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T.H.E. Show 2022: Black Ocean Audio

Black Ocean Audio is a new boutique loudspeaker company making its debut at the show. It’s first products are some of the best we’ve heard so far.

Black Ocean Audio Le Chiffre Loudspeakers

Located on the 4th floor of T.H.E. Show, Black Ocean Audio is a brand new operation out of California that might be one of the more interesting new finds at the show so far this weekend.

The boutique loudspeaker manufacturer is a labor of love for Nick Tarnofsky, who is based out of Seal Beach, California. Tarnofsky has a lifelong love of Linn loudspeakers, but never loved the limitations placed on the designs which are mass produced.

With that in mind, he reimagined the Linn LS-250 without the issues that he felt held the product back.

Black Ocean Audio Speakers

The Skinny

The result is a bespoke near field monitor named the Le Chiffre Studio; the design utilizes a .75 inch tweeter and 5.5 inch driver in a dual ported mahogany cabinet.   The crossovers are housed separately which allows them to be moved as needed or replaced with an active crossover or DSP if desired.     

Black Ocean Audio offers the Le Chiffre Studio with a choice of Bubinga, Walnut, or Purpleheart faces starting at $4500 including the crossovers in matching cabinets.    The Studio uses uses the Hiquphon OW-1 tweeter and SEAS treated paper cone woofer.

Black Ocean Audio Le Chiffre Loudspeakers Pair

Nick defines the Studio as the “Heart” model; a lively emotional listen with some upper midrange emphasis. What I noticed first was the lift in that range that brought vocals out in the mix and those who love a forward vocal presentation will find the Le Chiffre Studio a perfect fit.     

The presentation is smooth and a touch laid back so it will suit those looking for a listenable small room speaker or near field monitor. I thoroughly enjoyed the Studio; it’s definitely not aimed at those who want a razor flat tonal balance or accuracy for recording or mastering.

Tarnofsky then switched cables to the new “Pro” model that he calls the “Mind”; the speaker is brand new and not on his website yet but I have been assured that they are available for order right now.


The Black Ocean Audio Pro Series uses the same cabinets with revised drivers and a different tuning. The changes result in a wider frequency range with more low-end punch, and where the studio was a bit laid back and more colored sounding, the Pro is a no-holds barred reference monitor that puts a lot of emphasis on detail retrieval.

The first thing I noticed was the vocal timbre was as good as anything I’d heard in my two days at T.H.E. Show, and the Le Chiffre Pro exposed details in the track that had been a bit smoothed-over when listening to the same track via the Studio.    

Strings have good energy without crossing the line into fatiguing territory and piano also had good timbral accuracy. I find the piano to be one of the hardest instruments to reproduce well so this speaks highly for the Pro.

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The Pro starts at $6000 with the crossovers (again in separate matching mahogany cases) and is available for order now. Black Ocean Audio is a small shop so the lead time will depend on how many show orders he is fulfilling in the coming weeks. Don’t be surprised if he’s a bit swamped.

Black Ocean Audio Loudspeaker Cabinets

About Black Ocean Audio

All Black Ocean Audio loudspeakers are handcrafted and built in Seal Beach, CA.

At Black Ocean Audio, we believe that music is interwoven into the fabric of our world. Music can be transformative and everlasting and so should the products you use to create and experience it. We build bespoke audio products developed for use in a studio setting and designed to last a lifetime.

In every build we strive to use:

  1. Sustainably Harvested Woods
  2. Eco-Friendly Glues
  3. Zero Waste
  4. US & EU Sourced Parts
  5. Organic Dampening Materials
  6. 100% Oxygen Free Copper

We design and build our cabinets like musical instruments. Each hardwood baffle offers a small variation in presentation, which makes each set of handcrafted loudspeakers unique. The crossover is housed separately to reduce vibrations and back pressure from the woofer. We use only 100% oxygen free copper wiring, direct banana connections, non-ferromagnetic parts, and high quality crossover assemblies to complete our analog monitors.

“Hi! I’m Nick Tarnofsky, owner and founder of Black Ocean Audio. In 2020 I was gifted the opportunity of time and I decided to explore one of my passions, high end audio. Due to my experience as a guitar player and recording artist, I have an ear for subtlety and I listen rigorously to my designs. I choose my drivers and cabinet material to create a speaker that reproduces music accurately but also maintains life and responsiveness. I have a passion for Italian craftsmanship employed by companies like Diapason and an affinity for the Scottish audio company Linn, thus you can expect the midrange characteristics of my
speakers to exhibit a similar sonic landscape. In addition to music, I love films, and the names of my speakers are derived from the names of infamous James Bond villains.”

For more information:

Continue readingShow Reports from T.H.E. Show 2022



  1. ORT

    June 12, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    I failed to see these yesterday. I tend to tire easily from walking but I am glad to read your initial thoughts, Sir Minion of Jennings!

    I like listening to stereo music ergo, I like speakers! I was told 5 or so decades ago that speakers are the most important aspect of audio and as with other things that come in pairs, I strive mightily to get the bestest looking pair I can afford…Alas that such bespoke offerings are beyond my bebroke abilities to purchase at this time. Dammit!

    Back to pairs!

    This is also twue when it comes to headphones, for after all, they too come in pairs. Odd is it not that the ranks of audio enthusiasts is turgid with twiin obsessives?

    And so it is that much of what is most excellent comes in pairs. Out side of audio one need look no further than the Denny’s Original Grand Slam breakfast!

    Two (2) Buttermilk Pancakes!
    Two (2) Strips O’ Bacon!
    Two (2) Links O’ Sausage!
    Two (2) Eggs!

    Looks matter and these speakers look really nice. I also like that they paid homage to James Bond by naming them “Le Chiffre”. If that is not what they meant, then by all means necessary do NOT tell me as it would break my fragile heart.

    I am a tremendous Bond enthusiast. These Le Chiffre speakers look really cool in the photographs that accompany this article. Thank you, my friend!


    • Ian White

      June 12, 2022 at 6:46 pm


      They sound rather exceptional. We all took a turn with them and they get a collective “yes” from the group.


      Ian White

    • Scotty

      June 14, 2022 at 4:00 am

      ORT you are creative in your lexicon, too bad we did not cross paths at THE Show. Cheers sir.

  2. ORT

    June 14, 2022 at 11:41 am

    Aye Scotty, I canna believe we didna meet up lad!

    Perhaps next time, brother! In all ways and for always, be well, my friend.

    Yup. I am a “Star Trek” fan. 🙂


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