the marketplace says 'yes'. they are popular.
long term resale value says 'yes'.
Swiss build quality is no myth, reliability, performance.
i've owned darTZeel amplification for 10 years. my NHB-108 stereo amp I owned for 7 years. i sold it for more than i paid for it originally after that 7 years and still to this day it is competitive with the very best. i've owned my NHB-458 mono blocks now for 3 years and they are amazing.
I consider the darTZeel to combine the best of tubes in terms of naturalness and a rich transparent mid range along with the speed, low noise, leading edge snap, linearity of solid state. they sound like music.
I’ve heard Soulution, CH Precision, Dartzeel and to a lesser extent Goldmund. Swiss audio gear does tend to have a smooth, clean, resolving, liquid (tube-like) sound. It is like a European version of Japenese high end gear.
That said, the above brands all sound different. I really like Soulution’s latest 5 series sacd player and dacs, and the 7 series is awesome - though not cheap! Soulution sounds very quiet, smooth, resolving, dynamic and overall neutral in tonal balance. To me Soulution sounds a bit more harmonically rich than CH which is a bit too refined and polite for my liking (though built like a Swiss watch). CH are also mega expensive.
The Dart integrated is a peach. Aside from the gorgeous looks & gold faceplate, build quality is excellent. Sound-wise, the CTH-8550 sounds mellifluous, yet resolving and transparent at the same time. The separates are even more transparent, quiet, resolving and neutral, though retaining the tube-like liquidity they’re known for.
I’ve only really heard Goldmund’s speakers and active pre-pro, though I was quite captivated by the punchy, dynamic sound permeated with a little warmth. Goldmund have some smaller wireless active speakers & pre-pro combo’s which aren’t outrageously priced. 2nd hand CTH-8550’s when they come up for sale can be found at relatively sane prices in high end terms.
The Swiss were famous for their mechanical devices more than their electronics. That may have changed a bit, but I have yet to hear a Swiss made amp, other than the ones built in to Studer and Revox machines.
The older Thorens and Lenco turntables are also highly prized.
I once heard the Nagra phono preamp in a shop, but I wasn't there long enough to really evaluate it.
Everything from Switzerland is expensive relatively, it's a remote, sparsely populated country with few natural resources. And a wealthy population. Another example, Swiss wine is mostly not very good but very expensive and mostly consumed in country adding to the export costs. Some sweet looking lust inspiring gear though, especially Nagra and Goldmund.
To be boring about finance, Swiss prices have always been high, but much higher since their Central Bank gave up the fight and abandoned the fix to the Euro, last year I believe. The Swiss Franc has shot up since then.
To get back to HiFi, the only amp which could draw me to the dark side of SS, away from tubes, is the Darzeel integrated. I heard it once with Wilson Alexias at a small dealer show and it was one of the best sounds I have ever heard, till I heard the D'Agostino Momentum amps in the same room with Alexias. I actually prefer the cheaper integrated to the Dartzeel Pre/Power combo. So yes Swiss HiFi can be great.
I live in Switzerland and have visited the Dartzeel, CH, Goldmund, Rowen, and Stenheim HQs as well as a branch of Illusonic. I know some of these guys personally.
Cant be a Swiss sound as, there are famous tube amp makers here too like ColoTube, Eternity Jo, Tron and Nagra.
Swiss gear tends to be expensive because labour is expensive here and the Swiss wisely deceded to go after the luxury (high end) segment of the market, where they can compete best. The engineering standards in the Helvetic Confederation (official name of Switzerland) is very, very high.
The country is by no means remote! It is in the geographical centre of Western Europe and shares borders with 5 countries. White wine is extremely good from places like Aigle and Yvorne and is expensive as the Swiss keep the best for themselves (they know a good thing), so drive the prices up. 8.5m population in a country 5 times bigger than Connecticut in area.
Current exchange rates make Swiss products even more expensive than in former years.
Dart has the LHC-208 which is a 200wpc Integrated combined with an Network connected Ethernet Dac called affectionately the "Danalog". It is also their cheapest product at $14k. Dartzeel stuff is excellent....as is CH Precision and Goldmund (the wireless active speakers). Dartzeel will get even better...so watch that space.
Rowen is also excellent but ONLY sold in Switzerland where they are the domestic mid-high end market leader.
Fond memories of the Swiss Alps, deep blue lakes and clean streets comes in my mind. The Montreux Jazz Festival in is one of my life time highlights. Having lived in many countries in Western Europe, I refer to German Swiss as the most correct behaving people in Europe, if not the world. Their industries has managed to rise time and again in the value chain, defeating the gravity of the pull of their rising currency. Down side is only for tourists, paying 3-5x the price for lunch there vs NYC.
I would say that the German (speaking) audio makers, the little that I have been exposed to, tend to be tonally correct.
Wisnon, you sound German Swiss, richtig?
Did anyone compare Swiss amps with, say, Accuphase, Pass, Rowland, Gryphon etc.?
Five times the price in NYC? If they can pay that then probably many Swiss can afford real Hi-Fi, maybe even most. That's good.
Still, unless you are Swiss, what in particular would attract you to Swiss gear besides famous reliability of Swiss made things?
No I am in the French part, near Geneva, where some of the most powerful brabds are:
Goldmund/Dartzeel/CH Precision/Nagra/Audio Consulting/SwissSonor/Tron/ Eternity Joe/Stenheim/Le Son/Rowen (on the border)
The German part has LumenWhite/Boenicke/Weiss/Illusonic/Klangwerk/Soulution/ColoTube/Swiss cables/Piega, etc
The Italian part has Heil AMT.
FM Acoustics recently signed an agreement with AudioArts to be their NA Distributor. http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/new-yorks-audioarts-and-the-return-of-fm-acoustics/
Based in NYC, AudioArts probably carries more Swiss High End gear than any other dealer in NA. CH Precision, Nagra, Stenheim, Audio Consulting and FM Acoustics.
As a Nagra and CH Precision user, I can attest to the outstanding build quality of the gear.
Bonjour wisnon, je m'excuse. I am getting rusty. Your second paragraph should give me the hint that you're francophone ("Cant be a Swiss sound"), the germanophone would have translated something like There is no (Es gibt kein...)
I seem to prefer the (Swiss) French speaking part for their gear (love the Nagra preamps).
Near Geneva sounds terrific: Swiss level income, French level spending just across the closeby border :-)
On top of that, jumping on a cheap EasyJet flight to various destinations...c'est la vie en rose...
Back to audio gear: not familiar with import duties for electronics but isn't it advantageous for the Swiss to import (voltage changed) gear from the US when the USD was low in most of 2011 and end Jan of this year? Now near pari but during lows around 0.8 CHF for a buck.
I bet the reseller system there soaks up some of the currency advantage. Conversely Swiss gear is likely to keep on rising in price on the long run and their niche market in the US pertains to keep their value, lest a new disruptive technology swamps the market.
Not Swiss (sorry for being on a tangent) but definitely engineered by a music lover is the German Schnerzinger that AudioArts also distributes for the US in case you pay a visit there for the Swiss goodies. Their isolation product is IME top notch, comes as expected with a price.
Oh no, wrong again, shame on me! I am missing some good Franglais that I tried to find in your comments, imagined to have found one.
Having said that, very few guessed my mother tongue correctly.
A good German friend of mine re-imported German classics when the USD was really low (80s, Carter years). A lucrative nice hobby/side job! So I can image your contentment a couple years ago. With the two central banks' policies across the Atlantic diverging, I guess you won't be bringing back much "Swiss Made" gear for a while to come. Both USD and CHF are safe haven, one has more nukes/capita and one more atom bomb shelters/capita, a macabre comparison I must admit.