The hardware. The Quasar in its arch-conventional box styling measures a compact 25.6 x 39.1 x 31.6cm WxHxD. Still it weighs 21kg. To this the external sand-filled crossover—think 3rd-order acoustic Butterworth slope and doubling as possible plinth for the stand—adds 20kg. With no forced bass alignment, the Quasar manages a high-ish 92dB/2.8w/1m efficiency and 60-35'000Hz coverage at -3dB. Its maker claims 109dB peaks without compression and recommends a 65Hz low-pass setting for a perfect match with the sub. That sub with the alphabet-soup name hits a claimed 15Hz and divides its open enclosure into three vertical sections.

The central slot vents to the front, the two outer ones to the rear. Those house two modified Beyma 38cm 15LX60 woofers. They fire face to face into an isobaric 5° angled array. The pair's front radiation exits through the middle slot which contains the electronics on the other end. The woofers' rear emissions leave out the back. This open loading scheme is called a Linkwitz-style H frame dipole.

The built-in Motorola DSP section includes three parametric EQs to address the primary room modes between the sidewalls, floor/ceiling and front/back walls; high/low-pass filters; volume control; four EQ presets; selectable time delay; and infrared remote to make the adjustments from the seat. The subwoofer measures 55.2 x 54.8 x 58cm WxHxD and pegs your scale at a serious 75kg. Included in the 2.1 setup is personal calibration by the designer in the wider German territories; or by a dealer via the sub's RS-232 port. That links to a Windows computer for access to the DSP menu.

On the subject of pursuing sufficiency for the job at hand, not some abstract purely idealistic overkill, the Quasar eschews slate, aluminium or modern composites like Panzerholz. Instead it bonds simple HDF to Ply. For superior impulse response aka transient speed, Christian Brückner feels that his pair-matched magnetostatic tweeters from Berlin's Expolinear have it all over conventional domes, even those of the silly-expensive diamond kind. And their wider off-axis response makes for a larger sweet spot..

On the same topic, a sealed not ported alignment became the choice for its lower group delay. So did the dipole woofers whose lateral attenuation of 10-12dB makes for inherently weaker triggering of room modes, absence of the usual box talk and a generally far more even impulse response. Given such a focus on the time domain, attentive readers will wonder about the passive filter's 270° phase shift. Here Brückner short-circuits predictable criticism by claiming both higher power handling over 1st-order slopes; plus effective impedance/phase compensation for his point-to-point wired filter.

Adding up the ribbon tweeters, sealed monitor loading and dipole sub, we arrive at speed is the deed. That's clearly the thing Herr Brückner means to accomplish in our living rooms. As a result, we should expect to consign bass boom and general fuzziness or incertitude to the trash bin whilst enjoying true infrasonic reach and studio-monitor precision.

Production of the Cygnus semi-active 2.1 system purportedly is on a very small scale which accommodates a wide range of finish options. Standard veneers waxed or in matte lacquer include Maple, Aspen, Pear, Plum, Cherry, Eucalyptus, figured Birch, Olive, Teak, Bubinga, Zebrano, Rosewood and Macassar. Then there are the ubiquitous high-gloss white and black plus all the colours of the RALbow. The tempered glass tops and metal fascia of the monitor can change colour as well, the latter even to chrome or gold-plate. In short, when it comes to appearance, the customer is king. Of course for €20K, one rather does and should expect some special treatment. That's additionally important when, on general audiophile cred, a semi-active 2.1 system doesn't exactly punch all the highlights. It stands more of a chance in fact to out its owner as a primitive home-theatre guy. This Cygnus speaker system is thus for thinking people, not the lemming-brigade shopper.

With Chris Brückner announced for a personal delivery, calibration session and hands-on explanations, the next page will report on the software of the Cygnus system in flagrante, i.e. inspect its adaptable DSP smarts. Then reader Rory Buszka had this: "I wanted to point something out about dipole subs. Dipole subwoofers need a lot of radiating area and a lot of available cone excursion. That's because they must create an in-room pressure gradient in the plane of the subwoofer cabine. That equals bass output at the listening position, not just moving air around fruitlessly. But they also need space in front of and behind the cabinet to let the pressure gradient develop in as symmetrical a fashion as possible. I noticed that in the stock photos of the system as demonstrated at this or that high-end audio show, the DiSub really was never set up in the correct manner to operate most effectively. It's always shown pushed up against a wall. This will make the pressure gradient more directional and push the dipole nulls forward. The DiSub should be centered between the two main speakers and be at 1/3rd to ½ of the distance from the front wall to your listening seat. If off-center placement is desired to counter room modes (though the dipole operation principle mostly avoids excitation of room modes due to the in-plane null), the subwoofer needs to be turned to face you. This is different from typical subwoofers which are more or less omnidirectional because of their effectively monopole radiation. Having the subwoofer a little closer to you than the main speakers will also help with the subjective ‘speed’ of the bass range since the shorter flight time will be countering any group delay in the room/driver/amp system. I know this isn’t your first rodeo nor is it your first exposure to dipole bass systems (the Zugspitz review was an example) but I just wanted to make sure that when you went to set up the Cygnus loaners, you’d take all the appropriate measures to get the best performance from this unique system."