The first is common sense, hence not really that common. Folks who pursue a speaker which in Progressive’s world is affordable won’t have pricey amps at their disposal. Koenen’s own were thus duly out of the picture. Hence on the very top of its must-have list, the Extreme I had to be an easy load to play to a full house even with less costly amps. A complex filter creates a stable 4Ω load across the entire bandwidth and that without a parallel RCL cap/coil filter which would undermine dynamics. Due to its linear impedance, the Extreme I is claimed to be fully copasetic with any amplifier whilst delivering top sound. The second requirement was room-invariable behaviour, i.e. performance that’d be less dependent on room acoustics and placement than usual. Here Ralf Koenen views a clean impulse response and proper phase coherence between drivers as critical. Obviously linear amplitude response is important as well and here too his filter network is claimed to have the coax on its best behaviour.

That acrylic would be the building block for the box including its braces was a given. Koenen points at higher self damping at lower frequencies where acrylic exhibits far better control than MDF or Plywood. The Extreme I gets away with just 10mm panels. The precise placement of internal braces was arrived at with measurements to optimize the resonant behaviour. What else? The bass reflex port exits in the rear, with a quite sizeable diameter and a smooth transitional edge. There’s also a switch to boost the treble by one decibel, which is all heavily damped rooms would need according to the designer. The mono-wire terminals are Furutech issue, no surprise given Koenen’s distribution arm which secured representation of the German market for the Japanese products. Finally there’s a matching 60cm tall acrylic stand but Ralf Koenen didn’t pitch me on religion. Any solid stand would do. My Lovans were a bit on the tall side for which I compensated by sitting extra upright on my couch.

That the intrinsic goal of higher production volumes for the Extreme I seemed to be working was suggested by our not getting an actual production pair for review. Everything was sold out and back-ordered. My review loaner was a pair that was identical to final production except for a reduction trim ring around its driver. Apparently a bigger one had been tried before. Formal production doesn’t have that ring. Now enough theory. Fairaudio always wants you to know about the sound. If I simply call it ‘super’, you’ll probably ask for my resignation. Believe it or not, I suppressed the usual reflex to check bass extension on a compact speaker. Most readers will be familiar with this strange audiophile habit. No sooner is one faced with a monitor speaker than one must know its limitations; or go all gooey over how much bass it pumps out into the crib. I meant to go about this different and simply listen to music. I think that makes for a more realistic report. It’s very peculiar to rely on ‘test’ tracks which one never or rarely hears, just to report that one lacked ultimate bass reach which wouldn't be at all relevant to the music one actually does listen to.

So, I kicked off with a beautiful strong voice. One of my recent hot discoveries there is the debut album Baby Blues by Y’Akoto who stems from Germany and Ghana. Hers are really terrific soul pipes. Add modern arrangements and a young woman with something to say. Granted, for my sensibilities the production ails a bit with undue synthesized assist as though the lady or her producer didn’t trust her voice alone. Here and there digital studio trickery dips a bit too deep into its bags of tricks. But before I could even delve into those aspects, I was overwhelmed by something I hadn’t been about to even touch: the bass foundation. It was of such substance regardless of the speaker’s compact dimensions that I understood why Koenen had said that his smallest wasn’t a budget compromise. Given how I was forced to, let’s start there then. It’s truly surprising what the Extreme I does in the bass. The synthesized underworld of this album hadn’t registered to this extent before with my usual Geithains. Clearly that was one of Progressive's secret. Obviously the speaker falls off rapidly below 50Hz but compensates by adding a bit above. That works brilliantly for most rooms and setups. What good is a box that extends significantly lower only to ride big waves of room modes? Here the Extreme I behaved very unfussy. I played around with some placement options and be it close to the wall or deep out into the room, neither the bass nor the higher bands proved critical at all.