They are relatively inefficient at around 86 dB and have a nominal impedance of 4 Ohms, dropping to 3.3 Ohms above 5 kHz. Too much power is unlikely to be an issue and rather than recommending specific power requirements I would just say that you should prioritise quality above all else. Increasing the volume shows how the W8 SE+ drinks amplifier power. I had the best results driving them with the Vitus SIA-025 in full class A. More power wouldn’t go amiss but the quality of the Vitus was lapped up by the W8 SE+ and I never wanted to drive them to enormous levels. A high-end source came in the shape of a dCS Bridge streamer with Vivaldi transport and DAC.
Drivers are interesting, if only because I have zero previous experience of any of them. The side-facing bass driver is a 165 mm model from Tang Bang, a company from Taiwan that now produces its models in China. This has no connection to the crossover and is driven directly from the amplifier. The two interconnected drivers on the front baffle are, at the top, a custom Fountek Widebander 75 mm unit with a 52 mm aluminium cone. Unusual to find a cone unit here but it has a claimed response to over 20 kHz. Below this is another Tang Bang driver, the 100 mm paper-coned model with a prominent phase-plug fashioned from what looks like wood. There is a conventional tweeter though and this is found at the rear of the cabinet, near the top. It’s a perfectly named Lucky Sound, it’s a custom-made model and I was expecting that it provided some ambient information to reinforce the work of the Fountek unit. I have come across this arrangement before but here I was surprised at just how much level this provides. So, as you see, this is a completely custom speaker where the intricate design of the cabinet innards has been carefully matched with specific drivers, albeit unusual ones.
The presentation is immersive and is certainly the first thing that grabs you. Soundscapes are laid out before you without the usual bass, mid and treble layers being the overriding character. The concept of depth is different with the Boenickes. The dimension extends not only from front to way, way back but hugely sideways too. Small changes in instrumental placements and shape are fascinating and pull you into the music. I would say that the presentation is virtually cinematic in its scope and it never stops surprising. You look at the drivers and where they are situated and wonder how this speaker can knit the music together with such amazing balance, shape and integration. But, put the comparisons with what you are used to aside and let the speaker talk to you because it can tell wonderful stories. It can show the full tonality of instruments in surprising ways. Colour and beautiful harmonic structures hover in the air, disconnected from the cabinet yet in harmony with the whole picture. I found that their scale and dimension had far reaching influences. It seemed to free the instruments from the cabinet and perhaps as a result of the harmonious whole I have seldom been more aware of interplaying melodies. Voices are a total stand out too. Anyone who loves vocals, be they solo or massed, is going to be blown away by what they hear. The sense of voices being suspended in the air is superb and the classic singer-songwriter with sparse accompaniment speaks in such a intimate, personal and eloquent way that it’s precious and indeed memorable. Add strings to the mix and the W8 SE+will again wow you. Something very special happens to bowed instruments through the Boenicke W8 SE+. Lovely weight, beautiful textures and colours just float out of those cabinets, in wide-screen too.
This is a speaker that looks at the whole picture and never softens any tonality from the music. I was initially stunned at how good it was on piano. Herbie Hancock’s New Standard album [Verve] surprised me as I had never thought his piano on this album was particularly nicely recorded. Yet here it was, rock solid and expansive. Warm but with great dynamic articulation and fully sensitive to micro changes in playing pressures. ‘Love Is Stronger Than Pride’ was just so solid, yet rhythmically loose. The piano, so intense and yet so clear with beautiful timing and marvellous phrasing shows you what art a truly great musician brings to a piece. There is a clarity of musical purpose here and a relaxed ability to unravel musical complexities. The conversation between the bass player and the drummer is opened up brilliantly within that intriguing landscape. Just when you think you understand the speaker it will delight you by revealing musical nuances that you really never expected and it often does this by drawing vividly coloured musical pictures in front of you.
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