Sven Boenicke – The Woodworm
The Swiss-manufactured products of Sven Boenicke accurately reproduce the sounds made by instruments using solid-wood loudspeakers.
Sven Boenicke, who will soon turn 40, set up his company Boenicke Audio in 1998 when he was in his early 20s. According to him, in doing so, he wasn’t really following a predetermined plan but rather taking an inevitable step in a process which had been slowly taking shape, whereby more and more people were expressing an interest in his handmade loudspeakers. Since he had no former electrical knowledge, you could well say that he was not exactly predestined for a career in the hi-fi industry. But it was precisely this that led him to conduct unusual experiments that could only be conducted by someone without any general knowledge of the basic aspects involved. Sven Boenicke had only his ears to go by, and when they told him that loudspeakers sounded better in a wall cabinet, they must have either been very poor-quality loudspeakers or a seriously good sounding wall cabinet. This unconventional approach can still be seen in his products today. Boenicke uses solid wood because it provides better-quality sound although most of his peers try hard to avoid it because it is so difficult to control, and his loudspeakers all look far too small to be able to produce the sound that they do.
Take the W5 compact monitor speaker, for example, which is not much bigger than a standard lever arch file yet manages to produce a bewitchingly rich and full sound. Despite its cubic capacity of just under three liters, it delivers sound pressure down to 50 hertz. “When we exhibited at HIGH END in Munich, people were looking everywhere for the subwoofer,” says Sven Boenicke with a cheeky smile. You could play the same game with the W8 tower speaker: visually no bigger than a slim hand towel it provides acoustically concentrated knockout power, leaving the unprepared listener open-mouthed and stopping them in their tracks, wondering where on earth this colorful, enriching and unapologetic sound could possibly be coming from. It is simply an incredible loudspeaker which can effortlessly hold its own even in larger rooms. That would sum up Sven Boenicke’s favorite product although the W8 really epitomizes the exact opposite of his company’s motto “What you see is what you get”. Your first impression upon seeing the speaker is quite different to your first impression upon hearing it in action as you get a lot more than you can see. If you take a closer look, you will see the high-quality craftsmanship of the housing which is made in close cooperation with local carpentry workshops, but the skillfully milled sound transmission path inside remains hidden. Sven Boenicke even doesn’t show the nosiest of noses inspecting a sectional model everything, as the series models also contain integrated, harmonizing tuning elements, and the developer won’t be more specific about this. Sven Boenicke does not offer any varnish or veneer options as they would distort the sound; customers have to be prepared to expect natural solid wood and nothing else. The company boss also invests a lot of time and money on sampling, selecting and pairing purchased drivers before they are married up with the housing at the company headquarters in Basel. Of course, the crossovers are not off-the-peg solutions but have to be custom-made. Sven Boenicke assembles them with his own fair hands with free wiring and using high-quality components, such as Mundorf capacitors. The W8 can also come with an optional swing base, a swinging pedestal developed by Boenicke, which can also be used to give other loudspeakers a helping hand.
In addition to his original naively innocent approach, Sven Boenicke has another considerable advantage. He is a music connoisseur in every sense of the word: a classic orchestral musician, a producer behind the controls and a lover of stereo systems. If this modest Swiss thinks that something is good then it’s because of his finely-tuned ear and excellent acoustic memory. And you can hear in his creations that, for him, it’s not just about reproducing the frequencies produced by an instrument but also the nature of the instrument. His top-of-the-range model, the W20 which is currently being redesigned, is setting a respectable standard in terms of natural and vivid sound reproduction.
Sven Boenicke, who sees himself as a real “all-rounder”, keeps the business running with just three employees and even plans to expand, both beyond the German-speaking market, preferably into America, and also in terms of the product range in order to include upstream electronics and not just loudspeakers. He is currently working on an all-in-one solution, which aims to combine streamers, drive, converters and amplifiers in one housing. Sven Boenicke would like to be able to offer a full range synchronized in line with his loudspeakers, which could maximize their potential. “Honesty both in terms of sound and design” is what the passionate music lover promises to provide.
Taken from the book “Who is Who in High Fidelity”. To learn more, click here.