I was one of the very first to talk about these speakers that I discovered at the Paris Hifi show in 2010.
Although their designers come with an impeccable pedigree having worked at "cost is no object" Swiss manufacturer Goldmund, I was not totally convinced even though the woofer is made by long time friend and partner in crime Philippe Lesage (ex Technical Director at Audax and now MD of PHL Audio, as well as fostering a VIFA tweeter that I have learned to love in my own design. You can read my first impressions here:
My impressions were further vindicated by the measurements conducted by Stereophile two years later:
Although the listening tests were somewhat more elogious than mine, the measurements show a more rugged picture, as well as confirming my comments on the cabinet vibrations.
I have just received my copy of the April issue of Hifi News and Ken Kessler mention of Stenheim having exhibited at T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas. It caught my (well-trained...) eye, as the company has now unveiled a subwoofer for the Alumine, a configuration I particularly like (in part for historical Microphase related reasons) but also because it makes perfect technical sense.
Ken doesn't say if he liked them or not but Dave Thomas from Stereo Times, that I had the pleasure to meet in Vegas, says:
"The Stenheim speakers are gorgeously built and executed with clean lines and flawless construction. The sound of the system was extremely musical and dynamic, sounding far bigger and more natural than you’d normally hear under show conditions" Humm...
Spencer Holbert from The Absolute Sound says of the Alumine:
"The Alumine 2 Ways were incredibly tight and fast in the mids and highs thanks to its aluminum enclosure (hence the name, Alumine), and would be perfect for smaller room" Ah, ah...
And over last few days, Stenheim has unveiled a new "REFRENCE" system at the HIGH_END SHOW in Munich, so there is certainly something interesting going on there...
The management has changed, and it seems that the original five designers and founders have been sidelined. Jean Pascal Panchard, the new MD, comes from NAGRA, quite a good pedigree as well!
What can be noted is that the most recent incarnation of the Alumine has a more streamlined front baffle, with a more conventional horn piece for the tweeter - a feature I have personally investigated and found quite satisfactory - and a new midrange, or at least a new chassis from this speaker. I cannot find information whether or not it is still made by PHL Audio, but it looks like more of a carbon or kevlar cone as it looks woven rather cellulose. The bass driver in the subwoofer is made of polypropylene, material that I personally wouldn't use for that application, but as I have not had a chance to listen to this new incarnation, I will have to reserve my judgement. (In short, I will have to just shut up!)
The REFERENCE looks mighty enough and sports my favourite WMTMW arrangement, so I am inclined to say it would have a mighty sound indeed. The ribbon super tweeter is mounted off center, so a pair comes as a mirror image and the MTM part of the speaker can be angled remotely to fine tune the image at the listening position!
This is all extremely well fabricated in probably a very limited quantity, so the price of a pair of satellites (Alumine 2) starts at USD 15,000, add the sub and it jumps at USD 35,000 so you can guesstimate the price for the REFERENCe. Maybe I should design new speakers if there is a market at that price point...Just a thought!
I have not visited this exhibition for 15 years, I have been surprised to see a number of new, innovative, successful French Hifi companies, primarily in the realm of speakers and turntables, but also valve and silicon-based electronics.
Obviously some of the most famous and long established brands were there as well from Elipson to Micromega, Davis Acoustics to Focal.
The newcomers of note were from A to W: Atohm, Jarre Technologies - yes, it is Jean-Michel - , JMB Acoustique, KTR Lab, Leedh, Pierre Riffaud, Soledge, Stenheim,
Stormaudio, Vismes and Waterfall Audio.
Famous absentees: Cabasse, Jean-Marie Raynaud, Triangle to name a few.
Some of the famous Brits were here too: B&W, Chord, Cyrus, KEF, Lowther, Michell, Mission, NAD, Naim, Roksan, and Rotel to name a few.
A few Americans like JBL, Vienna Acoustics, you guessed it from Austria, Saegan & Shanghlin from China, nobody from Australia though, but the famous Perraux from New Zealand, and the powerfull Japanese Yamaha and Pioneer, giving an extraordinary multichannel musical demo!
Here are some pictures to satisfy your curiosity.
We will review some of these products in more details later, so stay tuned!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.