Not a lot of people remember the Norwegian audio brand Tandberg. It started in 1938, just a few years after Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen, so is often thought of as being B&O’s cousin. Tandberg music systems and tape recorders had a similarly high reputation for function and style. However, the company declared itself bankrupt in 1978 – manufacturing electronics in one of the richest, high-wage countries in the world was becoming a little counterintuitive – and that might have been that. Bits of Tandberg expertise live on in tech companies in other countries, but all has remained quiet since on the Norwegian hifi front.
Until this, that is: the uncommonly beautiful and extraordinary sounding Ixion system, hand-built by a team of ex-Tandberg people in the pretty town of Tønsberg, on a fjord around an hour from Oslo. Ixion has focused intently on making the Maestro 2 and its Solo:2 satellite speakers as authentically Norwegian in every way they can, from the build, design and audio quality to their originality and even ethics (more on this). The Ixion’s quirky but solid look comes from the local design superstar Bard Eker, whose $2m Koenigsegg hypercar is built in Sweden. The 22cm3 machine is his second audio design, and pulls off the brilliant trick of looking like a masculine and a feminine product at the same time. The originality element of Ixion is its multiroom connectability – as many as seven Solo:2 speaker units can combine with the Maestro. Rather than be subject to the vagaries of WiFi or Bluetooth, Ixion piggybacks your home’s main wiring – the Solo:2s connecting down the cables to the Maestro mother unit as soon as the speakers are plugged into a wall socket.
As for the ethical correctness gone mad (as I’m sure more mainstream tech companies would regard Ixion’s principles), when you buy Ixion’s products, you don’t have to join anything or have anything to do with any global company – so no Google operating system, for example. Ixion promises never to collect data on you.