This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, OSX 10.8.2, PureMusic 1.89b in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Audirvana 1.4.6 in direct/integer mode, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Psvane tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, TruLife Audio Athena, Bakoon AMP-11R, Nagra Jazz [on review]
: First Watt SIT1, FirstWatt SIT2, ModWright KWA100SE, Thrax Heros [on review]
Speakers: Aries Cerat Gladius, Zu Audio Druid V & Submission subwoofer, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Boenicke Aud
io B10, soundkaos Wave 40 [on review], Rethm Saadhana [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event,
KingRex uArt USB cable, Tombo Trøn S/PDIF cable
Artesania Esoteric double-wide 3-tier with TT glass shelf, Rajasthani solid hardwood console for amps
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF2
on amp/s,GigaWatt PC-3 SE Evo on front-end components

Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: €12.000/pr

With the popularity of television's blood 'n' sex series Spartacus, you'd have forgiven Aries Cerat had they actually called their newest speaker model Crixus or Gannicus. The bigger speaker sibling does after all go by Gladius for the 55cm short Roman sword which does such ferocious stabbing and slicing in Steven S. DeKnight's retelling of how a Thracian slave turned gladiator fomented a mass uprising against Rome.

When I initially heard of the Stentor, it hadn't yet been christened. Nor had it fought in any magazine, forum or living room for sonic glories yet. In fact I'd first learnt of a bigger model which was to sport separate woofer towers. That was to sell for roughly twice what the Gladius commands. €40.000 is simply outside my comfort zone. Impersonating a cash-strapped ludus procurer à la Lentulus Batiatus, I had thus petitioned our Cypriot dominus for a smaller more universal fighter. I proposed one who'd cost us about half of the Gladius ticket. As it turned out, our man in Limassol already had entertained exactly such ideas. My impromptu pitch over the phone simply moved them back into the foreground ahead of the four-piece project to speed up finalization of the more approachable model.

09 November 2012 18:53. "The new speaker is taking form. Our newest 3-way is in the making and will launch soon. It will use a Fostex brother model to our familiar Alnico midrange with treated cone; a Raal ribbon on top; and a very nice 10" sealed woofer. Time-aligned tweeter and midrange placement plus extensive crossover novelties will add to our usual stacked Ply construction with extensive bracing. Supreme-quality veneers will make for the final flourish. The wavy internal surface of the midrange cavity diffuses and dissipates that critical driver's rear wave most effectively to essentially behave like an open-baffle monopole without any enclosure coloration whatsoever. Pricing will be half of the Gladius, perhaps even a bit less." So promised Stavros Danos, owner of valve audio house Aries Cerat in Cyprus.

"I am already committed to the footprint and the cabinet is in its final stages. As you know, sealed bass isn't merely a function of internal air volume. It's also contingent on the driver's Qts, Vas and Fs. Here I get a lower F3 from a 10" woofer in a smaller enclosure than from the 12-incher in the larger Gladius cabinet. But it's also true that many drivers exhibit parameters which absolutely necessitate the use of big cabinets to get any meaningful bass. I determined our final volume after extensive simulations. I also decided on slightly increasing the overall Q over the Gladius. This warms up the bass a tad yet maintains a transient response that's still far superior to bass-reflex alignments."

The original Magico Mini had popularized Ply stacking beyond earlier uses. So had the very first big TAD floorstander. Both subsequently abandoned this construction method for being too labor intensive to finish to true luxury standards. But Stavros wouldn't follow their lead. He adores the scheme's design freedom to create internal partitions, complex bracing, irregular surfaces and a curvy external shape which requires no bent panels.

That's because for short Cypriot production runs, steam-bent paneling would be less cost-effective. But he does concur that finishing exposed Ply edges to non-porous perfection is painfully laborious. And even then it creates my Gladius zebra look if—as Stavros does—one insists on stacking different-density Ply of different color. For the Stentor he dreamt of veneering the Ply carcass to eliminate potential issues with surface irregularities that might telegraph through any lacquer over the long term
To scale down material and build costs and hit his target retail, the external crossover of the Gladius would migrate into the Stentor enclosure, albeit into a separate sub chamber to not expose microphonic parts to high internal air pressures. A welcome benefit would be appearance. Most homes prefer fewer boxes. But since Stavros is a perfectionist, he'd not compromise on drivers, parts or construction. In fact he meant to improve certain elements. The exposed woofer ring of the Gladius was to flush mount for better cosmetics. Its quad-spike arrangement would go to an inherently more stable tri-point scheme since the speaker's weight would be lower. The spikes themselves would become easier to adjust from above. The stainless steel strap which disguises the viscoelastic layer between Gladius head unit and main body would disappear with the new unibody enclosure. There'd be more bass extension. Sticking to the original Gladius recipe scaled down just a bit seemed very ambitious considering that ca. €10.000 would take it home now.

Burgundy-lacquered Gladius in my friend Dan's system, outboard crossover boxes partially visible behind them

This cost reduction would come not from cheaper cabinet construction or lesser parts but labor savings. "By veneering the stacked Ply, we save ourselves untold finishing hours. Ditto for relinquishing the separate head unit. Machined from stacked Ply too, the Gladius head takes forever to sand down to smooth perfection. Then it takes more than another two weeks for the paint to cure (each of the 15+ Gladius lacquer layers requires a full day to dry)."

As a tribute to Achilles' friend Στέντωρ from the Trojan War known for his powerful voice, Stavros' father suggested the name Stentor. Aristotle even mentioned him in Politics Book 7, Chapter IV: "For who can be the general of such a vast multitude, or who the herald, unless he have the voice of a Stentor?" In contemporary Greek it still connotes voice of authority as does the English stentorian. To time-align Stentor's ribbon required a perfectly vertical surface within the back-sloping upper baffle. While one assumes that this once again complicated the general construction and final veneering processes, Stavros laughed off any concerns or comparisons to the bullet-shaped Gladius head. The one-piece Stentor enclosure is far easier and quicker to finish he claims. And reducing time on finishing labor is the very mundane secret behind the Stentor's much reduced price over the Gladius. How close would it come on performance then?

Of course plenty of hand labor remains. "Just as with the Gladius, most of the inner walls are covered with a viscoelastic rubbery substance. This starts out as a paste and gets hand applied to the internal walls in all the critical places. Once dried this substance turns into a highly lossy rubber. Its applied thickness is high enough—10 to 20mm—to absorb vibrations extremely well."