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Physical laws being what they are, an affordable monitor-style single-driver speaker won't offer true high sensitivity but at best, higher than the norm. That makes the 9/14wpc power rating of the matching amp a bit lean on paper. But then the whole 5" widebander notion reminds us: we won't be dealing with very large rooms. Now a 3-meter listening distance, the amp's power and speakers' efficiency should gel into regular happy times. Or so the oracle predicted before googling to discover that the Monacor SPH-60x driver which looks to be used (cosmetics and stated moving mass fit precisely) is listed at 89dB/8-ohm voltage sensitivity with a resonant frequency of 60Hz. How could Marc Valero get 93dB and 40Hz? The ported alignment boosts the cutoff but the sensitivity rating recalls squeezing a stone for blood. It won't happen - unless the designer had seriously modified the driver motor to increase magnetic force. Or I had the wrong driver. More on that anon. Back to the Tripath/widebander wedding.

Conceptually, one could invoke the Louis/Vinnie collaboration in the American colonies. Omega Loudspeakers and Red Wine Audio routinely collaborate at tradeshows (and presently in moon man Ken Micallef's NYC digs). So there are solid successful precedents for exactly this recipe. Naturally, while there's zero shame in following suit, any truly creative person will feel obliged to contribute something unique. I thus asked Marc Valero. What did he feel his team's special solutions were in this sector? Those after all compelled them directly to brave today's challenged distribution models with a new brand. OEM allows one to focus on just design and production. Leave the pesky dealings with distributors, dealers and end users to proper sales organizations.

Of course, OEM also means designing within contractual constraints. For example, you may disagree with certain concept parameters. Yet your job is to satisfy the design stipulations, not yourself. That alone could be compelling reason to fly off solo. Was there more to it in this instance though? I obviously couldn't ask Marc about his previous products. OEM contracts are non-disclosure affairs. They limited this apparent newcomers' ability to prove how really entrenched and established they are. Their word and work would have to speak for themselves.

The visuals of the PSi15 remind me of Ancient Audio's CD players from Poland which use bonded granite slabs instead of wood but similarly encase their electronics in an inset casing beneath/inside the main plinth.

Already on the drawing board are ultra-compact Tripath 2024 amps [concept prototypes below] and a 1/4-wave transmission-line floorstander using the same 5" widebander, its enclosure dimensions reminiscent of the Jordan-equipped Konus Essence and its Carolina Audio brethren.

"About our loudspeaker, the drive unit is a modified 4-ohm Monacor based on the SPH-64XAD. After reassembly of the driver, our measurements show an increase of its original 90.8dB sensitivity. If you were to use the 60X Monacor version you suspected in our cabinet, you'd have a very poor impression as that driver simply doesn't perform the same. The enclosure construction and materials are very critical too as are the types of glue used and the precise composition of the plywood layers. They all noticeably influence the sound, timbres and imaging. Naturally we'd prefer to use MDF for cost and easier manufacturability and indeed tested prototype cabinets but they simply didn't sound good. They were misvoiced and provoked actual listener fatigue.

"The amplifier is based on the Tripath 2024 chip, without a doubt the best and most musical of any power processing chips Tripath has manufactured. It approaches some 300B triodes including power delivery and although the latter might seem insufficient, it will actually drive many commercial speakers.
The battery charger is included but not the optional 12V power supply. We avoided an internal power supply because it creates distortion and adverse electromagnetic fields that negatively effect sonics. We do not recommend switch-mode power supplies but a stabilized power source.

"Our amplifiers and speakers leave the factory with about 50 hours of break-in but we recommend a total of 200 hours for complete stabilization. The Zebrano finish is exclusive to the amplifier and not available for the speaker but as a highly adaptive company, we can accommodate custom finishes depending on specific model when we reach special agreements with distributors or even end users.

"As a company, we began in 1995 as EVV or Valero's Valve Electronics after years of experience in the audio field to produce a series of limited-edition mono valve amps with separate power supplies and other products like integrated amps with phono stages and headphone amps, all exclusively tube-based and no hybrids. Everything was artisanal and deliberately crafted for a small select clientele because this was our passion, not main source of income. We could afford to avoid large-scale production and crass price-based commercialization.

"Drive units for our speakers at the time were by Focal and we also engaged in rebuilds of Lenco I75 turntables, an endeavor at which we have become true experts. After many years and in parallel with our small custom shop, we created a research project for improving our loudspeakers. In 2007 we made such advances that together with the Tripath amplifier platform, we decided to launch Passion Sound while continuing the craftsman tradition we'd upheld all along. It's at this precise juncture we contacted you for a review."