Pay heed: speed is deed and creed. With Børresen's design focus laid out across its key points, you just knew that we'd end up in this place. I'd heard the 01, 02 and 03 in Denmark on a front-to-back Ansuz/Aavik rig. Thus the lot—power delivery, equipment support, resonance control, cabling, all signal-path hardware except for a Primare transport—had been designed by the same ears and brain with one goal: to shave off more weight; to add ever more rigidity; to go still faster. Here weight equals resistance to acceleration. Rigidity equals absence of deformation. That's any distortion of the input commands which the music signal gives as the actual driver of our hifi wheels. What I didn't know was how much of my Danish experience would translate to Ireland. There a single—and notably, the very last—element of the Aalborg chain would drop into a context of very different electronics, cables, power delivery and resonance control, never mind room.
Before I describe our Eire take, a few words on the Dansk version to set the pace. Scaling up speakers, from smallest to biggest (I didn't get to hear the 05 flagships since the new downstairs room wasn't yet ready) meant just that: scaling up the very same flavor across nearly identical bandwidth though certainly bass power and a bit of extension increased. But what changed far more were dynamic responsiveness and particularity of staging. As more drivers paralleled to enlarge cone surface and add more and more motor power, excursions reduced. The transducers moved less to work less. Lower stress meant greater ease and higher acceleration. The shared key attributes of all models were:
• ultra-expansive extremely specific soundstage mapping
• down-to-the-bone small detail retrieval which, added to the previous point, made for a most visual I-can-see-everything-most-clearly presentation
• highly gradated dynamic scaling and the ability to get very loud without any skewing (obviously here the biggest model had advantages)
• strong projection of musical energy as the emotional/expressive charge that jumps across distance like charismatic electricity and doesn't have the music sit there passively behind the front wall
My general perception was of a lack of common reluctance or drag as the forces which obstruct acceleration as it translates to music. This meant extreme clarity from quickened transients. Those didn't blur to confuse/soften timing. That heightened the pseudo visual aspects of playback because our brain uses transients to map sounds. Think imaging, placement lock, layers, separation, focus and outline sharpness. Meanwhile liberated dynamic bandwidth created energetic transmission as that sense of twitchy aliveness and projection.
03 set up in what Lars called their listening temple in an upstairs room with unobtrusive low-volume room treatments.
All of it together led back to BMW's old slogan of promising buyers a very active road-going experience. It's not the plush family sedan ride which absorbs all of the asphalt's little bumps to isolate its occupants in a magic moving bubble seemingly afloat above the road. It's a purposely direct connection of rubber to asphalt. It strips out those isolating buffers of softer suspension and lazier gear shifts. For the driver, it becomes a far more responsive active experience with higher torque. It commands more attention. That's the reward!
Either type gets you to your destination. But the rides certainly feel different. Børresen's with Ansuz and Aavik shared some with premium horn speakers. Yet it delivered complete bandwidth from far narrower baffles and shorter foot prints; and timing precision that didn't suffer complex 3- or more-way crossovers. On speed and transparency, there was common ground also with big electrostats but the dynamics were in a different league. The upshot, if you haven't thought it through yet, might surprise. The Aalborg sound of my visit, of three different brands all pulling resolutely in the same direction, created a better-than-live experience. We might call it an alternate or improved sonic reality. How so?
1/ the quietness or blackness of the background far eclipsed the base din of any concert hall or club filled with breathing beings, hence micro resolution was significantly higher
2/ as a direct consequence, 3D mapping from heightened separation was superior
Of course the live experience has many qualities which a hifi can't replicate fully if at all. Being a carbon copy isn't a hifi's but fax machine's job. Playback is an altogether different experience than going to a live gig. When set up carefully, playback in many ways is idealized. There's more raw resolution laid bare by a very low noise floor. There's studio productions with spot microphones which captured each performer's most direct sound before a venue could diffuse it. There's more specific soundstage mapping with greater separation between performers. On these points, the Danish playback was undeniably superior to the real thing. Add that you get to hear music when you're in the mood; of the type you're in the mood for just then; with recordings where the musicians were in peak nick, not just ticking off.
Wallpaper from the Ridley Scott movie Prometheus of the Alien franchise
Now we're squarely at why a high-performance hifi can be so appealing to have people part with enormous sums of money. It's a virtual transport to an alternate reality. It's a personal space craft of sorts. Remember the iconic Prometheus scene? Awakened from hyper sleep, the alien engineer activates the hologram to chart his escape flight. At will, our hifi's space/time coordinates can be superimposed on where and when we are just then. Strip away common electrical/mechanical barriers by lowering the noise floor. Increase a hifi's responsiveness aka speed. Now this time/space-shifting illusion feels more and more real. Invisible performers long dead are there again. Elvis Presley sings just for you. What's more, he's singing in the original venue long since demolished. The more our body/mind buys into this illusion, the more we benefit from its rejuvenating effect. Or we catch an exhilarating contact high to feel temporarily displaced and taken out of mundane real-world concerns. If those bog us down, we just took a mini vacation in the sanctuary of music's healing powers. We were transported to elsewhere to come back imprinted by the encounter in our psyche. As the hippies would have said: trippy.
Would you like to download the current image?
Would you like to download the current image?