Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Aqua Hifi Formula [on loan]
Preamplifiers: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, COS Engineering D1, Clones Audio AP1
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; April Music Stello S100 MkII, Vinnie Rossi Lio DHT, AURALiC Merak [on loan], Clones Audio 55pm [on loan]
Loudspeakers: EnigmAcoustics M1, Albedo Audio Aptica, soundkaos Wave 40, Sounddeco Sigma 2; Boenicke Audio W5se, Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan], Ocellia OCC Silver power loom [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Krion amp shelf
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, Verictum
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15m open floor plan with two-storey gabled ceiling, wood-sleeved steel trusses and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail in Switzerland (incl. 22% VAT): standard CHF9'880/pr, SE CHF13'018/pr, SE+ CHF19'336/pr

W. It could stand for wanton womanly wiles. In Sven Boenicke's speaker cookbook, it's shorthand for wood. As such it's the manly response to the other three Ws. Boenicke models with the 'W' prefix come in clam-shell cabs milled from solid wood. Those with the 'B' prefix use bent wood front/rear baffles—steam and pressure moulded like Ikea's most famous chair—with Ply for the sides. With the new W11, we're looking at a typical Sven design. That means ultra narrow, overall compact and available in awesome Ash, wicked Walnut or cheery Cherry.

This very décor-easy floorstander puts a wideband tweeter plus midrange on the front, a woofer on the side—being mirror-imaged, those bass units can fire in or out—and an ambient tweeter at the rear. Also in the rear just above the floor sits a rectangular port. That relieves the woofer's internal air pressure. It also creates optimized LF loading for its 30-litre volume and, as a function of the air mass in the pipe, is tuned to augment bass reach and power over a predetermined bandwidth. As the cutaway shows, the front-firing drivers work in their own sub chambers. Those are sealed and half ovoid. Such shapes better scatter back-wave reflections. The drawing also shows a multitude of small braces. They are shaped to create numerous traps which force the woofer rear energy into multiplied reflections. Such 'detour bouncing' becomes an effective acoustic attenuator which naturally calms down and breaks up noise inside the enclosure.

On the driver sheet, bottom to top, we start with a flat-diaphragm 10" Dayton LS10-44 woofer that comes in with a 1st-order slope at 150Hz. This blends with a wood-cone midrange with paper voice-coil former made to Sven's specs to run without high-pass filter and just a simple 1'500Hz 6dB/octave low-pass. Next comes his trademark Fountek wideband tweeter in a new custom version "with unique diaphragm surfacing which measures and sounds clearly better than any of their off-the-shelf models". Finally there's the ambient tweeter, a Monacor silk dome crossed in at ~6'000Hz also at 6dB/octave. Hence all W11 filters are 1st-order. Like other Boenicke efforts, the W11 sells in standard, SE and SE+ versions. And it's SwingBase ready. All versions offer adjustable bass tuning via a rear-panel jumper that connects to various taps of a custom autoformer by Audio Consulting of Switzerland.

What's SwingBase ready? Contrary to common wisdom which believes in the mechanical one-way diode called spike, Sven gets better results by decoupling his speakers from the floor. Instead of allowing mechanical resonances to migrate through the floor up into your equipment rack, this thinking attempts to suspend a resonance-creating object as though in free air. By not making hard contact, avenues of vibration transfer are shut down. Where others of a similar bend might use viscoelastics like Sorbothane; or roller bearings appropriated from earthquake building codes; Sven's SwingBase literally hangs the speaker from concealed wires. This achieves similar multiple degrees of freedom. 'Ready' means that fitting a SwingBase is optional. The same goes for laying out cash on Sven's signature tuning tweaks. Those are available in the two stages of SE and SE+. Though he's quite unhappy with the often very high costs of tweaks à la Bybee, Stein Music & Co., he can't deny their effectiveness. As a perfectionist, he wouldn't dream of not exploiting things that make the whole of his designs even better. But because tweak tolerance varies with people; and because his tweaks are internal to not weigh on the scale of visible returns... he's long since decided to make them optional.

wooden cone with paper voice-coil former | transformer-tapped bass compensation

If you believe all tweaks to be delusional and imaginary in their effects, go for the base version. If you hear sufficiently significant improvements from the tweaks which on your personal fairness scale warrant the additional expense, go for the SE or SE+. Relative to spousal acceptance and décor integration, the W11 is all of 16.1cm wide, 39cm deep and 106cm tall. That hits the belt line or below of an average man. Weight is ~25kg, with some variance due to wood species and tuning status. When asked how the W11 differs from the existing W8, Sven put it this way: "The W11 is in a completely different league. First off, it moves 2.6 times the air (the size difference gives an idea). Second, the wood cone does something nothing else I have heard so far can do. Third, the bass is not just deeper and bigger but much faster and punchier. It almost sounds like a good sealed design although it is a bass reflex. I was quite surprised myself. If you look close enough, you'll see the crossover prototype on the chair behind the W11. As to bandwidth, I designed it to give 27Hz@-3dB which of course also depends on room size and speaker placement. At the other end, my measurement gear stops at 20kHz which the widebander exceeds. As for impedance, in the bass it depends on what autoformer tap you use. Below 150Hz, it can vary from 1.8Ω to ~16Ω, then linearizes at 6Ω. In the treble, depending on SE or SE+ status, it can drop to 2Ω at 10kHz. The low-impedance bass setting is only recommended with appropriate amps. There will be a warning at the respective tap to let the user know of its impedance penalty. Sensitivity is from 88-91dB depending on version."