Goldmund Metis wireless Mk2 and Memesis 11 review
Goldmund is a Swiss high-end brand that doesn’t appear to be that well known over here. Perhaps it is just one of those brands that prefer to remain exclusive. However, I have been living with the Goldmund Metis 2 active speakers and Memesis 11 hub.
Those of you who are aware of Goldmund will also know of their quality construction. Furthermore, the fact that they are generally quietly at the forefront of what is technically possible in audio. For instance, design elements such as using aluminium casements for speaker enclosures were being used by Goldmund long before others who boast such.
Goldmund Metis Wireless Mk2
Metis Mk2 design
This is a pair of surprisingly heavy and seamlessly built aluminium speakers. Well, actually, they’re a special Goldmund alloy, but I’ll call it aluminium here.
Both feature the G logo stamped in a gold square on top of each cabinet.
The loudspeakers are fastened by means of a number of different Allen screws to the sleek aluminium stands. The stands are fitted with flat bottomed ‘spikes’, for want of another description. These threaded bolts, if you like, have a large knurled end that allows for easy adjustment of the feet. This is great, not only for those with uneven floors, but for ensuring accurate listening angles.
As previously mentioned, the cabinets themselves are entirely made of aluminium. Fitted in to these are a 5-inch woofer/mid driver and a tweeter. There is also a front-firing bass port that allows the lows to go down to 43 Hertz at -6dB, despite the only about 10 liters of cabinet contents.
This set up certainly seems to achieve optimal coupling for the removal of unwanted resonances.
Also contained within each small cabinet are two 175 Watt Goldmund Telos amplifiers and an electronic crossover. The distortion within their specified power range is so low, according to Goldmund, that these can be driven loudly without risking the drivers.
The mesh speaker grilles are, of course, removable. Although, when off, you are greeted by a circle of Velcro at each corner. Not the slickest of solutions given the rest of the unit’s build quality.
Metis Mk2 connectivity
At the rear of the cabinets you’ll find an RS-232 connector for firmware updates, coaxial digital input and outputs to connect several loudspeakers in a loop system, an antenna connection and a small hole with the sunken ‘pairing’ button behind it. Finally, there is also a power connector as these are active.
The wireless system that the Metis uses is propriety system developed between Goldmund and Texas Instruments.
The aerial and coaxial connections give you the choice of how you want to hook these speakers up.
The audio signal is transmitted via a coaxial SPDIF connection or wirelessly. Before there’s any eye-rolling, this wireless connection is a specially developed audio protocol from Texas Instruments. This, among other things, does not suffer from the shared – and therefore often very limited – bandwidth of regular WiFi, through active monitoring of the available channels.
I was allowed the loan of the Memesis 11 hub as a means of transmitting music from my sources to the Metis Mk 2.
Don’t worry, if you do not have the luxury of the Memesis, or similar, the speakers are supplied with a wireless USB dongle that can be used with laptops, desktops and server/streamers that have a USB output (such as those from Innuos and Aurender).
I started off with the Metis connected to the hub by coaxial cables until they’d warmed up and settled in.
Goldmund Memesis 11 hub
The Memesis is a rather classy, understated bit of audio equipment.
The front of the hub has a small display showing the input selection and volume. Both are presented numerically.
That display is flanked by a pair of knobs. The left dial is your input/source selector, whereas the other is your manual volume control.
It has a fixed linear power supply and features three digital inputs: SPDIF, Toslink optical, and USB Audio Class 2.0 (driver required for Windows).
There is also an analogue input with RCA 2-channel connection. This is ideal if you have a phono stage running from a turntable. Yup, the Memesis will convert analogue to digital and fire it over to the Metis.
The digital inputs can handle stereo audio encoded signals up to 384 kHz/Bit depth up to 32 compatible DSD over PCM.
As well as the wireless output from the Memesis (up to 4 channels), there are four parallel digital RCA SPDIF 2-channel outputs.
Inside the Memesis sits Goldmund’s Alize Digital/Analogue, Analogue/Digital converter.
Goldmund actually came in late to digital audio. In fact, it didn’t produce its first digital component until 1990. However, that was after 5 years of research on digital/analogue converters (DACs) time linearity. Goldmund found that the main sources of digital sound inaccuracy were not actually found in the conversion circuits themselves, but in the difficulty in feeding them with a low-jitter digital signal. Also, there was the matter of designing a time-coherent analogue output filter.
So, over the years, the Alize technology has concentrated on:
- The creation of an extremely precise and advanced analogue filter
- The prevention of interference from sampling frequency (ripple interference at 22k and 24kHz for CD and DVD)
- Avoiding oversampling of the signal at all costs. This is due to oversampling creating more jitter and so will always be detrimental to the signal
- The perfect Time Alignment, using Goldmund proprietary time reconstruction algorithms
There is a school of thought that says you are unable to produce ‘phase coherent’ ‘time aligned’ speakers in the analogue domain with either passive or analogue active speakers. This is why Goldmund uses their Leonardo-2 DSP. This way they can create perfect alignment of amplitude, frequency and phase.
Goldmund claims that all of this tech, produces speakers that are time coherent. The Alize DAC technology is the only time corrected digital convertor on the planet and the Telos amplifier circuit is the only one in the world that has no ‘group delay’ across the entire audio spectrum.
Well, I can be told anything, but my ears will always be the judge.
Goldmund Metis Wireless Mk2 and Memesis 11 performance
After a few days of listening, moving, listening, adjusting, I had the Metis pretty much where I thought they needed to be.
- Firstly, in between the hub and the left-side speaker (as I am looking at it) I have two wireless routers, a wireless point-to-point connection for my office Ethernet, and an IoT hub. Even though none of this should interfere with the Goldmund’s reception, I didn’t want to take any chances at first.
- Secondly, I wanted to be able to compare the wireless and wired reproduction of the audio.
The first track I played on this system was ‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds on CD. Bearing in mind that the speakers weren’t yet up to room temperature at this point as they’d just been dropped off on a chilly February evening, the sound was incredible. In fact, the sound was so good that my other half came running in to the room. She stood there for a while speechless. Now, for me, this is worth whatever they cost right there!
I had to agree with her reaction though. The volume was at around 32 but still comfortable in our little room. We could clearly hear every inflection and nuance in Nick’s voice. The bells ringing were clear with a natural decay. But, it was the voice that held us agog. It was so realistic that you could close your eyes and imagine Mr Cave was talking in the room.
Max Richter’s ‘Written on the Sky’ from The Blue Notebook (CD) was beautifully presented. There’s a lovely weight to this sub-2 minute piano piece, but also a gentleness and fragility. Again, it was the natural sound that was incredible.
Moving on to ‘Running’, again by Richter but this time from the Disconnect OST (FLAC). There’s a lot of panning here but the Goldmund handled it nicely.
‘Big Beans’ from Boris Blank’s Electrified was up next via Tidal. Again, the Goldmund shows incredibly good timing. Although, I did feel that there was some of the very lowest lows missing. The following track, ‘Escape Route’, was the same. This was not really to the detriment of my enjoyment though as there was still plenty of low end presence.
However, ‘Pachelbel: Canon and Gigue in D Major, P 37 by Musica Antiqua Koln (FLAC) comes across beautifully. Again, it’s the realism that the Goldmunds are able to convey that amazes. I could quite easily imagine a harpsichord and strings being played in front of me. On a more grand scale, Dvorak’s ‘Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 “From the New World”: 4. Allegro con fuoco’ (FLAC) enjoys a huge and extremely stable image with glorious spatial reproduction.
This is all very refined, but how do the metal speakers handle metal?
Starting off with ‘The Package’ by A Perfect Circle (a usual test track for me) and the high guitars with deep, low bass sounded great. Maynard’s quietly sung vocals against the crisp toms as the distorted bass ramps things up, creating tension all works well. It’s when the break actually hits at around 4:08 that had me looking at the speakers quizzically. I was expecting to have my face ripped off but it was all handled rather politely.
Metallica’s ‘Whiplash’ (Tidal) was even-handed but seemed to lack aggression.
This is where things started to get weird.
Everything that I have experienced and been told is that wireless, through its very nature, is the lesser choice when compared with a cabled connection. Very few gamers use wireless mice, very few developers will work on wireless terminal, and you just try getting audiophiles to use Bluetooth headphones.
However, untethering the Metis Mk2’s lead me down an odd rabbit hole: curiouser and curiouser.
Hold on to your drinks and sit down, folks. This Goldmund set-up actually sounded better to me wireless. I know, right?
Wired, the Metis and Memesis sounded great (unless you like Thrash Metal) but, running wirelessly, they seemed to open up even more. Obviously, this is down to the tech being used but why does it sound better to me? It actually got to a point where I wasn’t going to mention it, but then that would be doing you and Goldmund a disservice. I dare any other company to make a wireless system sound this good.
The audio remained natural, non-pixilated, alive, defined and realistic. Furthermore, it sounded freer; literally, unbound.
Goldmund Metis Mk 2/Memesis 11 review conclusion
Goldmund offers you a truly luxury brand that celebrates its 40th birthday this year. With all the clever technology it has developed I expected to see smart apps and multi-layered menus. However, what I was presented with was an extremely fuss-free system that is both easy to set up and simple to use.
The Metis Mk2 and Memesis are a joy to hear with most music genres. That said, metal maniacs might feel like they’re missing a little. However, I very much doubt that circle pit regulars are high on Goldmund’s demographic charts.
I have been pleasantly surprised by Goldmund’s digital know-how. The fact that these active speakers sound so analogue can only be a good thing, right? The timing, to me, sounded spot on and the clarity and realism is nothing short of awesome.
I tip my hat to the Swiss company’s code writing skills and circuit-tweaking chops. It appears that the Swiss are just as particular about their audio as they are about their timekeeping.
The Metis only drop points for those lumps of Velcro that hold the mesh speaker grilles on. So uncouth compared to the rest of the system’s execution.
Price and availability
Prices are as follows (with the current exchange rates):
- Metis MK2 speakers – £18,000 pair
- Metis stands – £2,000 pair
- Mimesis 11 hub – £10,000
Goldmund can be obtained through Sonata in the UK. Check their website for more details: http://www.sonatahifi.com/