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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.87g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.5 in direct/integer mode, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, TruLife Audio Athena
Integrated amplifier: Wyred4Sound mINT, Bakoon AMP-12R, Clones 25i [on loan]
Power amplifier: Job 225; FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2
Loudspeakers: Boenicke Audio B10 with SwingBase, German Physiks HRS-120, Zu Submission, AudioSolutions 200, Gallo Acoustics Strada 2/TR-3D
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom, KingRex uArt split USB cable
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 and Vibex Two 1R DC filter on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Art: paintings by Ivette Ebaen,
Indian bronze musicians and other Rajasthani furnishings from with jewelry from
Music sources:,,,
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component retail in Switzerland: CHF 3'500/pr, CHF 340/pr for optional floor stand

At High End Munich in May 2013 I'd unexpectedly run into landsman Sven Boenicke. The affable Swiss was roaming the hallways with one of his new W5 desktop speakers tucked into the crook of his arm. I'd known of the coming baby Boenicke since January. Sven then had asked about a reco for a suitable integrated amplifier for it. Without thinking twice I'd blurted out Wyred4Sound mINT. On my work desk that's what I run every day into Anthony Gallo's Strada 2 plus TR-3D subwoofer without a desire for anything snobbier (I've checked!).

"I've thought long and hard about putting amp modules inside them to go active. For several reasons I finally decided not to. To my knowledge ready-made modules that would fit don't exist. I'd thus have to build my own. That's not my core competence and thus could potentially backfire. It would also further decrease the already small internal volume, create thermal issues and challenge me where to place the volume control and on/off switch. Those tech elements I'd so not want on my nicely clean wooden fronts. Plus there would be vibrational issues and associated potential performance degradation.

"By the way the renderings below are only preliminary even though that's about how they'll look: machined from solid wood stock, suspended on hardly visible height-adjustable springs, with rear-ported loading, 30 x 20 x 10.4cm dimensions and an F3 of 58Hz."

Checking in with Sven in early August, the first baker's dozen had flown the coop but he was still awaiting production packaging to perhaps be out four weeks before being able to dispatch a formal loaner pair.

With our first 5-year Swiss residency B permits having just come up for renewal to make us feel properly settled whilst getting upgraded to C status, even my system had accumulated a few Swiss residents in the interim. From Sven's slim B-10 speakers for which I'd traded my former must-biamp SLS to Nagra's Jazz preamp and Goldmund's affordable but great Job 225 stereo amp, I could already run a near all Confoederatio Helvetica or CH rig. All I was still missing on that front was a source component. With Nagra's as yet nameless DAC forthcoming, perhaps even that could get addressed. And I was still saving up for my own pair of Martin Gateley's soundkaos Wave 40 eggs to own my favorite widebander and perfectly match my low-power FirstWatt SIT1 monos. None of this switzerization outgrew freshly minted patriotism by the way. Exposure to domestically grown product was more like it. And falling in love with select samples. No luv and I don't care where it's from.

My 'nearly' Swiss system of Metrum Hex, Nagra Jazz, Job 225 and Boenicke B10 speakers.

As a small if rich country, our holdout surrounded by European Union members has a surprisingly deep presence of hifi manufacturers. From bleeding-edge CH Precision, darTZeel, Goldmund, Orpheus Labs and Soulution to Ensemble, Klangwerk, lumenwhite, Nagra, Piega, Rowen, Weiss and Vovox to more underground brands like Boenicke, Colotube, Reson and Stenheim to newcomers Le Son and swisscables, this list is far from complete. Living smack in the heart of it—on its southern edge strictly speaking—it only makes sense that I'd also pick from local makes for our global component mix. With computer audio still heavily on the ascendant, what could be more apropos than a pair of deluxe desktop boxes from one of of the most gifted speaker designers currently working? Of course calling any Boenicke a box is like calling a top-line Lucchese another boot like Tony Lama or Acme (a few years in New Mexico made boots into my favored footwear). From its trademark form factor to its wooden composition to its narrow front with wideband tweeter and sidefiring woofer to its top-class internal parts, the W5 is a full-blooded Boenicke. It has simply spent a few hours in the dryer to shrink down to the intended application just so.

Even Blondie the formerly Cypriot beach stray has adapted to Swiss life and sound.

It goes without saying that parts pedigree, milled-from-solid wood construction finished by hand plus small-volume artisan production from the land of watches, cheese and chocolate all come at a price. The W5 makes no pretensions at being a value-first competitor to China-sourced boxes hawked at MediaMart; or beat up on powered do-it-alls from the likes of Paradigm or PSB. This is about premium sound for folks truly serious about it even at the busy work desk; and who have the means and desire to pursue something more exotic whilst providing their own amplification and D/A conversion. Non-metric readers with a measurement converter will have already figured it out. The wee W5 is all but 1.365 of a palm wide. That's four inches to Americans. It makes for one of the skinniest small speakers with decent bandwidth extant. In Boenicke's lexicon 'B' is short for 'bent wood' like my B-10 with its steam-formed solid Cherry fronts and back but Ply sides whilst 'W' denotes 'solid wood' and the number represents driver diameter. So W5 becomes a solid wood* speaker with a 5cm 'tweeter'.

* Boenicke deals with specialist wood shops in Brienz and Muotathal and properly cured wood. With EU temperature and humidity values they can safely use 4.5cm laminations to minimize damping effects of redundant glue layers. For Asia sales and bigger models however Sven prefers 1.5cm layers for being inherently even more resistant to moisture-induced deformation. For context, Plywood runs 1.6mm layers to use 25% glue. Sven prefers a far higher ratio of organic content whose overtone behavior he believes is more natural.