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Dipole speakers are fairly easy to drive across their mid and treble bands. It is different for the bass. With large woofers and a demand to have them displace a substantial amount of air without being back-loaded/controlled by the spring of air being compressed inside a box, open-baffle woofers are power hungry. The lower the signal reaches in frequency, the more volts the woofers want to see. Jeroen’s ASP/AMP design accounts for this in their filter and the Hypex power rating.

As our photos prove, the layout of the electronics and the materials used show attention to detail, quality and no cut corners. Where possible, they use high-grade copper foil wiring in Teflon dielectric. All three electronic boxes are housed in the same black 24x5cm aluminium cases that may be stacked to save space. The provided Daudio cables are flexible enough and come in two varieties: pure copper or silver/gold. We were provided with the silver/gold type. You’ll have noted our ongoing use of the word dipole. This refers to a driver which radiates openly front and back, hence the rear-going radiation will be out of phase with the front. To arrive at a dipole, one either eliminates the enclosure and mounts such a driver on an open baffle; or mounts two sealed drivers back to back wired out of phase. For some separation of the cancellation effects between front and rear emissions, baffle width vs. driver diameter becomes a decisive ratio.

But in any case, the radiation pattern of a true dipole is a figure 8 with equal lobes as a result of symmetry. With this concept of a baffle separating the front and back radiation, many shapes and forms are possible to build a mounting frame for dipole woofer/s. These frames derive their name from the letter whose shape they emulate. There are frames for a single woofer like the N- or U-frame and frames for dual woofers like the V- and W-frame.

Now you realize how the W1 got its name. It’s a W-frame, albeit not of the sort Siegfried Linkwitz has championed. In the Linkwitz W-frame, two woofers mount to the middle ‘leg’ of the W and face the same direction. This configuration combines the front and back waves and directs them to the front and back of the enclosure in fully symmetrical fashion. A practical consequence is that one of the outer legs of the W grows wider to create equal cavity volumes once the drivers’ own volume enters the equation.
A variation on the Linkwitz W-frame is the W-frame which Nelson Pass experimented with. Here two woofers fire face to face into a cavity slot whilst their backs fire each into a cavity larger than the central slot. When all three cavities are compacted to the smallest possible volume (even to the extent that the magnets protrude outside), one arrives at a so-called ripole as patented by Axel Ridthaler (right).
Daudio have mixed and matched these three W-frame variants to arrive at one that operates with three identical cavity volumes. Enclosure dimensions are based purely on results from woofer cone area in all but the Daudio design. Standard design metrics use for the front-firing slot 0.25-0.33 of the total cone area, 0.5-1.0 for the back. With a 10" Seas woofer like in the W1, the active cone area is ca. 350cm². Their opening is around 20 x 28cm, i.e. 0.8 x the surface area of both woofers combined. The equally sized back openings are 1.6 times the woofer surfaces. Due to the very large space which the Norwegian magnets take up, the net cavity volume of the bottom and top sections is highly reduced. This pushes the operational design sharply toward a ripole function. To bestow upon the W1 a nice dimensional look, calculations had to to match acoustic parameters to the final enclosure. Form follows function had to be reversed completely. Did it work?

After some initial listening, we started what would wind up a dance through the room with the W1. With the smoothly sliding felt pads under their semi dome footers, this physical job was easy. With almost the same amount of energy radiated front and back, a position too close to the front wall is out of the question. Dipoles of all sorts need space - lots of space. Even so the dipole figure-8 radiation pattern’s lateral cancellation zones allow even highly microphonic gear to be placed at pretty close proximity as long as they end up about 90° off-axis.

Direct rather than merely reflected radiation at the front wall behind the speakers enlarges soundstage depth. The farther away from that wall, the deeper the soundstage. We learnt that keeping the ‘hot seat’ put whilst pulling the W1 closer and closer to it and thus farther and farther from the wall, we would arrive at a fully enveloping image. Mind you, pulling speaker so far out into the room without moving the chair back, the angle at which the speakers had to fire at the listener grew by degrees. We ended up using classical music at somewhere between 130° and 140° degrees toe-in sitting very close to the speakers in what amounted to a free-space nearfield. This perhaps looked a bit awkward but the experience of an illusionary orchestra spreading out in front of us in nearly full size was new and very pleasing. The above question of "did it work"’ could be answered with a wholehearted yes.

As amazing as the illusionary almost magical soundstaging power of the W1 was in that setup, sound quality was no match. That improved marginally but noticeable when the generic power cords were swapped out for two ASI and one Nanotec whilst insuring that power polarity was correct. With only the DAC/pre as possible swap candidate, that’s what we focused on to narrow down our impressions. As luck would have it, this review coincided with us still having on hand the PS Audio DSD DAC. Now we could assess the W1 as an active speaker with a plentitude of digital input options including streaming. Volume control was no issue as the American DirectStream DAC is equipped with lossless attenuation embedded in its FPGA engine.