March
2021

Country of Origin

Switzerland

W8

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia/Avatar, Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with Elrog ER50; Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt monos; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room so no wall behind the listening chairs
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Preamp/filter: Passive Preamplifier icOn 4Pro SE w. custom 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass;
Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers:sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan];  Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: Kinki Studio Vision THR-1; Phones: Audeze LCD-XC on Forza Audio Lab cable; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R or Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a, Audeze LCD-2, Final Sonorous X & D8000, HifiMan HE-1000; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: £6'995/pr

W for wood, 8 for inches. And no, this isn't a porno but speaker review. Starring here is Sven Boenicke's smallest floorstander, a very narrow 4-driver 3-way with lateral woofer, ambient rear tweeter and back slot port. Why a solid-wood clam shell cab with labyrinth guts?

"There's much Internet gossip about solid wood speakers being built as resonating structures to try and imitate musical instruments. If someone took an actual look at the cross sections of our CNC-milled enclosures, they'd be quickly disabused of that notion. Our enclosures very clearly are not designed to act as resonating bodies. On the contrary, we try to make our enclosures as solid and non-resonant as possible.

"Why then use natural wood? The answer is very simple. First, if you mount a driver to a certain mass such as solid wood, MDF or aluminium, the inherent properties of that material will strongly affect how the driver sounds. This is a fact either virtually nobody knows or cares enough about to actually respect for its consequences on designing a driver or loudspeaker. Almost all driver manufacturers know that using an aluminium phase plug can help to move heat out of the magnet system and eliminate the little echoic chamber behind the dust cap. Compared to a wooden phase plug, aluminium simply adds a gross coloration. That's because to the human ear, aluminium is a highly coloured material. [Aavik came to the same conclusion and have transitioned their electronic enclosures to a wood composite to avoid aluminium – Ed.]

"Second, there is no such thing as a 100% non-resonant enclosure. To some degree, sound energy will always dissipate from the enclosure itself. It seems evident that a body of solid wood with a thin coating of oil then wax will resonate in a more natural way than the same body made from MDF then coated in shiny impervious plastic proudly sold as polyester lacquer."

"We are very privileged that Sven started to make his own recordings in the early nineties. With the help of one or two splendid minds, he managed to create and build something we would call the most radical, perhaps best-sounding 8-channel recording chain in the world. Over the last 20 years, Sven has recorded in close to 300 concert venues, many of them with live audiences. Each recording was made in concert halls, churches and other real buildings."

"Instead of being stuck in a recording studio's control room, Sven was always present in the acoustic field of the original performance beginning to end. Technicians who deem their memory of the control room sound their reference will always have a problem when judging the absolute sound quality in the field. They never were in the field in the first place. They always only listened through their headphones or monitor speakers locked into a control room."