When you think of high-end audio, computer speakers are likely last type of system that crosses your mind. Many options, even expensive models with included subwoofers, are designed more for loudness, tiny footprints, and power efficiency than they are pristine audio. Swiss company Feniks Audio is looking to change that, and it wants you to help bring its dream to life.
Feniks Audio claims its Essence computer speaker system, now seeking funding on Kickstarter, is the world’s best. That’s a bold claim, but the company is backing it up with premium components outstanding design principles.
For the first step, the Essence bypasses your computer’s sound card, opting for its own 24-bit / 96kHz DAC designed by Gordon Rankin and based on the ESS Sabre DAC, which is well known for its quality. Digital connectivity is available via USB and TOSLINK optical connections, while for analog options an RCA input joins the standard 3.5mm input allowing connection of just about any audio source.
Inside, the Essence is powered by a 50 watt per channel ICEpower amplification module, driving a 4.5-inch coaxial driver. Coaxial drivers aim to place multiple drivers at the same point in space, which makes for better stereo imaging, but is also trickier to manufacture. This particular driver also weights 4.5 grams, and is said to offer a quicker response than traditional drivers this size.
Feniks Audio also places a lot of emphasis on the Essense’s die-cast aluminum cabinet, fastened “under immense forces” with stainless steel bolts. The company says this, combined with a system of grooves running through the body, effectively acoustically seals the cabinet, making it free from the resonances that can plague plastic and MDF cabinets.
The Essense uses an automatic sleep / wake function, so users won’t have to worry about it constantly draining power or remembering to turn it on. The unit also features a switchable headphone output, and a top-mounted volume control complete with a Teflon washer for smooth adjustment.
Early Bird pricing for the Essence has already run out, so the cheapest new backers will be able to pick one up for is Fr 1,299 (around $1350 USD), which includes international shipping. This gets you a pair of speakers in a variety of black, white, or black and white color combinations, though for more, various other colors of side panels can be substituted.
Feeling a little sticker shock right now? That’s understandable; $1350 is a hefty sum for so-called “computer speakers.” However, if all the premium components and acoustic design come together just right, the Essence could end up delivering on its promise of being the best-sounding compact component speaker system available on the market today.
The campaign comes to an end on May 31, and is very close to its goal of Fr 80,000 (around $82,000), having raised over $70,000 at the time of this writing. Assuming the campaign is successful, which seems likely, units are expected to ship in September of this year. See the Kickstarter campaign page for more details.