Country of Origin


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 Soundaware D300Ref SD transport/USB reclocker; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B; Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt monos; Headamps: Questyle CMA-800r monos; 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, LessLoss C-MARC Entropic cords 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 D100Pro SD transport; DAC/pre: Denafrips Terminator or COS Engineering D1; Amplifier: Bakoon AMP-13R or Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1 w. Franck Tchang magnesium super tweeters, sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission subwoofer; 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 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
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: €TBA

May I borrow your ork? If we did Lord of the Rings, that'd get us at bork. Hello loaner ork. Grunt.

Alas, wrong movie. who insist on the spelling invoke Starship Enterprise and its crew's cybernetic phantom nemesis, the hive-mind Borg. Fittingly, two of their models go by warp. Check. Another two are called dune. That's another movie altogether. But who's counting? Uncheck. If you are, counting, pricing for the dune/warp duo of 3-in-1 server/DAC/preamps is €16/16.5K respectively. €16'000/pr also buys you a pair of matchingly styled dune/warp mono amps. That's €32'000 for the set. The next level up gets you at €36K for the zoom components. The final level is poignantly called edge. That means the Rubik cube €50'000/pr flagship monos below. Hello Danzek!

So we need properly deep pockets to proceed; or focus on the mobile player float which doubles as remote control for the grown-up kit. All of it is from the German city of Nürnberg. As youngsters living in Kiel on the Baltic Sea, 'twas simply the place whence our favorite Christmas Lebkuchen aka gingerbread cookies came. We knew nothing of its war-crime tribunals when our parents were still young.

Before we take another step, let's acknowledge the obvious. This milled-from-solid gear looks strikingly different. It's quite as though it had just, er… beamed down from another dimension. I won't invoke The Twilight Zone. Let's not mix up one more movie franchise. Still, more conservative tastes could certainly think so. Fair enough. Today we're simply going where no hifi has before. Cue the famous musical theme. This industrial design is in our face. Hi tech. Hewn from solid. Angular. Sharp-edged yet sleek. Borg. A bit—a lot?—alien. Definitely not your usual 0815. That's colloquial German for business as usual.

I'm quite uncertain though who the intended buyer is. Prematurely well-off young IT geeks? Glass 'n' concrete lofties? Abstract art collectors? SciFi buffs? But then I'm at an equal loss with current D'Agostino. The point is, aside from sonics and functionality, today's upscale gear is under pressure to differentiate itself; at a glance. It's a point have taken to heart and deliver upon. Like mondo-retro Thöress from Aachen, you won't mistake their gear for anything else. As they say, that's half the battle? Make a statement. Plant your flag. Gather your troops. Stand for something. Hold your positions.

The future will tell how well they judged their audience. It's happily not the battle reviewers fight. We're on about the sonic half whilst checking that fit'n'finish level and all functions operate. Otherwise any positioning on price and aesthetics we cover in passing only. Those things are up to the buyer. They really are not—or shouldn't be—our concern. If they were, we should refuse all assignments whose loaners fall outside our fiscal or stylistic comfort zone. Wouldn't that be boring? So let's take a walk on the fiscally and cosmetically more Borgias side of things and learn what are all on about. After all, with looks like these, there must be quite a story behind it all, mustn't there? How about futuristic tech inside these monolithic casings? Shall we breach the Borg's enemy territory and dare an adventure? Nothing ventured, nothing learnt!

And of course it's no coincidence that the above machine would display Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon at 24/384. It stands for uncharted territories and warp speed. Once we learn of 3KW power supplies and switchable class A/class AB operation, the imagination begins to heat up quickly. If yours doesn't—let's switch movies one last time—you must already be in Elysium.

… to be continued…