Alpha Audio has had an unprecedented number of products in its hands this year. Partly due to mass testing, we have certainly been heading towards 120 products again. Processing this with a compact but loyal review team is impressive. In this part: Martijn ten Napel’s Top 5!
2022 was a great exploration, from the first livestream on Jan. 9 to the big switch test on Dec. 18. My five most memorable moments, in no particular order.
Music: Rachmaninov Vespers and Byzantine hymns by La Tempête
On a sleepy early morning, I tap the album cover in the streaming app to hear some music as background while going through email. I expect piano music and am surprised by the dark sounds of a male voice. 5 minutes later, I’m sitting on the couch forgetting email, my surroundings and time. What music!
The French company La Tempête has created an album that alternates Rachmaninov’s Vespers with hymns from the Byzantine church tradition. A seamless connection is made between the music that traveled from Mesopotamia toward Turkey and Greece and influenced the northward music tradition from Slavic countries.
It is not only fascinating, but above all of unparalleled beauty. The singers of La Tempête have recorded this music because for them, singing it not only brings great joy, but also because as a singer you are transformed by this music. It is profoundly religious music, but there is a kind of comforting humanity in it that makes you realize that your existence has meaning only in relation to others. The diversity and homogeneity of the voices brings goosebumps with every listen.
Listen to this music on an early morning and you experience something difficult to put into words. In any case, you will go into your day with a completely different feeling, guaranteed.
Livestream: Al Andalus & plug-in filters
Making the connection between the music of La Tempête and the rhythms of Al Andalus from the Middle East in our livestream is not that difficult. What a treat that livestream was! And oh yes, we also tested three wonderful speakers. From the joyous comments on YouTube, it’s clear that the experience in the Artone studio came across loud and clear to the viewers of the stream.
Check back the livestream
Live Stream plug in filters
I think the live stream with the plug-in filters made it clear to many people that we mean it when we say that we want to be independent, honest and transparent in how we work, respecting you, our reader, and audio equipment makers.
Watch the livestream back
Event: Munich High End
My first high end in Munich. The scale is almost impossible to imagine. It’s bizarre how many variations of the same thing are offered. It is a hectic event, you walk around there on adrenaline. The best moments, however, were the conversations with the engineers, the makers of equipment. People who know what they are talking about. You get an insight into a lot of kitchens in a short time and that in turn helps us to delve deeper into certain subjects.
Product: System Audio 5.2 silverback
Setting up a good-sounding hi-fi system with streaming audio as its source can be as simple as setting up a pair of System Audio speakers and playing music. Last year, however, it became clear that there is a lot of room for improvement in the digital audio chain. On the other hand, it’s also true that you can forget all that and surrender to the musical pleasure these little System Audio speakers bring you. A good reality check for us digital nerds suffering from “audio nervosa”.
Product: Driade 2S
The Driade 2S has been awarded with an Alpha Approved for a reason. They are just better than a lot of other speakers in this price range. On the one hand, they are relentless speakers for bad recordings, but on the other, they open doors in good recordings that you didn’t even know were there. This is affordable high end.