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Midrange filter
The 67kg/ea. Gladius ships in mighty crates. Those will take up serious room to store. Most delivery personnel will also balk especially where stairs are involved. The external crossovers with leatherette skins, metal footers, clear acrylic peekaboo windows and six leads connecting to the unmistakably corresponding six speaker inputs arrive in their own third smaller wooden box. For unclear reasons the chunky 4mH inductor of one crossover had lots its nuts in transit—I retrieved those, matching bolts and washers in mint condition once I'd extricated the crossover board from the box—and broken loose. That blundering chunk of metal had busted the tie-downs of both foil coils and shorn off the leads from the small capacitor between them. Stavros dispatched a broken-in replacement cap and I remounted the three wayward parts with tie-downs and original mounting hardware, then resoldered their connections using the undamaged network box as guide. One glance at these crossover components tells anyone who's ever inspected competing €20.000 speakers that Aries Cerat spends an inordinate amount on hardware. The two main inductors exceed in size what's customary for 10-watt triode amps. There are exotic oil-filled caps paralleled for the exact value. There's a soda-can size capacitor. There's the aforementioned upper-bass notch filter whose switch presently doesn't signal whether it's in or out. That lack of visual feedback which an equivalent up/down toggle would give should be fixed. One wants to see at a glance whether both speakers are in the same position and which.

An educated guess would have the premium drivers alone consume about 20% of the sell price. And those are no longer stock. Stavros modifies the suspension and cone of the woofer with special coating compounds. He does something similar for the Fostex widebander which isn't part of that supplier's regular catalogue. The internal wiring to it and the ribbon as well as all the crossover wiring is by solid-core single conductor silver.

To document the treatment, Stavros submitted this CSD comparison for the midhorn driver of their  Contendo speaker.
These resonance control images show the same driver before (top) and after the treatment (bottom) measured
 without HP or LP filters in a 105Hz horn.

Rather than gluing/bolting the pinched-waist solid-wood head section to the striped Ply woofer cab, he goes the extra inch with a decoupling rubber layer whose claimed resonance attenuating effect is on the order of 40dB. This explains the stainless steel trim band. It disguises a thick material seam that wouldn't paint properly.

The 60-some litre woofer enclosure is built like Magico's original Mini was and like TAD's flagships were before the latter abolished stacking for cost and finish reasons. Aries Cerat densely stuffs theirs with fiber batting. This resistively tweaks the woofer's Q. The actual resonance barrier between driver and enclosure is the 1" rubber compound lining the insides.

For the midrange similar stuffing addresses actual rear wave absorption. In my samples there was no threading in the outriggers to allow for height adjustments from the cap nuts. Raising or lowering had to be accomplished by tilting the speaker with one hand whilst fiddling with the counter nuts below the stainless steel base with the other hand. A small design revision should improve the present convention. That's an important setup aspect. "Please note that the speaker is vertically very directional but not in the horizontal plane. The spikes are deliberately long to enable significant forward/backward tilt. This ideally aims the listening axis—at the top of the tweeter—at the ears directly. As always this depends on user taste of course. The Gladius also loves power. There's no need to be shy on that count."

A visual and what's-innit assessment of this speaker would pronounce it very high value. I can't justify why certain tweeters cost €400. I only know that they do. Eyeballing the ingredients of the Gladius recipe arrives at an astonishing density of material substance. Anyone even remotely familiar with this industry would quickly assess that. This doesn't subtract a pretty penny from the asking price. This speaker is unabashedly expensive. It simply means that you're getting more for your money than most competitors offer. That's value. It nearly goes without saying that certain finish items in turn wouldn't be fully on par with the corporate glossy boxes from the market leaders. But those items really are minor.

What might be less are core implications. Dealers and distributors willing to embrace new brands have been burned once too often. Most now adopt a wait'n'see attitude. A promising new brand is left to prove its staying power. A few years of trade shows, reviews and ads have to pass and show persistence, seriousness and capitalization. Only then are real commitments forthcoming. How do ambitious new manufacturers survive that period whilst everyone waits? It's the stuff self-fulfilling prophecies are made of.

Colotube Amplifier 300B monoblocks

Add unconventional appearance, lack of grilles, Club Med island origins with the higher associated ship fees of what's heavy to begin with and the Gladius—plus its electronics stable mates—seem nearly mad expressions of some doggone persistence to reinvent upscale hifi. The timing seems off and the merits as a business dubious. Thankfully reviewers can (and indeed are expected to) sidestep such mundane considerations. We prefer dealing in the abstracts of absolute sounds.