In Munich two audio shows open their doors at the same time. We find the largest one is in the MOC, a much smaller show takes place in the Marriott Hotel about 15 minutes away. For everyone’s convenience mini busses take you from one place to the other. Among the sixteen participants in the Marriott Hotel Hifideluxe show we find IBEX AUDIO, the German distributor of the Durob Audio brand Mystère. I have the pleasure to talk to Nicole Hannig, owner of IBEX AUDIO from Heidenheim.
Why are you on this show and not in the MOC?
We made the decision years ago not to participate on the High End Show in the MOC. The main reason is that the High End Show has become a business to business meeting point for manufacturers, distributors and dealers. Although you will find decent set up hifi systems in some rooms, it is hard to get a good impression what kind of equipment you listen to. Our customers are of course also the dealers, whom we are visiting bilaterally anyway, but we feel it is important to get the end user in our room and give him or her the pleasure of listening to what we bring on the market. In a quiet room, without business talk around him or her. We do need to hear the feedback from the public on our ranges to be able to know our market. We do not have to bother about absence of the German press, they know where we stay and how to find us, so we get the exposure we need and want.
Mystère was the first amp line you took under distribution. Why?
It has everything to do with value for money. If you look at the products you will see that there could be no complaint on the optical side. They are beautifully finished and massively built. Inside the amps we find point to point wiring most of the time. A small PCB is needed for the autobias circuit to what we come later. Volume control is made done with an step-attenuator with a resistor network and not just a potentiometer. The autobias I mentioned takes care that tubes have a long lifespan, makes it easy for the customer to change tubes and although a matched set of tubes it always the best, you do not need to match the tubes. A customer never has to fiddle around with a voltmeter and screwdriver to get the best sound, the adaptive autobias circuit does that for you.
These amps are manufactured in China?
Yes, although I prefer to say that they are handmade in China under Dutch supervision, they are designed in the Netherlands and the service department is also located in the Netherlands. The quality is very high and you actually do not need service, but just in case…. Take for instance the hum level, a lot of tube amps do hum, some a bit more, some just a little. A Mystère does not hum at all.
Can you tell me more on the range of products?
One of the best amps is the ca21 preamplifier that will cost 1975 Euro. I think it can easily compete with preamps up to 10.000 Euro. It is that good. It is the bestselling amp after the two integrated amps. The ia11 is the smallest integrated with EL34 tubes, the larger ia21 uses two pairs of KT-88 (but you can also use EL-34 by just pressing a switch). Let us not forget the smaller ca11 preamp before we mention the pa21 amp with KT-88 or EL-34 and pa11 amp with EL34 tubes. All amps use 6SN7 double triodes in the gain and driver circuits. I have tried to swap tubes and that will make them even better, I was lucky to find a quartet nice sounding 6SN7 tubes. But the standard tubes in the amplifiers will perform above expectation as well. Of course with a tube amp that allows you to either operate EL-34 or KT-88, a little tube rolling can be part of the fun and further gives you the opportunity to fine tune the sound for best match with your speakers.
Any more products that we can expect?
I am very excited about the mono blocks Durob promised me. They will use the new KT-120 tubes. I want to hear them at home in my own setup as soon as possible. I really have high expectations after what Herman told me. (Herman van den Dungen is the Dutch owner of Durob Audio and the Mystère brand). Maybe the mono block will handle even the most awkward loudspeakers.
You talk about the amps like a “man”, excuse me to say so, but not very often I have come across a woman that even knows what is inside the product.
From the moment I was a child I loved music. A big part of my life always had to do with music. I used to have a job as professional buyer for a company, till I met my husband Michael who is also an audio/hifi enthusiast since he was a boy. With him I combine two passions, my family (they have a son of 8 years old and a daughter of 3) and music since I could start IBEX AUDIO. Selling a product and being able to support it means you have to know what it is all about. I love music, I like good hifi systems to play music on. What we both seek in equipment is the feeling of being present at the artist’s studio or at a concert. That live feeling that gets you involved, amuses you and takes day to day worries away. We both want equipment that not only sounds good for short moments but for long, long times. It has to be reliable and has to work flawless. Just the properties we found in the Mystère brand.
The market for hifi is shrinking everyone says, probably it hits you too
We supply a nice market with our products. We have the Mystère brand on offer since 2012 and do well in Germany. We have about 15 dealers so far and just received the rights from Durob to sell Mystère on an exclusive basis in Switzerland and Austria. From Herman van den Dungen we get a lot of support. He keeps his promises, is a fair and honest business man and we never had anything to complain about after sales service. We treat our dealers just the same and expect them to be loyal to their customers. We feel that a customer should get decent information before he or she buys anything. A dealer should try its utmost to bring the products into attention, time to wait till an easy customer comes in and expect him to buy whatever you want to get rid of are over. Customers are well informed, so we need to know even more. It might take a while but I am sure in the near future the youth will get back to us for quality Hifi. We need to involve them in what we do and show them what we have on offer. We need to be authentic and reliable. In a difficult market we search for new possibilities and we get inventive. In the long run, what is more fun than to listen to your favourite band on a nice system?
I walked around the Hifideluxe show a little more after the interview and although more distributors were very open and friendly, I have to admit that Nicole Hannig (with support of her husband on the show) is a representatives of a new generation in the hifi community. IBEX AUDIO does not want to sell just a product, it offers a solution to the customer, cares for the customer and wants to be an ambassadors for the better hifi products. Just because they love music and want everybody else to share that special feeling a favourite artist has on offer for you.
Author: René van Es