Spidermen? As I wrote about Riviera Audio Lab's €11'500 AIC10 hybrid, a quick stop on the Cubes showed "their extraordinary agility and open-throatedness still being better served by our petite April Music Stello separates. In this smaller room, the AIC's considerable harmonic weight and density slightly congealed the Korean electronics' superior speech intelligibility on talk-heavy brain fare like Tea Leoni's Madam Secretary." This segues directly into the previous page's low-loss spiders and claims for their superior dynamic tracking and detail mining. After hearing these drivers on DVDs of various TV shows, there was no doubt. The often lesser enunciation of certain actors competing against enveloping location ambience was much helped by the Cubes' superior capture of micro detail. When you understand more rapid-fire dialogue which during court, hospital or White House episodes contains obscure legal, medical and political jargon, the speaker is the final filter which breaks—or the open conduit which makes—the synaptic connection with our ear/brain. With instrumental music, we don't know the score to recognize misses during replay. With spoken dialogue, anyone notices when certain words or entire sentences go awol.


When dialogue comprehension goes up, speaker distortion, obscuration, fuzz, thickness and blur must all diminish; by definition. That sum total had me reach for the word open-throatedness above. With a singer, it's the sense that we hear or see right down to their uvula, that wiggly little worm at the end of a throat. That's what the Bliss C did very well. Obscure audiophile lingo calls that intimacy or presence. A famous 70's book by Richard Alpert aka Ram Dass was Be Here Now. If the Bliss C wrote a book, they might call it Hear Me Now - subtitled "... and get what I'm sayin'!"


I have no means to conclusively pin that on the drivers' unconventional spiders. I'd have to hear them with equivalent conventional spiders to be sure. Just so, I must admit that this quality was too tacit not to point straight back at what one would expect from their prior descriptions and claimed benefits. Happy neighbourhood Spidermänner? It sure sounded like it.


So far, not so unusual for a breed whose high-efficiency examples often pay it forward in the presence band to create that effect via dynamic and response exaggerations. Where the Bliss C veered off their beaten path? With utter normalcy of tonal balance just like any arch conservative multi-way speaker. Where it gave extra was in true point-source soundstaging which fans of KEF or TAD dual-concentrics would recognize. Again, Cube Audio's rationale for standard sensitivity and a whizzer-cone widebander manifested plainly to feel honest and factual, not noisy propaganda. Would an 8-inch poly bicone with a conventional 1" Titanium tweeter in its throat do the same? Good question with no easy answer. Most coaxials are 6-inchers and I've never yet hosted big legacy Tannoys. Zu's 10.3" hard-hung widebander is augmented by a wave-guided compression tweeter to play another game. Since we own a Druid V, that encounter was predestined and quite on the same money. With many press reviews on the Americans, this A/B was to quickly map the final Bliss coordinates. Before any listening, for Zu one sees more machined metal, more material mass, two drivers per side and far more finish options. On those scores, the Americans look like higher ROI. What say would the ears have about that?


The first surprise concerned sensitivities. Official Druid specs put it at 98dB/16Ω. Into that impedance, most transistor amplifier deliver half or less than they do at 8Ω. The Bliss C rates just 92dB yet does so at 6Ω. If we call the Druid ~95dB into 8Ω and the Bliss C an equivalent ~93.5dB, we see how the latter might play nearly as loud for the same volume setting. Not only did it but it in fact was slightly louder. Again, that was a surprise.