British company Warwick Acoustics has developed a reputation for innovating and producing innovative audio technology. Their flagship headphone system, the APERIO, takes both sound quality and product design to the next level with a 24 karat gold hand-finished limited edition. Here, LUX discovers how the ultimate listening experience is achieved
Numerous studies have shown that listening to music can positively impact your mood, well-being, sleep quality and cognitive ability, reduce stress, and even ease physical pain, but is there such thing as a perfect listening experience?
‘Sound is definitely a subjective experience and what is considered ‘perfect’ for one person may not be for another,’ says Martin Roberts Director of the Headphone Business Unit at UK-based audio technology company Warwick Acoustics Ltd., whose products are designed to achieve an exceptionally high level of sound clarity. Their recently unveiled flagship headphone system, the APERIO (named after the Latin word meaning to uncover or reveal), follows the company’s Sonoma Model One (M1) electrostatic headphone system, and is the result of three years of extensive sound exploration and technical development carried out in their Warwickshire workshops.
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‘Simply put: the APERIO is designed to reproduce audio content as pristinely and accurately as possible – revealing the details and complexities in the original recording without colouration or alteration,’ explains Roberts. A review in Hi-Fi News claims that the system possesses the ability ‘to deliver rare insights into your music.’ Whilst this level of sound quality is naturally more geared towards professionals in the music industry, the company hopes the product will also appeal to music-loving high-net-worth individuals as a high-functioning collectible item.
In terms of design, the company believes in American architect Louis Henry Sullivan’s ethos that ‘form follows function’, and aspire to create products that have a timeless appeal.
The standard version of the APERIO, for example, is understated in sleek black with soft sheepskin leather and stylish detailing such as the curved metal patterning of the headphone grilles, which visually evokes undulating sound waves.
The limited-edition Gold APERIO is more flashy, crafted from 24 karat gold (including the headphone grilles, hardware and Amplifier front panel) in England’s historic jewellery quarter in Birmingham. Limited to 100 units globally, the system is now available to buy in the UK exclusively from Harrods in Knightsbridge, London.
It’s not just the design that has been upgraded, however, the Gold system also utilises the highest grade Balanced-Drive HPEL Transducer (the component that determines the quality of sound reproduction) innovated by Warwick Acoustics to guarantee outstanding performance. That level of quality doesn’t come cheaply though; the Gold model retails at a cool £30,000/US$35,000 whilst the standard version is priced at £20,000/US$24,000.
But how exactly is audio performance or sound quality measured? Each APERIO undergoes rigorous testing, including at least three human listening tests, before the product is released from the company’s Warwickshire facility. ‘The APERIO is about listening to music as if you were there,’ says Roberts. ‘I remember when I visited a very famous recording studio in Los Angeles and a mastering engineer listened to a remastered recording by the great Frank Sinatra… He listened intently to the same track several times then just sat back and said, “Wow.” When I asked him how his experience was he said, “Amazing, I have literally listened to that Sinatra track a thousand times and this is the first time I have ever heard him smacking his lips in the pauses between verses of the song…Simply astonishing detail”.’
Attention to detail is at the heart of Warwick Acoustics’ engineering philosophy. The whole system is designed to work harmoniously together, rather than piecing together disparate components and technologies. In many ways, it’s a similar process to the development of a supercar or ultra-high-performance watch, and ultimately, that’s what you’re paying for: the experience. Listening to music is, after all, a process of immersion, of gradually getting closer to the sound, of being slowly transported into another place, self, or way of being.