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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: APL HiFi NWO 3.0-GO; Ancient Audio Lektor Prime; Raysonic Audio CD-168; Yamamoto YDA-01 [ on review]
Preamp/Integrated: Supratek Cabernet Dual; ModWright LS-36.5 with PS 36.5; Wyetech Labs Jade; Almarro A318B; Melody I2A3; APL Hifi UA-S1; Woo Audio Model 5; Red Wine Audio Isabella [on review]

Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE; 2 x First Watt F4, 1 x F5; Yamamoto A-08s; Fi 2A3 monos; Yamamoto A-09S; Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 [on review]
Speakers: Acoustic System Tango; DeVore Fidelity Nine
Cables: Acoustic System Liveline interconnects; Crystal Cable Ultra loom; Crystal Cable Reference power cords

Stands: 2 x Ikea Molger with Ikea butcher block platforms and Acoustic System footers
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; full-house installation of Acoustic System resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: Sound platform 3 x 4.5m with 2-story slanted ceiling; four steps below continues into 8m long open kitchen, dining room and office which widen to 5.2m with 2.8m ceiling; sound platform space is open to 2nd story landing and 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls, converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse
Review Component Retail: $20,000/pr
I have never yet met Victor from Aural Designs in Singapore. But as the local Almarro and WLM importer among other brands and appreciative Red Wine Audio user, we've shared a few notes by email - on hot models, those not and upcoming attractions. Merely in passing, I did take note that sometime last year, Victor had added Neeper Acoustics to his stable. After my somewhat disappointing encounter with the Xavian XA-360, a full-on Scanspeak-fitted 3-way, I'd then perhaps fallen under the assumption that their drivers didn't mate as well together as you'd like to believe. Suddenly Victor dispatched this unexpected e-mail:

"You know I have spoken to you about Neeper Acoustics in the past. Now, you have to hear them! I have been selling them for the past year and even I cannot live without them now. Not only do I adore the sound, I can feel the burning passion that the designer, Kim Neeper, has put into this product. And passion is what many mainstream high-end audio companies lack today. I believe that the Neeper Acoustics Perfection Ones really show off what the fantastic Scanspeak Revelator drivers can do. For a multi-way small-sized floorstanding speaker, this is one of the best I have heard, if not the best. And my list includes the Kharma 3.2FE, Marten Design, Sonus Fabers, ProAc etc. They may look difficult to drive on paper but I have achieved extremely pleasing results with the Red Wine Audio 30.2 and 211/845 SETs! Neeper has a Swiss distributor so I believe review arrangements can be made easily."

Stubborn is as stubborn does. I retaliated with a diversion. How did Victor like the new Almarro A-340 monos? "I think they have perfected the micro-processor bias control circuitry; the monos have worked without any problems for about 3 weeks here. They sound good for a push-pull amp (it's actually balanced single-ended and not a typical push-pull design). It took just one minute through the Neepers after the monos came back from a local reviewer that I detected that the Almarro mono is phase-inverting. This has been confirmed by Yoshi. Even the mighty ProAc D80s, which we used to test the
monos prior to sending them out for review, did not point that out! Neither did the local reviewer say anything about it. You can thus deduce the respect I have for the Neeper speakers and their designer. I have not heard the Revelator tweeter being used so well. Remember the Magico Mini saga? First, people (owners) blamed the tweeter for ringing and said it cannot be used with toe-in. Some even said you must toe the speakers out! The Mini 2 came along and Alon Wolf redesigned the crossover and used a new woofer. Now people say that it's never been the Revelator tweeter's fault, it was the previous Titanium woofer's fault. While the original Mini is sharp and biting, the Mini 2 is warm and sweet. To my ears however, the biggest change is in the crossover. Ensemble speakers which used the Titanium woofer some 10 years back did not ring at all."

Stubborn can be worn down. This second email did just that. Victor had my attention. He offered to render introductions to Kim Neeper and did just that. And so this assignment came to be, with a prompt call from Neeper's Swiss importer Audio Forum offering to dispatch a fully broken-in pair. By now, we'd usually segue into lengthy company and product descriptions. Alas, Mr. Neeper's website is so informative to make that redundant. All we need to know is that he worked with Thule, Avance, GamuT and Lars Goller, the former technical director of DST (the merger umbrella of Vifa, Peerless and Scan Speak) to know electronic and speaker design and these particular drivers; and that the Perfection One is an all-out assault at a state-of-the-art slim floorstander without parallel walls: "The bottom is narrower than the top. The sides curve outward. The front is tilted slightly back from perpendicular and the rear is tilted even further back. The rear is narrower than the front. And the top panel slopes upward!" (This woodworker's nightmare could only be realized at the Danish Hornslet Cabinets facility after
Neeper had exhausted the usual offshore options.) There are tightly machined, solid aluminum 25mm plinths and 16mm airflow-optimized baffles; twin rear-firing ports; and a 2.5-way driver array using ScanSpeak's finest Ring Radiator and custom 5.5" wood-fiber mid/woofers powered from the motors usually reserved for ScanSpeak's 6.5" units. Voltage sensitivity is 87dB, nominal impedance 4 ohms (not dropping below 3.8) and specified bandwidth is 30Hz to 50kHz. Dimensions are a petite 100 x 19.5 x 46cm HxWxD and the weight a quite manageable 30kg each.

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The crossover employs "electrically higher-order filters with acoustically soft slopes". Many of its 22 parts aren't in the signal path proper but there to suppress the ringing common with steeper electrical networks. Hookup wiring is silver-coated van den Hul copper in Carbon/Hulliflex insulation.

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Kim Neeper's show-all policy on his website leaves a prospective customer in no doubt as to what, exactly, she will be getting. Just shy of detailed DIY instructions, every single part is accounted for. It's clear as day. The Perfection One aims high and spares no expense to compete in the luxury small floorstander category. To drive the associated nail of upscale Scandinavian design yet deeper, consider the available finish options:

There's even a grill to bridge the gap between ultra performance and living-room friendliness. "One day, I drove past the Danish Jaguar & Aston Martin distributor who had just received the new 'baby' Aston, the V8 Vantage. As I passed by, I couldn't get it out of my head and half way home, I turned around, drove back and admired it for half an hour. It was clear to me - this is what I want to do in the Hi-Fi world. It is not speed, size or even the driving experience that defines a car as 'the best' in the world. It is an intangible combination of design, materials and, of course, performance that makes it desirable above all others, that makes it a 'must-have' product!"

Of all the hifi components, the loudspeaker makes the biggest design statement with its freestanding paired locations in the living space. Enter the elegant form factor of the Perfection One. It could be its biggest selling feature. Just call up the alien invader aesthetics of big Wilsons or the cracked spine cosmetics of the new Focals. In hifi, ultra performance often means dedicated looks. Why make the point of entry unnecessarily challenging? Kim Neeper clearly believes in throwing that door wide open. Even his single-wire terminals are at floor level to ease stealthier cable routing. Audiophiles are strangely generous to forgive bizarre cosmetics particularly in the trophy sector. The way I see it, no excuses should ever be required to justify why you own -- or want to -- an expensive hifi component. It should speak for itself on appearance alone. Purely on industrial design, Kim Neeper's Perfection One is a knock-out well before it ever knocks on your door. When our loaners did, their friendly 1-meter height and a hand's width on the body brought it all home. Pretty!