A few years ago, audiophiles around the world started talking about this new brand of loudspeakers from Switzerland that were replacing established brands in reference systems. Stenheim speakers quickly developed a reputation for excellence and a hype that was not driven by the press but rather by audiophiles who were hearing them and then telling others about this ‘special sound’. How does a relatively new brand rise so prominently in stature in such conservative circles that demand the best?
One reason is that although Stenheim was established in 2010, its five founders have decades of experience between them working for high-end speaker brands, so it was a new name with a dream-team of experienced experts behind it. And it shows! Stenheim speakers are so accomplished sonically that you immediately realize that you are in the presence of a true destination product. Another reason is the philosophy employed by Stenheim, which is to find the most tried & tested, proven and effective way of doing something and then apply immense effort to making it the best that it can possibly be.
For example, the cabinet construction, the drive units, the crossover design….all of these aspects are executed to the highest possible standards, regardless of the cost. It is important to understand that unlike most audio brands, Stenheim never build a speaker to meet a particular price point. They simply make the best possible speaker that they know how to make and offer it to the market. A refreshing approach resulting in truly heirloom quality loudspeakers that have become the ‘new establishment’.
A young brand, timeless experience
Founded in 2010, Stenheim quickly became a leader among global high-end audio brands. Its five founders, Jean-Loup Afresne, Antoine Petroff, Maxime Perrin, Sébastien Benz and David Jilli are all engineers, passionate about sound and music. Prior to launching Stenheim, they worked together at one of the biggest brands in audio. After two years of research and development, Stenheim launched its first speaker, the ‘Alumine’, a compact, all aluminium reference speaker.
The pursuit of the unobtainable is a fascinating human endeavour. Even attempting to define how the ‘perfect’ loudspeaker should sound is fraught with inevitable debate and conflicting opinions. It is such a subjective experience that it is impossible to find a sonic presentation that will create an equal level of enjoyment in two people, let alone a community of audiophiles. As with any artform, music is experienced on an emotional level and here lies the challenge with loudspeaker design.
Some manufacturers focus on pure technology, designing speakers with formulas and algorithms and ensuring that they measure ‘accurately’. Often this approach results in a clinical sonic presentation that people respect but find emotionally unengaging. The opposite approach is to focus on the sensory and allowing the design to be guided predominantly by the experience of enjoyable aural sensations. These designs often result in a sound that is exaggerated, unbalanced and bearing less resemblance to the original recording.
Using their extensive cumulative experience and knowledge gained from years of research, Stenheim merges the two extremes, understanding the relationship between real physical constraints and their impact on the subjective quality of listening. Ignoring the trendy, their products are built to last. Even their aesthetic communicates simple elegance…..neutral, rich and clear tones, highlighting the beauty of the music and nothing else.
If you investigate the way Stenheim speakers are built, the uncompromising specifications and cost of the parts that are used and the attention to detail applied to even the minutiae, you will realise that the extraordinary level of care and effort that goes into each loudspeaker is simply unparalleled.
Made in Switzerland, Stenheim speakers sonically disappear and have an uncanny ability to captivate you emotionally and make you forget that you are listening to a system. Some owners have called them ‘time machines’, referring to the mysterious way that you can become engrossed in a musical performance and lose track of time.