RMAF 2016................Boenicke W5

I spent quite awhile in the Boenicke/Sotm room at the show and was quite taken aback on how musically engaging the W5's were. They ooze a musical timbre that was simply stunning. Considering how diminutive they are (no bigger than PC speakers) they produce a big sound stage. To my ears they are a true Hi-Fi bargain at a paltry $3600 a pair when they are compared to some speakers that cost many times  more and are not in the same league as these miniature mighty marvels. There were a few speakers at the show that nearly made my ears bleed and my wallet to hide........

Anything float your boat at this years show?

The two rooms that sounded good to me were the Audio Alternative room with ARC and Vandersteen (complete with Richard Vandersteen out front!),and the Nagra/Avalon room.

One of the more fun rooms was Oppo demonstrating the Sonica Grand (IIRC).  Far from best in show, but a lot of music from a compact package. 

I second the Avalon Nagra room, I thought it was very good.
$3600 paltry for speakers that size?  Really?  That got my attention. 
My reaction was the same as Mapman’s...I can’t believe we’ve gotten to the point, even here on AG, where $3600 for speakers this size is now considered paltry. If one lights their cigars with $100 bills or is the leader of an OPEC country, $3600 is probably lunch money but it still seems like a healthy amount of money to me.

Gawdbless, specifically which brands and models of speakers that cost many times more than these at $3600 did you feel were not in the same league? To me, "many times more" has to mean a multiple of at least 3x, which means you’re talking about $11,000 speakers at minimum not being in the same league and it would help to know what these reference points are for you.
Agree, $3600 is not a "paltry" sum of money. 

Most of the systems I listened to were bright, edgy, and forward; whether due to the room, speakers or electronics I couldn't say. 

Sounds like a "passive brag"! The guy probably just accepted a Golden Parachute deal from his employer and now jet sets around the world listening to overprice audiophile gear. 🤑✈️🍾
They look like very nice speakers for the size. But perhaps the most expensive that size I know of. Certainly not paltry. Sounds like marketing. I’d have to have a very small room to consider anything that size. Maybe with subs. Or for low level listening only. But lots of competition at that price.  Can't find any frequency response specs. 

In in general the trend is for most vendors to offer smaller speakers for higher price than in past. It’s easy for speakers to sound good when they simply punt on the low end. That is where the work is involved to reproduce well and costs are expected to be greater accordingly.
The list below is a list of speakers who I think (to my ears) the W5 sounded better on the day at RMAF..........
Classic Audio Speakers not sure of the price around $16000?
The Sony speakers $27,000 a pair.
Vos Loudspeakers $135,000 Oh lordy..........
JBL's $90000 (ear bleed).........
Austin Acoustic SP-3R $348,000 OMG!!!
Happy Mr Gator?

Mapman- I don't know why you could not find the specs, just google 'Boenicke'.................The standard version is tuned to 65Hz, and the SE version to 50hz, although you would not have thought so by the depth of sound they play.
Check out the youtube clip with headphones

Paltry price? Indeed, compared to the above in purely Hi Fi sound v price terms.

I was glad to see this year rooms with complete systems, starting at $250/$500'$1000/$2500.

Here is a longer youtube clip.

I too thought the Nagra/Avalon room sounded great.

The Vandersteen/ARC room sounded killer as did the MQA room using the Vandersteen 5A Carbon speakers. Vandersteens sound very good to great every show I've been to. 

The Magico/Synergistic Research room was a stand-out as well. I was also a lucky recipient to a private/dealer only demo of the new Magico M3 mated with 2 Q-sub 18's over at the Hyatt Regency. Utterly speechless was the response for most in attendance.

The Sony Magic Bus was a downright ethereal experience. This mobile system has to be experienced to be believed not just for the sound but the man hours, passion and technology that went into building it.

The Zu Audio room was a stand-out demo sounding extremely clean, no bass bloat and musical.

The Von Schweikert room was also sounding very good with no bass bloat, ultra deep bass and great dynamic range. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few...

Pretty sure its using fountek drivers so consider its running $300 retail in drivers and you liked it maybe DIY a pair

You are comparing very small speakers that must have limited bass extension to much larger more expensive more full range models.

Getting full range speakers set up to sound good is always a bigger challenge. Bass resonances mask other frequencies and detail, sounds fat or muddy etc.

I could imagine the small speakers sounding "better" with some music than much larger and expensive ones and systems if room and setup is less than optimal. There is less bass to get in teh way or go wrong usually with small speakers.

Is that possible?

In any case, all I’m saying is they are small and price not paltry for their size. Comparing to much larger full range speakers sounds like apples and oranges and a pure judgement call that would be hard to substantiate it would appear. At the very least all should be set up optimally in order to make a fair comparison. Little guys like that would have a lot to prove against much larger similar quality competition.

In the end what one likes is all that matters. They are very nice looking tiny speakers and I’d expect sound very good within their limits.  Of course I have not heard them so do not know.

Just saying. Paltry is all relative I suppose.
Hi John,

I believe they are made with a solid piece of wood. The Innards look like someone was having fun with a router. I won't be buying a pair as I have enough (ahem, hope she does not read this....) speakers in the house. Another, and the most important reason is cats and dogs, they would not last 5 minutes on their stands.

I thought the Zu room sounded decidedly average.

Mapman- you should really hear a pair, you
Mapman - please disregard my unfinished sentence.
I would like to hear them. I am always looking for good things in smaller packages.  They would fit nicely on my Isoacoustics stands, just a few inches off the floor and with slight tilt up.    I use corner placement  (similar to what is done with Audio Note speakers at shows) in the room that they would fit into and that helps a lot to get more bass out of smaller boxes when needed.

Zu has yet to reel me in from demos I have heard but the door is still open. I really like the looks and they are strong centenders for anyone building around a tube amp.

There could be a pair of Zu Soul or Tekton Lore speakers in my future just to try out for the fun of it and see where things might go.
The W5's are the smallest speakers in the range.
The Peachtree room on the Mezzanine floor had the loudest demo that I heard, to loud for me, although the sound was quite good.
I liked the Mackintosh room to especially the fish spinning on the turntable.
A few rooms had reel to reels in also. Are they coming back into vogue?
Will we see a cassette deck resurgence one day? I might have to take out the old Nakamichi, dust it down and connect it up! lol......
The Sanders Sound System room Electrostatics were very nice and I liked the demo by them.
I liked the Burwell and sons Horn speaker, the cd I gave them to play sounded very nice, with a price tag of $80000 so they should be.
I was very disappointed with the Classic Audio room, as I have them sound a whole lot better, they were playing a track by Yello, sounded more like Jello to me.
I listened to a pair of $2000 Sony headphones, whilst nice does any one spend that much on headphones? I never use headphones personally. I did like the EMM equipment connected to them though. 
I read Peachtree demo was with 100+ watt Class D amp running Zus, which yes could get mighty loud if desired I would expect.    I've read more than one review indicating the sound was one of the better ones at the show.

I read OHM Acoustics will be demoing  their Walsh speaker line with Peachtree at the upcoming NY Audio Show in November as well.   Would love to be there and hear that compared to others but too far away so not likely.
Hi Gawbless,
Professional review of the Boenicke W5 do concur with your listening impressions. Interestingly The 6 Moons reviewer notes that some audiophiles will dismiss the speaker outright due to the cost and small size. À big mistake he said, you must actually  listen to them. He is very enthusiastic about their sound quality.
Regarding Zu speakers I greatly respect the opinions of several folks who post on Audiogon and happen to be Zu owners. I've heard various Zu speakers a total of 5 times and each encounter was disappointing  (CES and RMAF venues). Perhaps they don't sound their best under show conditions  (although I have heard numerous brands that manage to sound good at these shows). It may be the tendency to play them loud for demonstration.  They just haven't sound very good so far in my experience. 

Come one, $3600 don't even buy top of the line cable, any cable. Talking speakers, I pay attention to nothing less than $10k unless perhaps they are sold only direct. And size does matter.
This is why I agree with the 6 Moons reviewer regarding preconceived notions.  I just believe that you have to listen to a product before you can form any "meaningful "opinion. That's just me. 
Too many products to listen to, there are better things to do.
The last time I checked, the law of physics was still alive and working. I have no doubt those little speakers would have sounded awesome in my college dorm room but I bet the guy who invented them was not even born back then. That aside, let's get real and compare apples with apples. Money no object, it is quite possible these may be best sounding speakers if someone is looking for speakers for a small room. I bet I would have been a lot more popular if I had these speakers in my bedroom back when I was single.

Your observations are correct. Speakers with less bass extension get into trouble less frequently than larger speakers.

The further down you go, the more likely you are to excite a room mode and get outrageous or no apparent output.

This is why a good 2 way with extension to 40-ish Hz are the best compromise and easiest to live for most music lovers.

Now, for those who really will do whatever it takes, spend any amount, well, there’s ways, many ways << evil laugh >>

Unfortunately music lovers think the solution to all bass problems is just to add cone area, and that's where things go south. A 2-way speaker like I described is like the girl (or guy) next-door. Easy to get along with, always up for a trip, movie, or baseball game. Subwoofers are the schizophrenic neighbor who you wake up one day and see screaming at an oak tree and attacking it Don Quixote like with a rake. "Full range" speakers that go lower than 40ish Hz are  going to be somewhere in between. 
I agree with your logic. All Gawbless said is these Boenickes were really quite good and impressed him more than some larger and more expensive speakers under show conditions. He never said they're the speakers he's ever heard.  Let's have perspective and appreciate the context. 

Its a preconceived notion based on the laws of physics and having heard many speakers both large and small that have no choice but to always abide by those laws. Not just whimsy or speculation. Its how things work.  Whereas a reviewers review is merely an opinion based on whatever happens to be the reviewers motivation.

I’m sure they sound very good within their limitations. If those are the limitations one chooses to live with for that price along with the rest than so be it.
No limitations, well almost, down to 25 hz we go in an orderly fashion, anything less is not acceptable. What I have now is more or less balanced down to probably 35 hz - not good enough, not bad though.
Mapman, That’s the point, Gawbless wasn’t challenging the laws of physics or implying the speaker has no limitations (all speakers do). He simply wrote that they sound good. Of course reviewers offer opinion (just as you, I and everyone else) no dispute there. At the very least he heard the speakers which is a meaningful point. Listening trumps assumptions . Anyway Gawbless is more than capable of explaining his thoughts. It seems some are offended that he compared them to larger speakers,heaven forbid!
Hi Charles, I have not read the 6moon review, but I will for sure.
I think darts are being thrown without a dart board in sight with regards to some posts. It is good to have a lively debate on a subject closer to our hearts rather than our ears. Its what this forum is for!
The W5 on MY listening experience without the law of physics, or any other law other than my own ears, is that the W5 is a speaker I could live with if my living situation were different.
All I will say is if you can listen to a pair take the opportunity, you maybe be as surprised as I was.

Kaliki-  I believe they can hit 93db without strain. Hardly a small room SPL, there goes that dart again.................*smiley face*

Here is the last two paragraphs of the 6moon review.

No more monkey business. Its compact size and driver artillery pass right under macho radars of course. As anyone visiting Sven's Basel showroom would see, these things can flood a huge space at solid levels without flinching. But few will have faith without such proof. Here dealers won't exactly do themselves favors either. Playing these will risk having far pricier fare look and sound antiquated. Not that this review will make much of a dent. Preconceptions about loudspeakers and what's actually required are too deeply engrained.

The W5 is ahead of that curve. Prospective owners thus must take a leap of faith. Even auditions can bring up reflexive doubts when accumulated audiophile knowledge refutes the naked evidence staring it smack in the face. Those into monkey coffins must continue their sad ways then. Happy trails. But to appropriate from a famous Zen koan about a goose in a bottle, with the W5 now the monkey is simply out. And like it says on the terminal plate above, that leaves us with Swiss Happiness in a—tiny—Box. Why put the monkey back in?

The only thing I would take exception with is comparing them to much larger and/or expensive speakers and calling the cost paltry by comparison. it is not paltry for speakers that size. just like a $100 fuse might be worth it to some but the cost cannot be called paltry except when compared to what people spend on their hifis otherwise. That’s just marketing, nothing of substance.

if it turns out the expensive small speakers are teh best fit in ones case, that’s fine. Let’s just be real about those things that are concrete and measurable, like size and price, both of which are always perfectly clear and measured and always matter rather than opinions which are just that.   
Here's some good reading on size and when it matters.


It explains well why size matters but not all drivers of a particular size are created equal.

The OHm Microwalsh speaker is an excellent example of a smaller speaker driver that can deliver a lot of sound and bass for its size.  Its cost is about half the Boenicke W5 I believe but its volume, which matters as well when it comes to bass would seem to be greater.

Another excellent small speaker I have heard in this regard in similar price range way less than W5 is Totem Arro.

So W5 is not paltry even by smaller speaker standards.  That's all.
The wisdom of the reviewer is evident given some of the responses here and is why I found his assessment so on the mark. Such strong opinion stated without any listening whatsoever. To look at a speaker's size and then assume so much isn't a demonstration of substance or much thought. Two speakers could have identical dimensions and yet be worlds apart in sound quality. Raidho and Magico have mini monitors that are in the 25K USD range. They may or may not be superior to the 3.6 K USD Boenicke W5.  Who knows? only by "listening" can these issues be settled. Looking at pictures doesn't cut it. Mini monitors can range from true state of the art level to subpar. You have to hear an audio product. No one claims any mini monitor is a full range speaker, yet they can be superb in their own realm.
The size of some of the models mentioned may be paltry but the cost is not. That’s the point. Has nothing to do if they are judged to sound good or not. What is so hard to understand?

I’ve heard the Magico Monitors and yes the sound was superb. If I had a smaller room and a considerable budget I might consider owning them. But I would not call the cost paltry. They are in fact quite expensive and frankly the sound can be matched for much less. Especially if same 6 digit set of electronics used to drive the competition.
Charles, I heard the Raidho 2's at the show? they were big speakers anyway at the show, whilst I liked their sound and stayed for a whole song, the ahem W5's were musically better, in that the Instruments and vocals sounded more real with an uncanny timbre (as I mentioned before). Did they have more bass? Course not, but its not all about the bass, statistics and meaningless graphs or cups with water in, its all about the ears and musical emotion. After all one could buy a sub or two, or move up the Boenicke range to their floor standers. Jeez, anyone would think I am a salesperson for them. I don't know why the *p* word is so upsetting to some. How else could one describe the difference between $3600 and $348,000? close?
Some people want real sounding bass along with the rest.   These things will matter most to them.
Gawd you just demonstrated my point again.   $3600 would be a paltry sum to get the sound and performance possible for $348,000.     You also likely need a very large room, maybe an auditorium or sports stadium  to be able to say $348000 is a paltry amount to spend for speakers.

Anyone can look up the average cost of speakers of various sizes and level of performance.   $3600 for perhaps one of the smallest speakers out there might well be justifiable for some, but its not paltry.

Its all a metter of expectations I suppose.   People in these parts expect to pay more for top performance.   Paltry to those perhaps but get real not to 99.9% of the real world.   Just like $100 freakin fuses.

Rant over.

Yes yours is a rant, Gawbless is stating a more logical point and observation. At least that how the comments come across to me. Larger is not better by default, no way. It clearly depends on one’s needs and desires. This seems a simple and practical perspective Gawbless, "paltry" has triggered an alarm it seems. LOL. If 3.6K  dollars can provide someone the equal satisfaction of a 20 or 30K dollar product,then 3.6 is paltry in relative terms.
Post removed 
Logic is useless if facts are selectively disregarded.

What you I or gawd thinks sounds best is no indicator of what the the next guy will think.   

Anyone can read the arguments and draw their own conclusions.  

Well I don't know what facts you are referring to. Anyway I've stated my viewpoint, Gawbless simply posted listening impressions of a speaker that sounded very good to him at RMAF. His post was interesting  and insightful. It's really nothing more then that.
Charles the facts are that $3600 is expensive for speakers that size and that speakers that size will have predictable limitations.

What happens from there is anyone’s guess and that's what makes the world go round.

The surprise factor of an ultra small speaker talking big can be and probably is an element in the wow factor experienced by the OP. Admittedly, to get some great timbre and believable music from such a small package is quite remarkable. The price-well if you look at the offerings on this site 3.6K isn't otherworldly. Gawd is just saying, in his view, they outperformed their price tag. We all listen to each other in attempting to dig through price/valuations etc. 
charles 1dad, I have two sets of Zu speakers. They must be dialed in and other factors must be dealt with, tubes etc. But I assure you they have a 'they are here" quality and can be balanced to give an eerily real presentation. In a hotel with two days prep? Maybe not.

Hello Dentdog,
I trust your ears and judgement. Same with other Zu owners whom I hold in high regard. Germanboxers, 213 Cobra,gsm (gary) Spiritofmusic. You'd think that once or twice out of 5 listening encounters they'd sound reasonably good, not yet. 

It is puzzling as other brands have managed to sound very well under the same show environment constraints. I like their design concept of high efficiency and wide band drivers. Again this is why I relate to Gawbless's comments. When you're in a room with exceptional sound you know it.😀.
No wow factor, I think anyone will only need only a few  minutes upon hearing to realize if a speaker is good, or not..........
I heard the Boenicke W5's at the Tokyo Audio Show. In a giant room. I am still amazed, weeks later. They truly shocked me with their tremendous soundstage, clarity, and softness (I don't know if that is the right term but I felt gently enveloped by their sound).  By far the best speaker I heard. It was magical. 
There was no forwardness. No assault on the ears. And they filled the entire room with beautiful music. I could not believe that all that sound was coming from such a tiny speaker. 
In Japan they cost the equivalent of $7,000 for the pair. As I dream of owning them at the US retail price (and the quality electronics to go with them) I'm encouraged by the fact that they would be easy to smuggle back in my suitcase.
They maybe small in stature, and price lol, but they, when heard no way portrait the traits of a small speaker, I know someone will harp on about size, graphs, the laws of physics etc blah blah blah......., but they are the consummate bargain for their quality of sound, excluding the bottom octave.
$3600 is a lot of money for  single component in the chain, but when one counts the many hours of happy listening, the price Is not an issue. 
Not gonna harp. Everyone made their points. That’s what forums are for. They look like a quality product. Just add a good sub or two if needed. Or do like many happily do and just go small and don’t give that often problematic bass a chance get in the way of the other glorious things .happening.

I have a similar size speaker in my office at work. It is very enjoyable. Sometimes I hear things there that I don’t in a bigger setup simply because some other things are just not there.. Of course I hear things in the bigger setup I don’t hear on the little speaker as well. Its all good.
Diversity is a good thing, which I think we will all agree on. One man's meat is another man's poison.
Your sonic description of the Boenicke W5 is consistent with what others who have heard them report (exceptionally high sound quality). It’s the timeless quality vs quantity debate. The value of an  audio product is judged individually and reflects on how much listening fulfilment and long term joy it delivers. Each one of us have our own criteria and goal. Happy listening to all 😊
I really need to get out more. There are so many speakers/products that I would love to hear. Being out of the hobby for so many years before deciding to put together a system I have missed the evolution of music reproduction. The Boenicke W5 seems to represent a big move forward in the quantity/quality equation. With WAF and small listening spaces considered, something like these just might be an option when they send me to the old folks home. Hopefully they put me in the section with the hearing impaired.