At the HIFI.NL editorial offices we are regularly contacted by readers and audio enthusiasts who would like to share their treasured hi-fi sets at home with our readership. Two of the latest audiophiles to open up their private audio oasis to us have been Marcel Donk (find out about his remarkable, self-constructed loudspeakers here) and Wim de Koning, who has been building high-end record players for years (which you can find here).
More recently, we were contacted by Rien in Rotterdam, who had something quite different to offer. His prized possession is not a personal design, but it is no less remarkable: the imposing Goldmund Satya active speakers.
Originele Nederlandse versie? Klik hier.
Photo: Captured by Vera - Vera van der Wal
Now, before we pop into our complimentary hotel slippers for a tour of both his apartment and his musical preferences, we have to introduce this edition of ‘HIFI.NL dropping in’ some more. We receive quite a humbling number of requests for these visits, so why did we pick Rien?
Well, there was one thing in particular that struck a chord with us, and that was a specific remark he made within the backstory of his new adventures in hi-fi: “…and so I returned my Magico speakers…”. After all, Magico is a widely renowned speaker brand high on people’s lists, so to us it was quite surprising to hear that a pair of these high-end Americans would be traded in again. We’d figured they would be more of a final destination rather than a stopover on the road to audiophile bliss, no? What’s going on here?
We had to find out. Well, here’s the good news. Rien reached out to us early January – when we were all living in quite a different world – so there was nothing to stop us from catching a train to Rotterdam. Care to join?
The Previous System
It's a rainy day in February when we knock on Rien's door, so we have to owe you the sunny snapshots of the gorgeous view his loft offers over the Erasmus Bridge and its surroundings. Maybe next time? For now, we do have a picture of the fancy slippers I was offered to protect the invaluable Italian floor that stretches out in front of me. You’re welcome.
Anyone who has been engaged in our shared hobby for some time will know that no hi-fi set is purchased ready-to-go. The long search for the proper set-up is one of trying, exchanging, expanding, replacing and tweaking. Rien’s story is no different, as many different brands and configurations have graced his listening room.
"My last set consisted of Spectral 30s mk II, dCS Rossini with clock (that in turn replaced the previous Wadia 781i), and an ML 538 power amp, wired with Ansuz Diamond power cords, interlinks and power blocks.” This was the musical engine that powered his Magico S3 floorstanders speakers, connected with Stealth Dream V10 speaker cable."I chose Magico to replace the Sonus faber Amati's I previously had, because of issues with bass reproduction in my 'hard', highly reflective room. The Magico's don't have a bass port, so the situation was considerably improved. I replaced my Wadia for difference reasons, mainly because I would no longer be able the replace the cd-drive if it would ever fail.”
Switching to a dCS Rossini had another effect: it put Rien squarely in team ‘streaming audio’, so the hardware wasn’t the only variable that changed. "I don’t ever want to go back. The ease and audio quality offered by music services such as Tidal and Qubuz, among others, is great." His vast collection of CDs, including a rare collection of Pete Namlook under the FAX label, is for sale now. "But if bids are too low, I’ll probably still keep them here."
On to Goldmund, as it is after all the main focus of our visit today. “Goldmund as a brand was previously known to me as a very precious and valuable, indeed almost unobtainable phenomenon that I had heard about a long while back. Then we crossed paths again as I was reading an issue of Music Emotion last year. I was immediately struck by both the beautiful design and the fact that you no longer need separate components or lots of cables. The sleek design also matches really nicely with our taste and knack for interior design, with a first-class WAF.
Photo: Captured by Vera - Vera van der Wal
“Suffice it to say our interest was piqued. Not long after that a third Goldmund encounter came a-calling when we found ourselves in Oostzaan looking for a new hardwood floor at a home furnishing store that happened to be across from PUURavd – the audio specialty store that imports Goldmund exclusively from Switzerland. The rest is history. My partner and I were really rather overwhelmed by the Satya set that was on demo at the time.”
The Goldmund Satya is a 3-way bass reflex system that boasts a massive 140 kilos per speaker. Yet its design and impressive construction have something subtle, blending in nicely with the modern interior of Rien’s apartment. They're quite like friendly little house robots. “Did you know they can also be found in a museum in New York, on permanent display?”, he says, referring to Goldmund's Apologue loudspeaker system. The unique design was included in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan in 1987.
Photo: Captured by Vera - Vera van der Wal
In Sanskrit, Satya means 'truth', with which the Swiss manufacturer seems to refer to the much-used credo 'as the artist intended it'. For that faithful reproduction Satya has three built-in Telos amplifiers made entirely out of aluminum; 1x Telos 175W for the tweeter, 1x Telos 175W for the midrange and 1x Telos 300W for the woofer.
"You can throw all the well-known audio jargon you have at it”, Rien says, reflecting on his first audio impressions of Goldmund Satya back at PUURavd. “Detail. Spaciousness. Stereo image. But, in the end, the sound just grabs you, and doesn’t let go.” So much so that that first experience immediately gave him the feeling that after a long and serious quest – which led past the likes of KEF, Audio Physic and Sonus faber – he had finally found the sound he had been looking for all those years.
"The reproduction is so balanced, so natural. You can comfortably listen to it for hours without it ever getting tiresome. Procuring the finances is no easy task – a pair of Satya’s sets you back well over € 100,000 – but it’s still decidedly lower than the total price of his previous sets and configurations. “And that’s apart from the amount (tens of thousands of additional euros) that I had to spend on cables alone!"
After all is said and done, the Goldmund Satya is more than just a set of speakers. "Everything's in there. Amplifiers, digital-to-analog converters, all the makings. I think that's why it sounds so terribly good, you know. Because the whole thing is perfectly tuned and you have no more losses due to additional audio components and cables."
Transmission of the audio signal from the source (ROON Nucleus) is wireless, by means of a USB dongle supplied by Goldmund. The only other hi-fi thing you’ll find in this living room annex postmodern listening room, are two power cords (Crystal Cable CrystalPower Ultra Diamond) and the aforementioned ROON Nucleus. “Plus, it was all delivered, installed and tuned in by the team of PUURavd!”
"The initial demo of the system was offered to us for free, after that first experience back in Oostzaan. Now that’s not a given, you know, with those 140 kilos per side, even if I do say that I am a serious listener with intent to buy. Still, the time and opportunity to get acquainted with this system at home is not self-evident. Often the components are not in stock and have to be borrowed from the distributor. And it’s not uncommon that say 250 euros is requested for such a demo. So, compliments to PUURavd for their efforts.”
"Your first reaction?", Rien asks. Well, this picture seems to be quite clear, at least as far as you can tell within the first experience in an unknown environment. But that’s all subjective anyway, because if you – as a buyer, a consumer – have the feeling that you've found what you're looking for, that provides you with a lot of comfort and peace of mind. Now, you can start to focus on what it's all about: the music. Which is what we did as well – all afternoon.
Incidentally, that wasn’t the first ‘audio show’ either. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Rien is a music lover as well as a musician. “But I’m also a member of a small hi-fi club that meets on the regular (regularly)to listen to each other’s music – as well as audio gear. My old system and the brand new Goldmunds stood side by side for a while, which was a great opportunity to organize some of those listening sessions right here."
The experiences of Rien’s guests only confirmed his choices. “Remarkable; I had already removed my Spectral preamplifier and used the Rossini (and its volume control). 'I've never heard your set sound so good', was one of the reactions. After that I switched between both sets several times, but the verdict was quite unambiguous: Goldmund across the board. There was nothing left for me to do but let the team in Oostzaan know that THEY weren’t allowed to retrieve their hardware – this was staying right here. And I’m certainly not going to look for anything else for at least the next ten years!"
Below: Captured by Vera - Vera van der Wal