Those readers used to visiting high-end hi-fi shops in their spare time might think that the product we’re featuring here doesn’t appear terribly innovative. However, marketed with a very tight, deliberate focus on high income earners who have little free time or inclination to get down and dirty with the peasants in malls, but are accustomed to enjoying luxury items in all areas of their lives – that delicious cash rich, time poor sector – this collaboration between one of the world’s greatest piano makers and an acclaimed audio innovator seeks to fill the gap left where money meets convenience and Bose just doesn’t cut it. Mohammed comes to the mountain where the Steinway & Sons Model D Music System is concerned, with the system exhibited only in the homes of the rich and famous, or otherwise in dedicated, appointment-only “experience suites”. So if the Raffles Hotel isn’t your natural habitat, you may never get to see this.
But if you’re going to buy a premium CD-based digital music system, you won’t find much that surpasses the sheer understated majesty of the Steinway & Sons Model D Music System. Refreshingly not claiming any world firsts, but seeking the crown of ‘finest’ digital music system in Australia, at least, the Model D is the dream of renowned audiophile innovator Peter Lyngdorf.
Launched in Sydney in April this year, the Model D is the lovechild of a collaboration between Steinway & Sons, the world-leading piano marque and Lyngdorf, who regards the incorporation of his trademarked ‘RoomPerfect’ technology into the system as the pinnacle of his life’s achievement.
A three-dimensional audio-mapping technology that claims to provide audio that gauges and adapts output to fit the peculiar acoustic characteristics of each and every listening environment you choose to place it in, the RoomPerfect system comes with a free man when you buy it; at least for a few hours. Arriving with the system to tune and tweak the Model D so it’s uniquely customised to your room, he’ll only leave again when everything is just so.
Imbued with an ethos of unsurpassed quality, both in build and performance, the Model D is modelled to mimic the Steinway & Sons’ Model D concert piano. Whatever their precise involvement, the influence of the piano makers is easily apparent. All panels on the ‘standard’ Model D Music System have gorgeous black, lacquer finishing. There are rubber strings at front and rear of the huge, open-baffle 174 kg speakers, recalling those on the piano, and there is the careful, but impressive, application of brass throughout.
The heavy, brass volume control at the front of the one-metre high ‘head unit’ (made one metre high since that was judged the perfect height, ergonomically, for owners having to bend over it to operate) is weighty and satisfying to handle. As well as adjusting the volume of the system, it’s also digitally altering the power supplied to the DAC, as four 12-inch woofers in each speaker produce “concert quality” sound in your lounge room.
Heavy, rectangular brass buttons are set into the stop of the head-unit, with minimalist red LED function lights alongside; all below a functional and unobtrusive LCD. But it’s the remote control that, more than anything else in the system, has a truly iconic appearance. Circular, heavy (1 kg), and a replica of that central volume knob from the head-unit, the gold and glass construction is the embodiment of prestige.
The Steinway and Sons Model D Music System is available for approximately $250,000 – unless you choose one of the custom finishes, which are limited to a run of only 100 units a year. Audition the system at Audio Connection’s store in the Sydney suburb of Drummoyne.