Somewhere near 5,000 steps (according to my FitBit), I stumbled into the TIDAL Audio room. Fans of the site may know that I have a thing for designer Jörn Janczak’s big glossy megaliths as I also happen to be an owner. Here was my chance to meet him!
Doug White of Philly dealer The Voice That Is had warned me that Jörn was tall, but a warning doesn’t quite help when the man himself has to stoop to talk to you. No, seriously, Jörn is tall. Like “NBA Pro” tall. This is apropos of absolutely nothing other than to say that with this bit of helpful info, the sense of scale in TIDAL speakers may be a bit easier to understand.
Take the Assoluta, for example. This loudspeaker is (currently) the pinnacle of his art, and it looks it. It’s also priced like it, but while €500k is nowhere near the most expensive loudspeaker available at High End, it was one of two where the attention to detail that caught my eye reached a level that made my brain start sweating. Oh, my, that TIDAL finish is simply out-of-this-world. I really have never seen anything like it. “TIDAL piano black” is to “piano black” as a black hole is to empty space. I could feel it sucking at my soul as soon as I stepped into the room.
Next to the finish, the most arresting feature on the Assoluta is the center cabinet (bracketed above and below by bass driver cabinets) – it carries two custom 5” drivers designed by Jörn and Accuton, the driver company that “just happens” to be “right down the street” from TIDAL. These new 5” drivers are diamond. According to Jörn, diamond offers perfect heat-sinking for the voice coils, is also ripple free, and has absolutely no resonance. The tweeter? Another diamond, this one a 1”, also from Accuton. According to Jörn, pairs of these three drivers (enough for a pair of Assoluta) cost about the same — by themselves — as a complete pair of his middle-of-the-range Agoria loudspeakers. And those are $100k/pair. Gulp. Oh – did I mention they’re 7’ 6” tall and weigh 485kg each (that is, they come up to Jörn’s shoulders)? I should note that the Assoluta is also fully customizable — at that price level, you can dictate and specify just about every little flourish — so don’t expect these to hit the general price book. You want? Just ask your dealer.
Now, as entertaining as these’d be to bathe in, they weren’t on audible display. What we heard, instead, were his newest loudspeaker, the Akira. The Akira, at €160k/pair, slots in above the Agoria and below (sort of) the Sunray, and features a single 5” diamond midrange and a matching 1” diamond tweeter, along with three active front-firing woofers and five (five!) rear-firing passives, all featuring Accuton’s latest concave drivers and all in TIDAL’s exclusive black. The arrangement is time/phase aligned and everything over 100Hz is rendered entirely via the diamond drivers. These speakers are designed, apparently, in such a way to bring Sunray-level performance to a “normal” listening spaces (that is, merely “large”, instead of “cavernous”). It’s an interesting thought. These Akiras are not much larger than the Contriva Diacera SE speakers I happen to have (ha ha!).
I visited and revisited this room several times throughout the weekend, watching and listening as the great Akira broke in. And yes, I mean that – the magnificent 5” driver had all of 10 hours on it before the show opened to the press on Thursday! Not auspicious, but despite that, the incredible transparency TIDAL is known for was very much on display. And then some. Holy guacamole, this is a monster speaker.
I should note that TIDAL has never been one for bloated bass, so it’s probably not surprising that the bass was coherent and remarkably textured — that is, it didn’t necessarily get swallowed by the room, nor did it appear to flex the walls. A standing double-bass was just that — made of rare woods, professionally lacquered, lovingly polished Wednesday past with “the good stuff”, and yes, that G-string could probably use a replacement. Did I mention the sound was transparent? Hmm.
Heh heh. The kids don’t have to go to college, do they? Nah ….
Also new – the Piano G2 loudspeaker. Completely rebuilt, and using the same inert Tiradur cabinet material found in the Akira and Absoluta, the Piano G2 has all new drivers and crossover.
Also new – the Assoluta mono amplifiers ($140k/pair). These feature three pure silver transformers with an actively regulated power supply for both current and voltage. 350watts into 8Ω, and 700 into 4Ω, the massive monos share the same family good looks as the lesser amplifier I enjoyed not so long ago.
Also new – the Camira DAC ($34k). The DAC uses the eminently sensible but still not widely adopted approach of local storage of playback streams, with local high-precision re-clocking into the DAC stage. A ladder-DAC design, the Camira does not support USB, but instead, is S/PDIF only.
Panagiotis adds: So yes, Tidal had another great show with the new Akira speakers and the complete line of built-in-house electronics.
Do not take for granted that expensive guarantees great sound, Munich has been merciless to several high-end manufacturers this year too.
Another thing you should not take for granted is SPLs. I take it for granted but you should not. This is one of my obsessions; I believe that high-end systems should sound exceptionally good and be able to withstand concert hall like sound pressure levels. If they are good for up to 85-90dB at my listening position, and then deflate or distort, then they are not true high fidelity systems; if you ever listened to a symphonic orchestra from the 8th sit row, then you know what I am talking about.
Which brings us to Tidal Akira and Royksopp.
Sunday morning on my closing tour of the best sounding rooms in Munich, I spoke with Jörn, and asked him to play something he enjoys listening to with his creations. I know that Royksopp is not Mahler but the concept remains the same. He pushed the speakers to something more than enough for a show; he showed me that these new Accuton black diamond drivers can deliver not only in terms of transparency — but also in sheer volume.
For the record, the track was Skulls: