: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 2.04, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Questyle QP1R (.aif), Apple iPod Classic 160GB ((.aif), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio (.aif), Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: EnigmAcoustics M1, Albedo Audio Aptica; Sounddeco Sigma 2; soundkaos Wave 40; Eversound Essence; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; Ocellia OCC power loom [on loan] Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo, KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, Verictum SIlver X Bulk on amp and preamp
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail: €3'000

Once upon a time, cars had fins. Their tyres flaunted white walls and spokes. Gals were dames, guys proper gents. Loudspeakers were properly broad-shouldered Tonmöbel. Then plastic surgery happened; and the world hasn't been right since. Now even teenagers get nipped, tucked and cut. Speakers are skinny but inefficient. Midranges are small metallic high-excursion wonders. Tweeters do beryllium, magnesium or diamond. Shiver. Oy!

Some do protest; but perhaps not enough. Think John DeVore's Orangutan models. Those cost a pretty penny. Germany's Heco Direkt want €3'000 for the twosome. They combine an 11"/280mm paper mid/woofer with a 1.2"/28mm dual-magnet soft dome. That—tack down your Borsalino—nets 95dB sensitivity. Funkin' hey? Loud and clear. Viva la retro. Hello 300B, FirstWatt, Bakoon & Bros.

Check out the dims. These turn around the narrow-in-front, deep-on-the-side recipe. They measure 40cm wide, 20cm deep and just 90cm tall. Two down-fire ports deal with a precisely fixed thus calculated boundary. No guess work with front or rear-firing bores involved. Response claims 25 to 28'000Hz reach. In a nod at modernity whence Oak no longer spells chic but passé, finish options are black on black or white on white. 'On' refers to the vertical speed stripe bisecting the fascia. Three silvery metal footers do the unshakeable tripod thing. They also lock in their designer's desired backward rake. A deep metallic tweeter waveguide and matching mid/woofer trim ring complete the 2-tone thematic. Construction is MDF with internal bracing. There are even circular driver covers to keep peace with the ladies... er, dames.

It goes without saying that valves may apply. Perhaps even 2A3 non-paralleled SET though 45 may be pushing it. The Direkt is more retro than just cosmetics. It's a deliberate retro load as well. And on appearances at least, one expects bona fide retro sonics even from transistors. Just look at that slightly larger tweeter and hunky midrange. There's something about tone, pressure and density which 3-inch mids simply won't do, no matter the most hi-tech of diaphragm materials like graphene or coated ceramics. Only big paper has that number. Call ya?

That broad baffles can't soundstage is pure myth, too. So is the belief that it takes more than two quality drivers to cover the audible range. Arguments can be made for all manner of designs of course. There's a reason and season for everything. When it comes to basic necessities, it's simply the case that a big-woofer'd two-way like they used to make will be all that most people really need.