Swiss Boenicke Audio manufacture isn’t old, decades of official activity are off the table. Hence to think that it hasn’t just yet arrived to a safe place of grand recognition is right, yes? Wrong. By his work, said company’s main man – Sven Boenicke – has very clearly marked its presence on the audio map. His products are pleasantly different and very surprising. To make a proper point, Boenicke Audio W8 floorstanders are this review’s main dish. Enjoy.
Each and every time this journalist visits a room with Boenicke Audio products, his attention is focused not only on this manufacture’s speakers and complementary electronics, but also on the crowd gathered there. One might ask now: “Why to pay attention to other listeners’ behavior, if the sound is the most important thing? You shouldn’t waste your time, eh?”. Of course, the performance is the key factor indeed, this goes rather without saying. But at times visitors’ faces and commentaries in Sven’s room are simply priceless. And here’s why – despite of exceptional inconspicuousness, his speakers deliver the grand experience like there was no tomorrow. This translates to both W5 monitors and W8 floorstanders’ very small size followed by utterly big and impressive sound right off the bat. This is what these provide easily. To follow in that vein, if one hasn’t yet had a pleasure to witness their performance, an eye-opening shock because of off the rails box-to-imaging ratio will most likely be served. The gist is that Sven’s products give a valid reason to be stunned and “How’s it possible to have sound this big from such a small package?”, “Dang, these are legit!”, “Impressive!”, “We need a bigger room” comments follow shortly after. As a happy W5 and W8 models owner, I can only smile when remarks like that are heard nearby. Our Swiss gent is probably even happier.In this reviewer’s case, his W8 model was bought because of it’s very impressive yet linear nature. It fulfilled a journalist’s and an enthusiast’s needs perfectly and the paragraph above merely facilely describes the process. Three years ago, during Polish Audio Show event in 2014 I’ve heard W8 for the very first time and back then I was the one who got shocked. People were asking themselves how is it possible that a speaker of W8 size is capable of filling a 100 sq. meters space with sound this effortless. Heck, I wondered about the very same thing. Somewhere along the road, not as a punter but already a well-aware audio consumer, I obtained Sven’s W5 monitors. These puppies are still a part of my home setup and surely aren’t going anywhere any time soon. The reason is very simple, though. This writer wasn’t able to find a subjectively better replacement thus far, even among much costlier products. The switch from great and very popular KEFs LS50 to W5 was nothing short but liberating. The full story can be found in this article.Getting back on track, right after the Polish event in 2014 I knew that the Swiss experience won’t let me forget about W5’s bigger brother. Let’s fast forward several months. At High End Munich event in 2015, W8 floorstanders were shown again, this time with Nic Poulson’s Trilogy 925 integrated amplifier and the outcome was even better than in Poland, at least to my ears. To say that the sound was subjectively great would be a major understatement. The decision to ask for an invoice from both Nic and Sven was made after mere 30 minutes time in the room they shared back then. More information about the former gent’s deck are to be found in this review. The rather personal side of the W8 story ends here, let’s get onto its technical part.
Boenicke Audio W8 floorstanders are very small. One could even say that these are compact, an adult won’t have any issues with lifting weight of 10 kilograms with just one hand. W8 model measures (H x W x D) 79 x 11,6 x 26 cm. Again, it’s tiny, which makes it a perfectly domestic addition to even small rooms. At least visually, we’ll get to that in a bit. But make no mistake, the most affordable Sven’s floorstanders are very serious. Their enclosures are made out of solid wood and not MDF covered in various veneers. If one wishes to have oaken product, two solid pieces of such wood are CNC-milled by a specialized subcontractor and the same story goes with walnut, ash tree and cherry. Each cabinet consists of two almost mirror alike halves glued perfectly, the connection between ’em is visible, yet seamless under one’s touch.W in every Boenicke model’s name stands for wood, whereas the figure next to it is the biggest driver’s diameter measured in inches. Catchy and intuitive, ain’t it? W8’s specs aren’t unusual; 4 ohms of nominal impedance, sensitivity of 87 dB and 25 Hz – 25 000 Hz FR response aren’t scary, at least in theory. Our product is a four-way design and a rather special case in general on top of that. W8’s figure is not only slim, but also slightly tilted back. Let’s add woofers mounted on the sides. This picture should ring some bells to individuals aware of Audio Physic brand, let’s invoke i.e. Tempo VI model. Familiarly looking design, ain’t it? It’s not for me to say whether Sven Boenicke knows Joahim Gerhard, yet I wouldn’t be surprised at all if these two gents’ paths have crossed at some point in the past.Boenicke W8 floorstanders are exceptionally well-made. This product screams quality and it’s very obvious that a person responsible for its looks has to have a great taste. The overall design is minimalistic, sleek and very Scandinavian in general. Merely sandpapered and oiled, therefore almost raw wood looks exceptionally pleasing. Sven uses this material because of its resonating properties, it works in a natural way. Moving on, the cabinets are heavily flanged inside, in order to get rid of places where potential standing waves could happen. Every surface there is nicely rounded via CNC processing. The point is that W8’s innards can’t be done with MDF. And even if that’d be the case, this material isn’t a part of Boenicke DNA and presumably never will be.Let’s shift our attention towards transducers used in W8 model. The biggest one is Tang Band’s long throw bass driver of 6.5″ diameter. It’s tuned to 28 Hz, runs without crossover and is mounted on a cabinet’s side, which has some interesting successions, we’ll get to that in a moment. Moving on, 4″ bass-midrange driver sports paper membrane, apple tree phase plug and wood cone mounted to its magnet. This transducer is made by Tang Band as well and subject to 1st order low pass filter only. Fountek’s F85 3″ widebander with probably aluminium membrane is filtered via 1st order high pass filter and loaded with unique electromechanical parallel resonator. But the most interesting is Monacor’s ambient tweeter fitted into W8’s rear baffle. Our speakers’ internal wiring is orientation-optimised, silk-wrapped high-frequency stranded litz. It’s also worth to know that 4″ and 3″ drivers work in their own, bullet alike chambers, which are isolated from the rest.Boenicke W8 is a very well-thought product. It’s not only about its marvelous casework, but every small detail visible if one takes enough effort to take a closer look. The product arrives without any grills. Yet each visible transducer is partially covered by a nice foam ring and – subjectively – the outcome is very appealing. Speaker’s horizontal edges are rounded, whereas vertical ones are sharp. This fact alone makes sense to this scribe from visual standpoint. Such design along with slight tilt makes W8 to be quite on the move looker and not solid, monolithic and boring piece of audio furniture. Usher alike associations, anyone? Some goodies are seen on this review hero’s rear. The most obvious is lack of typical bass-reflex venting. What we have instead is a transmission line alike solution, which ends with wide and flat port instead of round bore. A bit lower there’s a stainless steel nameplate loaded with a pair of WBT-0703 Cu nextgen speaker terminals. One can also see the product’s serial number, version (standard, SE or SE+) and a very jolly “Swiss Happiness in a Box” writing.The product arrives with two T-shaped steel pieces, one for each speaker. Each part fits nicely into a recess cut below a nameplate. The standard W8 version is equipped with rather usual suspects, namely six screws with felt feet. Hence each box sits on three of these. But if one wishes to, Sven’s proprietary solution known as SwingBase (CHF 1’434) can be additionally purchased. It fits all of this gent’s floorstanding products. SwingBase consists of four aluminum elements with short ropes inside and two separate rollerblock mechanisms (bronze plate + steel ball). This is enough for two speakers. Said metal parts and rollerblocks make the speaker to float above the ground and once it’s pushed, it’ll swing for a short while, hence the name – SwingBase – is very accurate. That’s our Swiss gent’s idea to fight with vibrations and very decent at that. Bass is significantly better with this swinging mechanism.And lastly, W8 model is available in three different versions. This review’s main dish is standard, additionally equipped with SwingBase. Moving upwards, SE W8 has its bass-midrange transducer loaded with parallel resonator, Bybee Quantum Purifiers and proprietary phase linearization network. The most costly SE+ model is even more complex. Stage II parallel resonators are added to every speaker. Steinmusic Speaker Match Signature is a part of this package as well and the same story goes with SwingBase. Widebanders are then equipped with Harmonix Tuning Bases and standard Obbligato Premium capacitors are replaced with Mundorf’s Silver Gold Oil equivalents. Quite a few changes, eh? The price difference is staggering, though. For Standard, SE and SE+ versions one has to dish out CHF 6’880, CHF 10’018 and CHF 16’336 respectively. Ouch. The last scenario implies that the cost of upgrades is in fact higher than a pair of standard W8 boxes.This scribe can’t say whether additional tweaks of Steinmusic/Harmonix sort are worth their asking. But I’m confident to say that Sven knows what he’s doing, we’re past doubt in this regard. Hence if one can afford to perform a leap of faith and snatch a SE+ version in the process might be beneficial. And lastly, an anecdote regarding latest Boenicke Audio portfolio. Recently bigger W11 model emerged in this manufacture and its SE variant cost is CHF 13’018, which makes it more affordable than… W8 SE+. The takeaway here is that upper echelon product in SE version can be had for less than SE+ model from one shelf below. This status quo is at least intriguing. Again, I can’t say if these are comparable, it’s for the best to ask Sven himself or a customer who’s made a transition of this sort. But the gist is that this man is exceptionally focused on upgrades. Needless to say, he has to be strongly convinced about their power.
Boenicke Audio W8 assignment wasn’t of regular kind, far from it in fact. This product has been purchased by yours truly more than a year ago and matched with a number of cables, sources and amplifiers during that time. W8 fought several battles with widebanders, OB designs, monitors and regularly vented three-ways since late 2015. And most of these adventures happened in the very same room. The best combination I was able to find for Sven’s smallest floorstanders is Polish LampizatOr Golden Gate (Psvane WE101D-L + KR Audio 5U4G ltd.) and Nic Poulson’s Trilogy 925 integrated amplifier. Said equipment is this knight’s main reference rig and every signs out there indicate that it won’t change anytime soon.Since Boenicke W8 are unusual in general, exactly this kind of an approach is needed in order to make them work. This isn’t an easygoing product. And by that one should understand that rather demanding space requirements have to be met, otherwise the outcome will be heavily bottlenecked. To paint somewhat more understandable picture, 50 centimetre distance to rear and side walls won’t do the trick. W8 appetite in this regard is literally limitless. In my listening room of 24 sq. meters, this product sits almost in the middle. Nearly one and three meters of space are provided from each side and behind said boxes respectively. Crazy? Perhaps. But the outcome of such placement is far better than anything else I’ve tried. If I had to sit one meter in front of W8 just in order for these speakers to have three times bigger space behind them, I’d gladly do it instead of the opposite scenario. This is crucial in our Swiss case, even more so than with any other speakers I had a pleasure to deal with in the past. After a fair number of W8 auditions in several places, I tend to think that my own four walls are the absolute minimum. 50 sq. meters won’t be any issue at all for Sven’s smallest floorstanders, that’s a given. Come to think of it, in such conditions these would probably spread their wings much wider. Therefore the major rule of thumb in W8 case is this: the bigger room is provided, the better outcome is given in return.The second matter is speakers’ placement. Two options are available; woofers inside and out. This slight change turns things upside down rapidly. Which is the better one, then? It depends as each has its own strengths and weaknesses. When bass drivers look at themselves from too close distance, their waves overlap and the outcome might get less controlled downstairs than it should. When said transducers are very close to side walls, therefore the opposite scenario happens, the music body is less meaty yet more tight in general. In my room, the option number one proved to be better. More meat on the bones was appreciated, even if slightly blurrier and less contour image has been given in return. Said aspect was elevated a bit by Polish d/a converter anyway, so that’s that. It’s safe to say that this scribe’s favourite scenario was less clear and precise than the other option at the very beginning. Yet again, past extensive gear swaps, complementary electronics handled a bit underperforming traits properly and no major trade-offs had to be made. But if a bigger room was available, i.e. of twice the size of my cellar, and if two or three meters space to side surfaces could have been provided, in such case W8 probably would have its woofers not inside but out.Boenicke W8 were bought by this reviewer because of two reasons; sheer joy these provide and very decent linearity throughout the whole audible FR. As a journalist, I have to hear every gear change and W8 serves as a scope here, it shows details very nicely. It’s safe to say that said boxes give a very generous insight into the music, hence very poor recordings are off the table. This review’s main dish sings in very clear and clean way, grain isn’t a part of its performance. For instance, pricier, class D loaded and wonderful Aequo Audio Ensis aren’t detail oriented to the same degree, their focus lies elsewhere. But to name Swen’s W8 model souless, clinical, surgical and overly analytical would be a mistake. That’s the beauty of his smallest floorstanders, accuracy and clarity are merely two out of many things these are very good at. Said features happen in addition to more emphasized things and as such aren’t the main attention grabbers.Boenicke W8 are neither very thick nor overly thin sounding. Neither is their bass boosted, nor midrange or highs. The sensation of sound being built around certain FR part at the cost of less present rest, simply isn’t there. What is, then? Coherence, said speakers sound very coherent. The usual suspects, namely upper bass/low midrange regions aren’t elevated at all. Hence the sound never becomes unclear, veiled or bloated. Given the minimal space requirements are met, that’s practically impossible. What listener gets in return is aforementioned clarity. In terms of saturation, Sven’s smallest floorstanders are somewhere in the middle of the overall scale. Said feature surely comes as a part of the W8 package and can be tweaked in any direction at user’s end. For instance, Sanders Sound Systems Magtech Class AB power amp subtracts a bit of muscle tissue, whereas Trilogy 925 integrated of hybrid sort does the exact opposite. OK, to be perfectly fair, I’ve heard W8 veiled only once, with Amare Musica Diamond Entropy 25WPC valve integrated. Yet this kind of company isn’t suitable for said floorstanders at all, they are power hungry. There’s one exception though, namely FirstWatt F7. To a certain SPL level, this amplifier gets along with W8 just fine, things start to get too wobbly during louder sessions. The point is that Nelson’s F7 has decent control over aforementioned Swiss load. To a point of course, but still.Usually, when speakers of linear and not very dense sort are the case, to assume that their performance will be flat and dull is somewhat correct. This happens at times. Yet again, that’s not possible with Boenicke W8 once it’s fed with a suitable amplifier and a source. Past this task, Swiss speakers sport generous amount of smoothness, complex texturing and lifelike approach. Nothing about their sound is blunt, on the contrary. This is a very refined performer. Not only it allows one to hear everything, but every piece of music is shown with humane face. Nothing about W8’s performance is artificial but generously vivid instead.Heck, even W8’s bass still impresses me after more than one year of constant duty. Not only it’s properly controlled, but reaches deep enough to not even think about additional power downstairs delivered by a separate sub. At the same time, lowest FR has enough crack to shake the room in properly tight way. Again, the outcome heavily depends on an amplifier used. Trilogy 925 softens the edges and goes deeper than American Sanders Sound Systems combo. The latter paints stiffer, more punchy and fit picture. And a somewhat similar story happens with i.e. highs. This FR part can be on the shorter and more energetic side with American amplifier or longer, more present, slightly withdrawn and more generously differentiated when the English integrated is on. Yet highs are never overly lit-up and shiny. In any case, two different ways to serve the same dish, yes? Yes, this exactly. Both as equally tasty, but it’s up to you which one suits you better. From purely journalistic perspective, to have ’em this easily distinguishable is something to behold. Let me point out again that Boenicke Audio W8 show every system tweak very easily.For now we have a properly linear, detailed, resolving, well-textured, smooth and refined speakers. Great performers in general. But what really makes it all click with a proper bang and make these boxes very unique is their imaging capabilities. This aspect is literally out of this world. First of all, Boenicke W8 vanish from a room exceptionally easily. At times it’s honestly funny. When sitting one meter in front of ’em, I’m not able to locate the sound source within my four walls. Not a chance. To spice things up a bit, W8’s drivers cross not on my head, but far behind. Yes, drivers on W8’s front baffle don’t look at me at all as there’s no valid reason to place them in such way.Boenicke W8 speakers paint very wide, deep and tall picture. Very. Many listeners who visited me were simply blown away by this kind of soundstage and rightfully so. No other floorstander or monitor known to yours truly comes close to what Sven’s product is capable of in this regard. Given enough room, our Swiss fills the whole rear wall with sound as effortlessly as it gets. The very first row doesn’t appear in front of the speakers or between them, but slightly deeper, which gives the impression of a listener being in a rather large hall for most of the time and not in a small, intimate room. The soundstage is very airy and quite light, which elevates this experience even further. This is a very specific projection type, rarely heard and yet so enjoyable subjectively speaking. Another quite amusing and surprising thing is that a listener can see through the product. Every inch of the space in front of him is perfectly clear. Again, W8 aren’t seen at all. Yet when the music is recorded in a way which is well-developed on the sides, the sound is shown there as well and can be served in front of Swiss boxes. Yes, Boenicke W8 surely provide a lot of insight about the mastering process itself.Out of dozens of guests in my manly cave, not even one bragged about artificially expansive and overgrown W8’s soundstage. The key here is that these boxes have the ability to show instruments not only very accurately, but also in properly dense and vivid fashion. If i.e. a vocalist isn’t recorded as a four meters tall giant, Swiss speakers won’t show it as such. These keep instruments’ size in check. Every piece of musical picture isn’t watery because of imaging size, each of its ingredients is very real and present, yet oftentimes a bit further than usual. The so-called ‘In your face’ approach happens very rarely. Though when the music demands it, generous level of intimacy is provided as well. Blixa Bargeld’s voice can sound both horrifyingly intimate and close at the same time. It’s up to a recording. To summarize this part I can only say, that Boenicke W8 is far better in terms of imaging precision, soundstage complexity and size than any other similar product known to me. To hear what said floorstanders are capable of in these regards is to believe.To make it perfectly clear, Boenicke W8 isn’t as effortless performer as i.e. Gradient’s Revolution OB affair. The Swiss doesn’t push this much air, hence its sound is of smaller scale and less present, not that energetic, forward and direct. This is easily heard past these two models’ comparison and I’d lie by writing anything else. But the best part is that – after short accommodation – W8 amazes as per usual. Nothing changes in this regard, it can easily withstand skirmish with very serious competition. Subjectively speaking, thus far only Aequo Audio Ensis bested W8 in more than just one way. Still, once Dutch marvels were sent back, everything went back to normal exceptionally quickly. Hence I’m quite confident that Boenicke W8 is a product to have and enjoy for many years. Personally I wouldn’t be that surprised if, after taking a look at a crystal ball, I’d see myself with these or any other speakers made by Sven in several years from now. Not at all.And lastly, amplification. Out of several decks reviewed and tested with W8, Trilogy 925 turned out to be subjectively the best one. It provides density, phenomenal texturing and control over given load at a small cost of speed, this simply isn’t exceptionally feisty deck. Sanders Sound Systems Magtech preamplifier and power amp acts like a liposuction treatment, it takes away some of textures, yet is edgier, faster and more present at the very bottom in comparison to Nic Poulson’s integrated. Cary Audio SI.300-2D is somewhere in the middle. It takes some of the former’s density, speed from the latter and blends these rather nicely. Though not as subtle and refined as Trilogy 925, it handles W8 very decently nonetheless. Stepping several price shelves down, Hegel Rost works rather well with these speakers too, though it’s a speed and not density oriented device. FirstWatt F7 does the job very nicely to a certain point, it’s a density and charm provider above all else, though viable only during quiet listening. Yet one of the biggest surprises was the Job 225. This Swiss power amplifier drove W8 like crazy. The sound was exceptionally agile, threedimensional and very smooth. Yes, a bit on a thinner side. But still, for Job 225’s asking one simply can’t go wrong with it. To conclude, each of aforementioned products is W8 capable, though there are quality differences between them, not to mention emphasis put on different sound aspects. But in general these decks will work, on the contrary to valve amplifiers of small power, that’s a big no. Let’s summarize.
Boenicke Audio W8 are the best floorstanders in their class I’ve had a pleasure to listen to. Once properly matched, this product provides a thoroughly enjoyable experience of a very high calibre. But the most important part is that the W8 sensation in many ways simply can’t be replicated. This very unique product is loaded with audible and unforgettable traits. It’s both seen and heard that it isn’t generic in any way, Sven likes to do things as he sees fit and it pays out. It has to, this man knows what he’s doing, his W5 model serves as very solid proof and now W8 turned out to be yet another one.
W8 floorstanders are exceptionally well-made and subjectively very tasty looking. In this product’s case it’s not about shiny lacquer, ultra-rare parts, size or visual luxury served in an obvious fashion. On the contrary, modesty and inconspicuousness are on the table, additionally sprinkled by small, yet tasty details easily seen if one cares enough to pay closer attention. This somewhat Scandinavian approach is subjectively likeable and certainly very domestic aesthetic wise. I honestly can’t picture a room where W8 wouldn’t find its place. Said speakers’ assembly is impeccable, I couldn’t single-out one thing that could’ve been done better.
Boenicke Audio W8 a truly grand performer. It provides exceptionally open, huge, airy and very refined sound in general. W8’s imaging capabilities are the most shocking part and once one gets used to this aspect, there’s no going back. This kind of presentation is plainly and highly addictive. Yes, there are products with more lush midrange, even punchier downstairs department or more intimate approach. But the gist is that – as a package – W8 delivers on every field. This is a truly complete product of exceptional quality or – to put it in even simpler words – is as enjoyable as it is refined. Yes, very. Once ‘Swiss made’ sticker and Sven’s personal input are added to the final tab, it isn’t scary at all. His W8 floorstanders deserve this kind of dough if someone asks this reviewer. If quality electronics and space are provided, not to have a blast with these charming floorstanders simply isn’t an option. “Swiss Happiness in a Box”, then? Yes, this exactly. Highly recommended! ‘Till next time.
- Amplifier: Trilogy 925, Sanders Sound Systems Magtech + preamplifier and then some
- Sources: Lampizator Golden Gate (Psvane WE101D-L + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)
- Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8, Xavian Perla and then some
- Transports: Asus UX305LA, Lumin T1
- Speaker cables: Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept, Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence
- Interconnects: Forza AudioWorks Noir, Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence
- Power supply: Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence
- Rack: Lavardin K-Rak
- Music: NativeDSD
Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (excl. tax):
- Boenicke Audio W8: CHF 6’880
- Boenicke Audio W8 SE: CHF 10’018
- Boenicke Audio W8 SE+: CHF 16’336
- SwingBase: CHF 1’434
Manufacturer: Boenicke Audio