Crossroads of science, engineering and art: Raidho-Ansuz-Aavik. An overview by Ahmet Kip...
When I started this article, my intention was to write up a brief impression of a visit I made to Raidho-Ansuz facilities with the Turkish distributor of the brands, Ozan Turan of Audioavm, but it ended up to be a general review of their flagship models. I should confess that I was not expecting to be impressed so much to go into such detail.
Denmark is quite a small country – its population is far less than half of Istanbul, the city where I live. Nevertheless the country hosts several brands which continue to deeply affect the audio world with their sound quality and design: Ansuz, Aavik, Bang&Olufsen, Copland, Dali, Densen, Dynaudio, Gamut, Gryphon, Jamo, Ortofon, Peak Consult, Raidho, Scansonic and several others which have not sprung to my mind right away. I will leave the question of how so many world renowned brands can come out of such a small country to sociologists and economists. All I can say however is that, this nation does a superb job at whatever they do.
Raidho Acoustics speakers have made it to the league of legends in the audio world in the last few years. Editors of eminent audio magazines cannot hide their admiration of their musical performance. Raidho was amongst the most discussed and acclaimed brands in the Munich High End last year (2015). Each and every model that they demonstrated, all driven with Aavik U-300 integrated amplifier, had simply left everyone I spoke to in awe. To be honest, I was rather ambivalent after the presentation at Munich High End.
The Raidhos were definitely impressive and attractive, but was their performance a bit too eventful? Were they placing too much emphasis on some artifacts such as staging, imaging, focusing i.e. much liked by audiophiles but are not evident in live music? Nevertheless, I visited the Raidho suite three times –either as a result of the impressive presentation of Lars Kristensen (the brand’s partner in charge of sales) or the impact of the sound that pulled me there regardless of my reservations. Eventually I returned home to Istanbul with mixed feelings about the Raidho. Later, I listened to the D3 with Ypsilon Phaeton integrated amplifier in Istanbul. The speakers were brand new; I did not like the highs at all, thought this would be a result of the speakers not yet having burnt in and possibly to do with the cabling. The bass also felt a bit too much for the room. Perhaps the D3s needed a bigger room. It could even be a case of no chemistry. Although these reservations are minor and the overall presentation was very appealing, they certainly did not sound like this in Munich. I went to Denmark in this confused state.
I am not going to save this for the epilogue: the visit to Denmark was an incredible experience where science and technology met with music. Michael Børresen, the chief designer and the brain behind Raidho, Ansuz and Aavik brands and his business partners, i.e. the unique Lars Kristensen , who is renowned with his presentations and demos; Frits Dalmose (responsible for the sales of Ansuz products), who turned my views about cables upside down with his didactic demo; Per Mortensen, the name behind visual designs and brand communication; and Lars Venning, the person responsible for the sales of Dantax Group which Raidho is a part of, made me have two unforgettable days. In addition to their expertise in their fields, they also impressed me with their sincerity and hospitability.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BEHIND THE RAIDHO SPEAKERS
We landed at Aalborg Airport (so small that you walk to the terminal after disembarking) after a five hour flight. After a half hour drive from the airport we arrived in Pandrup where the headquarters of Raidho Acoustics is located. Following a short coffee break we went to the production area with Michael Børresen and proceeded to learn about the technologies of the different driver units. It is important to ask questions to Michael very cautiously as he starts to talk about electrons straight away and goes deep into physics. If you don’t have basic physics knowledge, you can find yourself nodding blankly after the first five minutes of trying to understand what he is talking about. I benefited from our conventional get-togethers to discuss interdisciplinary philosophy with scientist and philosopher friends in Istanbul for years; not only did I last longer I was even able to ask him a few not too stupid questions.
The main characteristic of the driver units of Raidho speakers is that powerful neodymium magnets are used in quasi-ribbon tweeters and also in mid/woofers where they are arranged in a push-pull configuration around a double wound titanium voice coil and their diaphragms are made of or coated with light but very stiff materials. It is not the first time we see cones in aluminium-oxide or ones coated with ceramic, but –and hold on tight– a diamond coated cone is an outright over the top idea. Yes, Raidho’s D (stands for diamond) series driver units each have 1.2 to 1.5 carats of diamond. I am not going to go into how diamond –known as the hardest and most enduring material on the planet (50 times harder and stiffer than ceramic)–can be used as coating material or with which technology they can be applied on the cones here. But I can say as much: this is neither technologically nor financially something that any speaker producer can accomplish. Raidho receives technological support from Tribology Center of the Danish Technological Institute, in exchange for a sizeable fee naturally. The diamond coating of the Raidho drivers’ membranes is done at the Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Laboratory of the Tribology Center, which is a state-of-the-art facility equipped with advanced machinery. Danish government should be respected for providing such opportunity to small entrepreneurs like Raidho. And this probably is an answer to my question of how so many world renowned brands can come out of such a small country.
In fact, the first application of diamonds is not Raidho’s. B&W and Avalon Acoustics (maybe few others as well) also have diamond high frequency drivers. The technology used by these manufacturers seems to be very similar, but the application is limited to the tweeters. The reason why Raidho coats its most high end driver units with diamond is actually the quasi-ribbon tweeter that they have developed and is accepted by audio society as one of the best in the world. The membrane of Raidho tweeters is so light (0.01gr), and the units work so fast and so free of distortion that the only possible way to integrate the mid and low frequency drivers with this extraordinary tweeter is to develop similarly lightweight but very stiff diaphragms. Thus, in theory, they remain linear and distortion-free up to much higher frequencies than cones coated with other materials i.e. ceramic (Raidho’s diamond coated midrange drivers are measured to have peak breakup a full octave higher than its ceramic drivers). This matters because the higher breakup modes of diamond drivers add less distortion to the nearly distortion free qusi-ribbon tweeter resulting a seamless transition between drivers.
Diamond coated drivers work extremely fast, almost in lightning speed, and have impressive micro dynamic presentation. In addition, Raidho’s mid/bass drivers are much smaller in diameter and have lower mass than conventional drivers, which results in less resonance for an articulate and tight low end performance.
I went into detail about the diamond coated driver units for a reason: If one day you buy Raidho D series speakers and your wife somehow finds out how much you paid for them, perhaps you can get away with it by saying, “Darling I actually bought these for you, there are so many carats of diamonds in here”. Joking aside, we are not talking about the diamond that is found on ladies’ rings, but industrial diamond, aka carbonite. The same diamond found in cartridge styli.
The crossover circuits are all made in-house and connected to the drivers in series configuration, again an unconventional approach as in most speakers the crossovers are configured in parallel mode. Børresen says applying the crossover circuits in series mode provides better integration between driver units.
Recently, with the .1 upgrade, which basically comprises modifications on the airflow management and motor system as well as upgrades to the suspension rings of the mid/bass drivers, and in crossover section, integration is carried to a higher level, resulting in a seamless blend between drivers. Also the sensitivity of certain models i.e. D2 and D3, which was criticized as being too low, is increased up to 89-90 db. Owners of D1, D2 and D3 can have their speakers upgraded for a certain fee, shipping them to the factory in Denmark. For the lucky owners of D5, upgrade will be done by the Danish team in their homes.
The lute shaped cabinets are made of thick medium density fibreboard, sectioned and heavily braced inside according to different acoustical requirements of the driver units and with ports on the rear (for 5.1, there are also two ports in the front). The input terminals are a single pair of recessed banana sockets for better connectivity, so forget about the speaker cables with spade lugs. The front baffles are made of aluminium for minimum resonance and the driver units except the tweeter are mounted from the back of the panels so you don’t see any nut heads in front. The quasi-ribbon tweeter is sandwiched between two layers of aluminium for ultimate rigidity. Børresen believes (well, actually he claims, since he does not believe in anything unless there is a strong evidence in practice) so claimed non-resonant close enclosure designs do not favour sound as they do not let the air behind the drivers flow freely. His design philosophy is based on his deep knowledge of resonance and can be summarized as “Let everything flow freely, just give them a path that works in favour of the music”. During a conversation on eliminating resonance, he gave an impressive example based on his previous professional carrier in Ortofon. He said. “Do you know how much mass you need to completely dampen the resonance generated by the tiny coil of a cartridge? You need a mass that equals to a volume of one m³ block of concrete.” So impressive an example that you better forget everything you know about resonance control in speaker design.
Just below the D series, Raidho also has relatively (!) lower priced C (Ceramic) and X series models. I did not get a chance to listen to these models in Denmark. Lars Kristensen gave us the opportunity to listen to the new versions of D series speakers (namely D1.1, 2.1, 3.1) in the demo that lasted a few hours. During the whole demonstration, the speakers were driven by Aavik U-300 integrated amplifier and the entire cabling was Ansuz Dtc series.
AMPLIFICATION - AAVIK U-300
Now a few words about the amplification: U-300 is a D class 300W/8 Ohm (600W/4 Ohm) power generating integrated amplifier. It has a very high quality DAC and a RIAA/phono stage that can work between 50 Ohm and 5kOhm) inside the heavy case. With three line inputs, one phono input, two RCA SPDIFs should you want to connect your digital source directly, two optical TOSLINK and one USB input, it is an equipment with many possibilities. In short, if you connect the U-300 to the system, you can accomplish almost everything at once, provided you can part with EUR 30,000. The U-300 is a very fast amplifier with extraordinary low end control and driving power, owing to its extremely low output impedance.
Lars Kristensen is rightly famous in the audio world for the music he chooses for his demos. He is not the type who tries to impress with audiophile recordings. He started the presentation with the smallest member of the D series, namely the D1.1. We embraced the music with an incredible sound stage and extraordinary clarity accompanied by a very tuneful and articulate bass that exceeds the size of the speakers. I left the room a few times to listen to the music from outside, something I always do in order not to fall for the sweet spot trap. Each time, I observed no change in overall tonality of the sound. But still, each time I found myself pulled back to the ideal listening position. The Raidhos have a weird attractiveness. The stage is so impressive, almost panoramic, that it makes one go back to the listening seat every time. Listening to a passage from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” I was startled and we looked at each other with Ozan Turan (brand’s Turkish distributor) and asked one another, “Where these back vocals really here?” They weren’t; at least in the system in my home. When I say they weren’t, I don’t mean that they were not audible (in fact they were). I mean the vocals literally not ‘being there’. I’m not talking about extreme detail or high definition either. What I’m talking about is the true existence of each and every musical element as an individual, while building a harmonious relationship with the rest, in an almost self denying fashion; a transcendental existence like Heidegger’s dasein, or maybe more like Zen philosophers’. It is probably the result of captivating inner detail. Witnessing such inner detail is hypnotizing. Am I getting too philosophical or too poetic? Well, I could have explained the whole experience with the lightning speed, integrity and the coherence of the drivers exhibiting such an extreme level of harmonic richness. That could have also helped to explain the technological trick behind the impressive bass performance of these tiny boxes. What I was hearing was not the true bass notes but their harmonics, so colourfully and so individually presented that it made me believe that I was hearing a deep and very articulate bass. But I made enough technical explanation on the driver units in the previous paragraphs, so I see no harm in talking philosophical or poetic, since I believe Raidhos are made for this.
I also noticed for the first time with the Raidhos that some of the old studio recordings of the Beatles are so musical and so nice to listen to, something that you rarely experience with most high end speakers. I felt privileged in a way as if I was sitting next to the sound engineer in Abbey Road Studios during the recording session of the track we were listening to.
We listened to the same tracks on D2.1 and D3.1 in the same order. I will not go into detail how bigger models sounded because the tonality of the sound did not change a bit, but each time the sound got larger and filled the room with more authority, and more true bass notes as the enclosures got bigger. The genetic composition of all Raidho models are so similar either in physical appearance or in musical performance that they reminded me of the Dalton Brothers in Lucky Luke (of course not with the level of their intelligence).
I would also like to share a few conclusions I got from my discussions with Michael Børresen and Lars Kristensen. Like every other speaker, the Raidhos also need to be carefully positioned, may be with a more meticulous effort to find the right place if you want to squeeze them to the last drop. They do have an advantage though, there is no need to leave too much space with the side walls –in fact Lars told me that they can be as near as 30cm.
Ideally, there should be 90cm space with the front wall (in the listening room where the demo took place the distance was much more). The speakers need to be sharply angled towards the listening position. An important point –for the ideal listening experience the distance between the speakers need to be more than the distance to the listening position. The equilateral triangle or the 0.83/1 ratio that some audiophiles have been lately claiming (distance between speakers should be 0.83/1 of the distance between the speakers and listening position) does not work here. Lars Kristensen gave the ideal ratio as 4/3. That is, four units between the two speakers, three units between each speaker and the listening position. In short, the Raidhos are typical near field speakers. All our listening took place in these ratios. Each model was placed exactly in the same position. Neither our seating position nor the speakers’ were changed as the cabinet sizes got larger. This is interesting: even if the bass response increases in the exact same set-up, the overall tonality of the sound does not change.
I don’t know if these guys made any painstaking acoustical measurements of room resonance to find out the optimum place to work well with all models. Even if –and most probably so, it is again about the consistency of the tonality of each and every model which is a result of the similarity of their design. I said to Michael at some point, “You are using the room as a speaker cabinet and the speakers as a driver unit.” He laughed and asked “Isn’t this the case with all speakers?” Who am I to disagree? After this intensive listening session we left the plant to meet for dinner that same night. If I were writing for a gourmet magazine, I would talk at length about the amazing food we tasted at CANblau Restaurant, where we were treated by our hosts that evening. I will only say that it was a meal fit to top up the excellent music we listened to all day.
I will pass on final judgement on Raidho speakers but I am saving this to the end. The demo I had the following day affected my views about audio so much that I prefer to evaluate the Raidho-Aavik-Ansuz trio as a whole at the end of this article.
ANSUZ ACOUSTICS: DESIGN MATTERS
Early next morning, we left for Aarhus to visit the Ansuz plant. Aarhus is a small city by the sea. There were not too many people around as it was the weekend. Frits Dalmose met us and we started the listening session after a short chat over coffee. But before moving on the listening, I would like to talk a bit about design principles of the Ansuz cables.
In all Ansuz cables, high purity cooper conductors are used. Michael Børresen seems to have placed a lot of emphasis on grounding, shielding and magnetic resonance which impacts the signal. With power cables (called Mainz), low induction number seems to be important for the signal path as Børresen says if on the mains cable they were able to make the current path going to the amplifier identical to the path going back to the mains outlet, then they would in theory have zero induction. As this is impossible in practice, they in Ansuz make the conductors going to and from, alternate in a double helix pattern, where neighbouring conductors have opposite direction (almost making a 90 degrees angle). This greatly reduces the induction to less than 50% of what the single conductors would have one way. That means for a 1m D series cable, a loop induction about 33nH (hope that means a lot to the engineers).
For signal cables (called Signalz) and speaker cables (called Speakz), design requirements are different. Børresen says for signal cables the most important issues are very low ground connection impedance, very good shielding and very good mechanical stability. The core of Ansuz cables is made up of a 10mm² multi strand ground wire. This wire provides powerful grounding, thanks to its extremely low resistance of 0.001 ohm at 1m. Børresen claims that good grounding between components is crucial as it will minimize any chassis potential differences and thus help to avoid ground currents flowing to the signal wires. With the speaker cables however, patterns that are applied to minimize the induction cause an increase in capacitance (not to unacceptable levels with Ansuz cables though). This may not be a big deal if you are not driving electrostatic speakers which in nature behave like large capacitances themselves. Does that mean Ansuz speaker cables are not suitable for ESLs? Honestly speaking I have no idea; neither did I discuss the matter with Børresen. All I know, they worked so non-existing, thus so convincing with Tannoy Canterbury GRs and Wilson Audio Sophia 2s at home (I tested the ceramics), that I purchased the complete loom. Wish I could have afforded the D-Level (diamonds) or wish they were not so insanely priced. I did not even dream of having the Dtc-Level. They don’t belong to this world.
LISTENING (IN TEARS)
So, coming to the demonstration; Frits first told me to sit on the sofa positioned opposite an area covered with a vertical blade partition. He then pressed the remote in his hand and the wonderful voice of Youn SunNah rose from behind the blinds singing Bitter Ballad; singing in such a remarkable reality, accompanied by a trumpet on left back, then towards the end of the track, a cello on the right, both playing so sadly. Frits asked me, “What kind of system do you think is playing behind the blinds?” He started to open the sliding blinds to the sides before waiting for my answer. First the electronics came to view: Naim integrated amplifier, CD player and power supply. When the blinds were completely open, a pair of speakers, only a few centimeters larger than hand span measurement positioned close to the sides: Scansonic MB-1. Scansonic is a reasonably priced speaker brand of Dantax Group which Raidho is also part of, with the genius of Michael Børresen behind their designs.
The synergy between the Scansonic speakers and Naim electronics is simply fascinating. I thought that one could easily live with such a simple system, without looking for more. But this was just the beginning. Frits then changed the power cords (whose brand he would not say) of the system with the Ansuz entry level X-Level power cords and started the presentation. Then he changed the interconnects. Then he connected an entry level (A-Level) Mainz8 power distributor to the system and then Sparkz Harmonizers to the empty sockets one by one. Each time the sound started to breathe more, became clearer and the stage got larger. Each time, it felt like a curtain was lifted between me and the sound. These changes did not need careful listening to notice, even ears with no audio culture could hear them. Interesting part was that whilst all this was happening nothing changed in the tonality of the sound. Bass did not increase, trebles did not shine, mid range did not get larger. It was really weird to be able to hear the differences at each level without an identifiable change in the sound. I had actually experienced this at home before. Same thing had happened when I connected Ansuz C-Level (ceramic) cables and D-Level Mainz8 power distributor to the system. I had witnessed with amazement how much had changed when in fact nothing had changed with the tonality, even with not burnt in cables. Of course it is much more impressive to observe these changes progressively. Frits’s presentation continued with the higher series P-Level cables. Again, I observed the changes that I could not name with amazement. Then we took a short lunch break and returned to the listening session.
For the second session, we moved to another room and started to listen to the Raidho D1.1 connected to Aavik U-300 integrated amplifier. First A-Level (aluminium) cables, then D-Level (diamond) Mainz8 power distributor, Sparkz Tesla Coil Harmonizers, and Darkz resonance control feet. Things were getting even more interesting. Whenever I said, “Incredible sound”, Frits would change something else in the system or add something else and the result was getting even more amazing. I was stuck to the sofa. At some point he said to me, “Why don’t you go out to get a coffee, I will change the amplifier.” When I returned, Aavik’s C-300 pre and P-300 power amplifiers were connected to the system. I will not go into detail about the amplification. The P-300 is an A class amplifier generating 150W power at 8Ohm. The C-300 is equipped with internal phono and DAC stages like the integrated version. We started to listen to the same albums in order again. The sound quality which I had been admiring until then reached an even more impressive level. Then Frits connected the C-Level and D-Level cables in that order, positioned Darkz D-Level resonance control feet under the equipment. The system started to play unbelievably real and breathing music. I should remind at this point that we were still listening to the D 1.1s, the smallest Raidhos. It was one thing to listen to vocals, jazz trios or quartets, but even symphonic music?! The symphony orchestras played with an incredible dimension and awe inspiring reality.
This time Frits connected Dtc-Level (Diamond Tesla Coil) power cords, which is Ansuz’s newest product (some parts of which were still in prototype stage). Side walls, back wall –they all vanished leaving just a large orchestra and us sitting in the front middle, surrounded by music. I jumped with an unexpected attack from the brass instruments (it was a passage from Ravel’s Rhapsodie Espagnol, if I’m not mistaken). Such a musical fortissimo at the speed of lightening but without a single hint of disturbing sharpness took me to heaven. I had very rarely (or not) heard a system –other than the custom made Ypsilon system at George Heropoulos’s house in Athens, mentioned in my previous article and still fresh in memory– where the brass instruments produced such a life like fortissimo. The main difference between two was the experience provided by the Raidho-Aavik-Ansuz trio was very personal almost as if listening to music on earphones whereas with the Ypsilon system more like a sharing event. Here the credit shouldn’t go to a single component or cables or tweaks. It is the synergy of everything contributing to the system –very much the same as Ypsilon system. Fortissimo of brasses in a large orchestra is a torture test for speakers –or should I say audio systems, as the matching speed of components seems to be one of the real issues. I have heard many audio systems with hyper detail and hyper price tags that couldn’t overcome the issue of matching speeds. The result was unmusical-unpleasant high frequencies though they were presented in extreme detail. Talking about speakers individually, it is also the result of low breakup modes of mid range drivers, unavoidably carrying some distorted frequencies to the tweeter. What is unpleasant about such presentations is that, some brass notes that already tend to sound harsh are heard ‘not being there’ at the right place. They do not exist as themselves in the space, but rather as the sound of speaker speaking on behalf of them. This I call “the loss of air” in music. And the synergy of the system apart, Ansuz cables do deliver the air.
I stood up and said something like, “Extraordinary, fascinating!”
This must have been where science, technology and art met. Frits looked at me jokingly and said, “We are not done yet, we will add the Dtc interconnects.” At that point I lost myself, turned to Ozan and furiously said, “Is this guy making fun of us?” Then I left the room, thinking he was not really taking us seriously. I went outside and lit a cigarette. Ozan Turan appeared next to me in a few minutes and said, “I had the same reaction and left the room exactly at the same point when I was listening to the same demo last week.” When we returned, Frits had connected the Ansuz Dtc-Level interconnects and was waiting for us. He ended with Bitter Ballad, the song he had started the session with in the previous room with the Scansonics. Youn Sun Nah was singing with such emotion, helplessly rebelling her suffering, the trumpet and cello were playing in such sorrow, as if they were playing in tears, I could hardly hold myself not to cry. I could not get up for a while after the song ended. I could only say “This trumpet, this cello, they are crying”.
We had such an intense day and were so tired that we felt completely drained and fell asleep on the drive back to Aalborg in the evening (thanks God Per Mortensen was driving the car).
The Raidho speakers –accompanied by Aavik and Ansuz in my experience– possibly provide one of the most impressive and mesmerising musical experiences in the audio world today. Their presentation is extremely honest and very true to the music. Their macro and micro dynamics are exemplary. Their staging and imaging capabilities that I am not usually crazy about are addictively impressive, even for a contrarian like me, simply because they present these so called ‘non musical artifacts’ so artfully infused into the music that they become an inherent part of it. Their trueness to the original sounds of the instruments leaves one in awe. They make music an extraordinarily personal experience with near field listening and at the end they leave you behind with a profound musical satisfaction. I don’t know how much you like listening to live performance from the first row (I personally don’t, I prefer 8th-10th rows), but this is exactly the experience the Raidhos provide. Naturally you find yourself concentrating your attention on what is happening at the front of the stage, but that should not mean the back stages are handled as secondary; they also display everything that is taking place in the back stage with amazing detail if that is where you are concentrating on.
With this presentation, I must add that they should be extremely attractive for the mankind of the 21st century getting more and more introverted and isolated (take a look at the explosive increase in headphone sales, it will make my point clearer). Of course, this attraction has a price –both literally and metaphorically. Firstly you should have a thick wallet. Then a top notch amplifier that is very transparent to the source with a matching speed is needed. Do not consider low current amplifiers with high output impedance although Raidhos’ impedance do not fall down to indecent levels (>6 Ohm for D 1.1, >4 Ohm for 2.1, >5 Ohm for 3.1 and >6 Ohm for 5.1). You should keep in mind that they are not the kind of speakers that you can easily drive to their full potential. Finally –to my subjective opinion– they need meticulous attention with the set up.
I may not be able to reach a correct judgement on the Aavik amplifiers since I have not listened to them with speakers other than Raidhos, but as I stated before, they work incredibly well with them. Before all, they have an impressive driving power. Their output impedance is so low that (stated as 0.001Ohm for the P-300, yielding a ridiculously high damping factor of 8000 at 8Ohms) obviously they will result in incredible low end control with any speaker. But low end control is not a skill related to damping the bass driver alone. It is also about harmonics in higher frequencies accompanying the basic bass note. In fact what we hear as the bass is generally these accompanying harmonics. So the ability of an amplifier driving the high frequency units properly becomes mandatory when low end control is concerned. In this regard Aavik amplifiers do an impressive job as I mentioned before when discussing the fortissimo of brasses. In terms of qualities such as musicality, rich tonality, staging, imaging i.e. which should actually be related to speakers, they are amongst the highest level of amplifiers in my view (I have always found it odd to use such conventional audiophile terms for amplifiers; these are actually terms about the quality of sound and make sense in terms of speakers since they are the only sounding devices in the audio chain. Amplifiers do not have sound).
Now on Ansuz cables and accessories: What impressed me the most in Denmark and shook my audio beliefs was the Ansuz presentation of Frits Dalmose. With each cable change, I witnessed the music breathing more and more and then some without touching tonality or affecting any frequency. The differences were not subtle. With every change towards an upper model, it seemed like a component in the audio chain moved to a higher level. With every higher model, I felt a step closer to the truth of music. The music became something that enveloped me, rather than something I was listening to. This is not an effect that can be explained by usual audio terms (perhaps it should be called ’effectlessness’!). I can imagine many audiophiles complaining about not hearing what they paid for. And this is exactly what Ansuz stands for, so that you don’t hear. I can say the same things about the resonance control feet and cable lifters. The most impressive amongst them though were the Mainz8 D-Level power distributor and Sparkz Dtc harmonizer. Being an incorrigible sceptic in cable and tweak legends, I must confess that Ansuz products are nerve-rack impressive as they do deliver what they claim.
I never owned headphones other than the ones that come as standard package with smart phones (actually, I had purchased an audiophile pair in my youth, but I never used them). I cannot listen to music with headphones. To know that no one else can hear what I am listening to unsettles me. Besides I cannot stand the thick band that goes above my head. Put aside the thick band, I cannot even wear a hat. To stay still in the same place connected to a cable is impossible as it makes me feel cramped. Because of this terrible feeling of being cramped, I cannot take long plane journeys. The longest I can sit still in the ideal listening position is not more than half an hour. I can work on the perfect positioning of the speakers for the sweet spot for days or weeks, but I listen to music least in there. I don’t know whether to get mad at or to appreciate the Raidho speakers which seduced me to sit at the exact same position on the sofa and pull me back every time I left my seat to walk around throughout the hours I was exposed to their performance. I asked myself several times why I went back to the listening seat despite hearing a perfectly balanced sound everywhere in the room. As a person who does not like listening to music with headphones, why was I so impressed with these speakers that made me feel so? Am I getting lonelier? Did I like being isolated from my surroundings? Does the feeling of ‘they are only playing for me’ strike my ego? I don’t know. All I know is that they are extremely addictive. All in all, I went to Denmark confused and came back confused.
Leaving philosophical talks and personal obsessions aside and being objective; Ansuz-Aavik-Raidho are three truly music lover brands that do not follow novelty for the sake of it and that use technology in a meaningful and honest way. It is obvious that they work in incredible synergy with each other. If you are one of those lonely and isolated people of the 21st century (and which one of us is not), if you cut off your connection to the world and others when listening to music, and finally if you have the financial means to go into the ultra high end world, I strongly advise you to get to know and hear these audio gems. Amongst dozens of very expensive up market competitors, they are truly rare examples that can bring you the real music. Or should I say, inject it into your soul?
Text: Ahmet Kip - Senior contributing writer