The now famous Hifi Pig Loves You Award can be quite a tricky thing to actually choose. We thought it was difficult at Munich this year, but the Warsaw show was even harder to decide. The standard of the show was just incredible, the three venues each had a different feel and all the exhibitors had put a lot of effort into making it a spectacular success. One thing we definitely noticed was that all the non Polish brands that we know said that their Polish distributors worked very hard and were incredibly dedicated to promoting them in Poland.
With such a high standard the winning room really had to knock our socks off. We judge the rooms not only on how they sound, but also how they look, how the staff are with people, what kind of music they play and the general feel of the room. Previous winners have included the likes of Avid Hifi, Sound Fowndations, BD Audio and Hifi Hangar to mention just a few. By the end of covering even just the first hotel, the Sobieski, we had several contenders, and that list grew longer as we visited the stadium and the then the final rooms at the Golden Tulip.
Spoilt for choice and just a little concerned that we would not be able to narrow it down, we entered the Gobel High End (Germany) and CH Precision (Switzerland) room. This was a chilled out and airy room, with the stunning and unusual Gobel Epoque Fine loudspeakers, Epoque Baforce Fine compact sub and controller and then CH Precision electronics. All very high end gear so you would expect it to sound very good indeed. We were struck by the fact that you could be anywhere in the room (Stuart was moving around to get photo’s while I sat and listened) and still be enveloped by the music. What happened next though decided it for us that this was the room that would get the award. They put on Jeff Buckley’s version of ‘Hallelujah’ which came across as incredibly emotional and really moved us. It was a ‘chills and goosebumps’ moment and we both, and I am sure everyone else in the room, completely connected with the music. We discussed it afterwards and both Stuart and I said it was our favourite room. Oliver from Gobel and Florian from CH Precision were both very pleased indeed when we let them know how their room made us feel and said that it was the kind of response that let them know they had got it right.
We caught up with both Oliver and Florian after the show to get some more information about the system they used and their collaboration, so let’s kick things off with the kit list and retail prices of just what made up this magical system.
Göbel High End (all prices ex works and ex VAT):
Epoque Fine loudspeakers: 96,640 €
Epoque Baforce Fine subwoofer in the active version: 61,340 €
Epoque Baforce Controller (the subwoofer controller/crossover): 7,983 €
A full loom of Lacorde Statement cables which consists out of 2 pairs Lacorde Statement Speaker, 11 pcs. Lacorde Statement Power, 2 pairs Lacorde Statement XLR, 1 pcs. Lacorde Statement Digital RCA as clock cable, 2 pcs. Lacorde Statement Ethernet: 118,742 € for the complete loom of cables
CH Precision: (all prices ex VAT)
D1 SACD/CD drive: 26,500 €
C1 D/A converter with streaming input: 25,100 €
L1 line preamplifier: 24,100 €
A1 power amplifier: 48,200 € for one pair
X1 power supply: 12,100 €
Total system price 420,705 € ex VAT
Hifi Pig: “As two brands exhibiting together, how do you work together to decide on the system?”
Oliver Gobel, Gobel High End: “The room size was the key for what has been decided to show. It has been easy to agree about the shown setup, as the Epoque Fine loudspeaker with one subwoofer are perfectly adapted for room sizes like we had. On the electronics side, A1 power amplifiers have enough energy to easily drive the Epoque loudspeakers, and the latter choice was natural. Otherwise, both of us agreed to use mainly an ethernet-based source to easily allow demonstrations of various music styles.”
HP: “Can you tell me a bit more about the technology?”
OG: “The heart of each Göbel High End loudspeaker system is our patented and world wide unique bending wave loudspeaker technology. It is based on the principals of sound creations which nearly all music instruments use to produce their sound. These Carbon Excellence Bending Wave loudspeakers from us are completely developed and manufactured in our premises near Munich and beside the most obvious advantage of producing the sound over this bending wave principle, they have a lot of additional outstanding sonically advantages. Only to name a few:
– A continuous bandwidth from 170 Hz to over 31.000 Hz through one driver!
– An ideal and very even dispersion range of nearly 180 degree through the entire bandwidth.
– Highest dynamic and fastest transient response, as the amplitudes are extremely small and therefore also extremely low distortion.
Furthermore we additionally developed special technologies also for the bass drivers, for the enclosures, for the arrangements of the bass drivers and for the crossovers in order to get the lowest possible losses and hereby reach the best possible results and seamless adaptation to our bending wave technology. Through all these efforts, you will experience the music entirely detached from the loudspeakers, with an unbelievable naturalness and speed. You will find yourself in the middle of a real emotional musical event.
After a research time of over 10 years with thousands of listening hours of countless carefully evaluated variations and combinations of different conductor materials, conductor alloy materials, dielectric isolation materials, specific geometries, specific resonance control devices, cable treatments (cryogenic processing, heat processing, …), connectors, connection methods, … we developed our world wide unique benchmark cable series Lacorde Statement. Therefore we developed and use some very special technologies like: Our own proprietary alloy, the control over the skin effects especially in combination with the non-linear signal degradation that happen because of the contact between the dielectric material and the conductor, our multiple stranded webbing design, our resonance control devices, the prevention of electrostatic charging effects …”
Florian Cossy, CH Precision: “All products use discrete components on the audio signal path, with as few stages as possible. Furthermore, only linear power supplies with discrete regulation stages are used. On the technology side, some innovative topologies/processing have been developed, here are the main ones for each product type:
1. C1 D/A controller
– proprietary connection with D1 drive, which transfers both PCM and DSD streams without bi-phase encoding (like into S/PDIF or AES transmissions).
– signal interpolation to 705.6kHz or 768kHz done into DSPs, with different algorithms the user can choose.
– automatic calibration of all D/A converter chips, with compensation in the digital domain prior conversion.
– mixed analogue and digital volume control when used in preamp mode (which was not the case in Warsaw).
2. L1 line preamplifier
– fully balanced circuitry, from input to output.
– discrete R-2R ladder for analogue volume control, with 0.5dB steps from -96dB to +18dB
– automatic correction of signal offset without analogue loop and capacitors on the signal path, for click-less volume changes.
– ultra-high bandwidth of 1.5MHz.
3. A1 power amplifier
– adaptive bias for power amplifier’s output stage, which keeps the output stages’ idle current constant when playing music.
– user-adjustable level of global feedback for power stages for best possible match with connected speakers.
– monitoring of the output power with non-intrusive circuitry (and protection against short-circuits or abnormal DC level).
– many modes to be chosen by the user: stereo, monaural, bi-amp & bridge modes are available.”
HP: “What do you have in store for us in the future, New products etc?”
OG: “Actually only a few weeks ago we introduced our new Lacorde Statement Ethernet and new Lacorde Statement USB cables. Of course these new cables were also part of the setup at this Warsaw Audio show, which in fact was the first exhibition introduction of these new cable models. As we only unveil and announce new products when we are really 100% satisfied with the results, we have a long development period from the first idea of a new product, until we do the official introduction of it. Therefore our products have a very long life span.”
FC: “Next spring two new products will be available, which are currently at prototype stage at the office. First a 10MHz clock generator called ‘T1’ will be launched, a companion product for all digital products that accept such a synchronisation frequency (D1 & C1 are ready for it). Then an integrated amplifier called ‘I1’ with line-level inputs (plus optional phono and streaming inputs) will be released, a real ‘all-in-one’ box that accepts all sources and connects to loudspeaker. A real ‘swiss-army knife’.”
We are really please that we picked the Globel High End/CH Precision room for our Hifi Pig Loves You Award at Warsaw 2016. Yes this is very, very high end and expensive hifi, but the passion and hard work that is put in by both Oliver and Florian and their teams is palpable. This is true high-end, everything works together in harmony and, when it comes down to it, chills and goosebumps matter, whether you are buying this level of gear or, for most of us, something much more modest.