A visit to Stein Music and TIDAL Loudspeaker


I had a great time at the Munich High End show and by Sunday afternoon I was very tired and needed a rest before my second journey began on Monday. I slept like a baby and I was ready for the six hour road trip to Mulheim and then to Cologne with my publisher, Clement Perry (see his report here). We were heading north from Munich to Mulheim, home of manufacturer Holger Stein of Steinmusic. Holger Stein picked up Clement Perry, Buffer Ergmann (Laufer Teknik), Walter Swandon (Fidelis) and myself from the hotel in the morning. On our way to Mulheim I saw beautiful dark Bavarian forests and at odd moments, strange, otherworldly wind farms. Mr. Stein was a great host and our first stop was at a small winery, Schwahn-Fehlinger in Westhofen. As much as I love audio this change of scenery was great.

When I arrived at the winery, to my great surprise, I met Sam Tellig of Stereophile with his lovely wife Marina (above left), Korean manufacturer John Yoon-Sung Park of Pyon Sound, and Vincent Lau a Malaysian distributor. I had a great time taking it easy spending the afternoon touring the vineyard and the surrounding areas. The wine tasting was wonderful. Next morning we had a beautiful brunch at Steinmusic and we spent time talking and listening to three systems.

Holger Stein showed me around the facility and I could tell he was a very serious manufacturer and designer. His Research and development were done in the facility and had an amazing inventory, NOS tubes, capacitors, condensers and cables and drivers to name a few. He had nice sounding rooms which showed the seriousness of his design and the high quality of his work.

TIDAL Audio is about a 40 minute drive from Stein Music's location (and depending on whether you're doing 230 kilometers per hour!!). We finally got to Tidal Audio fairly late in the evening. The facility was a two story building with a ground floor where they mount, test and final preparations for the loudspeakers takes place. TIDAL uses the best parts available for their products and the fit and finish is one of best I’ve seen in loudspeakers. The finish of the piano black lacquer I would call a labor of love; amazingly it is anywhere from 10 – 17.6 lb of the speakers’ weight depending on the model. It takes a week to hand polish the cabinets. The second floor is where Jorn Janczak designs and listens to his finished products in a fabulous listening room (that remarkably is similar to my own room. The room featured stunningly finished Contriva Diaceras driven by Tidal’s own Impact stereo amplifier and a Preos preamplifier. I really enjoyed the sound; it was very natural with beautiful midrange transparency and holographic soundstaging. It would’ve been nicer if the bottom end was a bit less full. Otherwise, it was my cup of tea; a really lovely sound.