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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic
2.02 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Voce S2, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100, Nagra HD DAC with MPS [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent, Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2
, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Aura Note Premier, AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica, soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5se, German Physiks HRS-120, Zu Audio Submission
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink, Arkana Research XLR/RCA and sp
eaker cables [on loan]
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 on amps,
Vibex Granada
on all components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Desktop system: iPod/AK100 digital transports, Wyred4Sound minT,
Aura Vita, Gallo Strada II + TR-3D
Room size:
Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan combines the living/listening room, kitchen and office. Added to this space the speakers see the air volume of the entry hall and a long corridor plus the 2nd-storey 6 x 9.5m loft. Wood-panel ceiling slopes up to the loft. Parquet flooring. Lots of non-parallel surfaces ('vertical gable' windows, twin-angle ceiling, spiral staircase enclosure, fireplace enclosure). For a pictorial tour, see here.
Review component retail: €2'098/pr

Super tweeters.
Like infra subs, they deal with the very extremes of the audible bandwidth. Basic human biology, the actual frequency response of musical instruments and Redbook's brick-wall filter would all propose that there's not much if anything to hear with either type of device. First-hand experience suggests something quite different. Of course exotic tweeters of the diamond, beryllium or ribbon sort already hit the—relative—bat sphere on their own. They're super as is. It's speakers with more conventional tweeters which the supers would seem to stare straight into their soft domes to, cue up the Jack Nicholson flick As good as it gets, complete them. That movie scene concluded with the gushing receptionist asking the Nicholson character: "How do you write women so well?" To which author Melvin Udall famously answered: "I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability." Ouch!

Reason and accountability. There's nothing beyond 20kHz particularly for aging males who are hifi's biggest spenders. But just as true subwoofers increase audible space and scale, so do super tweeters tighten up subjective timing and can even hone bass articulation.

4pi Neodymium motor structure
This cross-coupling between where our add-ons would seem to operate and where one might actually notice their biggest effects is a bit of a brain teaser. Or mind fuck as crusty Udall would say. Yet it's easily demonstrated. The UK's subwoofer specialist REL might have been first to demo their benefits with girl with guitar fare. To any reasonable thinker, such material lacks any low-frequency content whatsoever. Yet time and again their subwoofer would improve ambient recovery and vocal lock or palpability.

When it comes to super tweeters, the personally most potent proof of their effectiveness came whilst reviewing the EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1 2-way monitor. It was designed from the onset to be completed with their self-biased monopole electrostatic super tweeter called cleverly the Sopranino. That speaker system had the most suave articulate gossamer illuminated treble of any box I'd heard until then.

It was supremely spacious and the antithesis of bright, sharp, needly, annoying or metallic. Since one can (and I did) run the Sopranino on other speakers too, it also proved how integration is key. Perhaps not surprisingly, the team work between Sopranino and M1 eclipsed all others.

With the Albedo Audio Aptica and their ceramic Accuton drivers, I had recently acquired a compact 2-way floorstander of exceptional qualities... except that it couldn't fully replicate Sopranino's treble magic. Plying some self interest to pick a specific review assignment, I did some online recon on current super tweeter choices.

This soon culminated in what on paper looked like the most promising candidate: Elac's 360° dispersion ribbon-based 4pi Plus.2. As I've learnt from speakers with rear-firing so-called ambient tweeters; from my true omni German Physiks HRS-120 towers; and from various Gallos I've owned; omnipolar or at least broad dispersion HF redress not only treble's power response to counteract beaming, they invariably contribute to spaciousness and air. Where true bass appeals to our gut to make music feel bigger and more grounded, superior treble appeals to mental sight. It's easier to 'see' hifi's artifacts of imaging and soundstaging. Those effects admittedly don't occur with live music. But they effectively fill in the gaps left by the recording process. That shrinks a multi-sensory event down to just audible components. We're served up pure ear fare. Our eyes are left starving.

Two vertically opposing Elac subwoofers

I already was running Zu's giant Submission subwoofer. I was sold on its guttural effectiveness. Time to handle the other extreme perhaps and fully max out my system's aim at both heart and head? That's feeling and mental appreciation. Why not? Elac's Yvonne Meinhardt proved amenable to my inquiry. She agreed to dispatch a review pair.