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Next we passed yet another large long hall busy with soldering/assembly stations, the graphic designer's desk and the marketing office where Jesper Beyer Lindhard and Bent Nielsen plot how to take over the audio world. What was supposed to be just a quick "hello, nice to finally meet you in person" eventually turned to… nope, it's too soon to tell. A long corridor just outside had multiple racks with mostly finished Aavik I-880 integrated amps awaiting QC. These are the result of Flemming's and Michael's first collaboration but far too complex to tackle here. However, after hearing it the next day, let me just say that I'd gladly accommodate one within my own four walls. A 200wpc class A beast act that packs Aavik's very best largely homebrew tech? Yes, please!
Meeting area | in-house Irish pub with Greg Weaver and Lars Kristensen | canteen | the listening room where it had all started for me 3 years ago
I was curious how the facility's upper floor had changed since my first visit so snuck back there. It hadn't changed. All the manual work happens on the ground floor. The upstairs canteen remains a lovely place for staff to take a break and enjoy a joint lunch. The neighboring audition room had a simple system where three years ago Lars did his first demo for me. This time around listening there wasn't in the cards. My host had far bolder plans. Back downstairs in Emil Kristensen's and Morten Thyrrestrup's office, I spotted this rather substantial new product from the Gold Signature range. It combines the company's top network switch and PowerBox atop a massive composite sandwich plinth. Morten merely smiled. He clearly was up to something. The next day I found out what. Suffice it to say, these Danes know better than most how streaming has become a very hot topic in our industry.
€20K network switch | Gold series finalized cables, their raw wire on a spool in the center.
The lounge area is a cozy place for business meets where I had a chat with the CTO. For about an hour Michael explained what they've been up; and how he and Flemming refine their ideas to find common ground. They've been long friends and the new Aavik I-880 integrated proudly sports their signatures on top. This visually brilliant kit struck me as something only Gryphon's founder could dream up with while clever circuits, unusual materials, internal noise suppression and resonance control are all Michael's contributions. Teamwork makes the dream work. Afterward it was time for a break at the nearby Irish pub. Considering where I was, I assumed a drive to the city. Not. AGD enjoy their very own pub right next to their largest listening room. Let that sink in. To clarify, this place was as authentic as they come. The audio installed there (Børresen Z-range monitors, Aavik mid-tier electronics) wasn't the usual for such establishments either.
Audio Group Denmark have clearly expanded their three brands with new floor space and crews. Multiple Gold Signature products for Ansuz, the new Aavik I-880 integrated and Børresen M1 monitors all push the company's already very high standards deeper still into the stratosphere on coin and sound. Although that realm had my utmost attention, I was also shown several intriguing budget-friendlier products. The upcoming X-range speakers [X3 below] are the closest we'll see commercially. On top of that there's one superb development brewing which I heard already but was still sworn to secrecy about.
Prior to flying to Aalborg I knew that seeing how much things had grown was part of a grander masterplan. My hosts are known for expertly conducted presentations and had lots to show. To get basics out of the way, their comprehensive portfolio spread across three brands comprises enough building blocks to assemble complete setups without spending coin elsewhere. This guarantees innate compatibility and gives their makers full control over the outcome. In their demos they often narrow the scope to just one component type to clearly isolate what it does so visitors gain a firm reference point of a best-case scenario. It mattered naught what was on the menu. Their entry-level goods are as relevant as the best. Changes from one performance tier to another exhibit audible differences at times so profound that even hardcore skeptics would rapidly turn believers. Since I'd already experienced that in the past then with several AGD reviews under my belt, I had a rough idea what to expect. This however didn't stop me from enjoying the ride.
My second day started in the Ansuz suite where Frits Dalmose had prepped several demos based on the Mainz8 power distributors and Mainz cords. The setup comprised mid-tier Aavik electronics so DAC, streamer, pre and power amp plus Børresen X-series floorstanders. Frits knew that explaining changes wasn't necessary. We'd been there before. Instead we could kick back, chill and exchange shared observations afterwards. Noise reduction is a powerful tool that renders sounds more round, complex, juicy and tangible. When low inductance gets added, the results grow more powerful, dynamically alive, spatially grand and quick. Although these two groups of traits don't overlap, in most instances we spotted more of one or the other.
With that in mind, lower-tiered Mainz8 are predominantly quick lean smooth open types. Those from the C3 bracket on up are inherently infused with all that plus copious amounts of color, muscle tissue and background blackness to boost tone. Here a Mainz8 D3 pushed these seemingly opposite envelopes further by having a noticeably greater impact on the setup without any trade-off. A Mainz D-TC3 Supreme which shortly after replaced the D3 stressed how much grander, bolder, palpable, vivid and finely pronounced the entire soundscape could still get. I wasn't surprised though. At the Alborg facility the most noticeable performance leaps always occur at the very top of its three brands. Here small improvements are verboten. It's how they scale performance by design. Frits didn't even go to their D-TC Gold Signature distributor. Instead he mischievously grinned and went all the way back to the entry-level box to show how swapping one component suffices to pretty much collapse the entire performance. It was still perfectly listenable of course, just nowhere near as spectacular. Then he repeated the entire routine with several power cords to trigger the same observations. To add salt to injury, he then installed the quite unforgettable Mainz Gold Signature just to unplug it one song later and effectively leave me even more befuddled than before. Hey, I thought we were friends!
Ansuz titanium racks
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