Delivery. With an 800km journey just one way—which he'd likewise do for any customer—Brückner's business model after 5 years of operation was clearly still far more enthusiast hobbyist than hardcore accountant. It explained why his partner had departed. It explained the 2.1 concept promoted at the upper end to be in crass opposition with prevailing market wisdom. It also explained the promotion of anything-goes custom finishing. And that neatly disguises his clearly excessive build costs. Those are the net result of one-up orders with his furniture shop. Direct sales thus are his only salient business model. On another practical matter, with his 75kg subwoofer Christian was reminded first-hand what navigating stairs entails even with my stair-devil foot truck on hand. Sitting on castors like the crossover bases, manoeuvring the beast once on flat ground was rather child's play by contrast.

Once set up in the usual speaker spots, subwoofer between them, he began with his calibration routine. This turned out rather more basic than expected. With standard rectangular rooms, he uses a laser tool to measure the three major dimensions (floor to ceiling, front to back, side to side). Those figures are input to a program on his laptop which calculates the three resultant main room modes. Their Hertz values end up in his subwoofer's DSP which is strangely limited to just 6dB of cut per frequency. Seeing our essentially non-parallel space, he opined that I wouldn't have any real mode issues. That's not quite the case. Determining what those are simply is a bit more complex than taking standard measurements between parallel walls. Without a microphone or any test tones to work with, Christian merely relied on familiar music he'd brought to make the requisite adjustments.

After declaring himself satisfied, I played a bass-heavy Mercan Dede track and turned the Pass Labs XA30.8 amp off. This neatly isolated the subwoofer's line-level feed from the preamp. I clearly had a pronounced hot spot which his very basic setup overlooked. To determine its exact frequency and degree of elevation would have required a tight test-tone sequence or a microphone.

During a subsequent phone call, Christian proposed that this peak was in fact the 3rd harmonic of an 18Hz room mode from the 9.5m distance between our sidewalls. I filed that under amateur guesswork rather than perfectionist certainty. It certainly wasn't in keeping with something billed as expert calibration for state-of-the-art performance.

As I would learn, the reason why previous reviewers had never covered that aspect had been because their magazines insisted on purely hands-off deliveries. But since custom calibration was an advertised part of any Cygnus Audio demo or sale, I wanted to document just what a customer could expect. A novice wouldn't know the difference and a standard rectangular room might be sufficiently served. An experienced user would know and rooms of non-standard shapes might deserve a more sophisticated setup protocol.*

Access to the Callisto X** plate amp's DSP is via four simple front-panel controls. Alternately there is a RS232 multi-pin computer terminal on the back which Christian uses during his initial setups. Below is a close-up of the frontal display. To the right is a photo of the Callisto panel on the back.

Being curious as most animals are by nature, the first thing Blondie the cat wanted to do was explore the isobaric cavity between the two 15-inch woofers. An optional subwoofer grill would stop such behaviour and also work with toddlers. Cosmetically the Cygnus loaners expressed solid wood-shop skills. Those however weren't applied or perhaps specified on a sophistication level that'd be on par with the most current competitors relative to the concealment of visible fasteners.

As such, Christian's monitor flaunts six protruding hex bolts on the inset front baffle dress plate; doesn't use that plate to hide his driver-mount screws; and sprouts another twenty-one bolts and screws on the back to conjure up echoes of vintage Spendor and Harbeth. Equivalent monitors from Kaiser and Enigma I've had through took real engineering pains to hide most if not all of their fasteners.

The Kawero! Chiara also walls it completely non-parallel whereas Cygnus play it straight-up rectangular. That looks far more pedestrian than a Focal or Sonus faber for example. Not pursuing dealers obviously means pursuing customers who don't shop on hifi's Main Street. Such folks may thus not apply detailing standards which are informed by the best and most current of the in-store competition.


* To identify your own rectangular room's three major modes by simply plugging in its three dimensions, use this online calculator.

** "We use the Callisto X plate amp from Sitronik, which is not available from Strassacker. It is available only from Sitronik directly but looks the same as the one listed by Strassacker in your link. It actually uses the same DSP but employs another class D amp with vastly higher output."

The monitor's white Tara Labs biwire harness was tied to the Spectral-branded stand's hind leg. It terminated via neat PowerCon on the filter base beneath the stand. As delivered, bananas greeted the speaker terminals. Brückner kept reiterating how everything could be customized to a buyer's liking. He also advised that these speakers hadn't been in use for a while and would need about three days to come back on song.