What is TIDAL for Bugatti?
That was the big question for us at Part-Time Audiophile when we first heard that TIDAL Audio of Germany would be coming out with a new line, TIDAL for Bugatti, which was inspired by that legendary automobile marque. Would audiophiles buy this? Or would these be products be purchased primarily by consumers who already had a Chiron and a Veyron in their climate-controlled garages?
Jorn Janczak of TIDAL Audio, of course, has a more nuanced answer. TIDAL for Bugatti isn’t just a TIDAL Audio speaker with that classic EB logo. It’s a significant advance in speaker design, with new technologies and new approaches, all based on Jorn’s insistence that these products are “everything I know, everything I love.” In other words, Bugatti drivers might wander into their headquarters, see the TIDAL for Bugatti speakers on the showroom floor, and say “yes, I’ll take those too.” Audiophiles, however, will be treated to a speaker (and system) design that addresses every single detail imaginable, down to the custom hardware and fasteners. They will purchase a TIDAL for Bugatti system because of the performance.
As Jorn explained, most of the initial product run is going to hardcore audiophiles. There’s the answer right there. He didn’t design these speakers to fit into the world of opulence–he simply wanted to keep pushing the envelope and produce the best speaker he possibly could. (Note that the size of these new speakers is more compact than the current flagship, the La Assoluta. Though, Jorn explained that this design has a higher density of state of the art solutions.) When he looked at the Bugatti and understood how it was made, he wondered what would happen if he made a loudspeaker the same way. That’s the real story behind TIDAL for Bugatti.
As I mentioned in “Hi-Fi in the Time of Covid,” TIDAL for Bugatti was going to premiere at High End 2022, but when the virus affected most of the TIDAL Audio factory and they had to close down, they weren’t able to prepare for the show. Instead, I sat down with Jorn and Doug White (of The Voice That Is, the Premium Dealer and US Brand Ambassador for TIDAL Audio and TIDAL for Bugatti in the US) and discussed what might have happened at High End 2022, what’s happening right now, and what’s going to happen with TIDAL for Bugatti in the future.
First of all, the TIDAL for Bugatti products look amazing, as they should. We’re talking about an amazing selection of custom finishes, including veneers, carbon fiber, two-tone paint schemes (just like those Bugattis with wheels). We’re also talking about the exterior surfaces drawing visual cues from those legendary automobiles, a fin there (to act as a counter-balance and to absorb the resonances from the heat sinks), a curve here, all designed with a purpose other than looking just like a Bugatti.
More details illustrate the pure engineering and design prowess that Jorn considers essential to his brand. The base plate of each speaker, for example, weighs over 200 pounds on its own. Yet one underlying theme of TIDAL for Bugatti kept emerging during our discussion–you can’t really know what goes into this speaker until you look inside. No TIDAL for Bugatti owner will probably buy a pair of these speakers and disassemble them, but if they did they would see the same remarkable attention to detail that’s on the outside.
Then Jorn brought out the book on TIDAL for Bugatti. Not a brochure, but a bound hardcover book. This is an elegant coffee table book, filled with rich images of the TIDAL for Bugatti products–the custom finishes, the tiniest of details in the design, the story behind the project, everything you need to know. Every audiophile should read this book just to know the possibilities of speaker design.
For Jorn Janczak, that’s the passion behind what he does. By going to extreme lengths to accomplish perfection, he’s created a transducer without compromises. These aren’t speakers that will make everything sound great. TIDAL Audio speakers are already known for possessing an almost flawless sound–when I hear a TIDAL system, the first word that pops into my mind is “perfect.” I rarely think of a single criticism. You can call that neutral, but it goes just a little deeper than that. Flaws aren’t masked. Weaker components in the playback chain aren’t coddled. It’s all about reproducing what’s there. When you hear a TIDAL Audio system, you walk away with a sense of hearing the truth, or at least as close as we can get to this truth at this point in history.
Bugatti certainly recognized that perfection. TIDAL Audio wasn’t the only high-end audio manufacturer approached for this project. But when Jorn presented a previously existing design that was inspired by Bugatti, the response was: “If this isn’t Bugatti, we don’t know what is.”
I mentioned to Jorn that my personal affinity for integrated amplifiers is based on the idea that an additional set of interconnects can often be a greater sonic compromise than a shared power supply. For TIDAL Audio, however, an integrated amplifier is not in the cards. Jorn believes that the far better solution is powered speakers with a controller/preamp/server/DAC/streamer. That, of course, made me reconsider my current amplification preferences because it makes so much sense.
TIDAL for Bugatti is more than a pair of speakers, it’s a complete system. TIDAL Audio, of course, makes amplifiers and digital products, and ideally you’d preserve that “perfection” by keeping it in the family. The MC-1 controller in the TIDAL for Bugatti system was developed from the ground up, to perfectly complete the system. TIDAL for Bugatti speakers are themselves intrinsically-powered; we first heard a trickled-down variation of TIDAL’s unique class-D amplification when Dave McNair reviewed the groundbreaking (and award winning) Intra power amplifier.
The TIDAL for Bugatti system consists of the MC-1 controller and a pair of TIDAL Royale speakers optioned to your finish liking, for a complete system. The TIDAL for Bugatti system finish options are vast; including a choice of veneers, trim options, and Bugatti supercar color schemes, if so desired.
In fact, TIDAL Audio planned on debuting several new products along with the TIDAL for Bugatti system, which includes the TIDAL Arkas streamer and soon to be announced TIDAL Contros (a Digital Music Converter™, evolved from the MC-1) with volume control and streamer. A debut of the all-new TIDAL Audio Piano speakers, was also scheduled for the Munich show. We would expect many of the new technologies developed for the TIDAL for Bugatti system to be featured elsewhere in TIDAL branded products forthcoming.
So what will happen to TIDAL for Bugatti since the line couldn’t debut at High End 2022? Well, the plan is to do it all again next year. In the meantime, TIDAL is planning two US events in the coming year–one on each coast–and I’ll certainly be there to cover it. (I’ve also volunteered to come back to High End 2023 and complete my mission.) Just remember that this isn’t some pipe dream about a future product. The TIDAL for Bugatti system is a real thing, and they’re already selling and installing these systems in people’s homes. Once these clients see and hear how TIDAL for Bugatti performs, they have to have it–just like a Bugatti Chiron, I would imagine.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from HIGH END 2022, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.