That this means a lot more than bandwidth-challenged vintage valve amps was brought home as though with a sledge hammer when I revisited the Kalya after an interlude with the Fostex widebander-fitted Czech RDacoustic Evolution speakers. The upper harmonic fire inside even male Flamenco vocals by singers David Barrull and Diego El Cigala resurfaced with the Kalya's premium ribbon tweeters. It's a dimension the whizzers had closed the drapes down on to render things drier and more stunted. Far and away, superior treble isn't only about cymbals, triangles, piccolos and violin flageolet. It's essential to capturing all of the overtones which, Jacob's ladder like, rise above the fundamentals to add gloss and air. Figuratively, that connects heaven and earth. It adds snap and pizzazz also to the leading edge of percussive sounds, be those actual drums or plucked strings where one wants to distinguish between fleshy finger tips, hard nails and a plectrum; between steel and nylon strings; and unusual tunings.


Speaking of unusual tunings, our resident EnigmAcoustics M1 super monitors with monopole ESL super tweeters go even further in sculpting 3D tangibility. Given that these Sopranino units are retrofittable—they may augment other speakers on the very top just like subwoofers can do on the bottom—I sat ours atop the Kalya for a detour. Voilà. This grafted instant extra spatialization and air on the French. Because their strong low end was fully amenable to counterbalance this addition, I had no undesirable side effects. This shouldn't suggest that the Kalya were incomplete as is. It only illustrates that the M1's 'maxi treble' trick can be hijacked and transplanted. The effect is similar to putting uncooked lemon juice into a savory potato dish. Done right, it punches up or lifts the salty melange. Too much and it telegraphs as an identifiable acidic intrusion. At the right dose, the lemon enhances contrast without adding its own flavour to give the game away. Au nature, the Kalya's ribbon tweeter was sweeter and less graphic. As such, it was one tell-tale difference to our EnigmAcoustics monitors.


Interconnected perhaps, the French monitors felt not quite as grippy and articulated to pursue instead a bit more flow and laissez-faire elasticity; a bit more feminine than masculine flair. Bass reach went just a bit lower and the downfire port missed the occasional minor room-mode bloom which the rear-firing port of the M1 hit. It was at this juncture that I came across Vance Hiner's review on TheAudioBeat.com. It's a quite unabashed love letter at the Kalya which ends on this note: "The Kalyas' ability to convey both the three-dimensional space of vocal music, as well as that subtle fourth dimension I call the soul of a performance, is unsurpassed in my experience... When taut and textured bass notes hit your chest hard and there's no subwoofer in sight, you have a right to shake your head in admiration of Christian Yvon's design skills. Nonetheless, for those who need serious vibrations at the butt level, the Kalyas fall a bit short. It would be very interesting to hear the Kalyas with a subwoofer designed by Yvon. Should he ever decide to undertake such a project, I'd certainly stand in line to hear the result. During my four months with the Apertura Kalyas, I was reminded of the feud among British blues fans about whether Eric Clapton or Peter Green is the better guitarist. While I think both musicians are amazing, their styles are distinctly different. Clapton is clearly the more popular, and his technical chops are unassailable -- "perhaps a little too perfect," some critics say. Green's solos, by contrast, have a spooky, emotional quality that Clapton has only occasionally matched. In fact, B.B. King once said that Green was the only one of the young British guitar slingers who actually made him sweat -- made his "spine tingle." The Kalyas are like that..."


Measurement freaks tend to give short shrift to reviewer poetry. They either believe that love shows up as a chemical in a laboratory blood test and that emotional persuasiveness is mappable on a scope; or they don't think that emotional conviction matters at all. Measurements are of course essential during R&D, to track down errors and distortion and to insure production conformity with a golden sample. Post purchase in the listening seat, it only matters that a reading go under our skin. So what if we can't quantify the why or how? It's enough to notice when it happens. Whatever special ne c'est quoi sauce the Kalyas were dipped in after birth, it's something both I and Vance noticed. I would also add that despite the Sopranino's FX being more spectacular from a hifi perspective, the Kalya magic not only wasn't reliant on it, it was arguably a bit stronger without the add-ons. What to make of that? A very experienced and gifted designer I'd say. It's what makes "The last Sultan" cut of The Secret Trio's Three of us album so soulful; or the opening track of Erkan Oğur's Dokunmak. Recognizing it is so easy. Creating it is far from!

Given that for our final maxi-monitor ownership, my wife and I had settled on the M1 over the Kaiser Acoustics Chiara or Crystal Cable Minissimo; and that the M1 is about 50% dearer than the Kalya - the French clearly moved straight into my top tier of ultra-performance monitors. On visual sex appeal, I'd give the Enigmas with their aluminium baffle, black glass panels and gold accents the nod. Viewed from certain angles (especially at 45° when the baffle faces toward you), the Kalya can look just a bit odd. On hifi spectaculars, the smaller Mythology with its hi-tech mohawk gets the nod, too. On deeper colour saturation with quasi tube textures plus spatial grandeur just as expansive as the Taiwanese, then higher efficiency, the French step forward. Incidentally, their mix of qualities makes them perfect mates for fast DC-coupled slightly lean Job 225 amplifier types. To fully mine the 1st octave does require a subwoofer. The efficacy thereof came home with our Zu Submission as long as I was gentle on its dial. Even in a 90m² room, not much fill was needed to cross off 'complete bandwidth'. On 90% of all material, it wouldn't even be required. Like Enigma's super tweeter, it'd throw perfume on a violet for that excessive ultra deluxe treatment which those with the necessary funds might pursue just because.


This returns us to my opening. After hearing them, everyone in our social circle would call the Kalya all they'd ever need, want or (cough!) aspire to. Let's face it, any €10'000 expense on a hifi item is well out of range for civilians. The Kalya's 'enuffity' must really be aimed at hifi crazies who not only have the requisite dosh but wouldn't hesitate to spend it on something bigger and uglier just because it flogs more drive units. It's those folks who might broaden their aim, then set it on an end-of-life compact speaker like Apertura's. Eliminating a hi-pass filter on a midrange—having one is what happens to 99% of all 3-ways—is a benefit. Using a smaller enclosure for less box talk and to become a lesser reflective object is a benefit. Using a very heavy metal stand as a grounding rod for resonances is a benefit. Not dispersing too much low bass into a standard-sized room is a benefit. Finally there's the lower visual impact on the domestic environment. Let's call it a lower not carbon but discord footprint*. Hifi owners should be legally obliged to reduce it for all the obvious reasons under threat of prison sentence. The way I see it, for a mature customer who has moved long since beyond youthful experiments into overkill for their own sad sake, a pair of Kalyas could be lasting friends with lots of benefits!
* On the subject of which, the Kalya has magnetically attached grills for those allergic to nudie drive units. I didn't use them because our household doesn't suffer that particular allergy.


Apertura website