Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird MKII/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure XX-PC;
DAC: Phasure NOS1 DAC; LampizatOr Atlantic [loaner]; T+A DAC8 [loaner]
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta; Qobuz Desktop, Tidal Desktop
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; PTP Audio Blok 20; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic; DIMD PP10 [loaner]
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; WLM Sub 12; Sounddeco Alpha F3; dual Zu Submission MKI; Soltanus Virtuoso ESL, Mark & Daniel Maximus Ruby MkII [loaner], Volya Audio Bouquet [loaner]
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence interconnect; Audiomica Pebble Consequence;
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro; AudioMica Allbit Consequence
Equipment racks: Solid Tech and ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Indispensable accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones; Akiko Audio sticks; Kemp polarity checker
Online Music purveyors:,,,
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.5 x 7.5m with a ceiling height of 3.5m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.5m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs.
Price of review item:  €120'000/pr

In audio, form follows function more often than not. When walking an audio show anywhere in the world, 99% of all electronics show up as black rectangular boxes. Likewise for loudspeakers. The monkey coffin still is the most popular confinement to put drivers into. Form follows function. Or is it laziness from the designers? Of course exceptions exist. Those are the 1%ers; the outlaws, the derring-do, the literally out-of-the-box thinkerers and tinkerers. They make the difference. They set the real stage. Those black equipment casings and boxes are remnants from when the world of audio was young, when gear was put on cinematic stages to need to be obscure so as to not attract attention. Think of the Western Electric horn systems which Silbatone regularly display at shows. Another example is the world of Rock & Roll. What started with small personal amps and stage speakers evolved into massively stacked backdrops of equipment like in the famous Richard Pechner photo of the Grateful Dead stage of 1974 below. Thus it was that 'black background' hifi and boxy speakers entered our living rooms. It conveyed a feeling of high tech, of professional ambition, of quality. Even in the colourful 1970s, pro-looking hifi was the way to go. To emphasize that, Japanese transistor amplifiers sold out on switches and knobs as though they were mixing consoles. Here and there some daring manufacturers went for champagne-anodized skins but if black was reluctantly abandoned, it was in favour of clear-anodized aluminium. Conservatism went from black to white. Colour photography lived elsewhere.

Of the few dare devils and stubborn contrarians back then, we want to single out Braun Audio and Bang & Olufsen as playing it consistently different. Braun designs even influenced Apple's far more recent looks. Other companies tried but soon went back to the safety net of discrete rectangulosity. At the loudspeaker front meanwhile we did have some quite experimental forms and shapes though most still leaned on the form-follows-function maxim. B&W's original Nautilus—how stunning a design—applied shapes borrowed from nature to become 'organic form follows function'. Our own beloved Avantgarde Duo horns were another daring design in their time, with a scaffold-like suspension for their horns and boxed woofer cab. Except for the Classic Trio, current versions of the German horn systems once again obey the more discrete rules of good housekeeping.

So we too lived with black'n'boxy hifi for a long stretch. In our various living/music rooms, things changed over time as we underwent certain swings in taste. Our first home was decorated with hand-me-downs from the late 60s and 70s. A yellow chromed steel-framed set of couches with dark brown pillows accompanied matching tube gear with very boxy loudspeakers. From there we progressed via re-upholstered 50's oak (the former owner of the house left everything but his clothes and photos) to white(!) DIY tubular loudspeakers and a multi-knob Sansui QRX. This was followed by a fully stainless steel, glass and black look—everything black, from carpets, cabinets, leather to amplifier and speakers, even the cat—to combining Nordic blond wood with black Le Corbusier furniture to later blue carpet, purple chairs and large bright-colored paintings with blue Avantgarde Duo speakers. Presently we celebrate another vibrant phase with lots of white and red furniture, electronics and loudspeakers. Except for paintings and other artsy stuff, everything like the furniture, electronics and speakers is solid colour, not spotted, striped or floral. But, never say never...