Announced earlier this year and shown to very few people behind closed doors at AXPONA 2019, the Warwick Acoustics Aperio electrostatic headphone system is one for the ages. At roughly $24,000, it should perform at the highest level, and I'll say right now it doesn't disappoint. Audiophile Stye was given exclusive rights to publish a video of the system before its official release at the Munich High End show in May.
I spent quite a bit of time with this system and was absolutely enthralled. My previous favorite headphones have included the Stax 009, Focal Utopia and a preproduction version of the HIFIMAN HE1000. After listening to the Warwick Acoustics Aperio, it is now unequivocally my favorite headphone in the world. I must admit that I haven't heard the Sennheiser HE-1 flagship, but I'm willing to bet the Aperio will be right up there in performance, at half the price.
I listened to a few Beck tracks off his Sea Change album as it's very familiar to me and it can sound really nice on a high end system. From the opening acoustic guitar on The Golden Age to the tiny little bells about 15 seconds into the track, I was immediately giggling to myself because it was so good. I don't often chuckle when something is good, but once in a while the sound is so impressive the only thing I can do is laugh.
High frequencies and a liquid mid-range are in the wheelhouse of most electrostatic products, so I was eager to hear how this new Warwick flagship handled the bottom end. Based on my listening to this system in an ultra-quiet location I'd say the Aperio offers bass as extended and as tight as I've ever heard (given the somewhat limited selection of tracks at the show). This system isn't bass-shy at all, it's absolutely not boomy, and the lowest frequencies are reproduced as tight as a drum.
Certainly a longer listening period is necessary, but I made it back to this room twice and immediately email @austinpop to ask him to schedule a time when he could give the system a listen. As out resident headphone expert, I was eager to hear what he thought of the new Aperio from Warwick. I won't steel his thunder, so I'll let him leave a comment to this post and any additional details he can offer that may be more relevant coming from someone who is well versed in flagship headphones and amplifiers.
Details: I talked to the entire Warwick team and heard the Aperio story from start to finish. The lengths Warwick went to sourcing components, developing its own electrostatic transducer are impressive. Think about that, this company is one of only a handful that designs and manufacturers its own electrostatic "panels." Thus, when building the amplifier for this system, Warwick was able to design it perfectly for the ESL headphone of its own making.
Warwick uses a customized Linux install for the single board computer inside that operates its Ethernet input. Rather than build a solution from scratch or purchase a module such as that from StreamUnlimited or Conversdigital, Warwick elected to use a single board computer running Linux. This gives them endless flexibility to update and expand its functionality in the future. Plus, the company's engineers don't have to wait for a third party to fix any bugs that may pop up once the product is officially released.
There is so much more to say about the Warwick Acoustics Aperio, but I'll hold off until austicpop receives a review sample and publishes his complete review in the near future.
A detailed PDF can be found here - LINK
Additional info is available at Warwick Acoustics' site - LINK