Exclusive interview with Sven Boenicke - Boenicke Audio


How it all started and when did Boenicke Audio enter the high-end audio industry? 

It started as tinkering around with loudspeakers when I was around 14. The company was founded in 1999.

What was the reason of becoming speakers manufacturer?

Building speakers seemed most accessible to me, at a teenager age. Making a speaker that produces sound is very easy, that’s why there are so many brands. It becomes a bit more difficult if you decide to try to stand out.

Any strong past and present inspirations?

It is always the sound I hear at live performances when I do recordings that inspires me to push the envelope even further to recreate this somewhere in the 90% of the original, at home.


Do you consider yourself as an audiophile?

I am more a tonephile. I am in love with true tone.

Kindly list your current products portfolio.

Speakers: W5, W8, W11, W13.

To come soon (cables already available):
  • P1 and P3 power amps
  • I2 integrated amp
  • S1, S2 and S3 speaker cables
  • IC 2 and IC3 interconnects
  • C2 digital analog converter

Plus something very hot for power supply distribution/conditioning about which I cannot yet say more ;-)

How would you describe the sound difference between your entry level speakers and the flagship ones?

One can clearly hear that they come from the same creator. The flagship will have something like 20 - 30 times the enclosure volume than the W5, so totally different things become possible.

Does form follow the function with Boenicke Audio?

Yes, we always try to keep the baffle as slim as possible, and the speakers are reclined by about 5° for acoustical time alignment between drivers. Plus, they have a very high WAF, which is important for selling.


Would you say that the same DNA is spread across all of your products?

Absolutely. they are all concepted by the same person and I always try to create minimum compromise for a given budget and form factor (size of product).


Made in Switzerland. Is it still very important?

According to our sales partners all across the world, we believe so, yes.

Do you manufacture everything in house?

No.

Please tell us more about your crossover designs?

Paramount is correct tonality of the speakers. that means tonally a piano that we record has to sound like the original piano. For this, you need a certain frequency response in an average listening room - which is not at all the flat line, by the way! So we use as many parts in the crossover that we need to achieve this, but we always try to achieve it with as few parts as possible! In the SE and SE+ versions, we use even higher quality crossover parts where it is most important.

1st order ?

Not always. but never steeper than a special version of second order.

Sealed speaker design vs bass reflect etc?

Sealed only works active, unless you want a huge cabinet, which we do not tolerate. Bass reflex is a necessary trick if you want to go deep at moderate volume sizes. but sealed is certainly better.

Exotic parts and materials?

Plenty! We do believe that there is no other speaker manufacturer that uses so many tricks to improve reproduction as we do.

Why do you use wood for the enclosures in the era where there are so many other materials?

For two reasons:

1) Sonics. we have not come across any other material that delivers the same sonic results. Damping is NOT an important factor!

2) Ease of making a perfect finish. Our surface quality is better than most lacquered products, and much more environmentally friendly.


What are the benefits of an active bass system?

- you can go with sealed approach in small enclosures
- possibility of custom tailoring bass response in volume, EQ, room modes correction, delay, etc.
- you can alleviate the main amp of delivering bass energy, which will in most cases make it sound better. 

Woodcone bass-midrange driver is not that often implemented. Please tell us more… 

Probably more special than the wood cone itself is the voice coil former, which is made from paper and it's extremely rarely seen. Tt’s sonically critical but forgotten by most.

How about the optional electromechanical parallel resonator?

It is not optional, it comes with EVERY Boenicke speaker. The SE and SE+ have even more of them, and also in series. It’s a totally unique device and I am aware only of one person who is capable of making them (they are not made in house). They are correcting and even add harmonic overtone structures to the signal - with greatest sonic improvements.


Analog vs digital?

Oh, that’s my favorite ;-) Both can be superb, both can be very bad. But if you mean vinyl against digital, then the analog tape is the winner. I have not yet heard a vinyl playback which offered new horizons for me personally compared to our digital recordings, made with our own, most radical recording equipment from microphones to recording computer, and then played back on our system including own DAC, which was made in close collaboration with audio consulting, Switzerland.


Tubes vs Solid State?

Another favorite ;-) Same again, both can be really good or really bad, depending on how it’s done. In my opinion and some of the world’s leading, true experts, properly done class D can be the winner. Our amps try to show that.

Please tell us more about your electronics. 

This would lead too far for the moment, in due time all info can be found on our website. What I can say now is that all electronics are co-developed with world leaders (that does not mean they are well known) in what they are doing. So it is quite a unique amalgam of about 5 brains, and you can expect truly unique products, not any less than our speakers. State-of-the-art battery powering will play a big role.


Your recordings are famous and an epitome for the quality. Can you tell us more about it?

Here i would like to link to this: link.

How far have we come with reproduction vs reality?


Funnily this quite heavily depends on the room where the music is beign reproduce. In a small room, you cannot recreate the immersive feeling of a classical concert, recorded in a big venue, no matter how good the recording and the playback system is. Yet, if you place a good stereo setup in a church, and play church music, most people would not be able to tell if it’s live or playback. If we record a bandoneon, for example in a dry room any play it back in our demo room in basel, we are at 90-95%.

Would you say one’s love and passion for music reflect into his products?

Not only this. The energetic „fingerprint“ (aura) and his or her belief 's sets of a person's crafting a product goes into the product as well. We can „tune“ equipment with our hands only. Everybody aware of this feasibility can do this, to a degree!

How important is the room acoustic in achieving the state of the art sound?

It is important, mainly below say 150 hz. Above this, only this general rule can apply: for best results, the room acoustics should mimic the recording venue’s acoustics. If you play Yello in a church, it will just be a mess. If you play Nystedt's Immortal Bach in a small dry room, it won’t be really immersive.

I generally like rooms that are not too dry above upper bass.


What sets the Boenicke Audio apart from the competition?

The fact that i have probably spent more time recording live music than most other manufacturers. So that’s the benchmark for me - nothing else. Plus I would say it is my talent to recognize other’s talents - that is why we have valueable colaborations with some suppliers that most other manufacturers do not even know of. I have absolute hearing when it comes to color in a tone.


All the specialties and gimmicks we use in our products are just means to become able to recreate the beauty found in original music.

It is NOT true that a system is perfect if it does not add anything, because in most recordings a lot is already lost. So you HAVE to add some things to bring the beauty back. hence the resonators, for example (which has NOTHING to do with coloration in the sense the audio world knows the word).


What are the most demanding challenges with running the high-end audio company?

Although this might sound weird: in production keeping up with the demand and to make sure all products arrive worldwide in perfect condition. Transport companies are often less and less caring.

Who would you say are the Boenicke Audio speakers's customers?

Typically people who have tried out a lot and have always been left behind looking for the missing link. Those who are tired of ever-changing systems trying to find that link.

Mature and experienced listeners who can tell the difference between „resolution“ and distortion. And those who feel our approach „what you see is what you get“ is valuable. If it looks like real wood - is real wood.


Is classical music the ultimate reference material to judge any speaker system?

I cannot say yes or no, it is not that simple. Speakers can be tested for so many acoustical factors that you need a huge variety of sounds, not only frequency-wise.

With live applause, you can tell a lot about acoustical phase linearity for example, about the polar frequency diagram and acoustical linearity (not measured linearity!).

  • With cello, you can say a lot about enclosure behaviour if there is boxiness or not.
  • With drums, you can say a lot about liveness and quickness.
  • With piano, you can say a lot about again enclosure behavior and general acoustical linearity.
  • With our live-recorded fireworks, you can say a lot if a speaker immediately breaks trying to reproduce explosive dynamics down to almost infrasound. 
  • And so on...

What would you say that it's your most proud achievement?

To appear on the front cover of the most prestigious German magazine, without having bought a single add or having had a single dealer (back then). That usually simply does not happen ;-).


How would you describe the difference between hi-fi, high-end and ultimate high-end audio?

Lots of artifacts that tell you every second you are listening to technical equipment. Less of that. Even less of that. Your body opens up so music can flow in unimpeded, and it can even nourish your physical and mental energy system.


Where is the borderline of transparency and proper sound balance?

In a really good system, it is not about either/or. Either a lot of resolution at the expense of the absence of listening fatigue. The true resolution does not sound like what most people think of when they hear the term resolution. They hear distortion, timing- and material-sound mismatches between drivers that yield artifacts, that sound like „a lot of resolution“ for the less mature listener. True resolution is just music - not more, not less. I wonder how many people think of resolution when (if?) they go to the concert hall?


How do you refine, voice and fine tune your products?

Final voicing is always done with our recordings, of which I have the original tone in my memory, for a long time. If I do change or add tuning components all I have to do is to judge if that change brought me closer to the original or not. This is actually quite a simple process, but it requires the necessary listening and memorizing skills.

How do you see the current state of the high-end audio industry?

Hmm, I have to admit, that I don't think of that a lot. For us, it is good that more and more manufacturers think how they can do it with the help of "high tech“. This is not my way of doing it, as it doesn't bring beauty to the tone. In this regard, I do not think that the high-end industry has made any significant progress overall in the last say 30 or 40 years.


What does future hold for Boenicke Audio?

A lot! Many new products are coming out so somebody can buy full systems from us, except turntables and streamers. We might even do a CD player, but that is not quite sure.

I have a flagship speaker in my mind that will also come out sometime next year. It will redefine a few things ;-)

Any last thoughts for our readers? 


When you try to judge and compare systems, try not to listen too closely. Try not to go look for this or that tiny difference.

Try to observe your body if it reacts joyfully, maybe even goosebump-rising or eye-watering to the music. That is the most secure indicator if you will be happy with a system long-term or not. Thank you for taking the time to read this interview!