I’ll admit, I was not expecting to be blown away by Polish hi-fi brands. Yes, I knew they’d be out in force for their home country’s expo, and I already knew that the likes of Fezz Audio and Lampizator produce very respectable gear. But boy howdy, was I unprepared for just how ready some of these Polish companies were to strut their stuff at AVS 2023. What can a Polish brand come up with if it has the stones to create “horrifically priced gear,” as my comrade Jason Thorpe calls it?
Case in point: Audio Phonique. Despite the Francophone-sounding name, the company was founded here in Poland in 2018 and has yet to establish a presence on our side of the Atlantic. But that’s not to give even the slightest impression that the company’s setup at the Radisson Blu Sobieski was jury-rigged or unprofessional. Not in the slightest.
The company produces everything I am about to describe. Music flowed into the room via Audio Phonique’s Classic Line Music Server (€10,000, all prices in euros, VAT not included) and was fed into the DAC DHT (€40,000) to be decoded into an analog signal and spit out via four Emission Labs EML45 triodes. The Pre DHT Line Stage (€40,000) handled source selection and volume control duties and provided the ever-necessary voltage and current amplification to drive the power amps via its KR Audio PX25 tubes. And two monstrous PSE1605 mono power amplifiers (€80,000/pair) each used an Emission Labs EML 20B driver tube and two EML1605s to provide 40 watts of shove to each speaker.
Flanking the two polished chassis of the PSE 1605s were a pair of Statement 1 loudspeakers. I spoke briefly with Audio Phonique’s cofounder and CTO, Maciej Lenar, who told me the Statement 1 is so new it is not yet shown on Audio Phonique’s website. But the company hopes to make the Statement 1 available soon at €60,000/pair.
Also featured in the system was the Audio Phonique PC01 power conditioner (€8000), into which were plugged a bevy of the company’s Dreams power cables (prices vary by length). The power cables use copper that is 99.999% pure, according to the company’s literature, and though Audio Phonique as yet officially has distribution only in Poland, it advertises that it will make the cables with US plugs as well as the EU sort. Evidently, either Audio Phonique plans to expand its distribution, or otherwise is willing to make international sales work. The kind of optimism that I see from these Polish companies makes me beam.
And how did all this ludicrously constructed, ludicrously beautiful, and ludicrously priced gear sound? Breathe a sigh of relief; it sounded freaking great. Playing a lovely acoustic passage through the Statement 1s, I heard the attack and decay of each string ring out palpably enough that I felt I could pluck along with the guitarist. The sound of the guitar had a fulsome, 3D quality and seemed to emanate from behind and between the speakers as if they weren’t really there. Of course, extension to the deepest lows on up to the loftiest highs was expected, and the Audio Phonique room delivered. And at that, the sound flowed easily and without harshness, as one may expect from a system based almost entirely around direct-heated triodes.
Sadly, it isn’t clear at present whether Audio Phonique will get distribution in North America or when, so I can’t comment on whether they’ll ever be able to get any of their products to one of my colleagues at SoundStage! Ultra. But I hope that it’s possible because I think this Polish company is really onto something.