Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio Model 5000 MkIII DAC; Accustic Arts Drive-1; Audio Aero Prima [on review]
Preamp/Integrated: Bel Canto PRe2; Wyetech Labs Pearl [on loan]
Amp: AUDIOPAX Model 88
Speakers: Avantgarde Duo; Gallo Acoustics Reference 3
Cables: Stealth Audio Varidig S/PDIF, Stealth Audio Indra (x2), Crystal Cable Reference speaker cable and power cords; ZCable Hurricane power cords on both conditioners
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier
Powerline conditioning: BPT BP-3.5 Signature for source components; Walker Audio Velocitor
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand and speakers; Walker Audio SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; WorldPower cryo'd Hubbell wall sockets; Musse Audio resonance dampers on DUO subs; Mapleshade 4" solid maple platform under BPT conditioner
Room size: 30' w x 18' d x 10' h [sloping ceiling] in long-wall setup in one half, with open adjoining living room for a total of ca.1000 squ.ft floor plan and significant 'active' cubic air volume of essentially the entire (small) house
Review component pricing: $3,995/pr

"Welcome to the jungle!" That's how I welcomed Hyperion Sound Design to the audiophile market realities in my HE2004 show report and in response to the impression of very unusual price/performance value which their exhibit and components had prompted. Hyperion's top speaker model HPS-938 just landed in Taos. Though I have barely enough time to pen a very brief sneak peek before leaving for the Denver show tomorrow, I wanted to give our readers an immediate heads-up - about the likelihood that my welcome might have to soon be rephrased with regard to other speaker manufacturers: "There's a lethal new predator in the jungle. Watch your back!"

Mind you, this hunch is based on nothing other than unpacking these speakers. But here's the thing: Nobody who takes this kind of care packaging his wares; nobody who incorporates brand-new technology; nobody who offers this level of fit'n'finish for such a competitive price will have crossed every conceivable 't' and dotted ever tiny 'i' only to forget the most important parameter - performance. Well, at least that'd be highly unlikely. Possible but hard to believe.

Transit precautions
This Watt/Puppy-reminiscent 4-piece affair arrives in four substantial cardboard cartons which are strategically lined with permanently affixed and spaced hard foam strips. The top of each carton is an actual lid that opens and recloses for future use. The speaker chassis inside are fully enclosed in no-scratch sewn cloth bags, sealed with a Velcro lip and then strapped with tension-buckled Nylon belts which make it easy to pull out the goods and transport them to their final location. Once you glimpse the flawless piano gloss lacquer underneath, you begin to understand the sheer necessity for these precautions.

Weighing in at 30.8/23.35lb and 70.5/64lb packed/unpacked for the head and woofer units respectively, we're looking at very densely fashioned cabinets. They measure 11.75" w x 13.75" d x 16" h for the 2-way monitor and 11.75" w x 17.75" d x 25.75" h for the dual woofer bass unit with its slotted front-firing reflex port. 42" tall including the provided sturdy footers, the stacked HRS-938 is a very elegant and shiny affair which to photograph properly and without endless reflections would require a professional.

Cursory inspection of the drivers reveals a number of unusual ingredients such as a short copper horn around the soft-dome tweeter and large flat 'dust caps' with geometric 'flex' seams in the centers of the carbon fiber 6.5" midrange and 8" woofer diaphragms. Clearly not over-the-counter drivers, the designations S.V.F -- short-hand for synchro-vibrate flat-top -- and M.F.D.S -- magnetic fluid damping system -- explain the parts not visible to the naked eye since they occur behind the driver diaphragms.

As the images below show, the flat centers are direct-coupled to the voice coils behind them to become fully active drive components rather than just passive covers for the voice-coil assembly while the usual spider (commonly a pleated fabric suspension that provides restoring force) is completely absent and replaced by what Hyperion calls its magnetic fluid damping system.

Now add marketing manager's Albert Wu's assurance that the HPS-938 was designed to work well with 300B SETs. You begin to appreciate that the sheer material evidence which presents itself to someone well prior to inserting these speakers into a system is highly promising. In fact, after hearing them during an audiophile society presentation on the East coast, our own Steve Marsh has already expressed serious purchase interest and, schedules permitting, will take delivery of this review pair for a follow-up and in-home confirmation.

I have to wait a few weeks before running these speakers for a first impression - but if you have an opportunity to hear them somewhere in the meantime, get ye going. My instincts tell me it could be well worth your while and wallet.

The basic specs themselves do not guarantee micro-power tube friendliness - 6-ohm nominal impedance, 3.8-ohm minimal, 90dB sensitivity. However, absence of steep phase angles, a narrow impedance window and a non-reactive crossover are the secret contributors that really settle such matters which I shall investigate at length in the upcoming review. Crossover points are given as 230Hz and 3kHz and frequency response as 35Hz - 22kHz.
The Stello by April Music brand from Korea has, in just a short time, made major inroads into highly favorable reviews and even awards to underscore the Threat from the East that only the most mindless of domestic audio manufacturers can fail to take serious at present.

While I can't be sure yet, there's every indication that Hyperion Sound Design with its Walnut/CA headquarters might have to be added to those Most Wanted Lists of newcomers who are poised to rewrite expectations for appearance, build quality and performance, at whatever price points they decide to tackle. That's potentially worrisome news for some of our domestic makers but excellent news for music lovers on a budget.

Needless to say, I'm leaving the door open just a crack to be disappointed. But having heard the Hyperion setup at the New York Show, I have a pretty substantial gut feeling that I won't be.