RMAF 2018: Fidelis Music Systems, Exposure, Acoustic Signature and Those Amazing Stenheim Monitors

I’ve known the folks at Fidelis Music Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire for many years. Not only were they one of my top dealers when I was a distributor but they also distribute, in turn, some of my favorite brands of all time such as Harbeth, LFD and Palmer. I’ve visited owner Walter Swanbon and his very knowledgeable crew at the store a handful of times, and I know I’ll always be treated to great sound from interesting companies—and not from the usual suspects, which is one of the things that makes Fidelis so special.

Just a Few Things from the Store

That’s what Fidelis’ Dwight DiMartino said to me when I walked into the Fidelis room at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I quickly recognized the stunning Stenheim Alumine 2 monitors from Switzerland ($14,975/pair with dedicated stands) fronting a system that also contained an Acoustic Signature Double X  turntable ($5600) paired with the $2800 TA2000 tonearm—another brand they also distribute. Amplification was from Exposure, another line they’ve just recently picked up. (An Aurender music streamer was supplying the tunes on the digital side.) I’m very familiar with Exposure from the UK—one of my first equipment reviews, more than a decade ago, was of the Exposure 3010 integrated amplifier. (If I remember correctly, I really, really liked it.)

The Stenheims, however, are truly unusual small monitors. Sure, they’re expensive for a small 2-way with a 5” woofer, but they feature an aluminum alloy enclosure and weigh nearly forty pounds each. One of the most remarkable things about the Stenheim enclosures are that no screw or fastener is visible from the outside. Only the highest quality parts are used inside for the crossover.

It’s Pronounced ‘Aluminiumium’

I’ve listened to these speakers at Fidelis once or twice, and each time they impressed me with their ability to deliver deep bass from such a small package, which is what makes aluminum such a compelling material in speaker design. At the show, these speakers also delivered a fine sense of scale as well. I know that most small high-end speakers are supposed to “punch above their weight” or “sound much bigger than they are,” but the Stenheims go beyond that. They suggest a level of performance that is rare, especially in terms of inner detail. Best of all, they have a 93 dB efficiency so they’ll work with all types of amplification.

In the US, Fidelis is somewhat synonymous with Harbeth. I love that brand as well, but it’s the Stenheims I always remember the most after visiting New Hampshire—it’s a speaker company that, like many others, deserves a larger audience in the US.