Stenheim Alumine Three Loudspeakers, Einstein The Silver Bullet OTL Mono Amplifiers and The Pickup Phono Cartridge

There were two causes for excitement in Room 1534: the premiere of the Stenheim Alumine Three ($29,900/pair), the Swiss company's newest three-way floorstander, and the return of Einstein Audio to the US. The latter comes courtesy of its new brand ambassador, Walter Swanbon of Fidelis AV. The sound wasn't perfect—it was a little peaky on what may have been an unnaturally bright Deutsche Grammophon LP of Geza Anda playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No.17, but it was still wonderful (and, sadly, the only Mozart I heard at the show). That a totally different, winningly smooth sound came from Intervention Records' reissue of the LP Joe Jackson Live in New York suggests that an LP of someone else playing Mozart's PC No.17 might have been a better choice sonically.

The Einstein pieces, supplied by Danny Kaey, were many: Silver Bullet OTL monoblocks ($68,000/pair), The Preamp ($23,900), The Phono monoblock phono preamp ($16,900), The Arm ($7900), The Turntable ($12,000), The Cartridge ($7900), The Line Strip/Filter ($3300), The Integrated Amp ($22,000), The Power Amp (hybrid—$20,000), and The Tune Integrated Amp ($9000)—although I'm certain not all of these were in use during my visit.

zimmer74's picture

Jason, you auditioned both the Stenheim Alumine Three and the Alumine Five at the show. I realize the associated components were different, but can you compare the two speakers on some level? Most importantly, does the Five sound substantially better?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

The 5 sounded fabulous in its room with its associated equipment. That I enjoyed it more than the 3 means virtually nothing, given the different associated equipment. Bea Lam of VTL and the Nordost folks worked with Stirling Trayle for hours upon hours to position the 5s in absolutely the best spot. They were at it all day and night. I have no idea if the same time was available for the folks who set up the 3 with the Einsteins. The Einsteins may not have arrived until later in the day, for example. For all I know, were someone who has a dedicated listening room and the right equipment match to compare the 3 to the 5, they might end up liking the 3 more, at least in the frequency range that it shares with the larger 5.

This is why Stereophile insists that our reports are not reviews; they are simply snapshots in time.

zimmer74's picture

Obviously you're right, one can't make definitive judgments under show conditions. It's worth noting, however, that the Alumine Five performed so well driven by the 300-watt VTL tube amp. In his Stereophile review of the speaker, Art Dudley was using his 20-watt Shindo amp, justified by the high sensitivity of the Five (92 db). The review was somewhat equivocal. Perhaps the speakers thrive on more power.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stenheim Alumine bookshelf speakers were listed Class-A limited LF in Stereophile 2012 recommended components list :-) ........

zimmer74's picture

That ranking was the result of a Dudley review in 2012. So he is not averse to the brand. Nevertheless, his 2018 review of the much larger (and much more expensive) floorstanding Alumine Five model in 2018 did not result in a Recommended Components listing, in any category at all.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

True ......The reason for the 5 model not being ranked may be because, it was not measured? :-) ........

zimmer74's picture

There were no measurements because it was in the Listening column, not a stand-alone review. However, many components that are only evaluated in the columns of Dudley, Fremer, and Reichert, and not in their stand-alone reviews, make it into Recommended Components. Aside from performance issues, I get the impression that AD was turned off by the high price of the Five.