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Loudspeakers of this size, with such a large woofer, top-notch drivers and a steep sticker provoke particular expectations. Anyone immediately thinks of powerful punchy bass, intense dynamics, massive acoustic power and so forth. And these expectations are fulfilled. With the Estelons there is drama, power, scale and amazing density of sound. You won't get that from a small speaker no matter what. There’s also proper vertical scale which in my experience is delivered only by sufficiently tall speakers. But you'd need a much better understanding of audio to say much more about the XA after just looking at them. The choice of drivers and how they are applied and loaded into their special enclosures add up to something that quite transcends our standard criteria of quick sonic assessments.
The Estelons deliver a quite sophisticated but emotionally inert sound from something like This Mortal Coil’s box set in tonally neutral fashion. When presented with warm musical material that doesn't include too much energy in the upper strata like Jim Hall's Concierto or Miles Davis’ Milestones, they deliver a pleasingly warm performance. When fed with somewhat melancholy material like Path Metheny's solo album What's It All About they will sound melancholy; and on something passionate but tinged with sadness like Maria Peszek's latest Jezus Maria Peszek (Marysiu, congrats on this fabulous recording) they present passion and sadness at once. It reads simple - a neutral speaker merely passing on what it’s fed. At first it does appear so but there’s a lot more to it.

These Estonians have their own delivery which gets modeled and to some extent modified by ‘amplifying’ the distinctive features of whatever music we send their way. It’s why Maria Peszek’s album was such a profound experience; why I chilled out so nicely with Eva & Manu sent to me by Anssi Hyvönen, Amphion’s boss (his speakers where used during the mastering of that recording) only to get tormented again by This Mortal Coil at day’s end.

Everything in this presentation was deep and rich. It seems to be a proprietary feature of well-implemented ceramic drivers I’d encountered before in most Avalons and Isophons. The Estelons did the same thing but at a higher level. Their wealth and lushness even turned the sound slightly warm in a perfect rather than exaggerated fashion which often happens with speakers using these drivers.

Then one comes to appreciate their extraordinary resolution. Apart from one narrow band in the lower midrange, the XA offered as much resolution and density as my Harbeth M40.1. In other ranges like the top treble and lowest bass the Estelons’ magnifying power was clearly superior. I was stunned and amazed by their bass to an extent I’d previously encountered only with the Hansen Audio Prince v2 quite some time ago but I still remember their sound which has since become a personal reference.

Starting with the treble I have two personal references. The new Harpia Dobermann with its metal tweeter is a nice reference to compare against as is Sonus faber’s Electa Amator owned by Janusz—a member of our Cracow Sonic Society—equipped with the original Dynaudio Esotar tweeter. These are two treble references I'm closely familiar with. Estelon's concave ceramic dome reproduces treble in a different more creamy fashion. This had me first suspect that it wasn’t as fast and open as these other two when in fact it offered a far richer more precise response than the Dobermanns’ Seas unit which lacks depth and weight by comparison. After some consideration I believe that only the Sonus faber would make a worthy opponent though the Amator’s treble is still a bit different and even more unlimited, direct and detailed. Yet here one must recall that those speakers are small monitors which can’t reproduce full-scale sound to affect our subjective perception of their top end.

Let’s return to the bass which might be key for the Estonians. As mentioned already it seems that they play exactly what they’re fed to convey simply what’s been recorded. Yet simultaneously it seems that their tonal center is set a bit lower than usual as though there were a small but noticeable accent in the lower band. Midrange and tweeter are perfectly integrated to where I couldn’t hear the crossover point or changes in tonality or dynamics, just natural directivity effects. Regardless, the bass here is the most important contributor to the overall sound.