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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Esoteric UX-1;Yamamoto YDA-01, Esoteric SA-50 [on review], Hegel CDPA4MkII [on review]
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright DM-36.5; Esoteric C-03, Wyred for Sound [on review], Hegel H-100 [on review], April Music Stello Ai500 [on review]

Amp: FirstWatt F5, ModWright KWA-150, Octave MRE-130
Speakers: DeVore Fidelity Nines, Zu Essence
Cables: Acoustic System Liveline interconnects, speaker cables and power cords

Stands: 2 x Ikea Molger with Ikea butcher block platforms and Acoustic System footers
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; full-house installation of Acoustic System resonators, noise filters and phase inverters; Advanced Acoustics UK Orbis Wall and Corner
Room size: Sound platform 3 x 4.5m with 2-story slanted ceiling; four steps below continues into 8m long open kitchen, dining room and office which widen to 5.2m with 2.8m ceiling; sound platform space is open to 2nd story landing and 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls, converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse
Review Component Retail: €5,800/pr or local equivalent in other currencies

World's most beautiful speaker?
With notions on beauty a dime a dozen, only a fool would dare go there - without a question mark. But Albedo's transmission-line 1
st-order ceramic-driver'd 5-inch two-way floorstander from Italy does beg the question. At least to the eye of this beholder. Slim, petite, rakish of profile, swooping of line, curvaceous plinth beautifully integrated and mirrored with the top panel, rear of enclosure rounded, the whole clad in stylish remanufactured striped wood, perf-metal driver grills non-removable and an intrinsic part of the design... it's Italian Amore for design at its finest. Bellissima!

But on potential for 'most', this didn't yet scratch the surface. Designer Massimo Costa's skills for communicating his design philosophy and engineering focus are unusually developed. As such, they're reflected unedited and unabbreviated in our lengthy 20-page SideBar. You can find the same as PDF documents on his attractive and informative website. Not only does this multi-pronged material make a good read, it establishes without doubt what he tried to achieve and how; and why he believes to have discovered a new way of perfecting transmission line loading. Naturally, you can disagree or challenge his position. The important thing is to have a position and firmly stand for something in the sea of sameness that engulfs most of today's loudspeaker offerings.

Beauty dissected
86dB. Linear phase 6dB/octave acoustical slopes with air coils and poly caps on double-layer copper substrate. Physical time alignment of drivers. 45Hz to 20kHz. 26 x 19 x 101cm dimensions. 19kg mass each. Helmholine bass loading which incorporates specifically tuned multiple Helmholtz resonators in series to linearize the progressively tapered transmission line by acoustical equalization. Line cross section shrinks towards the floor-firing exit in a 3:1 ratio. This arrives at a 50Hz resonant frequency for less than a 1-meter length. The line is open, not stuffed but its walls are lined with open-cell medium density polyurethane. Ultra-rigid driver to cabinet to floor coupling. Accuton (Thiele & Partners) pair-matched ceramic drivers.

Beauty explained
To correlate theory and practice, Albedo created a software simulation program into which were entered data points from existing Bradbury transmission-line theory. Their predictive outcome was compared against what Clio would actually measure on equivalent prototypes. The twain didn't meet and therein lies much of the tale of the Albedo project chronicled in the above sidebar.

Beauty set up
With its hidden steel spine extending fluidly into the massive plinth which couples to the floor via top-adjustable spikes (grazie!), the petite HL2.2 packs significant hardware. The instruction manual is loaded with useful setup tips on the effects of wall distance and various toe-in schemes. And being the company's flagship, we discover something else about Massimo Costa. He lives in the real world. There speakers must blend into modestly sized living rooms. He isn't a design-for-design's-sake freak. In furniture, their kind often ends up with radically outré chairs that are uncomfortable as hell to sit in to become functionally useless. This beauty has brains and common sense. Bravo!

Beauty delivered?
Having crossed Albedo paths on the Internet to follow up with a News Room mention, I subsequently expressed review interest solely on this combination of looks, concept and attendant white papers. Meeting the HL2.2 in the flesh at Munich HighEnd 2009 clinched the deal. Once Massimo had assured himself that his shipping cartons would survive the rigors not of mortis but transit, I received the hoped-for notice. "I'm ready to ship. When would be convenient?" "Yesterday."