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Manufacturer: Trenner&Friedl GmbH
Price at the time of the review: 15 000 zł/pair

Contact: Andreas Friedl
Anton-Afritsch-Weg 4 A-8052 Thal | Austria

Delivered for test by: Moje Audio

or whatever reason, despite my best intentions, until now I've never had a chance to listen to any product of Austrian company Trenner&Friedl in my room. Sure, I listened to few models during shows, also in friend's system, but never at home, never in my system. Each time I listened though, I was truly impressed. I was simply amazed with the performance of ISIS, a model that, in my humble opinion, could be the one for a lifetime, as from my perspective it has tones of virtues only one „weakness” - it can't be driven by a low-power SET amplifier. All models I had a chance to listen to delivered not only damn good performance but they made a fantastic aesthetic impression as well – their fit&finish is simply something else, something others could learn from. Despite the fact that, when you look at them, they seem quite plain, simple designs, they all have this SOMETHING in them, which makes them look so incredibly attractive. Each model is smaller or larger piece of art that one puts in the room to enjoy not only music reproduction, but to make one's room look better and it's owner to feel better in this room. I know, it is hard to believe when looking at pictures, as, except for the top model, called Duke, all others look quite ordinarily, at the first sight at least. And yet, high quality materials, beautiful finish, and most likely also “proper” proportions is what makes these Austrian speakers real, irresistible beauties...

The whole line today includes 5 models of loudspeakers. The smallest one, Art, is named after famous, brilliant saxophone player, Art Pepper. The largest, which is the first one company ever created, is called Duke (after the one and only Duke Ellington). The latter, as described on company's web page, was actually planned to be used as an acoustic "electron-scan" microscope for Trenner&Friedl's our own music productions. Take a little time to go to manufacturer's web site to have a look at those, it seems, studio monitors, 1,5 m tall, 85 cm deep, and 50 cm wide... :) The other three middle models seem to represent an “Egyptian” line as they are name: Pharoah, Ra and Isis.

For this review and my first own Trenner&Friedl experience I received the smallest model, Art. These are truly tiny speakers measuring only 27x18x30 cm. Fit&finish is at the same, perfect level, as the one of more expensive models. The designers, Mr Trenner and Friedl, claim that they put as much heart and soul into this project as they had in any other before. The goal remained the same as always – the most involving music reproduction. To achieve that they created a stiff, multi-layered body with the sandwich front with it's rigid, hand polished Corian©, they used Cardas internal wire, and the fine crossover parts built and mounted in Germany (by Mundorf). For this test, together with speakers, I received also stands that were designed and built in consultation with T&F by well known Polish company run by Mr Janusz Rogoż. As always with products by Rogoż Audio stands were very solid, rigid and did a great job in combination with Art speakers.

Recordings used for the test (a selection):

  • Blues masters, Master Music MMSXR015, XRCD24.
  • Alan Silvestri, Predator, Intrada MAF 7118, CD/FLAC.
  • Arne Domnerus, Antiphone blues, Proprius PRCD 7744, CD/FLAC.
  • George Michael, Unplugged, ABS 002KXVA3G, CD/FLAC.
  • Isao Suzuki, Blow up, Three Blind Mice B000682FAE, CD FLAC.
  • John McLaughlin Trio, Que alegria, Verve B00000478E, CD.
  • Keith Jarret, The Koeln Concert, ECM 1064/65 ST, LP.
  • Leszek Możdżer, Kaczmarek by Możdżer, Universal Music 273 643-7, CD/FLAC.
  • Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington, The Complete Session. Deluxe Edition, Roulette Jazz 7243 5 24547 2 2 (i 3), CD/FLAC.
  • Mahler, Symphony no. 1, EMI Classical/Hi-Q Records HIQSXR35, Supercuts XRCD24.
  • Mccoy Tyner, Solo: Live from San Francisco, Half Note Records B002F3BPSQ, CD/FLAC.
  • Michał Wróblewski Trio, City album, Ellite Records, CD/FLAC.
  • Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro, dyr. Teodor Currentzis, MusicAeterna Orchestra, Sony Classical B00GK8P1EG, CD/FLAC.
  • Pavarotti, The 50 greatest tracks, Decca 478 5944, CD/FLAC
  • Renaud Garcia-Fons, Oriental bass, Enja B000005CD8, CD/FLAC.
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela, 11:11, EMI Music Poland 5651702, CD/FLAC.
  • The Ray Brown Trio, Summer Wind, Concord Jazz CCD-4426, CD/FLAC.
Japanese issues available at

Such small speakers like Arts work best in rooms smaller than mine. A rear-ported bass-reflex suggest placing them relatively closely to the wall, which should support bass reproduction. I have to resign from this option as the distance between speakers and listening position would be to big. So, like in some other cases of recently reviewed small stand speakers, I moved Arts towards the middle of the room. That turned listening session almost to a near-field experience. Also, while stand-mounted speakers usually create a large, immersive soundstage, when placed further into the room, far away from all walls and any obstacles, this element of a presentation gets even better. And huge, deep soundstage, speakers disappearing from a room – that's exactly what I love.

OK, so I got these tiny speakers. Some limitations in bass extension and punch are obvious. What should I start listening session with? How about... *Predator** OST – yes, THE film with Arnold Schwarzenegger – he's from Austria, right? So it's fitting. Yes, I know that he had nothing to do with music itself, it was composed by Alan Silvestri, but it was the music that built the whole “everybody's going to die but you don't know when” atmosphere of the movie. This music is not so monumental as, for example, Hans Zimmer's for *Inception**, or *Dark Knight Rising* so should be more fitting for the Arts. Here the whole atmosphere is built with sudden changes of pace, with spacial effects, sounds coming from different directions that are supposed to raise adrenaline level.

Is it a right job for these little speakers? I quickly found out, that it is! Speed is one of their strongest attitudes, they deal perfectly with sudden changes of pace and large dynamics shifts. They are able to create an immense space while disappearing totally from the room – in this way different sounds appearing in different places around the room are able to raise adrenaline level really quickly (if you don't know what I'm talking here about you've most likely never seen this movie). Many bigger loudspeakers, despite the better bass extension, were not able to recreate this atmosphere of the movie in such a convincing way. This time I could really feel shivers traveling down my spine. Well, prejudice concerning size of speakers doesn't make that much sense after all as most people think it does, does it?

So it looks like Arts like the challenge. OK, they don't want to act as they should (as small, tiny speakers they are) lets see if they can keep up the pace. Next album to deal with - *Que alegria** by John McLaughlin Trio. For me this album is mostly about a conversation, that sometimes turns into a fight, between John's guitar and Trilok Gurtu's drums. Sometimes they converse politely, sometimes they start to throw strong arguments on each other. John's guitar, played by Arts, sounds very lively, energetic, his own style of playing guitar is amazingly well presented by these Austrian (pieces of) Art. But I'm even more impressed with the way Trilok Gurtu's play is delivered. Why? Because I wasn't expecting it, cause it seemed impossible, that drums might sound so well while played by these speakers.

Sure, that's not a very powerful rock/heavy-metal percussion with hard kicking kick-drum, and sticks hitting hard everything within musician's arms range. It is rather a fantastic, fast, creative play with a significant presence of cymbals. And these, played by Arts shine with all colors of the rainbow, vibrate in the most amazing way. Fast sticks' strikes provoke equally fast response and then a wonderful, long, so colorful decay that seems to be suspended in the air for a really long time. And while cymbals sound absolutely amazing they still are not the most impressive part of the performance, drums themselves are. I can't believe how nicely each strike and drum's response are differentiated, how fast each interaction is, how much energy it carries – these are the elements that impress me most considering dimensions of Arts. How it is even possible that they are able to deliver such a performance? – I asked myself again and again. A very reasonable question, an important one, but I don't want to waste time looking for an answer – I prefer to enjoy this remarkable performance and listen to more and more albums.

As I enjoy what I heard a lot, I tend to increase volume level, at least during day sessions (not at night, of course) and play some pieces really loud. And it is a real fun as Arts aren't impressed at all – they play just louder without any negative effects of doing so – no distortion, no compression – same transparent, clean presentation as before. OK, I do not try to “tear down the wall” with them, but in my book these volume levels are really high and yet Arts remain unimpressed and unaffected.

Looking for another album to play (with the same assumption as before, that it should be something I have not listened to for a long time) I come across George Michael's *Unplugged**. I do not listen to pop music to often, but ever since the famous concert, tribute to Freddie Mercury, where many stars performed Queen's songs and most of them horribly failed to do, what had been so easy for Freddie, I truly appreciated George Michael for his remarkable vocal skills. He was one of very few who did not fail in this repertoire.

That's why I have this album and go back to it on occasion, despite the fact that sound quality is surely not perfect – there is too much emphasis on bass, there are some sibilants, not necessarily natural sounding ones, and the soundstage is bit “condensed” in a smaller space than it should be (to my taste at least).

And yet, considering Michael's vocal talent, it is worth listening to. Arts are not the type that tries to improve the recording, or to hide its weaknesses. So bass is a bit boomy and slightly out of proportion comparing to other instruments and vocal, and the latter sometimes exhibits too many sibilants. But when there are no sibilants it sounds really good with rich timbre, texture and palpability that add up to a very lively, realistic presentation. And yet, these Austrian speakers, gently toed in towards my listening position seem to look at me sadly, begging for some higher quality material, so that they could perform at their best.

I can't stand that sad look, so I move to fantastic recordings like XRCD24 *Blues Masters**, that I received from Mr Kazuo Kiuchi in Munich during High End Show. I am a fan of blues, so such a gift was truly appreciated as I also knew this would be an outstanding recording, which is not always true for blues albums. Arts seem to appreciate this quality, too – no more sad looks, and they play the blues with true feeling. Exceptional pace&rhythm, and outstanding voice presentation contribute to a remarkable performance. It is deep, palpable, with a lot of texture, tones of emotions, and with wonderful expression – I simply love the way Arts play the blues. Also, finally playing such a good material they prove how clean, transparent, resolving and detailed performance they are capable of delivering, given, let me repeat again, signal of the highest quality.

I can't resist and have to play another album received from Mr Kiuchi representing a totally different music genre – this time it is Mahler's 1st Symphony conducted by Giulini, this time on Supercuts XRCD24. That's probably unnecessary but I will mention it anyway – Mr Kiuchi was involved in mastering process of both of these albums. Is Mahler the best choice for such small speaker? - some of you surely asks right now. Well, yes, as it turns out, it is. Arts present their interpretation of Mahler's pretty monumental music (although not as monumental as some other symphonies he wrote) in a way that could easily, or even has to be liked and enjoyed. Surely there is no this mighty bass foundation to the whole music, that would be delivered by bigger speakers. But a great separation, impressive resolution, clarity of the presentation, and perfect presentation of the (scaled down obviously) soundstage do the trick and I don't have a choice but to love this Mahler interpretation. In terms of coherence, timbral fidelity and liquidity of the presentation many bigger speakers I know could not really compete with Trenner&Friedls. Each music reproduction is some sort of compromise and each of us chooses which compromises he can live with and which are unacceptable. Possibly Arts would not be my first choice for Mahler's music, but I would love to have them in my second system to enjoy their version of Mahler at least from time to time, as it is also very interesting, enjoyable, different but simply very good.

I could keep writing about my impression from many other albums I listened to via these wonderful speakers. Instead let me just write that I whatever music I played Austrian speakers did not fail me, not even once. When I played recordings of questionable quality Arts looked at me with their silver cones sadly just to show me that they were displeased with such input, and yet they tried to do their job as well, as it was only possible. When I played high quality material, they seemed to enjoy it a lot and spread their wings. Apart from some limitations related to their size, Arts were able to present most recording in an absolutely spectacular way.

I had a chance to use them with a few different amplifiers and they clearly showed differences between these amps. They offered fantastic performance combined with Crayon integrated amplifier, offered a different, bit warmer one with my Modwright set, and again different with a class D prototype amplifier from Audiomatus combined with Tektron tube preamplifier (a review of this pre combined with two monoblocks coming soon). The latter set, although combined by a pure coincident and despite the fact that it was only a prototype of Audiomatus amplifier, was really interesting. Class D power amplifier delivered very powerful, energetic bass (compared to other amplifiers used with these speakers) and a very clean, resolving treble. Tektron added some sweetness to the top of the range, and richness, smoothness, but also great resolution and amazing palpability of the midrange. A fantastic combination!

I think that, especially if you can't spend too much money for proper partners for Art speakers, class D amp with a classy tube amplifier might suit many users more than fine – most will love it. In case of many recordings this amplification allowed me to forget about any limitations of the speakers. Fast, energetic, punchy bass produced by w woofer driven by class D amp was impressive and tube preamplifier took care of rich, sweet and colorful midrange and treble. That sounded great!


Quite recently I enjoyed a lot reviewing relatively inexpensive, amazingly dynamic shelf-speakers by Canadian Bryston. I didn't think then that so soon after I would have chance to listen to another, even smaller speakers, offering even more impressive performance. In this case it is not about dynamics and *fun** that make performance so enjoyable, but, as one would expect from much more expensive speakers, about sophistication and coherence of the presentation.

Arts deliver each recording with a high fidelity, but they also simply play the music in a very immersive way. They are analytical, but without exaggeration – analytical approach is not a goal but a mean to delivering a very realistic performance. These tiny beauties disappear from the room completely, leaving listener alone with music. They deliver coherent, rich, detailed, nuanced performance. Sound is really fast and with proper amplifier (as they are not particularly easy to drive despite their dimensions) pace&rhythm is simply impressive. They create huge, nicely layered soundstage, with large, palpable phantom images. Many will be surprised how clean, how transparent sound can be, even at high volume levels.

But there is no lowest bass?! Yes, that's true. How often was it a problem during my many listening sessions? I can't really remember. OK, not 100% true. When I played *Inception** OST I missed the mighty, lowest notes. But number of attributes, of advantages these speakers hold over many (larger) competitors is so big, that bass extension limitation doesn't really matter so much. I can easily imagine a truly high-end system in a small room with Arts accompanied by much more expensive, sophisticated electronics, and perhaps, for lowest bass fans, a high quality subwoofer. Some 2.1 systems presented this year in Munich proved, that such setup can be achieve amazing sonic results.

In my opinion, for most music fans, just Arts will be enough in most (not too big, meaning up to maybe 20 sqm) rooms. I often saw questions on audio forums from people looking for small high end speakers intended to play in their small rooms – if that's what you are looking for Trenner&Friedl Arts should be on your short “audition” list. Maybe even (if it is still doable) their anniversary version called Stone, that was recently released as a highly limited series. Either way you should check these truly high-end designs, I bet you'll enjoy them as much as I did!

Art is the smallest model in Austrian manufacturer's Trenner&Friedl line. Its name s a tribute to a fantastic saxophonist Art Pepper. These are tiny, stand-mounted two-way speakers in a rear-ported enclosures. I received them together with solid stands that, after consultation with Austrian manufacturer, were designed and built by a Polish company Rogoż Audio.

Their cabinets follow golden-rate proportions. The largest size is depth reaching 30 cm, and the whole cabinet's shape is a regular cuboid. They surprised me during unpacking with their significant (for the size) weight and excellent fit&finish – these are small pieces of Art, despite their deceivingly simple design. They sport extremely rigid, solid, multi-layer MDF bodies, and equally rigid front baffle that is, in fact, a Corian/MDF sandwich, polished by hand.

Manufacturer doesn't share too much information about drivers they used. For treble they used a 1'' ring radiator (Scanspeak?) with neodymium magnet drive encapsulated in a rear chamber. Low- midrange 5'' woofer sports an aluminum cone and a phase plug. Interestingly, manufacturer decide to place tweeter below woofer. For internal wiring company used Cardas wire, crossover is made in Germany by Mundorf. Speakers posts are delivered also by Cardas. Cabinets are finished with 7 layers of lacquer.

Parameters (according to the manufacturer):

Design: two-way, vented system
Drivers: low- midrange 5'' aluminum cone, phase plug, tweeter – 1'' ring radiator, neodymium magnet system
Frequency response: 44 Hz (-6 dB) – 40 kHz (-3 dB)
Sensitivity: 85 dB
Impedance: 8 Ω (minimum: 4,2 Ω)
Dimensions: 270 (W) x 180 (S) x 300 (G) mm
Weight: 7,4 kg
Finishes body: walnut nature, walnut amaranth, walnut mocca, others on request
Finishes front: Corian volcano black; others on request

Polish distributor:


ul. Sudecka 152
53-129 Wrocław | Polska