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Parts origin declaration: Unlike any manufacturer I've ever dealt with, Antti Louvivaara presented an itemized list without being asked. "If you are wondering about 'Made in China' labels, the explanation follows. The cabinets and stands and bass units are made in China. The crossovers and wave guides are made in Finland. The tweeters are made in India, the tweeter system assembly and testing occurs in Finland as does final assembly, final testing and final packaging. Naturally the design is Finnish as well."

Stands: The provided stands were 'inline triples' for their geometry of posts which bolt directly into threaded taps on the speaker's aluminum undersides. The high-gloss black circular base plate matched the enclosure finish for a cosmetically unified appearance (the stands had no spike provisions). Aurelia has other finish options for the Cerica if you find high-gloss black too reflective and fussy. Suffice it to say that the outsourcing of cabinetry to China means good lacquer quality.

Connected: The Cerica loves power. Since I meant to avoid voltage gain in my Esoteric preamp—this would put greater flesh 'n' blood burden on the amp/speaker interface—my 100-watt+ ModWright KWA-100 was clearly more appropriate than FirstWatt's 25wpc F5. So that's what I ran. While the ported alignment exhibited somewhat looser textures down low, this was apparent mostly because the Cerica was an otherwise very exacting/easy performer. It also made no apologies for impressively sufficient extension. A few introductory warm-up cuts with e-harp compliments of Andreas Vollenweider [Vox] and Asita Hamidi [Blue Ark] showed this very quickly.

To keep the enclosure size modest and narrow while giving solid bass, port boost became necessary. The apparent earlier contradiction in terms—exactitude and ease—segues straight to the heart of this design. As demonstrated previously by Anthony Gallo's Reference 3.5, superior time-domain rightness doesn't mean metronomic dullness. The nearly reflexive linguistic association of exacting = pedantic is misleading. In this case it actually meant greater flow and effortlessness. It's not about straightjacketing the tunes to become mechanical. It's closer to liberating them from artificial timing constraints. With Cerica, the overriding sensation was one of unfettered flow and low coloration.

Where the Gallo Ref 3.5 was meaty and punchy because it double-teamed its 10-inch sidefiring woofer and 4-inch midranges across the 100 - 400Hz power region, the Cerica was laid back. According to the buy-me-quickly sales floor ethos, these Finns were actually quite non-spectacular. As such, they won't turn heads on first listen. They weren't rhythmically driven, tensioned or particularly punchy. They weren't sharp, snappy, energetic, forward or flamboyant. I thought of them as confident good-natured and non-violent martial artists - the kind who refuse to cruise for confrontational show-off/showdown opportunities and in fact deliberately avoid them.

This included the cosmetic pièce de résistance, the tri-paralleled tweeter modules. The original Gallo Reference 3 for example had spectacular treble. While the proprietary CDT unit now in its third iteration is significantly improved, the spectacular factor has clearly minimized. The reason? Better integration between drivers, tighter timing. Cerica's tweeters are similarly well integrated with their bracketing mid/woofers. Here more tweeters don't parlay as more treble. They seem to mean less distortion/effort, a skoch of sweetness and definite smoothness.

The combination of laid-back presentation and smoothness made for a they are there—rather than here—perspective. The open window on the performance phrase so popular in reviewer speak really did fit. Soundstaging was quite gargantuan but not of the chiseled, hyper-sorted, holographically locked sort. This aspect too was relaxed and suspended, with very high airiness but less physical robustness. The latter wasn't due to any lack of bass grounding—the Cerica went plenty deep to sound complete and grown up—but limits on power-zone displacement and kick. This speaker hasn't been dialled for impact but articulation. Sophisticated flourishes over four or more cymbals were brilliantly intelligible and teased out to tickle the mind but kick drum and power bass didn't hit the gut to counteract the mental stimulus with get-down viscerality.

That's where the speaker's small physical stature made itself felt. Cerica refused to pretend at being something she's not. This is a still small speaker that soundstaged grandly indeed but did not sound the same big on impact and slam. It was rather more electrostatic than dynamic in fact.

That's where it fundamentally differed from the aforementioned Gallo. The American also was electrostatic in speed and transparency to overlap with the Finn. Then the Ref 3.5 veered off into much greater dynamic robustness and physicality that prompted a gut-level response over the Cerica's finesse of airiness and articulation which more stimulated fascinated observation by appealing to the visual sense.

To again humanize the descriptions, the views over snow-capped peaks and the lake here in our Swiss residence have been spectacular. Living right down by the lake in Montreux or Villeneuve would trade the vast vistas for a more compacted tighter perspective. But it also would add opportunity to actually get involved with the lake (swimming, boating, sunbathing). The choice is between serenity and getting involved. In the above hardware context, the Cerica embodied the top-of-the-hill perspective. It overlooked everything from somewhat of a distance to feel majestic, serene and relaxed. To test whether one could inject a dose of 'lake-front' charge if so inclined, I reached for the Nagra MSA. Its advanced switch-mode power supply had previously shown a goodly dose of the grippy spunk one gets from many formal class D amplifiers while its Mosfet outputs add a dose of sensuous warmth and texture.

Nagra engineering specifies a high 104dB S/N ratio for its compact stereo amp. Given the Cerica's heightened ambient retrieval with it, this definitely translated as audible in my Ikea rocker seat. Particularly with New Age space opera stuff which goes after extreme width and depth using out-of-phase tricks, slow pans and often deeply layered studio constructs, the Cerica soundstaged like crazy. It placed sounds directly behind itself—never once glued to the front baffle—and at any fractional distance to the inside or outside of the enclosures. Hard left, hard right and spread out in the middle are the easy locations of soundstaging. Getting most specific close to the speakers without being sucked into them is a lot harder. The Cerica aced these parameters with exceptional exactitude. What didn't change were the essential traits already noted. The Cerica is more about deep space, relaxation and lean accuracy than dynamic grittiness.

Spinning Ali Cihat Aşkin's Umutsuz the Desperate [Kalan] with its saucy string orchestra, harp and tzigane-flavored solo violin whilst Nagra's PL-L valve preamp handled voltage gain mildly enhanced richness of timbres as you'd expect from a transparent transducer. Textures, density and sweetness increased a bit but not much. This confirmed once again that Antti Louvivaara's optimized driver integration from matched wave form dispersion is primarily in the service of as little speaker personality as possible in a price category where cabinet composition still relies on conventional materials rather than composites. Like his earlier work at Amphion, the Cerica applies intelligent engineering for intelligent outcomes. To appreciate them demands preferring honesty over cheap tricks and fireworks. Acoustic fare benefits the most, gritty tough stuff honed for slam and impact the least. For that one would want the four additional woofers of the flagship Graphica.

In toto, Aurelia's Cerica is about sophistication. It's a terrifically refined performer on which even expensive ancillaries like the above Nagras were far from wasted. For €3.500/pr including stands, one could readily acquire more bass mass, fiercer dynamics, harder hitting punch and even lower extension. However the same 'more' becomes highly questionable once aimed at suavity. This the dictionary defines as "smoothly agreeable and courteous". That describes the Cerica to perfection. Other core virtues include truly capacious and unusually advanced soundstaging and a brilliantly integrated upper mid/treble transition that's most informative indeed. It's airy, filled with light and expansive but not in the least hyped or manipulated. In the end, to love the Cerica only requires that one have outgrown fascination with more 'primitive' obvious presentations to favor greater refinement. This the Cerica delivered beyond expectations. It's a very intelligent choice for discerning listeners with medium-sized spaces and high-quality hardware.
Quality of packing: Needs improving but I had early samples with prototype boxing.
Reusability of packing: Once.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Easy.
Condition of component received: One speaker's upper right-hand front baffle corner was crushed from insufficient packaging protection.
Completeness of delivery: Perfect. Stands and speakers ship in one single box.
Website comments: Recently overhauled and much better than before.
Human interactions: Prompt and very forthcoming about design concept and technical solutions.
Pricing: Good value.
Final comments & suggestions: For plush carpets, the stands should feature spike provisions which they presently do not. There are no grills. This arguably enhances appearance and the more critical tweeters are protected by perf metal inserts. By design, this speaker wants a greater minimum distance than is standard for desk-top nearfield applications. For such usage, Aurelia's Magenta model would be more appropriate. The Cerica's lower sensitivity means 60 watts or more are desirable.

Aurelia website