Country of Origin
This review first appeared in December 2023 on HifiKnights.com. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of HifiKnights or the manufacturer- Ed.
Reviewer: Dawid Grzyb
Sources:LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 / Living Voice 300B + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.), Innuos Statement
Preamplifier: Trilogy 915R, Thöress DFP
Power amplifier: Trilogy 995R, FirstWatt F7, Enleum AMP-23R
Speakers: Boenicke Audio W11 SE+, sound|kaos Vox 3afw all with LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers, Boenicke ComDev
Cables: Boenicke Audio S3 and 3 SE Evo+, LessLoss C-MARC and Entropic Process C-MARC, Boenicke Audio 3 SE Evo+
Network: Fidelizer EtherStream, Linksys WRT160N
Rack:Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack 1+3
Resonance attenuation: 2 x Carbide Audio Carbide Bases (under DAC, preamp and speakers), 3 x Bindbreakers (under LessLoss power bar)
Retail price of reviewed components in EU (incl. tax): €94'000/pr
Where I live, €94'000 buys me a Porsche Taycan straight from a dealer's lot; or today's Børresen M1 two-way monitor. I'm no car expert. I have nothing meaningful to say about the German wheels; quite unlike the speaker which delivered to me a few weeks ago. If you were a hifi manufacturer primarily known for upscale products, how would you grow your business upon securing your position in the market?
That's what Audio Group Denmark's owners had to ask themselves a while back. Until then this Danish conglomerate had three brands under its umbrella; Aavik for electronics, Ansuz for cables and accessories, Børresen for speakers. Those respectively founded in 2013, 2014 and 2019 by Lars Kristensen and Michael Børresen. Four years ago I visited their Aalborg HQ and reported my findings here. Back then their 1'000m² building accommodated 16 employees.
Fast forward to early 2023 when I returned again and saw the facility grown thrice as large with a crew now 50 strong. Management underwent changes too. Investor Kent Sørensen of Vækst-Invest stepped in as new CFO, Michael remained the CTO, Lars became CMO/CSO. Gryphon founder Flemming Rasmussen joined the ranks as visual design consultant. On top of that, the Group's distributor network currently lists more than 60 retailers across five continents. Business is booming. Still, it takes fuel to keep the flame alight. That brings us back to the original question.
Some successful upper-echelon audio houses expand by downscaling costly field-tested tech into more affordable products to reach a broader audience. Smaller margins offset by a high number of units sold can secure steady cash flow. Adding an entry-level lineup is a reasonable route to take. The alternate path is the exact opposite. It pours ever more resources into R&D to land higher-tiered designs meant to push previous boundaries. One approach doesn't preclude the other. Enter feedback from distributors and customers on how to best move forward. But we don't know how much of that really factors. We only see the results by way of new ranges and products. Audio Group Denmark's management decided to simultaneously expand their roster on both ends.
Their fourth brand Axxess debuted in early 2023 with the all-in-one Forté. This mainstream affair at €5'000 represents their current baseline for electronics. The new Børresen X2 floorstander at €8'800/pr follows suit on the speaker front after the X3 reviewed here. These two products wink at shoppers interested in a simple system infused with the Danes' signature DNA for less than €15'000. Just so we're clear, that's still a lot of cash. But until recently it wouldn't get you far in this portfolio. These new cost-effective efforts are thus pleasant surprises which in due time I intend to review. Their makers however are primarily known for operating at the industry's bleeding edge. That's where they impress the most. I've been there twice previously here and here. This time we're reaching even higher.
I well remember my first trip to Denmark. One of the systems presented to me centred on the then flagship €25K/pr Børresen 01 monitor I later reviewed here. Packing exotic tech, unusually styled but posh, this was a 2-way compact for aficionados of the breed who live large and have deep pockets to view such expenses as casual guilty pleasures. At some point all the technology embedded in it had to trickle down to more affordable designs. Those became the Z and X ranges. Our Vikings however are quite relentless in their pursuit of peak performance and spare no coin on exotic R&D to get there. Hence their aspirations didn't end with the already very dear 01 storm trooper. Upon my second visit to their premises earlier this year I heard the even costlier Silver Supreme edition. This we compared to the brand-new M1 model as their new king of the monitor hill. The audible difference wasn't small and the disparate price tags largely reflected that. Since the new flagship retails for, hold on, €94'000, it was only fair to think that it'd never make its way to my far more modest crib. Then it did. New local distributor Audio Emotions stepped in and provided a sample straight from the recent Warsaw show. Speakers this expensive really ought to have similarly tiered sparring partners which I obviously didn't have. I couldn't scare up another passive two-way to suit and don't think anything even exists. The M1 may in fact be the current record holder as most expensive in its class. But that's not the main reason why I agreed to this review.
The local distributor's warehouse locates a mere four kilometers from my listening room to trivialize logistics. AudioEmotions helm's man Jacek delivered three large boxes by car. The main cardboard box reinforced on the sides with rectangular wooden supports stored both speakers cradled in foam liners. The upper insert accommodated six top-level Darkz Z2s isolators and two 12V DC power supplies for the active dithering circuits in the M1's crossovers. Each assembled stand came in its own double box. Unpacking was a breeze. It took the two of us perhaps ten minutes tops. Although all three freight coffins seemed robust enough to survive multiple travels, you wouldn't tell that they stored a product as pricy as the M1. The overall packaging scheme was modest, utilitarian and far from fancy. Considering that boxes become useless past extracting their contents, that didn't bother me. [Many manufacturers now deliberately down-rate their packaging visuals to not telegraph the value of the contents and prevent theft during transit. "Rolex inside" could be an invite to the contrary – Ed.] Each Børresen M1 measures 36.8 x 20 x 44cm HxWxD and puts 14.1kg on the scale so some 3kg more than its similarly styled/sized 01 sibling. Each tailored stand adds 9.5kg and 73.5cm in height. The unusually deep assembly over a meter tall remains easily managed by one adult.
Standard and Silver Signature drivers, custom pole piece casting upper right.
The M1 specs 87dB/1W sensitivity, 40Hz-50kHz response, 6Ω nominal impedance and recommends amps of at least 50wpc. I strongly suggest companions at least twice as strong especially in large spaces. Available finishes are glossy black and white. It's worth knowing that the 01 can be had without other extras than six entry-level Darkz C2Ts. Although two stands and six higher-tiered Ansuz Darkz T2S decouplers provided with my samples added €8'600 to the bill, these were optional expenses. Meanwhile six flagship Ansuz Darkz Z2s isolators and two premium M1 stands are mandatory accessories today. Its makers consider these items critical for best performance so inseparable. Some may not like this policy but it'll speak to clients who can actually afford the M1 and rather pay top dollar now than worry about future upgrades or leaving performance under the table. They're used to the best of everything from the get-go. Importantly, neither the Z2s isolators nor stands are meaningless additives. These €3.5K/ea. zirconium footers are by far the best anti-vibration isolators I've sampled while the titanium-infused M1 legs probably want at least €6'500 more. Without these ancillaries the M1 would still be awfully expensive, just about one third less so. Just saying…