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

Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Esoteric UX-1, Yamamoto YDA-0, AMR CD-777 [on review]
Preamp/Integrated: Esoteric C-03 (transistor), ModWright DM 36.5 (valves)
Amplifier: FirstWatt F5 & J2, 4 x Hexateq uCD monos [on loan]
Speakers: ASI Tango R
Cables: Complete loom of ASI Liveline
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters, Advanced Acoustics Orbis Wall & Corner units
Room size: The sound platform is 3 x 4.5m with a 2-story slanted ceiling above; four steps below continue into an 8m long combined open kitchen, dining room and office, an area which widens to 5.2m with a 2.8m ceiling; the sound platform space is open to a 2nd story landing and, via spiral stair case, to a 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls from a converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse and 2nd-story landing.
Review Component Retail: €10.000 | CHF15.000/pr - 20% introductory discount through 2010

"I thought you said she was thin!"
Retaliating, Bridget Jones called her skinny rival the American stick insect. In another movie theater, Sweet Home Alabama had a lusting male refer to the white-trash-transformed lead as sex on a stick.

Men think that thin is sexy so women want to be thin.
That's the Hollywood gospel Sven Boenicke banks on. At a scant 10 x 150 x 23.5cm, his SLS* has got to be the skinniest speaker ever to harbor serious ambitions to 30Hz.

With only two 8cm Aluminum tweeters on the front, the 18cm paper midrange and two opposing woofers of the same size mount to the cheeks. Appearing as a monolithic sliver of solid Walnut or other wood, this clamshell affair had a CNC router carve out a sealed chamber for the paralleled tweeters and a bifurcated and folded inner line for the 7-inchers which opens to the floor behind the frontal outrigger.

"It should have a huge wife acceptance factor" the maker hopes. The real question is, will thin be in with audiofilius neanderthalens?


* With that intro, I'm sure you can figure out what the SLS stands for. It even works in German. Schlanker Lautsprecher.

To impress cave men, there's the €389 Omnes Audio DBC-12 digital bass control from Blue Planet Acoustic. It runs a 48-bit DSP engine with <1.3ms of latency, offers through-put dynamic range of 101dB and measures a very compact 167 x 105 x 46mm. It sports a blue display and runs off a 12V DC wall wart with 0.8 watts of power consumption in standby and 4 watts on-line.

The DBC-12 turns the SLS into a must-be-biamped proposition. This remote-controlled active filter only deals with the 7-inch woofers of course. It runs a 24-bit A/D and D/A converter and offers adjustable input sensitivity; storage of four presets; output adjust from 0dB to -20dB; channel balance of -3dB to +3dB; selectable Bessel or Butterworth filters from 12 to 36dB/octave steepness; a high-pass filter from 15 to 50Hz; a low-pass filter from 40 to 400Hz; 0/180° phase in 5° steps; 0 to 300cm delay compensation for path-length equalization; and three channel-specific parametric EQs with -6 to +6dB of cut or boost. The DBC-12 is delivered pre configured but the customer has full control over subsequent adjustments. If one listens at very low levels, signal sensing should be defeated. That's because the not yet amplified bass signal that registers at the crossover inputs could be too low in amplitude to trigger the auto-on circuit.

Other general features of the SLS include Golden Goddess Bybee Quantum Purifiers on the drivers; Marigo VTS dots; Harmonix tuning bases; Audio Consulting cryo-treated solid-core silver wiring in cotton sleeving; and a single Siemens MKV capacitor on the 3-inch tweeters which Boenicke calls a crossover part second only to Duelund whose equivalent of the required value was simply too bulky to fit the compact dimensions of the chamber. The midrange runs as an open widebander without any filtering. Overall voltage sensitivity is given as 89dB, impedance as approximately 6 ohms (3.3 on the bass terminals) and weight as close to 20kg. Metal outriggers with inset top-adjustable spikes prevent this extremely lanky loudspeaker from toppling and assure surprisingly stout stability.

Price might seem an issue at first. At €10K, the SLS is not exactly a lightweight. Then it requires two stereo or four mono amps to drive. Add the extra interconnect from the preamp and the second run of speaker leads, not to mention extra shelving and power cord/s for the extra amp/s. It's not unreasonable to see €14,000 total. To many, this won't seem a good value. While this speaker could sell on lifestyle alone, the solid wood concept ignores the Bang & Olufsen precedent of sleek metal which at least here in Europe has the expensive lifestyle sector of hifi all sewn up.

Raw performance must likely headline before the average bloke will lust after the SLS. After all, it's mostly men who would even dream of allocating ten—or fourteen—grand to any pair of speakers and most macho thinking then aspires to fatter driver artillery. Decorator appeal might close the deal when the burlier weapons fail but it certainly won't clinch it. The clincher will have to be performance.

Does the SLS stand a chance on that score? Not if you believe that tweeters should be one inch or smaller; single and not twins; that anything with a subwoofer appellation which doesn't pack dual twelves or higher is a joke; and that a partial digital crossover involving prior A/D conversion is uncouth. It's fair to say that Boenicke's SLS defies a few easy sell rules. Then enter the predominantly sideways or omni concept. It causes deliberate greater first reflections.

Especially for the kind of narrower setups which are common—never mind today's lifestyle ideal of speakers hugging the wide-screen panel on or against the wall—this could seem a compromised concept for many an actual space rather than dream ideal. But if the SLS must sit very close to the sidewalls, Boenicke simply has the widebander outwards at a sharp toe-in. This sets up a wider angle for the first wall reflection. The quality full-color brochure and relevant web pages describe this and the recommended far shallower toe-in for inverse setup when the widebanders point inward.

The SLS is a 3rd-generation solution which began life with similar dimensions as a still conventionally assembled panel box with internal cross braces. The drivers already were close to what's in the final version but not yet the newer flat-coned Tangband W3-1797S tweeters with their embossed honey-comb patterns and broad dispersion; nor the Monacor mid/woofers which here are identical for the dedicated widebander and the two filtered woofers. Could this uptown Swiss stick insect prove sufficiently sultry between the ears where it matters most to us cavemen? For comparison, the only reasonable speaker I had in my arsenal was the Acoustic System Int. Tango R. For amplification, the FirstWatt J2 would be the top, the F5 the bottom. Sven Boenicke heard these amps during his personal delivery of the solid Walnut loaners—Cherry and Maple are further stock options—and pronounced the results "very good".