We first met Andrea Vitali of Blumenhofer Acoustics five years ago at the 2010 Munich High End show. Andrea's enthusiasm for music and audio is infectious and we've been in touch ever since. We've often talked about visiting the Blumenhofer headquarters in beautiful Walkertshofen, but at this year's High End we decided it was time to finally make good on this long promised appointment.
We arrived in Munich early in the morning of Thursday 16th July, which left time to catch up on some rest before heading into the city for a few hours to explore. Having spent a week in Munich every May for a few years now, it was nice to have the chance to relax without the usual excitement of exhibiting at the High End.
On Friday morning we collected a hire car from the HBH central railway station and set off eastward for Walkertshofen which is about 65 miles away, around an hour and a half's drive. The Bavaria weather was glorious for our stay in Germany, 38C with clear blue skies.
Although we'd read a bit about Blumenhofer's premises and seen photos, nothing quite prepared us for the spectacular scene when we arrived. Thomas Blumenhofer has built an incredible place and the views across the landscape are extraordinary. Blumenhofer's vivacious distributor Jan Öström of Old School HiFi had brought his friend and Blumenhofer owner KH-G on a trip to see where his loudspeakers were made, so after introductions were made and we'd dropped the pre-amplifier off, the six of us went into town for lunch at Akropolis and enjoyed wonderful company and food under the hot Bavarian sun.
As we drove down, Thomas explained that when he first approached the authorities, they had suggested he locate his business in an industrial area elsewhere in the town. Thomas was set on building where he has because the location and the views make for a creative, inspirational place where he could design, manufacture and demonstrate his loudspeakers. He determination not to compromise was rewarded when the authorities relented and granted him special permission to build on his chosen site.
Once we were back at Blumenhofer HQ, we unpacked the pre-amplifier, installed it in the system and sat down to listen. We'd heard Blumenhofer loudspeakers several times before and their reputation is well deserved. They are dynamic, rich, and musical. There is a huge sense of power, but at the same time they can be delicate and they are always effortless.
In this fabulous, purpose built listening space we listened to music through our pre-amplifier with the Gran Gioia (berylium version) loudspeakers. Amplification came from the Mastersound Compact 845 and Einstein The Power Amp. The source was a Mac and a Pagoda MHDT DAC and cabling and power harmonisation came from Cammino.
The others had spent the previous day or two listening to the system, so we were very interested to see what everyone thought after the pre-amplifier was added. It's not really for us to say, but everyone seemed to enjoy what they heard and we were flattered by some extremely kind comments. You can see Andrea's thoughts here.
We spent a very enjoyable few hours listening to different recordings and talking about our product, music and Hi-Fi in general. Jan and KH-G had a long drive back to Sweden and Thomas had an appointment so eventually it was time to say goodbye, but before we left Andrea took some time to show us around the Blumenhofer production facility. We saw how they make everything on site and Andrea explained the process, from raw materials and matched veneers for cabinets, through manufacture and assembly, final testing and inspection and then packing and quality control. There are many reasons Blumenhofer speakers sound the way they do and this meticulous attention to production is just one.
Finally it was time to leave and we headed off back to Munich while Andrea packed his car for his long drive back to Italy.
Our warmest thanks to Thomas and Andrea for their extraordinary hospitality and to Jan and KH-G for their great company. It was a visit that had been a long time in planning, but which more than lived up to its promise. We look forward to working together with Blumenhofer in the future!