Persian for princess. And ruler or regent. That's what Wikipedia tells us Amira means. In Italian, it's an attractive loudspeaker. Would she rule in the listening room? Dominating Albedo's Munich exhibit was the new €118'000/pr Atesia flagship with diamond tweeter bracketed by 5" ceramic mids which found themselves between paired 8" Cell Concept cone woofers of which the outer ones kick in lower for a 3.5-way array. The speaker cab was finished off in leather heavily pebbled like stingray. If one even had to ask what it weighed, "enough" would have been easier than the actual 170kg.

This type flagship speaker garners much press attention. Even reviewers rarely see their kind outside of shows. More than subliminally, coverage intimates that such product is something to aspire to. Even if it forever remains beyond reach, it sows seeds of discontent. "Something much better than I have clearly exists" we think. We've armed ourselves with suggestive evidence in photos and show comments. Yet sometimes, a more affordable product can be the subjectively better. This goes beyond the proverbial smart buy.

Would it upset you to learn that in certain aspects, Amira bettered our Aptica? This demands a brief detour into 'better'. When it comes to car buys, many specs don't matter. The top speed of nearly all cars handsomely exceeds the legal limit of most countries. Enormous acceleration times as though we anticipated taking off from a green light like a race car are irrelevant. Distance/time from 100km/h to a full stop is a vital potentially life-saving spec. Yet most car buys focus on comfort, reliability, roominess, looks and resale value. If seats and suspension aren't comfy, top speed or torque don't matter. If visibility is poor—perhaps the center pillar is in the way or the rear window too high—driving won't feel safe regardless of a brand's stellar reputation. The list of purchase deciders includes both subjective and objective factors. The former can outweigh the latter.

Hifi is the same. Objective facts of measurements concern themselves with bandwidth, linearity, distortion, power and such. Subjective facts influence the actual experience and how we feel about it. Are we emotionally invested? Is listening groovy, chilled and easeful? Is it demanding, serious and about noticing the maximum number of things? Whatever it encompasses, the comfortable car ride mirrors in the comfort factor of a listening session. Whatever it means to an individual, it overrides objective facts. Higher acceleration or superior resolution will factor less than the perfect seats or the more relaxed easeful audition. Ask a car shopper why s/he bought a particular one. "I liked it best". 'Best' isn't anchored in hard specs. It's a purely subjective like as it is for claiming that Amira bested the Aptica in certain ways. This won't be about hard facts. It won't be about higher resolution or broader bandwidth. It'll be about a more comfortable ride as the easier more relaxed listening experience where having more fun trumps being more serious.

But first, a quick visual inspection. By being 3cm narrower across the top, the Amira's profile is a bit straighter than the more tapered Aptica. Depth is 2cm less as is height. Whilst the form factor is very similar, it's not the same enclosure with new drivers. Cosmetically, the Amira inverts the Aptica's silver drivers with black trim, making its top a bit louder. Some folks could prefer all black trim. Yet the plinth is more gracefully contoured and dare one say femmy than the more masculine straight-sided Aptica's. With introductions rendered and context set, we're ready for the listening comments.