Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Have You Seen?


After Matt’s somewhat unsatisfying “factory tour,” I decided that I should stop by Göbel’s room, which it shared with Pilium Audio and Kronos Audio, to see what’s what with its speakers.

I’m glad I did. Acting as DJ on the Kronos Discovery ’table was Bob Attiyeh, executive director of Yarlung Records, a specialty record label out of California. Attiyeh has a calm, peaceful demeanor, and he’s a fountain of musical knowledge. He played a bunch of tracks from his label, all cut at 45 rpm, and before each piece, he gave a solid rundown on the origins of the piece and the artist who was performing it.


I usually hate this sort of curation. Many practitioners of this form of performance art seem to love the sound of their own voices and don’t know when to shut up. Attiyeh kept things short, with relevant anecdotes, and then just let the music speak for itself. And boy howdy! These were some very interesting pieces, extremely well recorded. Admittedly, the insane-looking Kronos Discovery turntable should make your grandmother’s 101 Strings records sound great, but these tracks, all from Yarlung Records’ catalog, sounded wonderful.

The first selection Attiyeh played when I walked into the room was an a capella spiritual that had a wonderful sense of space. The piece was recorded live, and the applause at the end wrapped around me with a sense of 3D realism that left me with my mouth hanging open.

So that was the music. But I was here to check out the speakers. Göbel was playing the €59,000-per-pair (including VAT) Divin Comtesse, a speaker that was brand new for the show.


The gloss-white lacquer covering these guys was superb. It wasn’t just a plain white—more of a pearl color, with depth that greatly impressed me. I spent some time talking to founder Oliver Göbel, and he explained that this finish is the result of many layers of polyester lacquer. Our chat was highly informative, and I realized that this information is what Matt should have received during his factory visit, which, I gathered, was more of an informal get-together.

Further discussion revealed that the Divin Comtesse is a three-way design incorporating Göbel’s proprietary bending-wave technology, with an 8″ woofer, an 8″ dedicated midrange, and a customized AMT tweeter in an aluminum waveguide. The cabinet is a symmetrical bass-reflex design said to help keep cone movement linear, and there are Helmholtz resonators inside to control resonances. The midrange crosses over to the tweeter at 1600Hz, which explains why the 8″ driver doesn’t suffer from beaming at the top of its range.


The room was quite large, with high ceilings, so the Divin Comtesse loudspeakers looked a touch small at one end of it. It made sense, then, that Göbel dragged in a subwoofer—a great big one, the 18″ Divin Sovereign (€29,000)—to fill in the absolute bottom. The Divin Comtesse was not high-pass-filtered.

Amplification was by way of Pilium Atlas mono amplifiers (€190,000 for the pair) fed by a Pilium Olympus preamp (€65,000). There’s no question in my mind that the Atlas amps were loafing, considering the Divin Comtesse’s high sensitivity of 89dB. These amps made a serious statement by way of their large size, squat proportions, and apparent collapsed-matter density.


The Kronos Discovery turntable ($100,000 in the US) was fitted with a Discovery RS tonearm ($24,000), and fed a Discovery phono stage ($70,000).

After Attiyeh left, the music choices—again, all vinyl—started to go a bit downhill. First up was a violin and piano duet that sounded like it was recorded in a bathroom. With a bit of prodding, Oliver Göbel jumped in with some groove-locked jazz. Here’s where the Divin Comtesse speakers shone—snappy and dynamic, with great extension, but easy to listen to loud.

Matt had told me that the system he heard at Göbel’s headquarters sounded dramatically superior to the one at High End 2024. If that was the case, what he heard must have been seriously out of this world.

Jason Thorpe
Senior Editor, SoundStage!