On why Æquo Audio, concept manager and prime instigator Ivo Sparidaens confessed. Big Oil's corporate gig was good for his bank account but not his soul. He and childhood friend Paul Rassin had been techno music producers during their school days. They already shared a deep love of music and DIY. Ivo had a formal engineering background. So did his brother Freek who today is their product engineer. So did Edvin Van Drunen who controls their analog design and PCB layout. Add their locale in Eindhoven, former stomping grounds of Philips. Today it's Holland's Silicon Valley. It's known as the highest IQ mile in Europe for its massive concentration of hi-tech machine shops, hard/software engineers and entrepreneurial spirit. Seeking a creative outlet to manifest their interest in sound and music unencumbered by corporate red tape and risk aversion, Æquo Audio was formalized three years ago to leverage their members' combined know-how and local infrastructure of precision manufacturing. Fred Peters handles their woodworking, Pierre Van Bree manages assembly.

Paul in front, Ivo on bar stool behind him, final speaker positioning with the woofers in and set up one tile closer to the front wall than I had them before their own woofers were activated.

The Ensis' 1cm thick curved outer shell is created in their own press and mould. It's a constrained 9-layer ultra-stiff affair bonding Ply with a soft inner core and two intermediate layers of undisclosed provenance. This hull then is lined with a damping material "far denser than steel". This also lines the inside of the sub baffle's special HDF. Multiple horizontal window-pane braces of various wood and one vertical divider along the entire stalk's length further stiffen this structure for resonance-free inertia. The trapezoidal bass bin's curved shell is made in the same way but thicker. The modified nCore amp, custom standby controller (there's no on/off switch) and analog compensation/filter circuits are housed in a potted aluminium box behind the baffle's bottom. This conforms to both CE regulations and the need to shield electronics from the very high internal air pressures created by a sealed cabinet. A good portion of the stalk's volume below the custom AudioTechnology midrange driver is part of the woofer cavity. That and the thin very dense walls create more cubic volume than apparent to the eye.

With both Ivo and Paul taller than 195cm, the speakers aren't quite as short as they appear here by contrast.

Deeply embedded in Æquo Audio's culture is Eindhoven's multi-disciplinarian team spirit. It pulls together individuals with very different specializations to cover all aspect of a business. That's the antithesis of the lone-wolf approach where, à la Meadowlark Audio of yore, one man handles driver selection, crossover filters, industrial design, enclosure specifics, parts buying, product planning, production management, marketing, finance, website creation/maintenance, PR and the lot. Back on tech, Æquo have keen interest in and experience with material sciences and advanced laboratory testing. Hence even the choice of German-sourced twice-baked synthetic stone versus Dupont's Corian or LG Hausys' HiMacs was predicated upon testing, measurements and what they discovered were tighter chemical and mechanical tolerances. The tweeter's wave guide geometry is the result of rapid 3D-printed prototyping which arrived at the desired controlled directivity for minimized vertical reflections. The precise make and positioning of the footers on the bottom is instrumental in countering the asymmetrical not balanced force of the sidefiring woofer. The woofer circuit stacks multiple 1st-order filters in series depending on the position of the room size control. The 100Hz xover hinge was arrived at because it created less room interference for the mid/woofer than a lower handover. And so forth. Whilst Ivo was understandably protective of their IP, I heard enough—some off the record—to believe that the Ensis is the result of an unusually comprehensive approach to design. It's a team effort between highly educated friends unafraid of each other's criticisms, suggestions and expertise. Finally, their approach to design is not based on the anechoic chamber but how a loudspeaker behaves in a normal living room. This also explains their preference for analog not DSP control. They believe that digital-domain correction, whilst arguably more surgical, causes graver problems for the typical speaker/room interface than those issues which their approach doesn't address (notching out the three primary room modes).

When asked why cables, Ivo explained. He'd cut open numerous high-end wires. He was from unimpressed to outright upset by what he saw. Hence their group decided to offer cables simply to assist their clients with good sound without being scalped in the process. Æquo cables "are properly engineered to do their job". They use quality WBT connectors and a new insulation material. Its dielectric constant of 1.2 augments their air dielectric wherever the conductor contacts the surrounding air tube. Anti voodoo, Æquo make no outrageous claims for unobtainium ingredients or magic geometries, just no-nonsense design based on top-quality parts sold for a fair price.

A quick initial audition, woofers still out and speakers in the original position with the Zu Submission substituting.

For the slightly longer form, "our company already has knowledge of and experience with wiring and soldering because of our research into and manufacturing of internal wiring and soldering for speakers; the right partners for connector technology with WBT only 100km from us; and a special new insulator (UDCP™ or ultra-dielectric crystal polymer) that is very interesting also for interconnects. Our country of origin, the Netherlands, is famous already for cable brands like Van Den Hul and Siltech/Crystal Cable plus important manufacturers of high-quality raw cable like the former Philips Cable Factory now owned by Belden and pro-audio cable like Procab and Showtec/DAP. We have access to the right parts, research and in-house resources to make cables a logical addition to our catalogue."