Introducing the Stenheim Reference Ultime Two

17.05.2021

Press release | Bringing the exceptional quality of the world-renowned Reference Ultime speakers to smaller spaces and at lower price point.
Conceived and built entirely in Switzerland, our new Reference Ultime Two speaker offers the proven design approach, components and materials used so successfully in our Reference Ultime models, in a product that’s easier to accommodate
Pleasing proportions reflect a speaker that is as elegant on the inside as it is on the outside. Where some engineers concentrate purely on technology and some designers focus on the auditory, at Stenheim we understand the relationship between the physical and the subjective, reproduction and appreciation. We combine established techniques and new technology, musical sensibilities and classical design considerations to create products with enduring performance and appeal.
With the Reference Ultime Two speakers, you will rediscover the sense – and sensation – of live music. You will hear the vivid colours and vibrant energy in that music: the structure and beauty, delicacy and power, the musician’s sensitivity, their emotional and physical response to the music’s demands.
This is audio performance that honours THE performance, a listening experience that captures the energy and atmosphere of a live concert, that encapsulates the excitement and emotional response of a live audience.

 

Stenheim Reference Ultime Two

The challenge
At Stenheim, we are proud of the Reference Ultime line but recognize their demanding nature – in terms of system requirements, space and price. We wanted to make Reference Ultime level performance more accessible and bring it to a wider audience. To do this, we had to preserve the incredible musical integrity of the Reference Ultime speakers, but deliver it in a smaller and more affordable format. That was the challenge.
To meet that goal required an exacting cost/benefit analysis of every aspect of our technology, materials, parts and design approach – all without diluting those essential musical qualities that underpin Reference Ultime performance.
The first defining factor was the requirement to work in smaller spaces. That means using a smaller cabinet than the existing Reference Ultime models, carefully controlling the low-frequency output so as not to suffer from excessive boundary reinforcement or to overload the available volume. It also means scaling the proportions to visually fit smaller surroundings. The new speaker was going to have to meet all of the criteria imposed by the smaller cabinet and smaller room – but still deliver convincing weight and extension, the low-frequency depth to support a proper soundstage and sense of musical presence.
At the same time, it would have to honor our core electrical values: high efficiency and easy, non-reactive load characteristics - the performance parameters that define Stenheim designs - allowing our speakers to reproduce convincing musical dynamics and making them so engaging to listen to.
Of course, to be a Stenheim speaker, to be a Reference Ultime speaker, it would also need to look the part – matching the fit and finish of the established products. Put all of those things together and it looked like we had a mountain to climb. But we Swiss know a little about mountaineering. It’s about choosing a path, about balancing risk and reward.

 

Stenheim Reference Ultime Two

The solution
Like all of the existing Reference Ultime models, the Reference Ultime Two is a full d’Appolito design, with an off-set symmetrical driver layout.
The cabinet is constructing using the same materials and techniques as the existing Reference Ultime speakers. It uses precision-machined Aluminium panels and internal baffles, with additional critical bracing. Traditionally, the cabinet is the most expensive single part of any high- end speaker and that’s especially true of our precisely CNC machined enclosures.
The Reference Ultime Two is just a little shorter and a little less deep than the existing Reference Ultime models. Indeed, with an almost identical front driver array, similar classical cabinet proportions and identical fit and finish, at first glance it is easy to confuse the different speakers. Internally, the similarities continue, with the passive crossover sharing the same essential electrical characteristics and quality as our existing designs.
We have eliminated the active option, but including bi-wire terminals, to allow for bi- amplified operation. This is a crucial option when it comes to delivering cost-effective performance from the Reference Ultime Two, offering dealers and owners important versatility and choices – the option to use multiple, modest amplifiers to bi-amp the speakers or to add a second high-quality amplifier to further upgrade existing performance.
At the heart of the Reference Ultime Two’s performance are the paired midrange drivers flanking the soft-dome tweeter, the same three units and the same layout used in our flagship designs, just without the super- tweeter and motorized baffle. But although the Reference Ultime Two appears so similar to the existing models, in terms of overall scale and its front-baffle driver array, look at the rear aspect and you’ll begin to appreciate the differences.
Rather than the two, rear-firing bass units of the existing Reference Ultime models, the new Reference Ultime Two employs a pair of rear-facing laminar flow reflex ports (similar to those developed and so successfully used in the Alumine Five models), to load the front-mounted 12” drivers.

 

Stenheim Reference Ultime Two

Technical spec

  • High-sensitivity Reference Ultime loudspeaker system
  • Full d’Appolito array with 2x12” woofers, 2x61⁄2” midrange and 1x 25mm tweeter
  • Massive aluminium cabinet with six independent, internal chambers
  • Sealed chambers for each midrange, the tweeter and     crossover
  • Separate bass chambers loaded with rear-facing laminar flow ports
  • Passive three-way crossover, using audiophile grade components, sealed in an airtight chamber
  • Frequency response: 25Hz to 35kHz
  • Sensitivity: 95dB, half space
  • Power handling: 400 WRMS, 800 W peak
  • Minimum recommended amplifier power: 30 W
  • Nominal impedance: 4Ω
  • Dimensions: H1535mmxW368mmxD505mm
  • Weight: 231 Kg each
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Price / pair: $150,000 USD
  • Download the Stenheim Reference Ultime Two brochure here.


The stenheim story
In 2010, having working together for one of Switzerland’s biggest high-end names, Stenheim’s founders branched out to form their own company with the goal of becoming the leading Swiss high-end loudspeaker brand.

The next year saw the launch of their first product, the Alumine 2, the result of two years of intensive research and development. These compact, two- way speakers with an all-aluminum cabinet, high-efficiency and easy load characteristics defined the technological blueprint for the company and quickly achieved Reference Status. In 2012 the model evolved still further, to include an integrated sub-woofer, creating the full-range Alumine Third Way.

Building on the AlumineTwo’s early success, the founders brought in Jean- Pascal Panchard to expand the company’s horizons. A music aficionado and engineer by training, he also brought to the company extensive experience in the sales and marketing of high-end audio, knowledge that soon made its mark. 2014 saw the next evolution of the Stenheim concept. If the Alumine 2 was the proof of that concept, the Reference Ultime was intended to be its ultimate expression. Its three-way topology, seven drivers and massive enclosure was a powerful statement of intent, delivering astonishing musical performance, while remaining true to the company’s guiding design imperatives.

The same year, saw the creation of “Stenheim Acoustic Sessions”, a record label designed to give artists the chance to record original tracks in unusual places and under exceptional acoustic conditions. Captured far from traditional studios, all the recordings take place in auditoria which possess exceptional acoustics, embodying the life, energy and vitality of live acoustic performances. The unique quality of the resulting recordings was quickly recognized and the Acoustic Sessions soon became central to the identity of the Stenheim brand.

The next year saw our most important step yet. By applying the lessons learnt with the Reference Ultime models to a more affordable price point, we created the floor-standing, three-way Alumine Five, a speaker that combined more manageable dimensions with considerable bandwidth, easy drive with high sensitivity. Despite its modest cost, the Alumine Five was considered a serious contender for Best Sound At Show, Munich High-End 2016, by Jonathan Valin of The Absolute Sound. The Alumine Five was soon joined by the compact, floor-standing Alumine Three, a speaker that has quickly become one of the brand’s most important and popular products, while the latest Five SE model received another Best Sound At Show award from Jonathan Valin at Axpona in Chicago.

That continuing success with both new and established models has allowed the company to grow to the point where we could no longer exist in our original premises. In 2020 we invested in a brand new factory at Vetroz, in the heart of the Valais. As well as allowing more efficient production and storage of our products, the new factory also includes a listening facility and showroom for visitors as Stenheim enters its second decade.

 

Jean-Pascal Panchard

CEO - Owner
phone +41 79 220 02 22
email jpp@stenheim.com

 

For further info: to Stenheim website

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