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Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review


Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

Introducing the sonic marvels that have redefined audio excellence - the Backes & Müller BMLine12 speakers. In the realm of premium audio, where precision and innovation converge, the BMLine12 stands tall as a testament to Backes & Müller's uncompromising commitment to delivering an unparalleled auditory experience. Boasting a lineage of craftsmanship and technological mastery, these speakers embody the fusion of timeless design with cutting-edge acoustic engineering. In this review, we embark on a journey into the world of sound sculpting, delving into the features, performance, and sonic artistry that make the Backes & Müller BMLine12 an emblem of audio prowess

There are things that you dream about for an eternity and when you get them you might be disappointed. That's what happened to me with the Peugeot 504 Cabriolet. Visually a dream, but unfortunately a bit underpowered in everyday life. Or with the Backes & Müller BM 12 from 1980. The test magazines (especially the Audio) literally fell over themselves because of the extreme midrange precision. And a certain Norbert Schäfer, head of Phonogen, even built a wooden U around the massive floorstanding speaker, in which the BM 12 was suspended on springs - a dream. In the mid-1990s I would have had the opportunity to buy a pair cheaply. But after just a short listen, this heart's desire was shattered: This BM 12 from the 1980s sounded so strict and angry, especially in the mids, that I didn't want to listen to it.

The special features of the Backes & Müller BMLine 12

The 12 continues to give. Differently natural and lovingly matured over all the decades. It is now called BMLine 12 and everything about it is still made by hand in Saarbrücken. This applies to technology, but also to housing production. And especially for the midrange driver of the BMLine 12, which the Saarbrücken company is particularly proud of. So proud that they don't want to release any pictures and only vague information about the good piece - for fear that the competitors would get too deep an insight.

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

The characteristic dome midrange driver of the BMLine 12 is much more complex than one might imagine at first glance. It runs in the range between 400 – 1,200 Hertz (Photo: H. Biermann)

Nevertheless, after repeated inquiries, it became clear: This midrange driver is actually a cone driver, but has a dome glued on it - for a wider radiation. And something else could be heard: the good piece only runs at around 400 - 1,200 Hertz, i.e. 1.5 octaves. That's very little. You could almost have made a 2-way construction out of it.

You wouldn't. B&M boss (and chief developer) Johannes Siegler wanted to implement a fairly wide radiation pattern with the BMLine 12. And because the three basses of this size, which sit one above the other, concentrate strongly above 600 Hertz, this special midrange driver comes into play here, which broadens the radiation in the lower midrange.

If you look at all the other Backes models, this is extraordinary. Because with all loudspeakers from order number 15 and upwards, Siegler tries to create a deliberately narrowed cylindrical wave radiation - in order to limit the (often annoying) floor and ceiling reflections and to be able to carry the sound further in larger rooms.

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

The tweeter ring radiator does not require a pressure chamber. The spherical wave horn in front increases the efficiency and limits the radiation. The tweeter plays from 1,200 – 24,000 Hz (Photo: H. Biermann)

If I reinterpret that now, then the BMLine 12 should also appeal to those music lovers who definitely want to sit a little closer to their speakers. We're talking about 3 meters or more, maybe just under.

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

One of the three basses with a tear-resistant carbon membrane. The cutout gives an idea of ​​the strength of the slightly curved MDF baffle.

Let's briefly look at the things that are mandatory at Backes & Müller. First of all, there is the active control of all five drivers, which is consequently carried out with five power stages. This is all the best transistor AB technology according to the old tradition: 4 x 150 watts for woofers and mid-range drivers and still a whopping 100 watts for the tweeter. All cone drivers of the BMLine 12 are feedback coupled with a dynamic deflection control (DMC™). As soon as the sensor signals that the membranes may be deflecting too far, countermeasures are taken at lightning speed. This ensures high precision in bass impulses.

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

A look at the BMLine 12 shows a thoroughly clean design and electronics, which take up a large part of the back of the speaker

B&M negative feedback works best in closed enclosures. Ergo, the housing of the BMLine 12 is also closed and particularly stable, because inside a bass housing, in which the woofer is possibly forced to large deflections by regulation, it can become extremely high: nothing can rattle...

Backes & Müller BMLine 12 review

Most speakers with an additional base have a bass reflex output above them. On the BMLine 12 it is just an ornament and makes the box appear a little “lighter”

What Backes is particularly proud of is the tried and tested combination of precise membrane control and processor-controlled phase accuracy. The Saarbrücken-based company calls this form of digital filtering “FIRTEC™ technology”, which aims to linearize the frequency response as well as perfect the time accuracy of the playback. With passive speakers, a delay between low-midrange and high-frequency reproduction can hardly be avoided. The BMline 12, on the other hand, should play absolutely in time over the entire frequency range from 30 hertz to over 20 kilohertz. Such a rare promise naturally makes the hi-fi gourmet's mouth water...

The BMIce 515 preamplifier

As with many active speakers with a built-in processor, all incoming signals are digitized with the BMLine 12 - unless they (ideally) arrive digitally. And this is where the BMIce 515 comes into play. Although it also offers analogue inputs and outputs, from my point of view it is more of a digital preamplifier. All incoming analog signals are also converted digitally. The best way to do this is via an AES/EBU cable to the active back speakers, where the signal is only analogized again directly before the power amplifiers.

Of course, the Backes preamplifier also has an excellent DA converter: The Burr-Brown sigma-delta converter is available here in two versions - one per channel. The BMIce 515 can also output analog signals, so it also works perfectly with classic power amplifiers. I had tested the 500 series preamplifiers several times before and was always amazed at their unusual neutrality - even in the analog signal path.

However, if you are already digital (be it via streaming or CD), the BMIce 515 works like a “neutral wire”. That's pretty close to perfection. And what makes the BMIce 515 even more sexy: you can equalize the frequency response of every input. This becomes particularly interesting in connection with radio and phono. Here is an overview of the relevant framework data from the preliminary stage:

Technical data

Backes & Müller BMIce 515
Concept:DAC preamplifier
Equipment:2 x 24 Bit / 192 KHz Sigma-Delta converter (Burr-Brown), mono mode
Digital inputs:2 x optical, 2 x coax, 1 x AES/EBU, 1 x USB, aptX-HD Bluetooth
Analog inputs1xRCA, 1xXLR
Outputs:Analogue: 1 x RCA, 1 x XLR, digital 2 x XLR-AES3
Dimensions (W x H x D):44.0 x 8.0 x 26.0 cm
8.9 kilograms
All technical data


The issue of equalization/adjustment is of course also an elementary one with the BMLine 12. Nothing can be adjusted on the box itself, for this you need the Backes controller, which is also used in exactly the same way for the models from KSDigital ( such as the KSD C100 ). For anyone who is wondering: The hi-fi veteran Backes & Müller and the studio professional KSDigital sit under the same roof. The HiFi box benefits from insights from the studio sector and vice versa.

Backes & Müller BMLine 12 Review

The BMLine 12 can be sensitively adjusted to the surroundings and listening taste using the Backes controller. Contact with the speakers is via an Ethernet cable 

The controller sits in a pretty artificial stone housing and allows the use of six equalizers: the frequency and quality can be freely selected, amplification or reduction of up to 12 decibels are feasible. Nothing more makes sense.

After we found a sensible position for the BMLine 12, we started fine-tuning it. In the "factory state" the basses were very strong and the mid-range - the current 12 reminded a bit of the old one from 1980 - comparatively robust and edgy. We also measured them in this state:

We ascertained 99 decibels as the (continuous) maximum level. That's quite a lot. However, as already indicated above, the BMLine 12 had a lot of bass in the basic setting and was also equalized to below 30 Hertz. That didn't have to be the case, even in our 70 square meter listening room. We linearized the bass around 60 Hertz using the controller and let it taper off gently at 6 dB below 40 Hertz. This not only made the bass sound much drier and more precise (just the way I like it), but the maximum level also increased significantly. With this intervention, we spared the three 18-inch basses the sweaty low-frequency work that - with the appropriate setting - is also relentlessly demanded because of the membrane feedback.

Backes & Müller BMLine 12 REVIEW

Setting the filter is simple: the controller is used to determine the frequency, the quality, i.e. how narrow-band or how wide the filter should appear, as well as the strength

But I liked it much better with less bass. We then tamed the mids, which were a bit too robust, with another filter. Not much had to be done: an EQ with a low quality at around 2 KHz, which lowers the level in this range by up to 1.5 dB, made the "angry" BMLine 12 finer overall and much more forgiving. So forgiving that listening to music became a pleasurable experience.

Sound Test

One thing first: We are here at Backes & Müller. The loudspeakers from this house have always played extremely lively and precisely to the point. If you want cuddly boxes for cuddly rock, this isn't the right place for you - even if you could certainly set some kind of sound with the controller. But then you would completely change the character of the speaker - which would be nonsense.

No: This loudspeaker lives from its liveliness, from its high fine and coarse dynamics, from this incredible precision that, with every hit on the snare, makes you wonder when you were last at a live concert - simply because the backes sounds so authentic. This is where phase-linear filter technology certainly comes into its own. With many passive speakers, much of what is clearly drawn with the finest pen and has sharp contours has soft gray areas. But blurring isn't Backes' world.

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

The BMLine 12 in the listening room. In terms of installation, it is problem-free because of the extensive adjustment options

MiG-Music recently released a concert recorded by Radio Bremen 40 years ago: As a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron, who died in 2011 , they had a concert from the Bremen Schauburg remastered. And when I got my hands on the review CD, I realized that I was there myself at this concert on April 18, 1983. Life still has surprises in store...

From an audiophile perspective, the recording certainly has weaknesses; For example, a monitor drags for a long time. No problem. This concert is simply magnificent: so lively, so thrilling. And the Backes is the perfect playback instrument for such moments. She placed the singer and his piano on the stage in an absolutely believable, three-dimensional way, the dimensions of which you can quite accurately guess. And Scott-Heron's voice celebrated the Backes as wonderfully strong in character as it was: creaky and still somehow accusatory even when joking.

At some point the horns kick in and you're literally shocked at the pressure and dynamics with which the band (name: Amnesia Express) went about their work. Even with our reference system with Canor electronics and FinkTeam Borg, the recordings didn't have the same drive as with the Backes.

Backes & Müller BMLine12 Review

The concert in the Schauburg is a real treasure. Good that MiG-Music has now rediscovered him (Cover: JPC)

After just a few bars I was interested in the BMLine 12, after an hour of the concert I was captivated by the impulsive precision. But I was really excited when the applause rang out. I hadn't heard anything like that at all. The recording is very direct and involves the audience so strongly that you would almost think there was at least one microphone in the audience. What the BMLine 12 did with it was simply spectacular: it placed me directly in the audience with all the multi-faceted clapping noises around me: lively, absolutely authentic. Goose flesh. Like back then.

Conclusion Backes & Müller BMLine 12

As the B&M catalog says: "The BMLine 12 continues the glorious history of the classic of the eighties and nineties of the last millennium." That's right. Both in character (very straight) and in its design (classic 3-way speaker), this floor-standing speaker is much more reminiscent of the large models of the 1970s and 1980s than its larger model siblings with line emitter characteristics. It is therefore actually something like the last of its kind - but this does not detract from its fascination: such wonderfully precise high-speed dynamic machines are rare.

The BMLine 12 builds a bridge to the earlier days, but also incorporates the latest technical B&M achievements. It is currently (and probably will continue to be for a long time) by far the cheapest way to get this form of negative feedback and phase linearity. The fact that Backes is now also offering the convincing BMIce preamplifier in a limited edition at a very fair bundle price is also sexy, at least for those music lovers who do not yet have a preamplifier or who have one when purchasing a high-quality box like the BMLine 12 anyway had thought about a new precursor.

Signal Projects Andromeda Golden Sequence

Signal Projects Andromeda Golden Sequence

Signal Projects Andromeda Golden Sequence

 Signal Projects Andromeda and Golden Sequence Statement Series power cords

The "Statement Series" from the Greek-British manufacturer Signal Projects enables sound tuning of a fine, but perhaps decisive kind with the "no-nonsense" cables Andromeda and Golden Sequence. Plug in, play in briefly and enjoy not huge, but decisive improvements.

The eye listens. Also and especially with those system components that a high-end device neither can nor wants to hide: device connections and power cables. Signal Projects, a company based in Greece, recently sent something particularly fine: power cables from the Andromeda and Golden Sequence premium model series. They look incredibly good and can do a lot in terms of sound.

These fat "power cords" come in sturdy wooden cases with sliding lids that run smoothly. Inside are golden-brown (Golden Sequence) or shiny black (Andromeda) "constrictors" in helix strands, about as thick as the forearm of a ten-year-old child, five feet long and quite heavy or stiff. The splendor is assembled with IEC and Schuko plugs, some of which embody an in-house design: the contact pins come from Oyaïde OEM according to Signal Projects specifications, the housings of the plugs are manufactured in-house. The result feels extremely solid, which also applies to the "plug-in feeling".

Signal Projects Andromeda Golden Sequence

The Athens-based company, which has a second location in Manchester, has been working on making cables better for a number of years, which applies equally to signal and power conductors. Lead developer Nick Korakakis, who studied at the University of Sheffield, remembers the days when he designed his first products in a sparse studio with old equipment and struggled with a multitude of distortions. "As the studio equipment got more sophisticated, some of the annoying distortion remained," says Korakakis. One reason to investigate the causes and to consciously tweak some parameters, such as the cable structure. And to "add a few pages to the endless book of music history," as Korakakis confidently notes.

The goal that he and his team were pursuing was to create uncompromising products that should "correspond to the greatly increased quality level of audio and video equipment". In short: Since high-tech with the best sound can now be found even in the lower price ranges, you should not use bell wire strips to connect the devices.

The solution à la Korakakis is a clever mix of materials in all areas, be it the actual conductors, the insulator material or the shielding. High-purity metals in a sound-enhancing mix, above all well-known good conductors such as copper, silver and gold, ensure low resistance and high conductivity in Signal Projects cables. "One of the things we use is copper with a purity of 99.99997 percent (6N)," explains the developer. The source material, which comes from well-known cable manufacturers worldwide, has "also gotten better and better in recent years," enthuses the Signal Projects boss.

Signal Projects Andromeda Golden Sequence

The contact pins come from Oyaïde OEM according to Signal Projects specifications, the housings of the connectors are manufactured in-house.

The twisted cable structure, similar to that of a genetic material helix, ensures low inductance in conjunction with a capacitance that is also reduced as far as possible - and you can hear that, even with mains cables, which actually have no other function than transferring electricity from the socket to the socket with as little loss as possible Consumers, i.e. bringing the devices to the plant.

Of course, a power cable can always be a gateway for interference frequencies, whether they come from cell phone networks or are emitted by various radio stations and other radio sources. That's why Korakakis and Co. attach great importance to efficient insulation (“unfortunately, there is no perfect insulator, so we use a mixture of different materials”) as well as cleverly designed shielding and its grounding. "This is much more important than it was a few decades ago, because there are now many more interference frequencies on the road," says Nick Korakakis.

Especially with the latter there are a number of possible variations: Should the shield be grounded on both sides, only on one side of the cable or not at all? The solution is implied to be printed on the cold device plug: "Passive Shield Discharge System" can be read there. The potentials that build up in the shielding are therefore discharged via the grounding. Elsewhere, a defined charge is placed on the screen in order to "bias" it electromagnetically and thus accelerate the discharge of interference frequencies. Nick Korakakis considers this unnecessary. "There are a few other cable manufacturers who use a kind of active shielding, for example with batteries," says Nick. 

On the one hand, this serves to give the interference voltages caught in the shielding a direction and, on the other hand, to discharge them at a defined speed at a defined point. “However, we at Signal Projects believe that it is significantly more efficient to use said 'Passive Shield Discharge System' instead of an active solution, because it gives us the opportunity to achieve the same goal just as safely and, importantly, without changing the cable parameters ' says Korakakis. For this purpose, special coil wires, such as those found in some old radio receivers, are used as shielding over the entire length of the cable. Korakakis is convinced that these have “the ability to attract interference voltages just as efficiently as active shielding,

Signal Projects Andromeda Golden Sequence

The Greek-British manufacturer specifies the capacity in picofarads (pf) per foot (ft) (1 foot = 30.48 centimeters). The Andromeda is 9.97 picofarads, which, according to Uwe Klose from the German distributor Applied Acoustics, is over the counter for 3500 euros in the 1.5-meter version. With the Golden Sequence, which is priced in significantly higher at 5000 euros for the same length, it is 9.77 picofarads. The resistance of the power cables is 0.97 (Andromeda) and 1.02 (Golden Sequence) milliohms per foot. And the all-important inductance is listed as 0.39 and 0.37 millihenrys per foot. The struggle for constant improvement, even in the decimal area, is noticeable. 

Care is also taken to have consistent resistance at both ends of the cable. This allows giving the interference currents a defined direction, even with the passive solution, and ultimately dissipating them via the earth, “safely and quickly”, as Korakakis emphasize. In addition, the cables are twisted in a special way. On the one hand, this makes them measurably less sensitive to high-frequency interference such as radio transmitters. On the other hand, it opens up the possibility of ideally insulating and shielding all conductors and keeping them at a clearly defined distance, which should lead to significantly lower inductance and capacitance values. In addition, the symmetry of the frequency response improves significantly. On the one hand, this makes them measurably less sensitive to high-frequency interference such as radio transmitters. 

The immense development work is paid for, whereby Signal Projects does not only vote according to measured values, but also by ear.

Ever since FIDELITY tested the highly effective isolating transformer Signal Projects Phoenix, we in the editorial team have known about the highly serious approach that Signal Projects takes. What Nick Korakakis and his team are bringing to the market is good for understandable sound improvements. Now, power cords don't make giant leaps, and they can't turn a mediocre collection of gear into a world-class chain. 

But if the basic requirements are right, then the elaborately made, optically and haptically appealing strips can provide exactly the fine tuning that was missing: the bass becomes a little blacker, fast impulses are a bit more precise, the musical events seem more orderly overall and that timing more consistent. Whether you hear the price difference between Andromeda and Golden Sequence - the latter uses somewhat purer metals for conductors and shielding than for the Andromeda - is a decision that every high-end user has to make for themselves. valuables supplied. 

By the way, they should have a stable stand and/or a reasonable mass, because Signal Projects power cables tend to simply pull lightweight components off the rack. You can't do anything wrong with it, there is always an improvement effect. By the way, they should have a stable stand and/or a reasonable mass, because Signal Projects power cables tend to simply pull lightweight components off the rack. You can't do anything wrong with it, there is always an improvement effect. By the way, they should have a stable stand and/or a reasonable mass, because Signal Projects power cables tend to simply pull lightweight components off the rack. You can't do anything wrong with it, there is always an improvement effect.


Signal Projects Andromeda power cable

Capacitance: 9.97 pf/ft

Resistance: 0.97 mΩ/ft

Inductance: 0.39 mH/ft

Maximum current: 48 A/230 V

Price: around €3500/1.5 m

Signal Projects Golden Sequence power cable

Capacitance: 9.77 pf/ft

Resistance: 1.02 mΩ/ft

Inductance: 0.37 mH/ft

Maximum current: 48 A/230 V

Price: around €5000/1.5 m


Applied Acoustics

Uwe Klose

Brandensteinweg 6

13595 berlin

Telephone +49 30 4614874



Mythical Creatures. A sonorous designation for the top line of a manufacturer. Even when it comes to something as mundane as device connection cables. The US AudioQuest group calls its latest development in this area "ThunderBird". And the sound quality of the "Thunderbird" actually seems to be out of this world.


The Thunderbirds are sound tuning of the trouble-free kind: plug in and have fun. Lengthy running-in times are unnecessary because the manufacturer takes care of that in advance. And the gain in sound is huge.

As a high-end tester, you learn to pay attention to the little things. The influence that this or that harmonically praised component actually has on the sound experience is sometimes marginal and even professionals can only find it in countless listening sessions, comparable to the proverbial needle in a haystack. All the more gratifying when an audible difference is immediately noticeable. Which after a short time turns out to be extremely positive.

Garth Powell, longtime head of AudioQuest development, likes to talk about how high the bar has been set at the company over the years through the consistent use of advanced technology and materials research. According to Powell, this ranges from highly conductive metals for cable production to a three-axis structure with symmetrical connections, air as a dielectric, directional binding or electromagnetic charging of the cable shield, and, last but not least, insulation with multi-layer carbon and aluminum shields. All with the aim of minimizing or completely eliminating the interference from interference frequencies. It is no accident that many professional recording studios around the world are wired to AudioQuest products. Hum and other disturbances are a thing of the past.


The new ThunderBird benefits from experience and technology that the manufacturer has been able to gather with its top models. Part of the mysticism results from the process known as “cooking”: AudioQuest cables are brought in before delivery with tensions that they never have to “endure” in use. This extreme formatting ensures a more homogeneous cable structure..

Going well beyond the level achieved so far has been the declared development goal at AudioQuest in recent years. However, the standard achieved was already so high that "a new approach" was needed, as Powell emphasizes. Not about exotic solutions, as some cable manufacturers strive for with more or less good results, but rather by answering the question of where the biggest problems arise when using an analog device connection cable. The result of several years of research recently bridged the gap between my CD or SACD players and the preamplifier. Two of the latest generation ThunderBird, one balanced with XLR connectors, one unbalanced with RCA (Cinch) connectors plus "Dielectric Bias System",

How complex the construction is reflected in the noticeable stiffness of the cables, which require stable sockets on the “opposite side”. The symmetrical cable consists of three strands twisted together, not dissimilar to a genetic helix. In no time at all, the “Thunderbirds” make up for the comparatively little effort involved in cabling with an extremely significant improvement in sound. And it wasn't created on the digital drawing board: "Does a laboratory test adequately reflect how a cable, a circuit, or a component behaves acoustically in real life?" Garth Powell asks purely rhetorically and immediately provides the answer: "Mostly not .”


Garth Powell admitted to us a little grumpily that, despite decades of research, AudioQuest has not yet been able to find any metrologically reliable indication of cable sound. Of course, that doesn't bother fans of the brand much. In terms of sound, the differences between the cable generations are clearly verifiable.

The reason for this is the numerous imponderables that occur in real use. No cable developer can say in advance under what conditions his product would be used, how the system would deal with impedances, damping factors and the like. In addition, even well-reputed measuring devices have their limits.

According to Powell, one has to accept that there is far too much electrical noise to be eliminated by sophisticated cable design alone. It is nevertheless feasible to eliminate the cable resistance as much as possible by using electrostatic shielding that is one hundred percent effective. Powell developed the corresponding technology for AudioQuest's power cords and later used it successfully in the Niagara line filters. The overall package also includes a carefully designed burn-in procedure - which the end customer can consequently save.


The result speaks for the years of effort of the developer and the immense production effort: The new ThunderBirds not only blow their predecessors on the wall - they are among the best device connectors that I have ever encountered in my life. The listening test starts with the XLR version, because Mark Levinson's 390S CD player and the 38S preamplifier from the same company have symmetrical inputs and outputs and therefore sound the best. Replacing my usually used insider tip strips from Silnote Audio (also a US company) with the Thunderbirds directly reveals more room width and depth and a more homogeneous frequency response, the upper and lower extremes of which are more harmoniously integrated into the overall event.

Italo blues player Zucchero Fornaciari stands in person in front of the listener in his finely recorded new unplugged album Inacustico (Polydor), the guitar strings buzz and click in the acoustic versions of well-known Zucchero songs in a three-dimensional way. A skiffle-blues combo, The Devil Makes Three, The Devil Makes Three's similarly-sounding but much cruder-recorded Longjohns, Boots And A Belt even draws me into a small club. And the Arabic soprano Fatma Said becomes an ethereal meta-creature on El Nour (Warner Classics) with the promise of comforting goosebumps. This works at least as well, especially with high-resolution material from the SACD. With the Thunderbirds you can take off to exhilarating high-altitude flights


AF cable Audio Quest ThunderBird
Concept: AF cable symmetrical and asymmetrical
Conductor material/construction: solid PSC (“Perfect Surface Copper”), air as dielectric, copper-coated HF conduction
Assembly: with XLR and RCA connectors, length 0.5 up to 6 m, special lengths/assemblies on request
Price: from £2,500 (0.5 m, RCA connector)


Hoge Bergen 10
4704 RH Roosendaal
The Netherlands
Telephone +31 165 541404

The prices shown are valid at the time of evaluation. Deviations from this are possible.

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