Money talks. Bullshit walks. If not in these exact words, it's a hollow sentiment that's faced many a desirous shopper with not enough coin. But in high-end audio, it's often the bullshit which does the talking whilst the money goes a'walking. If I told you for example—perfectly true—that the Cygnus three-some wants less than half of what it costs to upgrade Magico's Q7 to MkII status, the former might look like a stone-cold bargain. If I instead told you that we renewed our wheels' lease on life with a fully loaded Volvo C30 T5 (3 years old, 9'000km on the clock, 10-year warranty) for just slightly more, the tables on the Cygnus would make a drastic U-turn. If I finally told you that for roughly equivalent bread, you could have the EnigmAcoustics M1 or Kaiser Chiara plus Zu's Submission subwoofer, suddenly the Germanic set would look perfectly normal. And for sonic deliverance in this sector it is; except that these competitors go through dealers for audition ops and the Germans do not. So we end up with three suggestive truths of rather different conclusions. Pick the one you like best. I'll plead the fifth.

Whilst perception issues plague any 2.1 scheme outside of home theatre, I for one am convinced of its innately superior performance over passive towers of equivalent bandwidth. Hence our speaker inventory consists of compact 2-ways exclusively, be it the Albedo Audio Aptica, the German Physiks HRS-120, the soundkaos Wave 40 or the Boenicke W5se. Zu's Submission or Gallo's TR-3D subs stand by for low-bass assist. The easiest way to test integration is to play the 2.1 set, then mute the .1 channel, add it again and so forth. Adding it should change nothing above its low-pass frequency. All you should hear is lower bass if and when it's on the recording. You shouldn't be able to isolate the sub by texture or location. Its added bass shouldn't be wirier or fatter than that of the solo monitor but act as a seamless continuation. Being designed as an inseparable set, the Cygnus trio with its 65Hz hinge is such a seamless affair. Whilst the sub is invisible to the ear, it's anything but to the eye. Christian Br├╝ckner did confirm that it ought to sit at least a half meter out from the front wall if not more; and ideally is centred between the speakers. Whether two full-range towers are more of a cosmetic imposition than two compact stand-mounts with an enormous cubic sub in the middle is up for discussion. With its green tempered glass top, the Cygnus sub certainly could serve as a decorative stand or coffee table.

"Regarding the comment of Rory Buszka, he is absolutely right in theory. Even so he does skip over theoretical aspects of the Linkwitz design. His approach is right for dipole subs which are simply open baffles. The Linkwitz variant however does not create a fully symmetrical pattern. There is more output from the isobaric chamber in the front then there is from the two chambers in the back. There is a second aspect he did not take into account. That is the transformation of the air velocity due to the face-to-face mounting of the two 15" woofers determined by the physical dimensions of the chamber. This creates a asymmetrical radiation pattern and  an in-room pressure gradient in the plane of the subwoofer cabinet even when positioned closer to a wall behind it than it should normally be. My experience indicates that 30-50cm are enough."

If one had mental images of big open-backed woofers flapping in the wind like a lazy sail, the Australian Kyron Audio Kronos dipole speaker would reflect said imagery far better than the Cygnus sub. With the latter, each driver effectively brakes the other with its own close-proximity output. Plus, the outside cabinet walls become another very close barrier to build up more pressure than any openly baffled bass driver would generate. As a result, the Cygnus sub created drier snappier bass textures than the single 18" woofers in the Zugspitz Seligkeit did. My downfiring sealed Zu Submission uses the trapped enclosure air as a spring. It's arguably punchier yet but as such also relies on matching mid/upper bass behaviour from the main speakers to not stand apart as a sonic difference.

On rare material with true infrasonic content—nearly invariably of the synthesized sort—I thought the Zu's output eclipsed that of the Cygnus below 30Hz. For the vast majority of music however, the DiSub X15 proved to be a bona fide and powerful bottom feeder. Rather more relevant than a few dB more or less 20Hz reach (both subs already had their bass boost engaged) was the fact that LF speed and transient feel mirrored that of the gently rolling-off monitor to perfection. Most listeners are used to and indoctrinated by ported bass. Its operational principle is ringing. Subtract that ringing and the high-amplitude room ringing whenever one hits a, kaboooom, major mode*. The combination of sealed Quasar monitor and isobaric dipole sub makes bass that's super clean, quick, pitch-specific and intelligible. And, there's less warmth and subjective sock'em shove than you'd get from ported tower specimens with front-facing woofers.

That's the core Cygnus aspect. There's neither deliberate nor accidental warmth from an elevated power region, i.e. the ±120Hz zone. Like Amphion's One.18, this tuning is studio monitor linearity without any baby bump. Add a rather dynamic large-surface tweeter with broader off-axis dispersion than the usual 1-inch dome tweeter. You'll find this quality mirrored by the lit-up top end. Things are a bit cooler but most sorted. Our reflexive mental mapping of the soundstage is given a lot of data on depth layering and width without common masking or overlay. The key phrase could be full-bandwidth separation. Whilst that's delineated and processed by our brain and gets there through the ears, it's fair to call it a quasi visualizer quality. The Cygnus trio has a lot of that. It's nothing you need with live music. Your eyes see the bass player pluck his strings. That fills in the gaps. Hifi flies blind. If you care to add semi visual elements, separation rather higher than during the average concert is key. Close-mic'd multi-tracked recordings provide those aural data. Keen separation based on cleanliness visualizes them in a quasi holographic fashion. From a hifi not live perspective, the Cygnus trio thus plays it very advanced, highly resolved and technically correct.

* Smaller rooms will have modes above the sub's 65Hz low-pass to be reproduced by the monitor. The sub's DSP won't manage that but one could easily address it with a plug-in like FabFilter for which PureMusic's iTunes player for example makes provision. To do this in the analog domain would require something like the now discontinued Rives Audio Parc equalizer which had three channel-specific EQ points to address the three major room modes.

The Quasar's sealed box creates a 12dB/octave roll-off function rather than the steeper 4th-order behaviour of a port. This makes for more overlap with the sub and might be another reason why the transition is so unusually seamless. It also occurs low enough to maintain 2-channel directionality cues for the important upper bass. Again, we arrive at a classy studio monitor with one vital distinction. It offers true full-range performance into the first octave.