Gizmo Geek: The Art of Sound

There is a certain sameness to high-end audio systems in terms of aesthetics. They are all, without a doubt, beautifully designed, but the understated elegance that usually oozes from the plain lines and clean curves is wholly predictable. It’s not a criticism—I am definitely a fan of minimalism, and the ability to stand out without screaming and waving your arms is a hallmark of class. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but getting that knife edge of balance between sublimity and flashy right isn’t everybody’s game.

Beauty, however, is a matter of opinion, and opinions are likely to swing between extremes when it comes to the creations of Metaxas & Sins, a 37-year-old Dutch company who make, you guessed it, high-end audio equipment. Founded by Kostas Metaxas, who is both an artist and an electrical engineer, and now run with the help of his two sons, the company’s philosophy is based on a marriage of high-end audio with art, to create iconic, unconventional products that come with unmatched sound quality. So, on the one hand, you have individually selected components, handcrafted to bring you great sound; on the other hand are the bold, arresting designs, with sweeping curves, metallic colours and gravity-defying frames that mesmerise you. One thing you should know—get ready to dig deep into your pockets before falling under their spell.

To some extent Metaxas’s work defies description. You could call it elegant steampunk; at other times you might be tempted to describe it as something “straight out of Robocop” (and someone did); then again, you’d be convinced that the pieces belong in modern art gallery rather than in a living room.

At the end of the day, it’s probably best to take their own word for it: “Our fusion of cutting edge audio and museum worthy artistry collide to create something utterly, utterly different to anything in the world.”

From the sweeping, curvy speakers, dubbed Sirens, to the retro-futuristic amplifiers named Marquis, Soliloquy and Solitaires, each item is bespoke, handmade by Metaxas and his two sons, available in a limited edition, and signed by Kostas Metaxas. Recently, they have announced a turntable called Phonographic Perambulator, handcrafted from aircraft-grade aluminium and, in the words of WhatHiFi.com, “equipped with an aluminium platter base and a tonearm with a pure Sapphire tube and jewelled bearings”. Also being unveiled is a reel-to-reel recorder and player, called the GQT. Needless to say, both products embody Kostas Metaxas’s “35-year fascination with the art of music reproduction.” Each product, he promises, are “objects of art”.

Both turntable and recorder will be unveiled to the world at Munich High End in May this year. Only limited pieces are available, of course, and preorders are open. The turntable will put you back by $35,000, while the tape recorder will cost $55,000. Original art doesn’t come cheap, but when you invest in a Metaxas, you are transported in more ways than one.

Columnist: 
Payal Dhar