Grimm Audio brings an improved version of its LS1 active speakers to the US

If you’re like me and the topic turns to active speakers, you’ll probably think of affordable products. Maybe the mighty $649 Vanatoo Transparent One Encore comes to mind, or the sub-$1000 powerhouse that is a pair of SVS Prime Pro wireless speakers. The KEF LS50W is a strong contender even at $2800, and if your budget allows, you might consider Buchardt A5s ($3900/pair).

Beyond that, my sense is that most red-meat audiophiles are going to spring for multiple separate components, despite there being something vaguely masochistic about that often prolonged ordeal of trial, error, and complexity.

Me, I love simplicity as much as I love amazing sound, which is why I really cottoned to the $14,950 powered Dutch & Dutch 8cs I wrote about a few days ago. Then I heard that for elevated luxury and sophistication, you can also check out a pair of active Grimm LS1be speakers that’ll set you back a cool $44k, or almost three times what the D&Ds cost. So I had a listen.

I knew nothing of Grimm Audio, which made for a double surprise. Number one: more Dutchmen. They seemed thick on the ground at AXPONA. Number two: the Grimm LS1be system was blew-me-away excellent. I heard exemplary coherence and speed, eye-watering musicality, and a solid balance between clean taut bass (20Hz) and precise, expansive treble. The hotel room where founder/creative director Eelco Grimm and his small crew had set up shop was unremarkable, having undergone only modest acoustic treatments (I think I counted four smallish panels). And yet the space seemed to approach the level of a tricked-out concert hall. Frequency anomalies? Distortion? Hash? Try as I might, I couldn’t hear any.

Grimm’s LS1 speaker is a three-way system if you count the integrated, upwards-firing Digital Motional Feedback SB1 subwoofer that is claimed to have 30dB less distortion than its predecessor. The tweeter in the LS1be has been upgraded to a beryllium-diaphragm SEAS model. As before, inside the cabinetry there are six NCore amplifiers developed by engineering wizard and Grimm co-founder Bruno Putzeys, who is now a principal at Purifi. Of course, the Grimm speakers have hi-rez ADC/DACs onboard as well, plus a digital signal processor. All you need is a source.

Is $44,000 a crazy amount of money to spend on a pair of powered speakers? It’s all in the ear of the beholder, but based on admittedly just 15 minutes of listening, I’d take Grimm’s tweaked-out statement of excellence over virtually any system I heard at AXPONA that costs up to six figures.

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