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Frederic Beudot
Financial Interests: click here
Digital Source: Mac mini, Burson HA-160D, Burson Conductor [in for review], Metrum Hex [in for review], Audioquest Carbon USB cable, Ocellia USB cable
Analog source: Acoustic Solid Classic Wood, AS WTB211, Dynavector DV20X-2, Esoteric E03
Preamplifiers: Burson HA-160D, Burson Conductor
Amplifier: FirstWatt F5, Yamamoto A08s
Speakers: Zu Essence
Headfi: Burson HA160D, AKG K701
Signal cables: Zu Varial, Genesis Absolute Fidelity (Speaker), ASI Liveline
Power Cords: Zu Mother, Genesis Absolute Fidelity (Power), ASI Liveline
Powerline conditioning: Isotek Nova
Sundry accessories: Isolpads, ASI Heartsong racks
Room size: 12.5' x 18' x 8'
Review component retail: Ocellia Calliope 0.21 Twin Signature $17.797/pr, Ocellia Reference interconnects $1.170/1m, power cord $1105/1m, digital coax $1027/1m, speaker cable $1820/3m/pr), Ocellia power transformer prototype not yet commercially available, Ocellia 300B SET integrated discontinued version

Usually the work of an audio reviewer follows a fairly set routine: receive new component, replace  existing one, assess for a few months, compare to equivalent components on hand, report back. One of the flaws in this process is that it does not really take into consideration system synergies. Unless one owned three different references for each component, it is very hard to account for interactions and their impact on the reviewed equipment. This is especially true for those of us who have been at this game for a little while. Our systems have converged towards a sound which pleases us, its various parts selected over time for their ability to deliver that sound as a team - and within a certain budget allocated to our hobby.

Now and then though opportunity presents itself to review a full system or at least multiple components designed to operate together and deliver the full vision of their creator. In my mind this is particularly relevant for the speaker/amplifier interface. Once one nails down a satisfactory combination of those two elements (and the cables in between if applicable) as well as their interaction with the listening room, the rest is really tweaking and progressive refinement. I thus have given up on the ‘source first’ philosophy a long time ago - although once the speaker/amp association is finely tuned and transparent, differences in source components can become quite dramatic. I just no longer believe in starting there.

When Ocellia's Samuel Furon offered me to review not only his newer speakers but to review them in the context of an almost complete Ocellia system, I was thus quite aroused by the idea. I’d been reporting on Ocellia's cable line for a few months to progressively get acclimated with the house sound and find it to be both elegant and thrilling. To better understand what Ocellia is about, it is quite important to familiarize yourself first with Srajan's visit to their creator a few years ago as well as with my review of their cables. Both articles give necessary background on manufacturing as well as the MDI theory behind a lot of what Ocellia offers.

Before I enter a more in-depth description of the equipment provided, a few clarifications are in order. The first one is that I had opportunity to visit Samuel Furon in Montreal to listen to his system and determine whether I would actually be interested in reviewing his gear. Ocellia is a small company with a lot of ongoing investments. Any review failing to take its time and fully understand the uniqueness of the brand could easily crush the resurgence of the business. Both Samuel Furon and I had to feel equally comfortable with the assignment and the required depth. This simply couldn’t be a ‘paint-by-numbers’ job.

Secondly, Samuel Furon delivered all the equipment and set it up at my place. This included removing wall-mounted home theater speakers left by a previous tenant. This is the type of service any Ocellia customer living within driving distance from Montreal can expect. It’s not a special favor to a reviewer. Samuel Furon has actually been known to drive all the way to New York to demonstrate his craft in situ. Finally, although I met Samuel Furon only a year ago at the Toronto Audio Show, it is impossible to remain insensitive to the man and his passion as well as his desire to improve everything he touches. If this makes you uncomfortable about the objectivity of this review, stop reading. The disclaimer is here for that very reason. If you are interested in knowing what I heard, read on. I think you will find it a fair representation of what you would hear were you to ever stop over in Montreal or at one of Ocellia's dealers around the world.