Andromeda Design Visit Report by Ron Resnick

My audiophile friend from London, Kedar, and I became acquainted via an audio forum with Henk Jan Netjes of Andromeda Design, an up-and-coming builder of ambitious full-range, floor-standing speakers.

While visiting Amsterdam we decided to check in on Henk Jan and listen to his loudspeakers. We also understood that Henk Jan is a reel-to-reel tape aficionado, and we never like to miss an opportunity to hear tape.

Henk Jan's system consists of a CAT SL1 Legend preamp, a CAT JL2 stereo amp with KT-150s, a Meitner streaming device, a Studer A80, a Studer B67and a huge Telefunken tape machine from a broadcast studio.

From the Andromeda Design website as well as from our discussion with Henk Jan we know a lot of details about the Andromeda Design XPE loudspeaker:
-- ultra-stiff and non-resonant monocoque, four-way loudspeaker with an M-T-M configuration-- cabinet is made from 40 mm HPL (phenolic resin composite) solid plates, braced inside with HPL, as well-- each speaker weighs almost 300 kg-- midrange driver membranes are made of stiff proprietary natural fibers which have a natural sonic presentation-- the woofers are made in Germany and are 11 inches and 12 inches in diameter, with non-resonant membranes with a natural presentation, and a very low resonance frequency-- the tweeters are a soft-dome type with a ring radiator design-- the speakers stand on top-of-the-line finite element cerabase classic devices, 70 mm wide at the bottom so they will not leave an imprint on solid wooden floors-- because of the heavy, inert cabinet and the natural presentation from the drivers distortion through speaker resonance has become a thing of the past with the XPE design at whatever SPL-- the bass response of the speaker can be tuned for different environments/rooms: the bass reflex port system consists of two pipes which can be used together or used separately; for difficult environments the system can function as a closed system in which the port opening can be closed completely-- bass reflex pipes are machined out of high grade aluminium alloy and then clear anodized-- high overall efficiency of +/-93 dB-- high impedance cross-over design with first order cross-overs-- XPE is easy to drive and will show its full potential with 18-20 watts minimum, making it a good partner for SET amps as low as 18 watts-- dimensions including footers: height 1345 mm, wide 300 mm, deep 670 mm, with sloping front for improved dispersion-- the speakers arrive packed in professional wood crates and they can be wheeled out of the crates -- price is 49.900 euro a pair and the luxury version is 53.200 euro a pair; these are consumer prices including VAT
On this brief listening session with unfamiliar music (Kedar and I brought our usual audition LPs but Henk Jan does not have a turntable) we thought the speakers sounded really good! We were particularly impressed with the speed and resolution of low frequencies. The combination of the 11" and 12" drivers mounted in a heroically inert phenolic resin cabinet resulted in tight, fast, detailed bass response.

The midrange sounded natural and detailed. We did not have the sense that one frequency range was emphasized over another. 

Henk Jan's room is very lively due to a hardwood floor and five, large glass doors spaced across the front wall of the room and the right side of the room. We believe these hard surfaces were causing reflections which resulted in somewhat unclear sound-staging and in a bit of artificial brightness. I strongly suspect that damping these reflections would allow the soft-dome tweeter to reveal a transparent but natural and unfatiguing presentation, and permit sonic images to solidify. 

Overall the design and construction and excellent bass frequency qualities of the XPEs reminded me of Rockport Technologies speakers. The XPE speakers are beautifully finished and are completely professional and high-end looking.

In the list price range of €50,000 I think the XPE is a good value and delivers wonderful sound.

We also enjoyed comparing and contrasting the sound from Henk Jan's three reel-to-reel tape machines. 

If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam and you are looking at full-range speakers you definitely should call Henk Jan and ask for a demonstration!

Ron Resnick - Mono and Stereo Senior Contributing Reviewer

Henk Jan Netjes - Owner

Andromeda Design
Wolbrantskerkweg 80 D
1069 DA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Telephone: +31 06 24478548