Innuos, Gryphon, Nagra, Kroma, and Stromtank elicit wows

Less than a week after visiting the Innuos factory in Portugal—report and video forthcoming—I had the opportunity to audition their products again in Munich. This time, the speakers were more full-range and superior in quality, and the associated electronics all top-level.

To get the best it could out of its servers and streamers, Innuos’s Nuno Vitorino and Amelia Santos powered all front-end components with two Stromtank S-2500 Quantum MK-II power regenerators that supplied pure, computer-regulated battery power. Nor would I discount the effects of an Artesania Exoteryc Pro Rack and Transparent XL & Reference line cabling on the system’s sound.

Their choices paid off. Thanks in no small part to a Nagra HD DAC X (€64,500), Gryphon Commander preamplifier (€66,400), massive Gryphon Apex stereo power amplifier (€102,300), and Kroma Irya speakers (€178,5000/pair), the Innous system was one of the best I encountered in Munich. To give but one of many examples, it depicted horns in Mahler with realistic size and weight as well as timbre. The lowest bass wasn’t completely in control, but everything above it sounded clean, transparent, and superbly musical. You should have heard the system post-show hours, when Nuno and team were able to crank up the already significant volume to rock concert levels.

In a second visit to this room, I joined other visitors in comparing the sound of the new ZENith NG music server/streamer (from €15,000) with PHOENIXnet audiophile network switch (€3599) to the Statement NG music server streamer (from €20,000), again with the PHOENIXnet audiophile network switch enhancing the sound. (Innuos recommends using the two together.) All cabling was identical.

The ZENith NG has a completely redesigned motherboard and represents a major advance over the ZENith MK3 music server/streamer (from €5099). Listening to Mario Bondi and the High Five Quintet’s tiresome “This is What You Are”—Bondi either sounds like a second-rate Frank Sinatra or a Sinatra clone singing second-rate material that deserves to live and die in Vegas—the Statement NG had a warmer, fuller, smoother, less splashy sound with more color contrast and midrange refinement. On the other hand, the ZENith NG appeared to have greater focus. Depending upon the system and room it’s in, I can see how some might prefer the ZENith NG’s top to the Statement NG’s.

A bit on the speakers. After developing products for 40 years, Javier Millan teamed up with his son to found Kroma [] in Spain in 2019. The company currently distributes its line in 18 countries and Matterhorn Audio Group is the US distributor.

As big as Kroma Irya speakers are, the company has a larger model currently in production and another in development. The Irya claims a frequency response of 19Hz–27kHz –2dB, 91dB sensitivity, and 4 ohm nominalimpedance. Most of the company’s other speakers are named for operatic characters. Its drivers and tweeter are manufactured to their specifications by Mundorf and Purifi. “Silence and control are the two defining features of our designs,” I was told.