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In the meantime news had come down the forum pike. PS Audio's Paul McGowan had given up on class D for his planned reference amp. The previous year had seen him ecstatic about Ncore but build costs exceeded the desired target price. Then there were rumours of a 'trickle-down' UcD version. Now he had this: "I have officially thrown the towel in on the class D output stage for the promised new reference amp... I just can’t get over the bandwidth restrictions inherent in the design, not after hearing what amps that go beyond 80kHz sound like. Not after realizing how much more is actually on our discs through DirectStream. I know it makes no sense. CDs are inherently bandwidth limited to 20kHz just like class D amps. But play a CD on DirectStream through an amp with no bandwidth restrictions and you’ll never consider going back. I certainly won’t." [DirectStream here refers to their newest DAC which like Meitner, Playback Design and the new Nagra and Sony decks converts all PCM to upsampled DSD - Ed.]

At the new <$3'000/pr price, these cherries weren't exactly positioned for trophy hifi reference status. Even so I doubt that listeners to the 'M4' combo of Maraschino and Mythology 1 would detect any HF limitations per se. Companies like Spectral and Goldmund but certainly not just them have long since held that to avoid amplifier-induced phase shift in the audible band requires x 10 extension beyond our physical hearing. That's a minimum target bandwidth of 2Hz to 200kHz. The second number becomes a real stretch for class D though the D.A.C. monos seem to come closer than most. At least listening would think so. The exploded reach of Enigma's proprietary large dome tweeter allowed to run wide open but still assisted by a high-passed electrostatic super tweeter with bandwidth two octaves beyond our hearing thought so again. I was running AURALiC's Vega with Audirvana set to 32/352.8kHz upsampling into this combo.

With Goldmund's Job225 on hand, I also didn't have to imagine what one of the acknowledged wide-bandwidth amps would sound like: far more alike than not! To focus on the specific combination under consideration, the speakers' own very low mechanical noise floor—quality drivers, very inert construction combining stacked Ply, aluminium and tempered glass with absorptive liners and stiffening braces—plus the low noise floor of the Maraschinos made for very high resolving power. A true abundance of HF energy didn't get bright as in forward, aggressive, hard or etchy. It simply flooded and permeated the performance as strong light from above. This laid bare buried treasures of micro nuances usually obscured. The price to pay for this added insight? A clear focus on ambient recovery, spaciousness, extreme sorting and focus over tone mass, image density and warmth.

The earlier tone-wood soundkaos speakers had compensated for that by weighting the reading more into the second half. As the Enigmas showed now, they'd clearly taken away from the first in turn. Now I had the intertwined system stages of amps and speakers pulling hard in the same direction. Bass was super articulated, springy and surprisingly weighty for a small speaker. Octave-doubled bass runs between parallel instruments separated beautifully. Still, the overall colour palette contained far more white now. That made textures leaner. This and the concomitant absence of fuzz and resonance were absolutely terrific for low-volume listening. Here the combo equalled if not outdid very good high-efficiency speakers. As such it was eminently practical for domestic use where achieving more satisfaction with less SPL is a good thing especially late at night.

If your hearing was calibrated by amplified live concerts and recordings of grungier grittier Pop music, our M4 proposition could strike you as too clean and civilized. Though you'd hear far deeper into the music, you could prefer the broader brush treatment to get more meaty thickness and... well, badness. And there was one other thing. Relative to the AURALiC Meraks, the stronger more polished loupe which the M1 held on treble quality suggested that Tommy O's reliance on off-the-shelf oversized laptop-type switch-mode power supplies remains a limiting factor. That's because the gossamer finesse of the HF quality—"dew drops on spider webs in the morning sun" is how the Enigma review put it—became coarser. Less special. This wasn't about extension but purity. If I were to guess, switching noise dumped back into the power line and even radiated into the room took its toll. Better power cords might mitigate a bit of it but none of mine had generic plugs to fit. I had to rely on the garden variety. Speakers less revealing in the upper registers will be less sensitive to this. But with the Mythology 1s being Olympian gold champions at this exact discipline, it did become quite apparent. For such speakers one of Tommy's dearer amps with traditional linear PSU should be preferable even if the Maraschinos might have the higher bandwidth in the end.

As such the Maraschino/Mythology 1 combo wasn't a 100% success. The Merak monos with their linear supplies showed what fell by the wayside. To be sure this really only applied to the purity of the top registers and a bit more overall warmth. But then our sort is supposed to be fussy. That aside—from power to noise, from resolving power to exploiting the speakers' bandwidth—the baby cherries were fully up to the task.
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