No hyperbole, no exaggeration: This morning, a pair of Danish speakers made me cry. Not mainly because of the hole they’d be burning in my meager finances if I actually shelled out the $100,000 needed to own them, but because of the emotions they evoked . . . without even seeming to break a sweat.
What’s extra crazy is that the song that made my eyes well up wasn’t some audiophile chestnut. In fact, by today’s standards, the 1964 recording leaves lots to be desired. The music was “And I Love Her” by the Beatles, streamed from Qobuz, and the speakers were a pair of just-launched, deceptively diminutive Børresen M1 standmounts. Eyeballing them, I’d estimate that the handsome Danes are around 11″ tall, measure barely 8″ wide, and have dramatically curved side walls perhaps 12″ deep. Their size proved immaterial, however.
Driven by a gorgeous-looking $70,000 Aavik I-880 integrated amplifier200Wpc, class-A through the whole power rangethe M1s produced unadulterated audio magic to the point where I half-stuttered, under my breath, “This is ridiculous.”
Like everyone and their mother, I must’ve heard the Beatles track hundreds of timesa sweet, simplistic McCartney ditty, lovely but hardly Bach. I’d never heard it like this, though. My ears registered diaphanous acoustic-guitar strings. Crystal-clear claves whose transients arrived at the listening position with a speed that quickened the pulse and delighted the soul. A vocal that had plenty of body and yet also seemed see-through. All on a soundstage that, in my experience, has precious few equals.
It was a strange and sobering thought that even the band itself had never heard their music played back at this level; this level didn’t remotely exist in those days.
(If it matters, and it probably does, the streamer was an Aavik S-580 fed into a D-588 DAC. They each retail for $25,200. The cabling was all Ansuz.)
Obviously, I like hi-fi. I love being at hi-fi shows and hearing what’s new, or new-to-me, and I can truly appreciate 70%, 80% of what I hear. Easily half of the gear enthuses me. But this . . . this was different. This was revelatory.
There’s a tale here of great engineering prowess (thank you Michael Børresen); of new ribbon technologies; of custom-printed zirconium driver baskets that cost $3000 to manufacture; of 450 grams of pure silver per channel; of titanium voice coils that run circles around the aluminum competition. But all of that is academic, at least for now, because all that stuff engages the brain and not the heart. And right now, I’m still eager to hold on to (and process) the emotions that this incredible rig stirred in me.
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