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That the development of a clear glass speaker would prove difficult is an understatement. A more or less box-shaped enclosure would introduce the usual standing waves to beg for damping and thus pollute the visual aspects. Comsol to the rescue. After entering dozens of parameters for all kinds of behavioral dynamics involved, a shape roughly like a comma emerged. To enable physical assembly without astronomical costs, this comma-shaped cabinet—can we still call it a cabinet?—would not be cast or bent but built up from twelve differently size panels glued together at irregular angles and finished with top and bottom plates of glass. Where required the panels would sport the necessary cut-outs for drivers and terminals. The bonding of the panels had to be airtight, the glue perfectly invisible especially at the obtuse angles involved to not mar the cosmetics.

Whilst working with Comsol’s predictive simulations for how moving drivers would interact with this enclosure, the need for a small opening emerged to bleed out internal air pressure. The program determined that this vent had to be placed across the total height of the end tip of the comma. But that was not all. Further aesthetic demands from Gabi led to a distinct left and right speaker which would complicate assembly logistics even more. In the end it all led to a stunning statement of arts, crafts, engineering, aesthetics and audio quality.

Each time we see and hear this Arabesque Glass Master we can’t stop thinking that after all the sophisticated contemporary engineering power and skills involved, the shape ended up being nothing more or less than one half of the ancient yin/yang symbol. This symbol is a rendering of the sun’s cycle as observed from looking at a long pole’s shadow on the ground every 15th day at the same time during a full year. When the shadow’s lengths are transferred to a circle, half the numbers from outside in and the other half from the inside out make the well-known symbol appear.

Adding up the long road to materialization of this glass speaker, the final price tag of €45.000 euro doesn’t seem over the top but obviously still is a lot. Not everyone commands such a stout budget for a statement loudspeaker. Gabi therefore initiated a project that would exploit all the experiences and skills accumulated with the Arabesque Glass Master for a smaller and more affordable Mini with the same basic sound quality.

Comsol was started up again to scale down the cost analysis of the Arabesque Glass Master to the anticipated monitor dimensions. To nobody’s surprise the German glass provider’s costs still pushed very hard on the targeted budget. The new Mini had to be made from a different material but one that should closely resemble the mechanical qualities of glass. Comsol determined that aluminum would be best. An additional challenge with aluminum would be how to affix the 11 panels plus tops and bottoms (yes, the Arabesque Mini omits one panel to arrive at the same shape). German glass provider Finiglas had years of experience with water-jet cutting of glass to obtain the smoothest cuts imaginable. Such perfect edges can be glued together seamlessly. Now the same had to be done for aluminum - super smooth cuts, special glues. Add new skills too. One advantage over the transparent Arabesque Glass Master was that the Mini could use a sub frame assembly which looks a bit like chain rails running along the inside perimeter of the enclosure.

Dutch distributor D&D delivered a pair of black anodized Arabesque Mini already assembled to our doorstep. That meant the stands were already affixed to the speakers. As an option—we would say it is mandatory—the Mini can be fitted with these custom stands which consist of a square slab of black granite with four cuffs laid out in the same comma shape as the Mini itself. These cuffs do not have the same diameter and accommodate four equally size-varied Perspex rods that lead up to the enclosure where matching cuffs are found. Noteworthy is the fact that the front of the stone slab does not run parallel to the speaker’s baffle to create a slight toe-in. Being already assembled meant that the speakers were delivered more or less nude without proper shipping boxes. Telltale signs of a life in the rough were certain tiny blotches and scratches.