Review of the TIDAL Piano Diacera in the German audio magazine "hifi
& records", issue # 1 / 2011:
another speaker with diamond and ceramic drivers?
Most certainly not, because no other speaker is as uncompromising
as the Piano Diacera...
"Uncompromising", one of those empty phrases dear
to the hifi press you believe? Hold on, let's wait and see.
In recent years, a number of standards have been established
in circles of ambitious loudspeaker builders. With a fair
degree of certainty, one has come to expect Mundorf components,
Accuton drivers and curved cabinets. Unquestionably, there
are exemptions, but one in three premium grade speakers
satisfies that description these days.
In the past
years, I had the opportunity to become closely acquaintanced with
a few Accuton equipped speakers: Ayon Goshawk, Consensus Audio Lightning
of them fine speakers, among which the Isopon sporting a diamond
tweeter appealed most to me, by a considerable margin. I believe
all of them have been developed with the specific goal to overcome
flaws inherent to other materials such as polypropylene, paper,
aluminium or silk.
With a clear commitment to progress in technology, these speakers
manage to blend into the manufacturer's product range in so far
as they are still "kind of payable", provided one is prepared to
tag this to the price of a small car.
The Piano Diacera is a different case. Here, the task at hand was
to "shrink" a world class speaker - tall as a full grown man and
exceeding the 100.000 € mark - in size, so as to make it fit in
listening rooms measuring between 20m² and 40m². "I wanted a Sunray
in a smaller enclosure" says Jörn Janczak. Now, what is a Sunray?
And who is Jörn Janczak?
Picture an enterprise park near Cologne with film and television
studios. On the other side of the road a multipurpose building.
Jörn Janczak takes me on a tour through Tidal Audio, his company
launched in 1999, and recounts with obvious delight: "The beginning
was cumbersome but nowadays we have our feet firmly on the ground."
And it would very much appear they're on a roll indeed.
Euphoric accounts by visitors of CES in Las Vegas and RMAF in Denver
have motivated me to reach for the telephone and invite myself to
the company, so to speak. Here we have a German manufacturer who
demonstrably scores a success with his loudspeakers in America,
Israel Russia, Hongkong, … only in the domestic hifi press only
few people seems to know about Tidal. Janczak completely indulges
in his dream of creating the perfect speaker. Nothing embodies that
passion as much as the Sunray does.
I take a seat in the demonstration room and simply hear music. The
most amazing thing is the homogeneity of the Sunray's performance
devoid of even the slightest trace of strain.
My listening distance was something of three and a half meters and
yet these towers, each of them consisting of two bass modules with
a further high/mid tone module in between those, were acoustically
inseparable. It sounded like the perfect two-way monitor, only without
any trace of compression and with substantial and deep bass that,
on the other hand, leapt from the speakers fast and as light as
From that moment on, it was absolutely clear that Tidal is about
something else than merely polishing piano lacquer, namely to build
the finest speaker systems in the world, and Janczak is perfectly
serious about his quest. And, he's not just talking big, indeed
I wonder whether he's not reached that supreme goal already with
With the exception of Acapella's Sphäron Excalibur I know nothing
at all that comes even near the Sunray. So sad "my" Sunray performs
in Indonesia, meanwhile, and not in my living room where it belongs,
really. Oh well, since a few weeks that living room is home to the
To describe it in surely overly simplified terms, the speaker looks
like the high/mid tone module of the Sunray enlarged to give birth
to a floorstanding loudspeaker.
So, we have a diamond tweeter and two ceramic mid/bass drivers plus
two cabinets - given its price tag, a number of readers may want
to put a big question mark next to that. However, it is simply unjustified
to compare the Piano Diacera to the mentioned speakers considering
the enormous expenditure for components in the former.
Certainly, the Accuton tweeters with their 20 mm radius used in
the Isophon are already very expensive; but then the 30 mm version,
a proprietary design custom made in 2003 for Tidal and first deployed
in the Sunray and now also used in the Piano Diacera, is just short
in his designs painstakingly committed to microphone measurements,
knows of course that diamond is the nearest thing to the ideal of
limitlessly stiff material but also that it does not reach the straight
as a ruler frequency response of a ceramic tweeter.
Yet, in this case he follows the truth his ears tell him. "This
30mm diamond simply comes nearer to the original and, to me, with
a perfectly adjusted cross-over topology it is the only tweeter
one cannot separate out anymore." But the uncompromising expenditure
does not end here. Take the crossover for example which features
silver carbon resistors, an inductor weighing almost 10 kg with
moulded capacitors consisting of massive copper foil and oil impregnated
paper as dielectric.
Most of these parts are made by Duelund from Denmark. In serial
speaker production one will never ever find
any of those. You see, inductors and capacitors costing several
hundreds of Euro hardly fit into that sort of budget.
The speaker cable terminal on the rear enables
hook-up in three different operating modes: either in true 2 way
mode, or with the second mid/bass driver in 2,5 way configuration
in linear mode, or in that same configuration with slightly enhanced
bass gain. In my room, the latter variant sounded best. One doesn't
loose anything noteworthy in terms of imaging whereas on the other
hand there is noticeably increased substance.
Another particular point to mention is that on top of its really
high grade isolator feet, Tidal supply a Leica laser distance meter
with the Piano Diacera - a broad hint that one should put some effort
into appropriately adjusting the speakers' toe-in, an indispensable
and worthwhile procedure with an acoustic lens of this format. Therefore,
never try to judge the Piano Diacera within the first quarter of
I shall start my appraisal with just one point to deduct: should
you be looking for abysmal bass, look further. It quite simply lacks
driver membrane for that; somewhere between 35 and 40 Hz, the frequency
response starts sloping. Then again, one who does not listen to
organ music by Vierne or Widor all the time, will be perfectly able
to live with that. Orchestral instruments such as the contrabass
are rendered in their full extensiveness; I for my part didn't miss
anything at all.
And so we come to the merits and the first thing I would like to
say is: it left me speechless. In fact, one cannot grasp the "sound"
of the Piano Diacera, let alone try to describe it. Any specific
praise - dynamic performance, colourful expression, lifelike stage
- would miss the point because any such accolade - which highlights
only one quality - risks to be misunderstood as a critique in that
the loudspeaker might seem to "interpret" music in that it accentuates
that particular aspect of the music.
This speaker does not do that at all. Instead, it is the perfect
reproducer, communicator, message carrier: whatever is fed into
the speaker is projected 1:1 into the listening room. How can I
be so sure of that? Because there is evidence. Never before did
a speaker make the differences between other components so utterly
clear; some components were downright unable to cope with the accuracy,
they were just unable to fill the finely resolved picture with the
appropriate level of information.
As if someone was attempting to fill a cinema screen with a super
8 projector. The Piano Diacera demands highest quality sources.
Also, it had been a very long time since I had last been struck
to a comparable extent by the phenomenon whereby a better component
makes you discover anew your own collection of vinyl and CDs and
reveals details you never heard before.
No approximation or levelling between recordings or components on
account of the speaker's own "character" here. As a matter of fact,
the speaker doesn't have a character - unless it is defined by its
truthfulness, richness of detail and homogeneity, that is. No "hifi"
to muddle the interface between the music and the listener; the
music hits you purely and directly.
Often that also means it will unfold and flow unspectacularly.
With some well-known recordings, one may initially even be under
the impression that they sound more "lacklustre" than before, until
one suddenly realises that the previously heard "sparkle" of an
instrument such as the clarinet was actually an artefact of an inaccurate
With that insight gained (reflecting back on the last concert one
attended helps tremendously to that end), one will never want to
step back from the purity that the Piano Diacera has to offer anymore,
quite simply because its natural sound is so much more beautiful
than anything hifi is ever able to make of it.
Conclusion After the experience at Tidal Audio and the Piano Diacera's
sojourn in my living room, I can only congratulate Jörn Janczak.
I have never heard any speaker that reproduces music any more clean,
homogeneous, intact or open than the Sunray - this is under each
and every aspect an uncompromising component that also invites and
enables the listener to learn.
What about the Piano Diacera, then? Truly, it should be compared
with nothing else but its illustrious next of kin. If the rest of
the system is up to the task, the Piano Diacera projects any recording
session completely unfettered into the listening room. Unquestionably,
an exceptional speaker."
by Heinz Gelking, hifi & records 1/2011