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This review first appeared in the November 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Estelon. - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe & Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature with Regenerator power supply
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic + Acoustic Revive custom speaker stand
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω vintage, HifiMan HE6
Interconnects: CD/preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp/power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base IV custom under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under CD player, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under CD player and preamplifier, Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS
Review component retail in Poland: €29.990/pr

Products from central Europe which Milan Kundera and Andrzej Stasiuk named Middle Europe in the Moja Europa anthology rarely penetrate the consciousness of Western customers. Some brands usually from smaller manufacturers strike it lucky and achieve some measure of domestic success there beyond the (former) Iron Curtain but overall they are a relative few. I’d single out Ancient Audio, Lampizator and GigaWatt from Poland; Reed and from Lithuania; Canor (formerly Edgar) and JJ Electronics from Slovakia; Human Audio and Heed Audio from Hungary; and Trafomatic Audio from Serbia as the most obvious ones. One big exception is Pro-Ject Audio Systems which in fact is Austrian but has its manufacturing with the Czech firm SEV Litovel s.r.o.

Both 6moons and are trying hard to change this status but the results aren’t satisfying. Too many ‘old’ well-established brands from Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Italy, France, Japan, the US and Scandinavia occupy public consciousness exclusively as the ones that deserve our trust. I can’t condemn this attitude. I partially understand it. Most of us are afraid of the unknown when we don’t know what to expect. Though it’s been more than 20 years since Polish Solidarity initiated the bloodless revolution in our part of Europe, the Iron Curtain remains alive at least in the mind. The West doesn’t even remember how it really all began in Poland. They only recall the fall of the Berlin wall which itself was merely a consequence of the changes kicked off in Poland.

That’s why I was so surprised by the success of Estonian firm Estelon. Enthusiastic reviews from PFO and Tone Audio hit out of the blue. A CES Innovation Award followed. My surprise wasn’t the speaker’s worthiness but the obvious fact that the origin caused no issue. The only thing of import was the product itself and how it performed. And I too had been impressed by how they sounded.

Visiting a HighEnd 2012 exhibit in Munich with Vitus Audio electronics and Loit’s Passeri CD player, I was completely seduced and awarded Best of Show for this particular system which featured the X Diamond as the top model of a four-square lineup which includes the floorstanding XA of the same appearance and dimensions (123 x 45 x 64cm HxWxD), the smaller XB floorstander and the XC monitor.

I’ve since learnt that it all began with today’s XA, speakers of quite extraordinary looks whose shape reminds me of a water clock with smaller upper section housing the midrange and tweeter and a lower bigger one the woofer. This E-Ion shape was developed by Alfred Vassilkov after many years of studying the effects of acoustic reflections and diffractions. Mr. Alfred speaks of a 'musical instrument' albeit not how Harbeth and Spendor reference this term for their deliberately resonant cabinets. Estelon’s enclosure in fact is a proprietary composite of undisclosed composition. One can merely cite an obvious conceptual overlap with Wilson Audio and Hansen Audio for just two.

The transducers Estelon champions without exception are from Germany’s Accuton, i.e. ceramic diaphragms or ceramic-coated sandwich versions for the woofer. The XA suggests a small 2-way monitor atop an integral subwoofer which is supported by a rear-firing port. These 3-way speakers use a single pair of top-line WBT binding posts and expensive internal cabling from Kubala-Sosna. The XA won the CES Innovation’s Award in the high-performance audio category in 2011 and once again in 2012.

Sound – recordings used during this review: David Sylvian, Sleepwalkers, P-Vine Records, PVCP-8790, CD (2010); Dead Can Dance, Anastasis, [PIAS] Entertainment Group, PIASR311CDX, "Special Edition Hardbound Box Set", CD+USB drive 24/44,1 WAV (2012); Depeche Mode, Enjoy The Music...04, Mute, XLCDBONG34, maxi-SP (2004); Elgar Delius, Cello Concertos, Jacqueline Du Pré, EMI Classic, 9559052, 2 x SACD/CD (1965/2012); Eva & Manu, Eva & Manu, Warner Music Finland, 5389629, CD (2012); Hilary Hahn, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, Sony Classical, SK 62793, Super Bit Mapping, 2 x CD (1997); Jim Hall, Concierto, CTI/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2012, SACD/CD (1975/2003); Maria Peszek, Jezus Maria Peszek, Mystic Production, MYSTCD 214, CD (2012); Miles Davis, Milestones, Columbia/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2084, SACD/CD (1958/2012); Novika, Tricks of Life, Kayax, 013, CD (2006); Pat Metheny, What's It All About, Nonesuch/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-14176, CD (2011); The Beatles, Yellow Submarine, Parlophone/Apple/Toshiba-EMI, TOCP-51121, CD (1969/1998); This Mortal Coil, HD-CD Box SET: It’ll End In Tears, Filigree & Shadow, Blood, Dust & Guitars, 4AD [Japan], TMCBOX1, 4 x HDCD, (2011).