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Damien Plisson (CEO – Audirvana)

Damien Plisson (CEO – Audirvana)

My requirements when choosing audio equipment are more demanding than words can describe. Every single detail is important. Everything has to be perfect, and I don’t like it unless it is. The few devices I use with Audirvana all share the same characteristic. It’s about absolute transparency. The only criterion is how minimal the degradation of sound quality is guaranteed to be.

I have very high standards when it comes to audio systems. That’s why I was so excited when I heard that Isao Kumano had personally created the new flagship SMB-01L with the audio professional in mind. Mr Kumano’s reputation as an engineer is so well known in the audio industry that it’s hard to imagine anyone not knowing him. If there is a man who is as demanding about audio quality as I am, it is definitely him.

I’ve tested Phonon headphones in the past and had an unforgettable experience with them in combination with Audirvana. This time, when I first listened to the SMB-01L, I was so amazed that I was convinced that the technical prowess that went into it was like a little jewel that would harmonise perfectly with Audirvana.

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the stunning acoustic performance that the SMB-01L delivers. It’s a real high-end audio system. Everything sounds so clear. All the elements that make up the music were perfectly transparent. I think the most impressive thing was how lifelike the music performance felt. It was as if I was there myself. It was like I was in the studio. It was as though the space around my ears had become nothing but music. There was nothing fake, nothing forced, no colorization whatsoever, natural, good balance and faithful reproduction of the sound of the instruments. I thought that was an amazing ability. And having listened to it with a variety of sources, I have to say I’m in awe of the SMB-01L’s incredible acoustic balance, from its high-resolution, wide dynamic range reproduction to its ultra-low frequency range.

Also worthy of special mention are the soft, comfortable and enduring premium sheepskin earpads with excellent sound insulation. They fit snugly against the ear and the leather texture is just as remarkable as the audio quality of the system. I am not familiar with all the headphones developed by Phonon, but I am convinced that this must be one of the great achievements of Mr. Isao Kumano.