Göbel’s Divin Comtesse Loudspeakers and Sovereign Subs with Wadax Studio • Player, Pilium, and Kronos

Bad me. For the past two or three years, knowing that it would run too late, I’ve begged off the evening Göbel press dinner / factory visit. From what I understand, it was my loss. According to Adam Mokrzycki, the mastermind of the Warsaw Audio Show, Oliver Göbel’s factory set-up is among the most impressive he’s ever heard. I stand chastised, Oliver and Adam.

This is not to suggest that Göbel’s more modest set-up (by Göbel standards) at Munich High End, headlined by the world premiere of Göbel’s smallest floorstanders, the High End Divin Comtesse loudspeakers (€59,000/pair including 19% VAT) mated with a Divin Sovereign subwoofer (€29,000 each), was anything less than impressive. Thanks largely to an appropriate match between speaker and room size, it was the most successfully, beautifully controlled, stellar-sounding Göbel show set-up I’ve encountered to date.

Treated to an LP of mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke’s debut recital, the sound reaching my seat in the heavily treated room was a bit dry, but Cooke’s voice was perfectly clear and invitingly rich. That I was able to feel her inability to bring a smile and greater intimacy to her voice on the last verse of Mahler’s “Liebst du um Schönheit,” from the Rückert-lieder,” is a credit to the system.

Oliver Göbel explained that the Divin Comtesse use internal Helmholtz resonators and include an 8" bass driver with 2cm linear excursion. Sensitivity is 89dB, frequency response 28Hz–28kHz, impedance nominally 4 ohms dropping to 3.3 ohm at 100Hz. Each speaker weighs 75kg. The sub was used to reinforce rather than extend the speaker’s already deep bass.

Playing platters was a Kronos Discovery turntable ($100,000) with Kronos Discovery RS tonearm ($24,000) and ZYX Astro X cartridge ($15.000). Electronics were a Kronos Discovery phono stage ($70,000) and Pilium Olympus preamp ($64,000) with Pilium Atlas mono amps ($178.000/pair). Göbel cabling pulled everything into tip-top form.

Eventually, the new Wadax Studio • Player ($39,000) had its turn to shine. Digital was filled with color, with the transition from sun and shade and soft to loud beautifully controlled. Percussion, on an excerpt from Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, was optimal. The new Wadax, a bargain by Wadax standards, is a fully balanced, dual mono design that combines a CD/SACD disc player, streamer, and DAC. The DAC is “built upon the same digital-to-analog circuitry as the acclaimed Atlas Reference DAC.” Wadax claims a “dual-differential musIC 3 fixed point 128-bit-feed-forward error correction process, 0.5μV of total rail noise, user-adjustable gain and output impedance, and a Zepto Reference clock with only 12fs total jitter.