Stenheim Unveils a New Speaker at New York’s Famed Power Station Studios

Stenheim Unveils a New Speaker at New York’s Famed Power Station Studios

Written by Frank Doris

I first became aware of Switzerland’s Stenheim loudspeakers at the 2019 New York Audio Show, where their Alumine Three loudspeakers impressed me, as much for their understated elegance and obvious superb craftsmanship as by their clear, transparent, and what I heard to be uncolored sound. So, when I got an invite to hear the world premiere of Stenheim’s Alumine Two.Five floorstanding loudspeaker at Manhattan’s fabled Power Station recording studios, I didn’t want to miss it. I was feeling sluggish, having recently battled a second bout of COVID, and in fact almost turned back on the train ride in, but I’m sure glad I made the effort.

I’m as much of a pro audio geek as an audiophile, so I was stoked to visit the Power Station, which is, no other way to put it, legendary. It was established as Avatar Studios in 1977 by producer Tony Bongiovi and his partner Bob Walters, and has been the site of recordings by artists like Madonna, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Paul Simon, John Lennon, the Kinks, Billy Joel and many others. In other words, hallowed ground. It’s now owned by BerkleeNYC and is a fully operational multi-room recording complex and educational facility, combining vintage gear (like a swoon-worthy 1981 Neve console) with up-to-the-minute tech.



Karl Sigman of gets us buzzed in.



Even the coat rack was high-tech.


It is a truism that the effect of the listening room on an audio system is of great importance, perhaps paramount. More on that later.

The two-way Stenheim Alumine Two.Five (SRP: $23,500 per pair) is an evolution of the company’s first-ever 2010 speaker, the Alumine Two bookshelf. The four models in the Alumine series are so named because the cabinets are machined from solid aluminum, in order to be sonically inert and eliminate unwanted resonances and colorations. The Two.Five utilizes highly efficient drivers, which, as the company’s Christophe Savioz and Jean-Pascal Panchard explained, are a key design element in contributing to the speaker’s dynamic ease and clarity. The Two.Five features a one-inch soft-dome tweeter and two 6.5-inch woofers, in mirror-imaged pairs in a front-ported design. The speaker is available in metallic light gray or dark gray with contrasting black front and rear panels, along with three optional custom colors. I have to say that the fit and finish were impeccable. This matters.

The rest of the system was comprised of the DartZeel LHC -208 integrated amplifier and the 432 EVO Master music server. Top-quality gear.



The Stenheim Alumine Two.Five loudspeakers.


You couldn’t help but have a good vibe when walking into the Power Station. Unlike many recording studios that look like stark industrial facilities, the Power Station is all about wood…the ceilings, floors, walls, and equipment cabinets are all made of it. The walls and ceilings have a multifaceted shape, have an organic feel, and are acoustically superb. The studio space had, to my (admittedly ain’t-what-they-used-to-be) ears, a perfect tonal “balance” and sounded neutral, yet not dead. It was good to see a lot of my industry friends, including event host and PR master Adam Sohmer, Walter Schofield of brand management company Nexus Audio Technologies, and lots of reviewers.



The superb quality of the studio acoustics was apparent when we then heard a live performance by saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh and his trio, with Joe Martin on acoustic bass and Kush Abeday on drums. The fact that the instrumentation was sparse only highlighted the wonderful sound of the room even more – you could hear every nuance and inflection of the players, and all the richness and tonal colors of the instruments. A musical treat, and not entirely a coincidence – next year the trio will be releasing an album, Heart, on a new record label, Analog Tone Factory (funded by a number of sponsors including Stenheim), which was recorded in this very space – which should make for a very interesting comparison.



A mural in the lobby, and some recycled electronic art.


One of the control rooms, featuring a vintage Neve console.



The studios had plenty of vintage gear including this Mesa/Boogie amp – wonder how many great guitarists played through that? – and its companion, a suspiciously homemade-looking "Booger" speaker cabinet.



Digging the music of Jerome Sabbagh and his trio.



Jean-Pascal Panchard and Christophe Savioz give us the lowdown on the Two.Five.


I also thought it was a really ballsy maneuver – listening to a live band before listening to an audio system? How on Earth could the latter compare?

Well, it turned out to be a smart play. After the band finished, we were ushered into a separate listening room to hear the Alumine Two.Five. I put my best Audio Reviewer’s Poker Face on – which lasted about two seconds. The system sounded remarkably clear and open. The first cut, a solo piano rendition of “Imagine,” sounded inviting, and lifelike in scale and depth, with the speakers easily not only filling the deceptively large-ish room, but sounding right in it. Melody Gardot’s “She Don’t Know” from her Currency of Man album was somehow intense and ravishing at the same time, and the tight bass was surprising from speakers of this size. The rest of the sonic spectrum was well-balanced. We heard a couple of other cuts, and the word I kept coming back to again and again was “purity.”

Next, the Stenheim guys wanted to just flat out wow us, and up came “Jean Pierre” from bassist extraordinaire Marcus Miller. Wowed I was. The articulation, harmonic realism and “snap” of Miller’s bass was fantastic. In fact, I’ve heard very few actual bass amplifiers sound as good as these speakers did on the low end.

I’m an audio guy. I’m well aware that a system can only sound as good as the room it’s in – and sometimes I’ve been sadly reminded of that, when I’ve heard what I know to be great gear being compromised in performance because of being in lousy rooms at audio shows. But, hearing the Stenheim system in the utterly sensational listening space at the Power Station brought the point home to a degree I’ve never before experienced. If you have a great system in a great acoustic space, it’s the recipe for sonic nirvana. On November 30, 2023, I was elevated.


Header image: the Stenheim system in one of the Power Station's rooms.

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