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The Calliope1.6 ships in one cardboard box whose two broad sides are protected with thin strapped Plywood sheets. The inside is completely lined with 2-inch thick impact panels while the speakers themselves are wrapped in a layer of thin white foam paper.

Unpacking is child's play. For once, high-performance speakers are deliberately light. What a relief.

The piece de resistance here of course is the new PHY-HP unit christened E17/LB15. With a hard but shallow twin-pleat suspension, inverted 'dust' cap with two visible voice-coil terminations and a vented magnet, little about this small driver with the cork ring and painted motor hints at its big-hearted broad-shouldered performance.

  The rears of the speaker enclosures sport small hatches to incrementally alter the inside acoustical impedance and back loading of the driver. For additional adjustments, the shipment includes six reversible bronze spikes with pointed and ball ends; six lock nuts; and the above two boards which, one each, can mount to the lower inside of each speaker to close off the air gap with the floor there.

The terminals are high-quality silver affairs, the paper-insulated solid-core silver hookup wire inside a mineral filled jacket is Ocellia issue and what Samuel otherwise uses for his formal speaker cables.

The flanks of each enclosure are reinforced with a thin Spruce lattice while the thicker front panel is lined with a fibrous organic material for a bit of carefully administered absorption.

Ocellia also provided their so-called DIN networks which, upon confirmation, turned out to be Zobel filters. Those were fully potted inside a small cardboard tube and terminated with long tinned non-directional leads, to be strapped across the speaker terminals + to -.

The wood veneering of the Calliope1.6 was of fine quality and coated with translucent glossy lacquer. The end result was far closer to a traditional piece of furniture than most loudspeakers (particularly the Ming the Merciless variants).

The PHY drivers were positioned slightly off-center and the mirrored speakers were to be set up with the narrower spacing inward as shown below.

The owner's manual PDF wass very specific on the precise window of baffle angle adjustments and showed interesting recommended setup geometries which are of course symmetrical relative to the speakers/seat triangle but otherwise deliberately rotate that triangle against the room to arrive at the highest number of unequal boundary distances.

"Like all our other speakers, I don't try to add bass with the cabinet. I let the driver play the music as is. Due to the small driver size, the bass of the Calliope1.6 is lighter and  the sound thinner and with less body than our other models. So the sound can become imbalanced and too nervous or aggressive if the system is not well matched.

"You have a lot of experience with various setups so I am not worried. I simply didn't find Franck Tchang's cables the best match in my room and my system so I would like to send you our new cables on which I have made some improvements since you tried them.

I politely declined. While recommended equipment combinations from a manufacturer are excellent data points for prospective customers, a reviewer's system as is becomes the laboratory. It's not a matter of perfection just as an experienced musician doesn't need a perfect instrument to perform well. It's about knowing your tool well.

As it turned out, I had no complaints with my usual LiveLine harness. The complaints were posted at my—are you ready?—resident single-ended amps. And not for the first time, the solution was an amplifier from the Northern coast of California...