Though the hardware context still reflected our EnigmAcoustics M1 monitors from just before the Lithuanians arrived, I stuck with it as an initial best-case scenario. Afterwards I'd downscale to something more befitting Gediminas' value proposition (Vinnie Rossi Lio with Questyle QP1R; Gato Audio DIA-250 with same source). For a first take I stuck to the Fore Audio DAISy1 DAC, Nagra Jazz preamp, Pass Labs XA30.8 amp and Zu Event biwire; what for us counts as our heavy artillery. Even though the O203F in their nattily striped Ebony telegraphed lower resolution right off the bat—little competes with the wicked twin-tweeter tacticians from Taiwan—they didn't embarrass themselves. The primary differentiators were lower contrast, softer focus and significantly reduced ambient recovery. This meant a mellower more laid-back vibe of more muted colours where the Enigma Sopranino super tweeter gets glossier and far more articulate. With the AudioSolutions, things were primarily what they were, not what they'd been inside a different (recorded) acoustic. No surprise there. They replaced wildly costlier extreme monitors which I'd cherry-picked for ownership over Kaiser Acoustics' Chiara and Crystal Cable's Minissimo. Though with them the cost/return line flattens out, paying that much more for a loudspeaker does move one into a categorically higher league; or two. That's just keeping it honest and common sense.

The same reductionism happened upstairs. Here the O202B monitors atop Track Audio stands replaced our usual floorstanding German Physik HRS-120 with a front end of Oppo BDP-105D, Esoteric C-03 preamp and Goldmund/Job 225 amp. This swap dimmed the stage lights on what had been far more specific spatial surroundings. It put the focus and onus on the foreground action. Background stuff was less explicit, soundstaging far more compact. Well, nothing stages exactly like full-bandwidth omnis do. As always, one adapts quickly of course. In fact, sans comparison by contrast, one may never how much more is possible. That's why A/Bs are so vital. Without them, we don't know what we don't know.

What my first auditions collected was that for his budget models, our designer had sacrificed the heightened resolution and superior focus of quieter cabinets and costlier drivers. His plug-in baffles and cabs were vibrationally quite active. A brief laying on of hands even at lower levels showed this. He then prioritized good efficiency, extended LF bandwidth and above average dynamics. Even with as potent a woofer dictator as our XA30.8 amp—pure class A bias, 20 transistors per channel, massive power supply—the two-way towers dished out bass that was big and went lower than its drivers might have promised but did betray some bloom in trade. This had me recall their designer's confessed love of slightly underdamped bass alignments, in his then flagship Rhapsody 200 model which I'd reviewed a few years back. At the time, Marja & Henk had similar findings with their AudioSolutions loaners. We thus knew that Gediminas liked his bass big, bold and dynamic to goose it with deliberate underdamping. For maximal control of his 'large intake' ports, think nCore & Co. To avoid bloom turning to boom, I'd stay clear of typical valve amps. With first impressions garnered, it was time to adjust the ancillaries, then do the comparison which had spawned this particular twin-model assignment in the first place.

Even with Toslink's weak 0.5V signal from the Questyle source, Lio's 25wpc class A/B Mosfet amp sat no higher than 40 on the dial of its up-to-63 autoformer volume control. I heard zilch indicators of being underpowered, malnourished or tattered/hazy around the edges. I fancied Lio's bass control and dosage over what with the 250wpc class D Pascal module of the Gato Audio integrated became too much T-Rex in a china shop. Hence this American all-in-one with white Corian fascia (DAC + pre + power + headfi, optional phono omitted for this homunculus digitalus) became the final arbiter on Lithuanian value goodness. For maximal fire in the belly aka speed and lucidity plus the lowest sticker, I'd go after a $1'695-delivered Goldmund/Job INTegrated. I simply no longer had a sample around. Its leaner very quick crystallized demeanour could be ideal for those who wish to bolt on a simple turbo to the Overtures. Vinnie Rossi's Lio had plenty of grip coupled to his trademark Harbeth-type warmth. Thus this combination ended up with a quasi tube sound of the push/pull pentode persuasion. Nobody would wonder where the beef was, such was the chunkiness and robustness of this setup. I'd call it big-time comfort sound with sufficient separation powers to, on multi-layered polyrhythmic complex fare, not shrink the musical weave into a suffocated wall of sound. Because of very good LF grounding and strong refusal to do brittle or glare, electronica was very well served. The Overtures sent a big hello toward Oz contributor John Darko who loves darker edgier music. Feeling confident that their designer would approve of the setup, in moved the standmounts.

On stuff with less massive attacks, you wouldn't miss the towers' extra reach. Per se, you wouldn't notice any fundamental changes in tonal balance, either. That said, the smaller speaker did turn the fullness/speed axis by just a few degrees. With exactly twice the cone surface below the tweeter, the floorstander was the heavier and thicker. Whilst I'm sure that Gediminas offset the efficiency gains of paralleled drivers by padding down his tweeters differently, the monitors still sounded a tick more open or illuminated in the presence region. It's academic whether this was mere psychoacoustics or borne out by measurements. Perception could care less. For small-scale acoustic fare like concert harp plus kora duets or Jazz trios, the monitors played it more acoustic, less amplified if you catch my drift. Amplified concerts sound meatier and more dynamic, bigger and thicker. Unplugged events have less bass energy, more separation and smaller more defined images. Something similar if not as pronounced factored here as well. This wasn't so much about tonal balance where I thought Gediminas had worked hard to minimize differences between these models. This was primarily about more or less substance coupled to a bit more warmth versus a tick more transparency. You'd most assuredly not feel like a second-class citizen or poor schmo if auditioning both had your wallet pick the smaller ones. In fact, if string quartets, Schubert lieder and Baroque period ensembles made up your core diet, you'd prefer them regardless.

If you did bombast and partook of bass beastliness to favour the towers for the obvious reasons, the €2'070 - €880 = €1'090 difference means you could allocate your funds to either them; or to the monitors plus sub, perhaps breaking that down into ~€350/pr for stands and €700 for a small quality bass augmenter like a cylindrical Gallo. Done right, you'd get lower more powerful and drier LF from the spread-out scheme, albeit in mono below the cutoff, not stereo like the floorstanders. Properly integrating a subwoofer at ~50Hz is well possible but many shy away from the prospect. They have been indoctrinated by nothing good ever coming from subs for music bumper stickers. I happen to disagree. Our big Zu Submission sub tells that tale. Marja & Henk have a pair of them. But it's certainly a more involved approach than this set'n'forget passive tower speaker which, let's be clear, has sufficient bass reach and power for most listeners.

If you're a more compact citizen—home office, bedroom, boxes on a lowboy or console to eliminate stands—you'd not want more drivers than these monitors offer. A quasi nearfield situation, say at 2 metres from the speakers if not less, would also dial up soundstaging precision, a discipline where these Lithuanians are middle of the pack, not front runners. This goes back to the big beefy comfort sound. It's about generous portions and not leaving hungry; not top separation, mega layering and assorted hifi effects. The soft-dome ScanSpeak tweeter is well behaved and not dialed up hot to digest lesser recordings without hiccups. The bandwidth exhibits no overt voicing tricks. Innate warmth comes from the driver/MDF combo, not response liberties. As you already figured out, the less than half-priced O202B is far from half the speaker. I'd call it probably 85% and truly cut from the same cloth. To justify or 'need' the O203F, you'll want a bigger room and play louder and bassier. That's essentially it. To wrap up, vertical integration of hifi's big firms can enable top value if their corporate culture values it. We expect less value from smaller boutique firms. They must sub-contract certain work. They pay more for the same parts. They often own less sophisticated R&D tools to either require more time (which is money) or create less competitive results. In that context, the AudioSolutions Overture models under review demonstrated unexpectedly high value. This came with competitive performance and an unusually broad swath of finish options. Heck, these are lovely real-world speakers. They're perfectly adapted to everyman's music, not fussy audiophile fare. They can dish it without coming apart; they do strong satisfying bass without playing tricks; and they're totally allergic to the Twiggy aesthetic. Guess what, a weak global economy does wonders for inventiveness in the manufacturing sector. Product must continue to offer more for less lest folks start hoarding not parting with their harder-earned cash. And boy are these Overture models fully on board with that programme. With audio solutions such as these, our times really are good... for hifi shoppers that is.

AudioSolutions website