On how the Bastanis/Zugspitz collaboration came about. "Bastanis and Zugspitz are two completely separate companies. Bastanis is my company which I've operated since 2002. Before that I worked in the industry, then ran a hifi shop for twelve years. In parallel I always was part of various speaker and cable companies. By 2000 I had finally gotten fed up with all the work related to marketing. So I closed down my shop and quit my partnerships with all the other companies to explore a different path. My passion for music had spoiled me for the normal hifi business. Now I wanted to back up by a few steps, lighten my financial commitments and return again to pursuing my passion and core knowledge. I founded Bastanis and began to design products which were as good as I could make them.

"This was a big new adventure. Looking back, I'm very grateful to my customers who supported my Bastanis open-baffle speakers. Most of them are still happy with them. I view all my customers as friends. That's how I treat them and that's why I try to learn that each is fully satisfied. It's a gift. I am thankful that I can still earn my daily bread from this type of business. I started Bastanis with direct marketing and speaker kits. Meanwhile there are some international dealers. Hence the prices had to go up to build in the necessary margins. Eventually the Bastanis brand should stop selling kits altogether. For this to happen, the business simply needs some more growth. I do want to keep offering kits but would prefer more inexpensive kits promoted through a second brand. But that's future talk.
A box grill is one solution to cosmetic normalcy on a dipole's backside.
"Andreas came into this frame about three years ago. He too has a big passion for music and as a customer already loved my open-baffle speakers. One day he talked to me about business opportunities. He too meant to spend more time on his passion. He runs a different main business to enjoy the financial wherewithal to aim his Zugspitz company not at the traditional hifi specialist customer. There are many well-situated people out there who spend big money on consumer goods like cars but not on the inner adventure. I always had the notion that a business aimed at this group of customers could be very successful. Andreas agreed. Since then he's been in constant development of that concept and I assist him as well as I can to help establish Zugspitz as a different sort of sound company. He offers a complete line of harmoniously matched products designed for him by various people, from source to speakers with matching cables and racks. Everything is custom-finished to order and hand-built to the highest possible standards. Andreas doesn't do hifi shows. Instead he visits lifestyle and luxury shows where he finds customers who never before thought about quality stereos but get intrigued by his beautiful looking and sounding systems. Again, the speakers I make for Andreas are specific to Zugspitz. Most are based on existing Bastanis designs but then tweaked with additional exclusive treatments.

"The Seligkeit has no equivalent Bastanis drivers except for the tweeter which is a special version of my existing Gemini tweeter. In the Seligkeit, the Soul widebander covers from below 100Hz to 8kHz without any series crossover parts. The cones get extensive hand treatments. Mainly there are three steps of treatments. In the first, small sections of the cone are steamed to reduce resonances in these areas and to increase their self-damping. The second step treats the cone with different oils at different temperatures to strategically increase flexibility for controlled bending-wave-behaviour at higher frequencies. The third step applies damping and de-damping lacquers and minerals to perfect different areas of the cone relative to frequency and output. This mechanical reduction of cone distortion* is far higher and thus far more meaningful than different types of magnets but AlNiCo motors still do increase this overall distortion minimization. Post treatment, the Soul widebander requires no further corrections from active or passive filter parts. It now is a true wideband high-sensitivity transducer. The waveguide step around it achieves a more coherent radiation pattern. The driver radiates 180° in the low mids and the angle becomes narrower at higher frequencies. This transitional step equalizes that. Also, the felt pads around the dust cap equalize radiation by adding some diffraction at higher frequencies.
Bastanis Firebird

* The attentive reader will remember equivalent details on Zu Audio's 'nanofication' process which I covered in my Druid V review. It likewise treats their large paper-based bi-cones with various glues, lacquers and such to improve their mechanical behaviour across the intended bandwidth. "Have driver and plywood" can get any DIYer started but it might not go the full distance.

"The 1" horn tweeter is crossed in with a single 1.15mF home-rolled cap. The diaphragm is phenolic and likewise treated to extend past 20kHz. The result is the natural undistorted sonic character of a phenolic diaphragm combined with the extended response and clarity of metal diaphragms but not with the typical harsh resonances of hard metal domes. The tweeters operate as dipoles and match the energy balance of the widebanders' front and back output which is about a 70:30 ratio respectively. The high tweeter crossover reduces distortion because the tweeters work without dynamic limitations. They would work fine and sound beautiful even in a traditional speaker with a 3kHz crossover. In the Zugspitz Seligkeit, the high crossover point doesn't require a big horn which also eliminates the resonances of bigger horns.

"The large 18" framed dipole woofers are active powered by built-in 400-watt amps of conventional design as class D needs much higher wattages to compete in the bass (in my experience, inexpensive class D amps all sound weak). The amps have switchable bass boost for the low bass but under normal conditions there is no need for it. The woofers too match the energy output balance of the widebanders for perfect harmony from the lowest to the very highest frequencies. The 18" woofers are specially made for Zugspitz and offer extreme dynamic headroom and clarity. Their voice coil measures 125mm in diameter and the motor is an ultra-strong neodymium magnet with a force factor of 30 Teslameter and linear excursion of 30mm (Xmax is higher).
Popular ways to load dipole woofers in open baffles/boxes.

"The H-frame dipole bass bins are designed for higher efficiency than other dipole cabinets. This reduces the acoustical short circuit in the bass and eliminates the need for electronic amplitude correction. Increased efficiency also improves dynamics over other dipole woofer schemes and the bass response is most articulate and extended. [To avoid dipole bass cancellation altogether whilst still exploiting dipole benefits for the higher bands, Carl Marchisotto's Nola scheme mates open-backed tweeters and midranges to ported woofers as shown in the Micro Grand Reference II at right. Using a basic box construction and just leaving out certain wall segments makes Nola speakers cosmetically more acceptable than certain fully open designs - Ed.]

"As you know, there are no perfect speakers. Once you relate to the general sound aesthetic of the Zugspitz line of speakers designed by Bastanis, finding workable alternatives is simply difficult. Of course there are matching high-quality mainly low-power amplifiers from other manufacturers but the Zugspitz amps guarantee perfect harmony of the amp/speaker interface. Once the Seligkeit is perfectly set up and driven by properly matched electronics, the system stops being the limiting factor. The sonic differences are now down to very good recordings of different engineering schools. These differences become extremely obvious but it's impossible to optimize speakers for one sonic school with its own specific recording studio sound without going against recordings done differently." My main sonic question marks were in triplicate: would a high 8kHz tweeter roll-in leaving the presence band to a very large driver get opaque; would open-backed bass lack impact and extension regardless of woofer size; would the open-backed midband telegraph significant sonic advantages over the boxed-in drivers I'm used to?

Andreas Paul on Zugspitz. "Five suppliers in Frankfurt, Dortmund, Leipzig, Berlin and Hamburg build my products or certain of their sub assemblies and parts. Be it the electronics, driver membranes or cables, everything is hand-crafted to order and based on techniques from the era of the 1920s. Not really carrying inventory obviously means waiting times but it's only in this way that I can treat every customer on a case-by-case basis where bespoke finishing or other requests are concerned. 100 years ago, hifi was fine furniture. I want to reintroduce that concept for our times

"A short pictorial visit to my Zugspitz stone barn which I opened to the public in July of last year can be seen on the Christoph Kraus silvercore blog here. For tech talk, my own website is deliberately sparse. All the essentials are there but the obvious intent is appealing to clients who are interested in music, not the detailed means of its recreation. We leave concerns over technical executions to the various experts like Robert Bastani, Christoph Kraus and Knut Corniels who we've selected to work with. Pricing for a small set of electronics + speakers starts at about €10'000 whilst the bigger sets with record player and silver cables can reach €60'000."

As the Osnabrücker Zeitung wrote who put said €60'000 figure into the article's very URL, "the Zugspitz barn concept is popular with the community. 'With Zugspitz, another quality company has made Bad Laer its home', opined mayor Holger Richard who views the showroom in the Piepstein barn as a 'bona fide asset. Even if their primary target audience goes beyond us locals, Zugspitz does have a positive influence on our business sector'. By appealing to a 'very special clientele, it's likely that their customers will be introduced to Bad Laer through the interest in upscale hifi'. Or so the mayor does hope."

A quick brand query via Goggle gets at past Zugspitz participation with the Frankfurter Ambiente Messe and Herbstzeitlos. Even the Munichtime luxury watch fare covered in this blog has hosted a Zugspitz system in the Bayrischer Hof hotel. As Robert Bastani mentioned earlier, Andreas really doesn't fish the stale pond of traditional specialty hifi. If you've ever wondered what Carl F. Bucherer, Dornblüth & Sohn, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin and fine hifi might have in common... Zugspitz would be the surprise answer. Such promotional efforts outside audiophilia's revival tent on the lawn of existing believers are vital. Yet one sees precious few actual instances. The last one I heard of had Lynn and Kevin Scott of Living Voice participate at the Monte Carlo luxury yacht show as lonely hifi ambassadors. Sowing seeds on foreign soil can be costly and might take years to germinate. But if nobody does it because they can't afford such long-term investments, those bridges will never get crossed. Make no mistake, this type buyer of the necessary means and appreciation will never visit a conventional high-street hifi shop. It just won't happen. Zugspitz is right about that!

Andreas Paul: "I am 47 years old, married and with 2 children at 10 and 13. I am a skilled businessman and worked in agriculture until last year. My fascination with music began in my early childhood. I practiced on the piano but was always interested also in active listening. From 12 years on, I spent all my pocket money on buying records each week. As I grew older, I kept improving the quality of my playback system. A few years ago I came across Bastanis, then built myself a speaker. Subsequently I realized how this playback system impressed me more and more. Whilst I can't design hifi products, I'm a perfectionist. On the basis of Bastanis speakers, I wanted to offer a complete perfectly coordinated system. So I searched for the best designers in various areas to work with. Hence the name Zugspitz. It's about unique exquisitely developed products from experts at the peak of their craft. This product also requires a special presentation. Sound and appearance have to come together. Sometimes we hold classical or Jazz concerts in our barn. Some people think that good hifi products are reserved only for the experts and specialists. I believe that good playback is something anyone can experience and cherish. When I go to lifestyle and watch shows, I see this over and over again. I also see that women are very interested in my products. Final dimensional specs on the Seligkeit are a 60cm square footprint with 155cm height. Weight is 75kg/ea. Pricing begins at €28'000/pr including VAT in the base version shown in the photos. Oiled multiplex with exotic veneer finishes are available by special order."