 40'000Hz. Above it sits a super tweeter with 360° radiation. Anything that radiates above 15'000Hz beams so strongly that we can really only perceive it at a single point. Therefore it became quickly evident that an omnidirectionally radiating driver was needed. Since this was the Duke, it should be able to reproduce frequencies to 100'000Hz. Thus we had Accuton build a small 19mm diamond membrane tweeter which is oriented vertically into a lead-crystal jewel from the Austrian firm Swarowski to disperse the output in a circular pattern. The particular jewel shape (also in golden ratio of course) has proven itself exceptionally well-suited to the task. After protracted experimentation with this topology, the passive crossover section of the mid-high module is also of symmetrical design. This costs twice as much but truly works and allows for the circuit to remain surprisingly simple. All internal cabling is via Cardas Clear, setting industry reference points for transparency and musicality. The active crossover section which feeds the bass modules was designed by and with Trenner & Friedl. Symmetrical, naturally, it is of extremely low noise and low distortion whilst maintaining a very broad bandwidth." With the €140'000/pr Duke ruling over the small boutique domain of Trenner & Friedl, the €21'900/pr Isis 3-way floorstander comes next followed by the €16'000/pr 2-way Ra and today's €8'990/pr Pharoah. Below it are two bookshelf models, the €3'490/pr Art and the €2'390/pr Sun, both with Corian baffles.

Pharoah drivers, mid/woofer at right - the grill isn't supposed to be removed, hence Andreas himself couldn't do it in situ without having the proper tools.