Country of Origin


IC-H1 Elite

This review first appeared in March 2020 on fairaudio.de. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby translated and syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of fairaudio or Starke Sound- Ed.

Reviewer: Michael Bruss
Analog sources: J. Sikora Initial w. Kuzma Stogi Reference S12 VAT and  Transrotor Figaro

Digital sources: LinnenberG Telemann, Norma Audio REVO DAC,  Auralic Aries, MacBook Pro
Integrated amplifier:  Linn Classik Movie II
Preamps: Norma Audio REVO SC-2, Neukomm MCA112S phono
Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt stereo
Loudspeakers: QLN Prestige Three, Nubert NuPro A100
Cabling: Gutwire Chime 3, Fastaudio Black Science, Gutwire EON-Z, Gutwire Synchrony 2 SE, Audioquest Yukon, fastaudio Black Science Phono, Graditech Kide 3 & Kide 1, JIB Boaacoustic Silver Digital Xeno USB, AudioQuest Vodka und Cinnamon Ethernet, AudioQuest Carbon RCA, Graditech Kide, Audioquest Tornado, Gutwire SV-8, Gutwire G Clef 2, AudioQuest NRG-2, Gutwire Ultimate Ground
Equipment rack: Roterring Belmaro 33 Customized

Power delivery: Tsakiridis Super Athina
Sundry accessories: Ydol Relax 60 & fastaudio Absorber, Acoustic System resonators, The Gryphon De-Magnetizer

Room: 24.5m², 2.7m ceiling
Review component retail: €3'800/pr

It's not every day that a pair of speakers shows up in two different colors. Given the strong design personalities of the Starke Sound IC-H1 Elite which are new to our German market, it did make sense though. Clients obviously get theirs matched. I received one black, one yellow to double up and show off. Standard, these compact passive three-ways come in either black with 1cm thick black aluminium baffle or piano-gloss yellow, white or custom with silver baffle. That hits both cosmetically and to the touch. My matte black box in high-density fiber board felt strangely warm and nearly silky as though it were covered in ultra-thin rubber. Still, my inquiry merely elicited a 'satin finish' answer about polymerized specialty lacquer. Either way, my visual inspection was sorted and very happy.

Another new speaker brand? I can easily visualize exasperated comments. If Starke Sound hadn't already been successfully active in the US market for a few years, I'd perhaps share the sentiment. But there's also chief designer Dan Wiggins, a well-regarded recording engineer who's founded numerous hifi firms and penned products. Past successes include the drivers of Event's studio monitors and the Sonos models Play1, Play3 and Playbar. He's patented a few tweeters, currently holds 9 patents in the audio sector and has three more pending.

One of them, the linear magnetic field tech aka LMF, also factors in today's subject. It's about strategically mixing different magnet materials like neodymium, iron and boron to generate a more homogenous flux field along the entire voice-coil passage. Wiggins claims a clear reduction of typical magnet distortions to just 1% for their Y35 strontium barium types.

Control your lot. In today's era of globalization, it's far from a given that a brand designs and builds everything in-house like ATC do in the glorious Cotswolds – or Starke Sound in California. Dan Wiggins: "We design and build everything from the ground up. We build our own enclosures. We design and build our own parts. We build our own drivers including the tweeters. We design and craft our own filter networks and naturally assemble everything in-house including our amplifiers. All models, from the smallest to the biggest and across all their functions, are under our complete control to be able to offer seamlessly integrated system solutions."