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To achieve that Jarek decided to use a widebander. Proper integration of more than one driver in an environment where one listens from very close up would otherwise be very difficult if not impossible. The choice of driver was the clou or final go of the entire project. He experimented with a lot of different drivers but ultimately discovered the Dayton Audio RS100-4 aluminium diaphragm unit. Obviously these aren’t the first near-field monitors based on a widebander. Others were here before, most famously perhaps the Fujitsu Ten Eclipse though that was quite big and extremely expensive. The goal for Ancient Audio’s monitor was to be as small as possible whilst smoothly integrating with as many different setups as possible.

Sound. A selection of recordings used during the review: A Day at Jazz Spot 'Basie'. Selected by Shoji "Swifty" Sugawara, Stereo Sound Reference Record, SSRR6-7, SACD/CD (2011); Bill Evans & Jim Hall, Intermodulations, Verve/The Verve Music Group, UCCV-9342, CD (1966/2008); Clifford Brown & Max Roach, Brown and Roach, EmArcy/Mercury M.E. [Japan], PHCE-3085, "2496 spectrum Rainbow CD", CD (1954/1998); Depeche Mode, A broken Frame, Mute Records Limited, DMCD2, Collectors Edition, SACD/CD+DVD (1982/2006); Depeche Mode, Ultra, Mute Records Limited, DMCDX9, CD+DVD (1997/2007); Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM UHD 045, UltraHD CD (1956/2011); Jean Michel Jarré, Magnetic Fields, Dreyfus Disques/Epic/Sony Music, 488138 2, CD (1981/1997); Johann Sebastian Bach, Sonatas & Partitas, Henryk Szeryng, Sony Classical France/Sony Music Japan, SICC 840-1, 2 x CD (1965/2007); Johann Sebastian Bach, Cello Suites, Richard Tunnicliffe, Linn Records, CKD 396, SACD/CD (2012)...

... Józef Skrzek, Pamiętnik Karoliny, Polskie Nagrania/Metal Mind Productions, MMP CD 0535 DG, CD (1978/2009); King Crimson, In The Court of the Crimson King, Atlantic/Universal Music [Japan], UICE-9051, HDCD (1969/2004); Komeda Quintet, Astigmatic, Polskie Nagrania Muza/Polskie Nagrania, PNCD 905, "Polish Jazz Vol. 5, CD (1966/2004); Kraftwerk, Minimum Maximum, Kling-Klang Produkt/EMI, 3349962, 2 x SACD/CD (2005); Paul McCartney, Kisses On The Bottom, Universal Music LLC Japan, UCCO-3038, SHM-CD (2012); Portishead, Dummy, Go! Discs Limited/Universal Music [Japan], UICY-20164, SHM-CD (1994/2011); Stardelay, A New High Fidelity Tripout, Linn Records, 24/44,1 WAV; The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Parlophone/Apple/Toshiba-EMI, TOCP-51116, CD (1965/1998); The Eagles, Hotel California, Asylum Records/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-11936, CD (1976/2004).

With a computer’s analog output. These speakers offer amazing soundstaging. I know. Cough. Talking about space with speakers placed just one meter apart seems silly but believe me, it’s not. Their spatial effect was quite similar to headphones where there's only about 15-20cm distance between the drivers yet nobody complains. Even real-life studio monitors are quite closely placed. But enough of that. All you must do is to give these a chance and listen for yourself. Play anything at all.

I started with Sony Rollins's Tenor Madness mono recording (24/96). Exactly. It was a mono recording which impressed me so much at the very beginning of my audition when I ‘saw’ a deep perfectly layered soundstage. And I mean perfectly not just as for this type of speaker but outstanding, period. When you listen to certain stereo tracks like Stardelay's “Orange Park from A New High Fidelity Tripout album [24/44.1, Linn Records] this amazing staging becomes even more distinct and intense. To be honest, the simpler the recording technique the better the final effect as shown by Charlie Haden's and Antonio Forcione's Heartplay [Naim 24/96].

Naturally the width of the soundstage doesn’t exceed the distance between the left and right speaker but depth was truly impressive. Whatever  happens in front as it's been recorded gets presented on the line between the speakers. Moving them closer or farther has you in charge of how close the first plane should be The closer you move the speakers, the deeper the soundstage gets. Okay, the most important question considering their small size and single driver coming from a very reputable maker of course must be, how do they sound? Unbelievably good mostly because of that generous precisely defined soundscape. It’s what first catches our attention. When one finally gets over it, coherence comes next.

A single driver mean no crossover, no phase shift between drivers. It also means a more restricted frequency response. But because here we deal with small speakers used close to the ears, these limitations of extension are not perceived as a real weakness. What's senior is coherence. And that is terrific.

I already mentioned Sonny Rollins. Now we have to add Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert (24/96), Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back (24/96) or the hi-res version of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon (24/96). All these and in fact all the others I listened to as well… so different, with different lead instruments like piano, guitar and drums or vocals.. they all were were astonishingly even and coherent.