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When I was doing my round tour at the High End in Munich this year, I just had to shake my head time and again at how loosely the slogan »experience fair« can be interpreted. What could be heard there offered anything from an acoustical horror trip to cultivated boredom to music systems, which can make you forget everything, absolutely everything around you. The latter occurred to me at the Audionet showroom, where the sounds from Stern and Heisenberg produced a downright magnetic, captivating effect, although the listening volume was on a normal, pleasant level. If music, which actually doesn’t fit into my repertoire, succeeds in grasping my concentration, I know that, in the most positive sense, something’s wrong here.

Seven weeks later, we’re in July and Germany is on summer vacation, spending a large part of the day outdoors. But not me, for I’m sitting in the darkened listening room in front of my sound system. However, it offers quite a different sight as it normally does, because flanked by the Heisenberg mono blocks, the Stern forms the centre, and due to their impressive size the three of them block my view a lot. Yet before listening to these amplifiers, they’re worth taking a look at. After all, they were styled by Hartmut Esslinger, founder of the internationally renowned company named »Frog Design«. This man has achieved everything, which is why he could actually enjoy both his retirement and prosperity. But obviously creativity does never retire.

At first glance one beholds a colossal trio where the mains switches, backlit in white, and the preamp’s large display are initially dominant. But after a while you will slowly become aware of the intelligent combination of squares, triangles and round elements. Moreover, the visual impression changes depending from which direction you look at them. Only then you will see that the enclosure is not made from a single piece, but consists of individual plates whose edges, however, don’t touch each other. That way any tendency towards clumsiness is already successfully countered visually in those hulks – in the past the attribute »too heavy to walk« had stuck to some mighty power amps. But the longer my eyes rest upon Stern and the Heisenbergs, the more I grasp their well-conceived styling.

Changing the viewing perspective will always produce new stimuli: »Floating Pane Design« identifies the way how all front, rear and side walls are mounted without touching each other at the edges, thereby lending the monolithic enclosures their attractive lightness. Esslinger has never left an insolent trademark in his design language; it’s rather the subtle elements developing over time which also characterise his creations Stern and Heisenberg.
  • Review
  • 2 9
  • Page 8
  • Page 9