Tidal's New Contriva G3 Loudspeaker

Tidal (technically pronounced "tee-dahl" rather than "tie-dull") of Germany, headed by Jörn Janczak and repped in the US by Doug White, arranged two private displays for press and distributors. Jim Austin got to hear the forthcoming Tidal for Bugatti system, which includes the company's forthcoming cost-no-object loudspeaker. For this Stereophile reviewer, however, Tidal demmed the system that included the company's new Contriva G3 loudspeakers ($79,000/pair) with the Contros Digital Controller ($60,000), Intra Stereo Amplifier ($28,000), and Tidal Reference XLR, power, and speaker cables.

The Contriva G3, which sits in the middle of Tidal's line, includes all-new drivers. "Every element of the speaker, including its polished stainless steel, serves a sonic purpose," White told me. "Think of it as a speaker for grown-ups who don't want a colored sound. Which doesn't mean that you can't choose electronics and other elements that will color it as you wish."

Through its all-proprietary drivers and attractive shiny cabinet, the Tidal Contriva G3 played a Red Book stream of Yosi Horikawa's "Bubbles" that sounded extremely fluid but a bit more toned down than on my admittedly hot reference system. Yo-Yo Ma's cello, on his performance of Bach's Suite No.1 in G Major for Unaccompanied Cello, sounded extremely convincing with correct tonal balance. That's another way of saying that I was quite impressed. I also discovered that once volume was turned up a bit, far more natural color emerged. This phenomenon, which seemed related to room acoustics and choice of dampening devices, was encountered in many rooms at the show.

"We wanted to make it sound more refined and disappear more," Janczak told me. "The Contriva G3 is designed for rooms that range from 30 to 60 square meters. Ultimately, our products are expensive because they're expensive to make."

The Contriva G3 is a 3-way loudspeaker with a 30mm Gen3 diamond-diaphragm tweeter with an under-hung neodymium motor, a 173mm Gen4 black ceramic-diaphragm midrange with an under-hung neodymium motor, and two 220m carbon-fiber/aluminum-cone woofers with long-excursion under-hung neodymium motors. The speaker's nominal impedance is 4 ohms.

The Contros Digital Controller, which was released during the pandemic, includes a fully discrete class-A output amplifier and a 32-bit non-oversampling 8×R2R ladder DAC that supports multiple formats including PCM, PCM MQA, and DSD. The reference Intra dual stereo power amplifier, also launched during the pandemic, includes fully discrete front-end class-A amplifier with a class-D output stage. It includes four amplification channels for three different modes and has four XLR outputs. The Intra is specified as outputting 340Wpc into 8 ohms and 670Wpc into 4 ohms.