AudioNec, DarTZeel, Hemingway, Graphite Audio

“Hitting the ground running” is a suspicious phrase at High End Munich. The show is humongous, a beast, four large buildings with three floors apiece crammed to the rafters with every imaginable audio brand, many unknown to me and most American hi-fi fans. Thankfully, a smart app and a well-organized show prevented total meltdown on day one.

AudioNec? I wanted to say “oh my aching neck” after a long flight, but this room with its massive dual computer server/DAC and substantial modular floor-standing speakers put my body at ease.

The setup included the world premiere of The Ultimate server/DAC (€135,000). It fed a DarTZeel CTH 8550 MKII Integrated Amplifier ($41,800) and the DarTZeel NHB 108 stereo amplifier ($18,000). They biamped AudioNec’s French-made Evo 3 Signature Floorstanders (€145,152/pair). Cables were Hemingway Z-core Sigma, isolation platforms and cable isolation stands by Graphite Audio.

The AudioNec Ultimate is a dual-computer server/DAC which includes “double computers working in a mirror,” stated the press release: "One dedicated to music storage and music interface with Roon audio player. One dedicated to analog audio stages and digital processing with HQPlayer. All files are DSD512-converted when played.” The machine includes ample storage on SSDs.

The AudioNec EVO modular speaker system ranges from a compact model featuring a single 8” woofer and tweeter to a dual-tower configuration with a tweeter, eight ScanSpeak woofers per side, and SB Acoustics subwoofers. The EVO 3 Signature model (92dB with an 8 ohm load) incorporates a DuoPole 31 tweeter housed in a distinctive, circular paper enclosure/grille and supports four bass drivers arranged in a D'Appolito-inspired configuration. Additional woofers and subwoofers can be added to enhance the system.

Whether streaming banjo saboteur Bela Fleck, pianists Kate and Marielle Labeque, Icelandic pop vocalist Emilíana Torrini, or that scourge of the jazz catalog Jazz at the Pawnshop, this massive system played music in an intimate, personal fashion. Music flowed from the racing-red speakers like clouds whizzing by on a sunny day.

The smooth-sounding, ultra responsive rig possessed a certain purity, with surprising dynamics and good tonal color. I didn't want to leave. But owner and designer Francis Chaillet, retail brand ambassador Herve Brasebin, and designer Namo Devourney had people waiting. They had more hi-fi fish to fry.  

daveyf's picture

If, a very big ‘if’, the Dartzeel NHB108 stereo amp is now priced at $18k, then I suspect a lot more hobbyists could enjoy this amp….naturally we are all holding our breath!