When the iPhone came out in 2007, I heard about a young guy showing off his new device and all its cool apps at a family gathering. He was the hero of the moment, until his father observed, “You’d think he invented the damned thing.”
It’s the tragedy of my calling, too, that the most creative thing I can do is find marvellous things cleverer people have made and bring them to your attention. But it still feels like an achievement to find something obscure but utterly extraordinary.
A couple of years ago I heard of a Swiss audio company called Goldmund that sells in Asia and the US. Goldmund had created some £300,000 active loudspeakers (Apologue Anniversary) and invited me to its Geneva factory to listen to them. The sound they produced was worth every penny, even if at nearly half a tonne each they weren’t for everyone. I then learnt more about Goldmund. It was controversial – some hifi buffs claimed the factory I toured didn’t exist; I also learnt that the CEOs of some household-name electronics companies and a few Hollywood luminaries had Goldmund systems at home. But in Britain they were still a rarity.
This could all change now that Goldmund has a UK distributor. I trekked over to a repurposed church in West Hampstead where Sonata, run by former recording engineer Rob Wilson, operates and gives demos. And I was blown away by what I heard – a set of dense and glamorous active wireless speakers, which at £5,500 must be the world’s most rarefied on-desk computer speakers.
Could Goldmund’s Nanometis really be better than the terrific £299 Ruark MR1 speakers currently on my desk? Yes, it seems – perhaps not 17 times better, but substantially. Mindblowingly, if I’m being honest. They’re so good that my wife came by and said, “They sound amazing”, knowing and caring nothing about the twin 70-watt amplifiers aboard each cast-aluminium 4.8kg speaker, nor the vented bass arrangement, which makes them sound many times their size, nor the “Leonardo” digital signal correction technology supplying near perfect crossover, phase, amplitude and time alignment. The Nanometis are so powerful you can feel shifted air on your face at even medium volume. And it’s quality sound too. You can also pair them with a hifi, multiroom streamers and other accessories. Glorious stuff.