After the recent Anzus Mainz loom review at this site, the time has come to investigate yet another product manufactured at the same place, albeit under a different brand. The Børresen 01 has been on my radar ever since auditioning it for the first time, now was the time to ask for a loaner and Its makers happily obliged. Enjoy!
My trip to Denmark’s cities of Aalborg and Aarhus in late 2019 was one unforgettable and highly educational experience. By witnessing for three days how the audio industry’s veterans Lars Kristensen and Michael Børresen conduct their business, I’d learnt how their fully blown professional audiophile establishment operates from the inside. The two Danes at the steering wheel of brands Aavik Acoustics, Ansuz Acoustics and Børresen Acoustics, all held under the parent UpperLevel APS umbrella, clearly were about going big and in style. Products as costly as theirs are nothing out of ordinary when audio events come into play. There we see multiple rooms loaded with hardware only lucky few can afford. However, my personal upshot from visiting the Aavik/Ansuz/Børresen HQ was in all its luxury sampled in an environment perfectly controlled and free from regular trade venue downsides; crowd, sensory overload, random music and dubious acoustics.Hearing top level stuff and experiencing what it really can do isn’t the same thing. In Denmark I was introduced to the rare opportunity of seeing my hosts’ undeniably costly products at their best; just the way they were meant to be set up and with no compromises anywhere in sight. Unsurprisingly, no trade show’s small rooms full of glass and/or paper-thin walls could compete with what was assembled at their premises in Aalborg. Past returning home I wondered how much of the previously heard Danish distinctiveness I’d be possibly able to inject into my own setup. The Ansuz stack reviewed here already partially addressed this question and also automatically narrowed down the next assignment to no less interesting products either by Aavik or Børresen.Past my story about their Ansuz loom, the Danes were happy to provide me next whatever I deemed as interesting. As per usual with them, the sky was the limit. However, I had no intentions to reach this high and my choice was in fact a simple math. Srajan handled Børresen’s smallest floorstanding 02 model here, so my input on it wasn’t necessary considering its remaining siblings not yet covered at 6moons.com and the HFK site. Not only this, anything above the 02 could’ve been possibly too much for my humble crib and that’s something to investigate later on, but going smaller was the best way forward. This naturally marked the most compact Børresen 01 model as my target, which interestingly etched in my memory a fair bit more than anything else I’d seen in Aalborg and Aarhus. It was the perfect fit.
The cargo shipped my way from Denmark included three packages strapped to a small pallet. The main box with its sides reinforced by rectangular wooden supports housed two speakers and six top level Darkz T2 Supreme decouplers, whereas pre-assembled stands were found in their separate double cardboards. Each component wrapped in a cloth bag was perfectly snug in-between thick foam forms and their extraction was a breeze. The overall sight was modest, utilitarian and completely free from bling, which is exactly what I had expected.Each Børresen 01 speaker measures (W x D x H) 18,4 x 36,8 x 41,5cm and weighs just 11.5kg, whereas a stand tailored for it adds 6.5kg extra and 73.5cm to the overall height. Although the entire structure is unusually deep and well over a meter tall, it remains perfectly manageable by an adult. The Børresen 01 is a vented 2-way monitor design. Its 86dB/1W sensitivity is followed by 50Hz-50kHz frequency response, enjoyable 6Ω nominal impedance and an amp’s recommended power output understandably above 50W. The basic 01 model with Darkz C2t pucks sells for €25’500 and my loaner equipped with six Darkz T2 Supreme decoupler footers is €29’800. Glossy finish and custom paint jobs add €3’500 and a pair of matched stands as shown in this review is €4’300 extra. This leaves hefty €34’100 on the bill for this report’s entire lot.The petite 01’s sleek exterior looks very modern and simple, dare I say inconspicuous if not regular to an extent, however on purpose. Its makers never aimed at flashy visuals, the exact opposite approach is carved deep in their Scandinavian DNA. The smallest Børresen’s HDF cabs outsourced at the Sino factory score enough points on attention to details and overall put-togetherness to leave the impression of an undoubtedly costly product. This comes as no surprise, the same subcontractor plant handles woodwork for i.e. Dynaudio and Sonus faber just to name two well-established audio brands. Although my loaner’s admirable walnut veneering job and no bolts in sight imply professional assembly, many far more affordable products deliver on these counts as well. Still, how the 01’s cheeks gently slope towards its unusually narrow rear is no common sight and so aren’t their substantial flared openings that decompress in-house developed tweeters, clever rear anti-turbulence additives and pretty much everything inside. All these measures tell us that this report’s product is no ordinary affair and that’s what one pays for, not visual bling or hefty footprint.The 01’s mildly tilted cabs are the widest at the front, from where they narrow all the way to the unusually tight business end. This delicate curvaceous touch allowed its makers to get rid of internal standing waves and also net very agile appeal that suits the product’s alike performance very well, but we’ll get to this part in a bit. Each enclosure’s easily removable grainy black plate mounts to its forehead via short steel bolts. This thick detachable surface features only the Børresen logo at the bottom and nicely sloped openings for drivers, but it also cleverly hides all screws around them, looks very clean and allows for an easy access to a cab’s internals. Large audio establishments take potential failures/accidents and associated work into account just as everything else.The product’s top surface is flat and, excluding flared surroundings near their triangular openings, so are its sides. Each cab’s underbelly features three cavities to accommodate Ansuz decouplers; two near the front and one at the opposite end. Up high on the deeply concaved rear there’s a bass-reflex tunnel baptized by its makers as a tuning port, assisted by two aluminium vanes designed to optimize in-room air propagation. Speaker terminals found a fair bit lower on a protruding block are two openings that will accept only banana/BFA-styled cable terminations. Lack of regular binding posts compliant with everything else might be a con to some individuals, but for me it wasn’t though I had some luck. The 01’s deep 4cm-wide rear end wouldn’t house my Boenicke S3 speaker cable’s thick wooden barrels all by itself. Fortunately, LessLoss Firewalls I’ve been using for some time now sport sleek umbilical C-MARC cables finished with BFAs, which went in very nicely.The Børresen 01’s 4.8″ mid/woofer and ribbon tweeter not only are this operation’s proprietary transducers built from scratch, but also highly advanced developments that most likely swallowed a lot of resources to emerge. The former driver’s iron-less motor comprises of N52 neodymium magnets and two copper poles in-between. Although efficient as heat sinks, these copper rings primarily lower used voice coil’s inductance to improve its linearity, increase current delivery to a driver, have its strokes faster and decrease acoustic impedance peaks. To push this even further and break the hysteresis phenomenon, Børresen mid/woofers’ voice coils are based on titanium formers, whereas their open cast baskets net better airflow and better compression inside a box. Very stiff light cones have their honeycomb Nomex cores bonded with two very thin layers of outer carbon fiber skins, similarly to wings in Formula One race devils.Børresen’s signature ribbon tweeter isn’t usual either. Its large membrane based on a nylon/aramid substrate coated via aluminium layer not only weighs next to nothing (0.01g of moving mass), but is also thermally stable up to 600C°. Let’s add 96dB efficiency, easygoing (6Ω) impedance load and the very same powerful N52 neodymium magnet as seen in the 01’s mid/woofers, albeit perforated. The tweeter operates as a dipole without a transformer, whereas its rear strokes escape via mirrored triangular openings on each cab’s cheek.My loaner’s careful internal examination led to accurate CNC work, several proprietary twists, mild amount of wool damping and no glue in sight. One heavily perforated HDF insert just behind each mid/woofer creates pressure right next to it bigger than anywhere else in the cabinet, which effectively leads to the two drivers in there acoustically invisible one to another. Air pumped via a mid/woofer cone’s rear strokes goes through a perforated wall first, then hits an enclosure’s second chamber and from there escapes via its rear port connected to two anti-turbulent skeletal vanes just outside. No interaction between transducers, clarity plus optimized and controlled air propagation in a room are the goals of this thoroughly engineered venting route.During my stay in Aalborg Michael explained that he’s not a huge fan of exotic crossover parts, especially capacitors. Instead he makes his own and turns those he doesn’t into as mechanically stable versions of themselves as possible. That’s why the 01’s internal x-over network includes Børresen’s proprietary caps mixed with larger ones coated in resin and then baked to have them mechanically stable thus silent. To Danes mechanical grounding and resonance control are universal and foundational in pursuit of silence, which is why the 01’s each internal PCB also sits on three Darkz pucks. Its unusually thick complex hookup wiring defeats aerial effects, whereas all remaining parts form a circuit baptized dither tech, designed to modulate ground noise floor by injecting squared frequencies into signal. This report’s main dish is internally unlike every other speaker set I came across.It’s fair to explain why six Ansuz Darkz T2 Supreme anti-vibration devices ad €4’300 extra to my loaner’s already very steep tab. Each decoupler includes three discs and 2 x 3 balls in-between, which is not a lot of raw material per se. However, all these components are titanium and plates that form a decoupling device additionally undergo a rather extreme therapy. They’re bombarded with particles at the Aarhus university to etch layers of tantalum, scandium and diamond deep into their primary surface. This process changes properties of these parts by shifting their resonant mods, is long and involves a particle accelerator. Ansuz Darkz T2 Supreme footers have their skins fully developed after 60+ hours of expensive treatment, which a customer has to see on the bill. At the Aalborg house titanium is the most cherished material and top performance comes before all else. If it’s achievable exclusively via very costly measures, so be it. If €700+ per one top shelf Darkz footer is too much, their entry-level models are available for far less.And lastly, the 01’s stands. Each’s upper piece shaped to perfectly align with a speaker’s underbelly bolts to the main wing-alike leg heavily concaved on the rear, which connects to the crossed base cut from one block of material. Its four horizontal rods finished with adjustable aluminium footers are fit to sit on Darkz decouplers of choice and three round suede-lined openings on the top level accept them as well. Glossy silver paint job on both floors nicely contrasts with the center piece’s matte black finish. I suspect that all these bits were made out of HDF, but that’s my guess. Stands share their sporty styling with speakers, are finely put together and the view upon assembling everything together is very nice if someone asks me. The gap in-between each cab and its stand is only 7mm wide. Due to the Ansuz devices’ presence in there the overall structure has some play to it, but that’s how it was supposed to be.
My fidata HFAS1-S10U handled storage/transport, then LampizatOr Pacific DAC (KR Audio T-100/Living Voice 300B + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.) took over to pass the signal to a Kinki Studio EX-M1 or Thöress DFP connected to AGD Productions Audion monos. From there a Boenicke Audio S3 speaker cable went to the Børresen 01 or sound|kaos Vox 3afw loaners. Interconnects used were Boenicke Audio IC3 CG and Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence where needed. All key hardware was powered by Boenicke Audio Power Gate distributor box with three captive M2s and supportively also LessLoss C-MARCs. The USB chain included the full iFi audio stack; a micro iUSB3.0, nano iGalvanic3.0, three Mercury3.0 USB cables in-between plus one 9V iPower. One set of LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers modules complimented all loads in this review, whereas Fidelizer EtherStream was in-between my Linksys WRT160N router and fidata server. A GigaWatt PC-3 SE EVO+ power conditioner fronted by its own LC-3 EVO cable housed PSUs for a USB reclocker, router and network switch.My visit in Denmark and the 01’s on-site manual already told me how to set it up. The manufacturer listed the distance of 50/15cm respectively to a room’s front/side walls and no less than 3m in-between both speakers as a good starting point. Both boxes should also toe in just so to hit one’s shoulders and cross a fair bit behind a listening seat. My willingness to stick to this guideline resulted in a spot on 3m-wide equilateral triangle and each speaker was 120/60cm away from my crib’s front/side walls. It worked like a charm and there was no need for any adjustments, even though I could easily move both cabs back and forth by quite a bit and toe them in more aggressively. Regardless of a choice it was also rather clear that they should be as apart as possible.Let me first make a convenient shortcut and paste here what I wrote after my first contact with Børresen’s 01 monitors: “These inherently revealing boxes did splendidly in magnifying differences between all levels of Ansuz products, but also filled the room with grand, hauntingly dark, effortlessly served and immensely deep landscape, occupied via finely outlined yet internally dense and very much alive sound sources. Not a hint of bass struggle or boom, but lots of torque and generously applied vividness netted engaging and all in all brilliant result.” After hearing the 01 at my place I strongly think that this bit quite accurately lists its most prominent sonic features, which would also imply that in there I managed to quite an extent replicate the experience as heard on the Danish soil. However, this description fits to many other high-performance products and leaves the key “what am I really paying for?” question unanswered. Here’s where it gets really interesting.If you’re wondering what’s so special about the smallest Børresen’s sonics that could possibly justify its staggering cost, it’s very simple. These petite monitors pull several stunts their breed honestly isn’t capable of, and they do it remarkably well. Many similar designs stage enormously big and well-developed in all directions, plus they’re pinpoint accurate. The 01 provides all this in spades, which is anything but shocking all by itself. However, pretty much every alike-sized box past a certain point needs to really flex its muscles to make up for lack of cone surface. Whether we like it or not, eventually inches gain on importance as without them the sensation of ease, snap and scale in music evaporates along with SPL increase, especially during dynamically challenging orchestral pieces, quick artificial bass lines, fierce unamplified guitar plucks and so forth. If unassisted, regular monitors are bound to struggle when such repertoire is on the menu, but the Børresen 01 didn’t at all. Its ability to just go was off-charts and this relentless attitude is what effectively set it apart from any other product of the same kind I’m aware of.In my room the 01 accessed torque reserve that honestly seemed to have no end and normally is off-limits to the regular 2-way monitor breed. Today’s champ didn’t break a single drop of sweat during even the craziest bass jobs I had for it. This sort of exceptional easefulness is what happens when sheer power is held in iron grasp, but the critical difference was in its scale. Instead of just pretending to be big at high SPL, the dynamically gifted 01 truly was. On tracks loaded with rapid brutal lows it surpassed pretty much everything else similarly sized and passive I’d heard in the same room. It landed strikes hard, bold, fast, visceral, and each it served perfectly coherently and in utmost timely manner. Speaking trains, it’d be the Shinkansen among its kind and nothing less.Several months ago I viewed the 01’s concoction of agility, power and overall tenacity as achievable only via rather unusual means; sealed enclosures with passive membranes as shown in Buchardt Audio S400, or the Dutch&Dutch 8c’s similar topology further augmented via in-room DSP correction and far larger woofer artillery, though both these products had to be coupled with a front wall to benefit from its +6dB boost. In this context the 01’s cleverness was in its willingness to perform as potently yet further in a room and without any auxiliary measures. Its wild bass behavior unlocked ‘just’ by internally unusual cabs and high-tech drivers was a mighty achievement in my book.Monitors as ripped as this report’s load usually have their bass lean and chiseled, which further highlights its agile disposition. However, the 01’s powerful and elastic low region also featured pleasantly fatty nicely differentiated tissue. It’s very difficult to combine these two traits in a ported product regardless of how muscular it is or appears to be, but the Danes managed to engineer theirs to behave exactly like so. Their acoustically tamed boom-free cabs resulted in the 01’s freedom from smear and bloat, and made room for its bass as fierce and substantial as it was articulate and clear. On this count the smallest Børresen went far beyond the usual and struck me as quite crazy.Quick and expansive monitors often feature ethereal, lightweight and shiny sonic footprint, which becomes brittle, thin, hollow and piercing if pushed too hard. Not today. The usual rules clearly didn’t apply to the 01 as its inherently speedy voicing was also pleasantly gravitational at its core. In fact, it introduced itself as a specimen more in service of tone than every detail amplified and shoved down my ears at all cost, which understandably had me quite puzzled at first. I simply didn’t expect a monitor type this wickedly fast to be also quite earthy and substantial, but after a while it became clear what this early darkness meant and how it should be grasped. Silence was the key word.If the smallest Børresen owed its sporty temper to highly advanced transducers, then its easily recognizable sonic blackness had to be the effect of deadly silent cabs, their makers’ borderline fanatical attention to mechanical grounding and all unorthodox plots applied to x-overs. Those are noise-killing measures meant to trim excess noise, whereas spooky black canvas, organic tissue, roundness, hydration, seductiveness and sensuality in music were their well-known audible effects. The takeaway was clear. The 01 at my place behaved very much like it had multiple LessLoss components inside, but it didn’t. The team Børresen relies on their own silencing technology, however its ultimate goal and sonic upshots are the same. The resulting darkness embedded into the 01’s sonic profile didn’t reduce its clarity but in fact tastefully elevated it.If the Børresen 01’s masterful combination of qualities related to timing, energy and textural richness already was something I haven’t previously experienced all at once with its kind, this compact performer still had one more ace up its sleeve. Its black sonic backdrop undoubtedly helped in extracting all tiny bits suspended in virtual space, however the trick always is in projecting these particles so easefully that they become casual additives to everything else; perfectly clear and refined upon demand, but otherwise on supportive duty. Even the most profound silencing therapy won’t handle this delicate nuanced job all by itself. A driver able to keep up is a must and here’s where the Danes’ signature ribbon tweeters stepped in.Instead of rapidly firing pointy shiny needles like a machine gun, the 01 rendered each from within its haunting canvas, whereas inherently insightful, articulate and clear transducers responsible for the brilliance region fabulously amplified the effect. Unsurprisingly this range was completely free from itchiness, shout or excessive heat, but had substance, differentiation and all sparks lingering in air finely extended. Although high notes never were my top priority, I don’t recall if I ever had guested a product that would introduce as many details this visible, expertly connected and easefully served. On sheer resolution prowess and overall top end quality the 01 clearly was a cut above pretty much everything else I had auditioned, but the fact that its freedom from self-noise had a part in this was very interesting.It’s fair to say that the Børresen 01’s psych profile is as complex as it’s contradictory. Fierce bass response with loads of energy and textural heft, top shelf overall pronunciation and timing, grand staging potency and highs most likely way up there with the best in the biz, all spell out a highly unrealistic product, especially considering its small footprint and topologically regular roots. Although clearly designed as a high-performance type, everything the 01 did at my place ultimately served music, not individually magnified sounds. Neither was its lack of grit, veil and boom surprising, nor were admirable coherence, smoothness and sonic arsenal fit to willingly handle my entire repertoire with no exceptions. However, the 01’s each listed trait engaged at the same time is what made all the difference and resulted in expertly executed, vivid and highly engaging show. The Børresen surely wasn’t a one trick pony.Since the three times more affordable sound|kaos Vox 3afw loaner was still at my place, the 01 naturally had to go against it. The Bakoon and FirstWatt F7 lacked juice to show what the latter was truly capable of, whereas the EX-M1 was an overkill for Martin Gateley’s sensitive product. The only setup fit to brilliantly handle both loads included the Thöress DFP connected to AGD Productions Audion monos. Instantly it became clear that they weren’t alike at all. Similar background blackness was in fact their only common ground. The Vox was leaner, more contoured and sunnier, whereas the 01’s voicing was more grounded and darker. In spite of its ballsier attitude, the Dane easily kept up with the Swiss on articulation yet didn’t highlight this aspect as much and had its top end of finer more refined grade. The 3afw went deeper and its nimble upper bass further enhanced this, whereas the Børresen masked its lesser reach by top control, speed and muscularity to strike me as the more fearless, massive and optically bigger of the two. Neither approach was hollow or missed anything, but both were very different indeed.Although both contestants staged enormously large and rendered all virtual sound sources utmost accurately, their two distinctive executions of spatial tasks truly set them apart. The Swiss with its critical full-range transducer put expressiveness, meticulousness and intimacy on the pedestal to emphasize each visible shape’s outlines and directness. On this count the 01 didn’t pursue this particularly fetching incisiveness to instead project wider from left to right, a bit more distantly and weightier to net somewhat dreamier though perfectly pronounced effect. To put this into a more understandable perspective, the Vox’s sharp sonic pencil highlighted its drawings’ contours, whereas the 01’s more rounded tip pressed harder resulted in the same edges bolder. On qualities related to tissue complexity on instruments and voices, watercolor would be the more light-footed former’s filler material of choice, whereas today’s product would mix in some oil paint into its own palette to have it denser. In the context of nearby amps, the sound|kaos was the Bakoon, whereas the DFP/Audion flavor would fit the 01, that’s the rough guideline.It should be clear that the description above stretched beyond the usual better/worse scenario to narrow down to the two contestants’ unique skill sets. Their particular driver types are bound to highlight certain sonic features to effectively change music served as a whole. The Vox’s posh widebanders are geared towards on-stage directness and charm off-limits to any other transducer type including those inside the Børresen. However the latter is the one to beat on ripped dynamic, slamming potency, gutsiness and top level resolution. Although both performers were fully adult on sonics and represented two distinctive kinds of elegance, one couldn’t do what the other did and vice versa. Would the Vox’s more delicate, lucid and investigative talk suit you more than the Børresen’s ultimate shove, upstairs refinement and muscularity? Or would it be the other way around? That’s your call, my part’s done.
Speakers voiced as distinctively as this report’s case aren’t riddles that take hours to solve, especially if they’re introduced by the industry’s veterans famous for their demos and previous Nordost/Raidho work. In Aalborg they did so well that I very quickly understood what their most compact model was capable of, however its hefty price was in large part a mystery back then. After investigating the same speaker set under my roof nearly one year later, all dots connected themselves. Perhaps somewhere out there exists a similarly sized and voiced passive 2-way that would pull the Børresen 01’s sonics as potently and for less, but as of today I’m aware of none that would come any close to this one.
Although nicely put together and subjectively appealing, the Børresen 01’s dynamic flowing exterior is undeniably modest. If it’s visual flamboyance you’re after, the Danes’ address clearly isn’t the one and never has been. Instead they focus on top performance, high score on domestication and advanced in-house made components unseen anywhere else in the industry. To them lots of engineering homework, avoidance of off-the-shelf stuff and willingness to pursue at times very crazy measures is the standard MO. The Børresen 01 reflects this no-compromise attitude without fail and unsurprisingly so does its price.
It’s tempting to label today’s Børresen as a luxurious top shelf specimen that delivered everything it promised, but this approach dearly misses the big picture. The 01’s articulation, textural exuberance, upstairs elegance, bonkers power and control achieved without any active assistance, big cones or substantial cabs, spell out next-level engineering cleverness beyond subjective talk related to voicing. That’s the real money sink. Considering all measures necessary to turn the Børresen 01 into what it is, I understand why its makers charge this much for a performer this small. If you don’t, I was told that their recently launched downscaled Z range sells for far less and isn’t too far off where it matters the most, but that’s a story for another time. ‘Til then!
- Amplifier: AGD Productions Audion
- DAC: LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 / Living Voice 300B + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)
- Speakers: sound|kaos Vox 3afw
- Transport: fidata HFAS1-S10U
- Preamplifier: Thöress DFP
- Speaker cables: Boenicke Audio S3, LessLoss C-MARC
- Speaker signal conditioning: LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers
- Interconnects: Boenicke Audio IC3 CG
- Power components: Gigawatt PC-3 SE EVO+/LC-3 EVO, LessLoss C-MARC, Boenicke Audio Power Gate
- USB components: iFi audio iGalvanic3.0, iFi audio micro iUSB3.0, 3x iFi audio Mercury3.0, iPower 9V
- Rack: Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack
- Network: Fidelizer EtherStream, Linksys WRT160N
- Music: NativeDSD, Roon
Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (incl. tax):
- Børresen 01 as reviewed (Ansuz Darkz T2 Supreme + stands): €34’100/pr
- Børresen 01 (Ansuz Darkz C2t): €25’500/pr
- Børresen 01 (Ansuz Darkz T2 Supreme): €29’800/pr
- Glossy finish and custom paint: €3’500
- Børresen 01 stands: €4’300/pr
Manufacturer: Børresen Acoustics