REVIEW: GOLDMUND METIS WIRELESS MK2 LOUDSPEAKERS
Goldmund is a Swiss high-end brand that doesn't appear to be quite so well known locally. Perhaps it is just one of those brands that prefer to remain exclusive? I’ve been fortunate to have been living with the Goldmund Metis Mk.2 active speakers and Mimesis 11 hub.
Those of you who are aware of Goldmund will also know of their quality construction and the fact that they are at the forefront of what is technically possible in audio. For instance, Goldmund were using aluminium as the primary material for speakers, long before others.
Goldmund Metis Wireless Mk2
This is a pair of surprisingly heavy and seamlessly built aluminium speakers. Well, actually, they're a special Goldmund alloy, but I'll call it aluminium here. Both feature the G logo stamped in a gold square.
The loudspeakers are fastened by means of a number of different Allen screws to the sleek aluminium stands. The stands are fitted with flat bottomed 'spikes'. These threaded bolts have a large knurled end that allows for easy adjustment of the feet and levelling of the speakers.
As mentioned, the cabinets themselves are entirely made of aluminium. Fitted into these are a 5-inch woofer/mid driver and a tweeter. There is also a front-firing bass port that Goldmund says allows the lows to go down to 43 Hertz at -6dB, despite only about 10 litres of cabinet volume.
This setup certainly seems to achieve optimal coupling for the removal of unwanted resonances.
Contained within each small cabinet are two 175-Watt Goldmund Telos amplifiers and an electronic crossover. The distortion within their specified power range is so low, according to Goldmund, that these can be driven loudly without risk to the drivers.
At the rear of the cabinets you'll find an RS-232 connector for firmware updates, coaxial digital input and outputs to connect several loudspeakers in a loop system, an antenna connection and a small hole with the sunken 'pairing' button behind it. Finally, there is also a power connector.
The antenna and coaxial connections give you the choice of how you want to hook these speakers up.
The audio signal is transmitted either wirelessly, or via a coaxial SPDIF connection. The wireless system that the Metis uses is propriety technology developed between Goldmund and Texas Instruments. This, among other things, does not suffer from the shared - and therefore often very limited - bandwidth of regular Wi-Fi, through active monitoring of the available channels.
I used the Goldmund Mimesis 11 hub as a means of transmitting music from my sources to the Metis Mk 2. Alternatively, the speakers are supplied with a wireless USB dongle that can be used with laptops, desktops and server/streamers that have a USB output (such as those from Innuos and Aurender).
I started off with the Metis connected to the hub by coaxial cables until they'd warmed up and settled in.
Goldmund Mimesis 11 Hub
The Mimesis 11 is a rather classy, understated bit of audio equipment.
The front of the hub has a small display showing the input selection and volume. Both are presented numerically. That display is flanked by a pair of dials, the left being for input/source selector, whereas the right is the volume control.
It has a fixed linear power supply and features three digital inputs: S/PDIF, Toslink, and USB Audio Class 2.0 (driver required only for Windows).
There is also an RCA analogue input which will please turntable and vinyl enthusiasts, allowing you to connect the output of a phono stage to the Mimesis. The Mimesis will convert the analogue signal to digital and fire it over to the Metis loudspeakers.
The digital inputs can handle stereo audio encoded signals up to 384 kHz/32 Bit compatible DSD over PCM.
As well as the wireless output from the Mimesis (up to 4 channels), there are four parallel S/PDIF digital outputs.
Inside the Mimesis sits Goldmund's Alize Digital/Analogue Converter.
While Goldmund could be considered late to the party, not producing its first digital component until 1990, it did so only five years of research on digital/analogue converters and time linearity.
Goldmund found that the main sources of digital sound inaccuracy were not actually found in the conversion circuits themselves, but in the difficulty in feeding them with a low-jitter digital signal. Also, there was the matter of designing a time-coherent analogue output filter.
So, over the years, according to Goldmund, Alize technology has concentrated on:
- The creation of an extremely precise and advanced analogue filter
- The prevention of interference from sampling frequency (ripple interference at 22k and 24kHz for CD and DVD)
- Avoiding oversampling of the signal at all costs. This is due to oversampling creating more jitter and so will always be detrimental to the signal
- The perfect Time Alignment, using Goldmund proprietary time reconstruction algorithms
Goldmund implements their Leonardo-2 DSP to assist in achieving the perfect alignment of amplitude, frequency and phase.
Further, Goldmund says that with all of this tech, they produce speakers that are time coherent. “The Alize DAC technology is the only time corrected digital convertor on the planet and the Telos amplifier circuit is the only one in the world that has no 'group delay' across the entire audio spectrum.”
I can be told anything, but my ears will always be the judge.
After a few days of listening and adjusting the speaker placement, I was satisfied with the positioning of the Metis loudspeakers.
They stand just over 2 meters apart with a slight toe-in; not as drastic as the Eclipse I use regularly.
I started my listening session with the speakers physically connected to the Mimesis. Later, I would compare any audible differences between wired and wireless connection.
The first track I played I cued up was 'Red Right Hand' by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds on CD. Being a cool February evening, the room and equipment was chilled to say the least. Yet despite that, the sound was incredible.
In fact, the sound was so good that my other half came running in to the room. She stood there for a while speechless. Now, for me, this is worth whatever they cost right there!
I agreed with this reaction though. The volume was at around 32 but still comfortable in our little room. We could clearly hear every inflection and nuance in Nick's voice. The bells ringing were clear with a natural decay. But, it was the voice that held us agog. It was so realistic I had no doubt that while my eyes were closed, Nick was talking in the room.
Max Richter's 'Written on the Sky' from The Blue Notebook (CD) was beautifully presented. There's a lovely weight to this sub-two minute piano piece, but also a gentleness and fragility. Again, it was the natural sound that was incredible.
Moving on to 'Running', again by Richter but this time from the Disconnect OST (FLAC). There's a lot of panning here but the Goldmund system handled it nicely.
'Big Beans' from Boris Blank's Electrified was up next via Tidal. One point noted here was incredibly good timing. Although, I could tell that some of the very lowest lows were missing.
The following track, 'Escape Route', was the same. This was not really to the detriment of my enjoyment though as there was still plenty of low end presence, but you must keep the physical limitations of the small format loudspeakers in mind.
With the system well at operating temperatures now, 'Pachelbel: Canon and Gigue in D Major, P 37 by Musica Antiqua Koln (FLAC) comes across beautifully. Again, it's the realism that the Goldmund Metis Wireless speakers are able to convey that amazes.
I could quite easily imagine a harpsichord and strings being played in front of me. On a more grand scale, Dvorak's 'Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 “From the New World”: 4. Allegro con fuoco' (FLAC) enjoys a huge and extremely stable image with glorious spatial reproduction.
So far, music choices have all been quite refined, but what about a big of metal?
Starting off with 'The Package' by A Perfect Circle (a usual test track for me), the high guitars with deep, low bass sounded great. Maynard's quietly sung vocals against the crisp toms as the distorted bass ramps things up, creating tension all works well.
It's when the break actually hits at around 4:08 that had me looking at the speakers quizzically. I was expecting to have my face ripped off but it was all handled rather politely.
Metallica's 'Whiplash' (Tidal) was even-handed but seemed to lack aggression.
Cutting the cables
This is where things started to get weird for me. Forget everything you thought you knew about wireless streaming and audio. By its very nature, wireless is supposedly the lesser choice when compared to a physical, wired connection.
Very few gamers use wireless mice, very few developers will work on wireless terminal, and you just try getting audiophiles to use Bluetooth headphones.
However, untethering the Metis Mk2 loudspeakers led me down an odd rabbit hole: Curiouser and curiouser!
Hold on to your drinks and sit down, folks. This Goldmund system sounded better to me, wireless! I know, right?
Wired, the Metis and Mimesis combination sounded great (provided you avoid Thrash Metal) but, wirelessly, they seemed to open up even more.
While I can’t explain it, I wondered whether I should mention it. But then that would be doing the readers and Goldmund a disservice.
Chatting to our publisher Marc Rushton over in Melbourne about it, he too had experienced an audible improvement replacing a physical ethernet cable with a WiFi extender on a streaming device. We have a loose theory that relates to the buffering of data through a wireless connection, but that’s something to explore another day.
Either way, wirelessly, the audio remained natural, non-pixelated, alive, defined and realistic. It was quite simply freer; literally, unbound.
Goldmund is truly a luxury audio brand celebrating its 40th birthday this year. With all the clever technology it has developed I expected to see smart apps and multi-layered menus.
However, what I was presented with was an extremely fuss-free system that is both easy to set up and simple to use.
The Metis Mk2 loudspeakers and Mimesis hub are a joy to hear with most music genres. That said, metal maniacs might feel like they're missing a little. However, I very much doubt that circle pit regulars are Goldmund's target audience.
I have been pleasantly surprised by Goldmund's digital know-how. The fact is, these active speakers sound so analogue and the timing sounded spot on. The clarity and realism is nothing short of awesome.
I tip my hat to the Swiss brand's code writing skills and circuit-tweaking chops. It appears that the Swiss are just as particular about their audio as they are about their timekeeping.
Available now, the Goldmund Metis MK2 speakers sell for £18,000 pair, Metis stands - £2,000 pair, Mimesis 11 hub - £10,000.
For more information visit Goldmund.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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