August
2022

Country of Origin

Denmark

X3

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, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar 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: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D1300Ref SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; DAC: Denafrips Terminator+; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Goldmund Job 225; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 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: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signatur;  Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €10'000/pr

X-Man 3rd squadron: "Reporting for duty, sir!"

That was Børresen's new X3 at Munich High End 2022. Heralding a new speaker range for Audio Group Denmark, it premieres a novel dynamic driver again developed in house. It exploits spread-tow carbon skins for that checker-board tell around a central Nomex core. A titanium voice-coil former secures low inductance. The company's signature ribbon tweeter now loads into a squared-off wave guide. At €10K/pr for this 4-driver 2½-way, the X range slots below the Z range which sits below the original 0 series which since Munich now sits beneath the new M range.

Yes sir. This catalogue is getting seriously busy. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

The flagship M1 monitor¹ refines the 01 form factor to still racier proportions then tweaks driver tech to the extremes. That bonds a 0.04mm surface-treated titanium skin to Nomex honey comb, surrounds both sides with spread-tow carbon and connects it to an AI-modeled basket in 3D-printed zirconium. The motor system's trademark copper rings become pure silver for still lower inductance.

Aavik showed the 200wpc class A 880 integrated with LDR volume styled by ex Gryphon's Flemming Rasmussen. Ansuz showed a new D-TC Gold Signature cable range which, as the name indicates, features a silver/copper alloy with gold.

If this suggests a serious cash infusion to finance all related R&D, this May 2022 press release signs that dotted line: "Founders and majority shareholders Lars Kristensen and Michael Børresen sold 45% of their shares to Vækst-Invest and new CEO Kent Sørensen. Since their beginning in 2012, the group's companies have undergone profitable growth. Lars and Michael continue as CSO and CTO respectively. Kent held the position of CFO in Audio Group Denmark since 2020 and will now lead the companies as CEO.

"We've had a lengthy dialogue with Vækst-Invest and look forward to their joining us," states founder Lars Kristensen. "For our choice chemistry was crucial. We hold common core values. With our companies on the cusp of a very exciting future with high growth, a change of CEO means that I can now dedicate my focus to the sales and marketing of our products".

"Founder and CTO Michael Børresen adds: "I look forward to working with Vækst-Invest. They have vast experience of companies in niches selling proprietary products to the global market. I also look forward to applying even greater focus to developing our range with new innovative products."

"Over a number of years, we enjoyed an extensive dialogue with Lars and Michael," states Vækst-Invest II partner Lars Bundgaard Sørensen. "We're extremely impressed by their development and the professional job done on all fronts. There are many aspects to be highlighted but their execution of product development in particular is unique whilst at the same time experiencing growth in all markets".

"Partner at Vækst-Invest II Jeppe Hoff Nyby adds: "We very much look forward to growing these companies even more. They built an excellent platform which we shall continue to develop and strengthen in the years ahead." As planned, Kent Sørensen assumes the role of CEO in the three companies whose headquarters remain in Aalborg. "Together with the new shareholders, Audio Group Denmark will be run in the same spirit as today, with dedicated and capable employees in all functions. The pursuit of the perfect sound experience will continue for the benefit of our customers and end users alike.""
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¹ On the M1 from The Abso!ute Sound: "…the basket (frame) for the midrange/woofer driver is 3D-printed and made of pure zirconium. The company, which eschews the use of aluminum at all costs due to what it feels are non-musical mechanical properties, claims the cost of this single basket—about $13K—exceeds the combined cost of all the drivers in a Wilson XVX. (I suspect Daryl Wilson might have something to say about that.) The driver's motor system contains nearly 93 pounds of silver. Finally, the cone is a carbon/Nomex/titanium sandwich. With all this technology and expensive material, it's no surprise that the new model will come in at around $100K when released in the fall."

POI. Like a proper IT startup scheduled to sell off to a big Multi National after ten years, our group of hifi brands first known as Next Level AsP now Audio Group Denmark have hit the same mark. Some of its expansionist drive takes their already very comprehensive catalogue further upmarket. €60K for the new flagship Ansuz power cord makes that point; €94K for the 4½" 2-way M1 monitor another. Yet today's well-equipped and handsome X3 moves in what for our engineering-driven maniacs in Aalborg is the opposite direction. It dives down-market without relinquishing established core tech. It still means proprietary low-mass drivers groomed for high power handling, expanded dynamics and very low noise. It even gets carbon-fiber enclosure detailing. With first production expected in Q4 this year, what other tech specs could my contact Morten Thyrrestrup throw us to make the wait even more expectant? [M1 at right.]

For an interlude, CNN just then ran this article on a magnum bottle of 2017 Chateau Avenue Foch champagne that sold for $2.5 million with a fizzy gimmick: a single NFT for the digital art and intellectual property rights to an image of 'Bored Ape Mutant' and other collectible cartoon figures on the bottle. The article also explained that the buyers, two crypto investment brothers, had no plans to open their bottle. With everyone's buying power and priorities unique, I'd simply add that unlike consumables, a good hifi continues to mint deep experiences across very many years. It's no flash in the pan, not even a memorable but all-too-short holiday. It's a renewable resource of sorts. Each time we press 'play', dead or otherwise absentee performers mingle in our crib to serenade us and whoever else is there.

Relevant in the Age of Covid, it's also a home-based endeavor without exposure-related risks or protective decorum. Unlike haute horlogerie watches, limited edition sneakers, bespoke exotic skin boots, flash cars, yachts and private airplanes worn or used in public, equivalently upscale hifi carries very limited bragging rights. We're down to just the occasional visitor actually recognizing what's in our stack. To get any respect, we must self-promote on insider blogs and fora. It's why buying an elite hifi is just an expression of desire and confidence. It barely serves as status symbol. With a typically significant loss on the used market, it's no financial portfolio choice either.