And it wasn’t just reach
but shove which impressed. If I didn’t know that the Seas driver was built exceptionally robust, I’d have feared for its life. Now I could stick to mere surprise over how this small speaker could rock out in my room. Obviously beyond a certain level related also to bass challenges, it eventually shuts down. Physics aren’t to be denied. Another subject is bass quality. Here opinions would diverge. To be sure, I was very impressed and said so to my colleagues. Since I rarely wax poetic over components, this led to them inviting themselves over to a brief audition. Both expressed upfront skepticism. That's because both listen to 30cm woofers at home: Jörg Dames to a Spendor SP100R², Ralph to Dynamikks Monitor 8.12. Whilst Jörg was in instant love, Ralph missed some crack. That’s how it goes. True, the Extreme I’s bass is more of the soft round than wiry sort. I personally fancy a bit more bass swing as long as it doesn’t boom, which here clearly was not the case. This monitor tracked all the relevant aspects of an upright bass which are important to me.

That tricky extra bit in the midbass was well dosed to stay clear of upsetting the lower midrange. Vocals remained exceptionally realistic including low male voices like Gregory Porter’s on Liquid Spirit which refused to bloat. Song in general was a forté, not surprising considering Koenen’s flair for the operatic. But the Extreme I had clearly mastered other radio stations too. Country belter Lucinda Williams with World Without Tears was so emphatic that I’d strongly recommend against her in the wrong mood. Those who feel already depressed by the state of the world might feel downright suicidal afterwards. On said melancholy vibe, I remembered the tango genre and not having partaken for a stretch. The quasi historical recordings of Carlos Gardel sadly weren’t fit to suss out the abilities of a speaker like the Extreme I.

Thankfully I had more modern stuff on my server. La Chicana’s Tango Agazapado is of clearly more audiophile quality and I’d not listened to Dolores Solá in a while. As happened before over good speakers, the voice of the Argentinean thrilled me. She doesn’t exude slick perfection but astonishing nuance and range. Here the Extreme I served up resolution and microdynamics which tracked her smallest inflections. At least as impressive were the guitar riffs which seemed to explode by the string. For guitars like the two of "Pica Pica" on Omar Torez’ La Dansa, I’ve never really noticed this much differentiation before. Their slightly dissimilar tone colours, even the different picking techniques of the players translated with shocking precision. Even better, this didn’t occur in callous closeup but completely natural, with proper instrumental contours and realistic sizing. To put it plain, this wasn’t pornographic but emotionally true.

By contrast, my Geithains too do clean detail, microdynamics and resolution. Even so the same number became more of an amalgamation of two guitars rather than about the interplay between them. If you’re a cocktail fan to relate, one might say that the Extreme 1 presented these ingredients stirred, not shaken. Working our way up toward the treble, the Progressive Audio monitor proved most civilized which I viewed to its credit. Be that because of late certain speakers with exceptionally resolving and dynamic air-motion transformers had seemed barely house-broken or because my room is insufficiently damped… I felt in a quite sensitive mood about any sharp high end. Here the Extreme I didn’t participate. Its treble was properly dialled, not excessive. What this tweeter which is situated in the throat of its mid/woofer can magnify is very very solid.

Some speakers will go farther still but often to the detriment of long-term comfort. And Ralf Koenen also accounts for taste and room differences with the option to slightly increase the treble output. That’s what the switch in the back is for. Its effect was subtle but audible. I was perfectly fine without boost. Speakers with ribbons like the Expolinear T120 which I listened to for a long time do deliver more air but how important that is falls back on personal taste. Another strong suit of the Extreme I’s presentation was its exceptionally spatial perspective with exacting very believable dimensionality where each instrument and voice was three-dimensionally mapped and clearly defined in size. Localization and outline focus were brilliant. Even larger venues saw themselves properly illuminated to serve orchestras very well. Somehow this exact hall sound created great listening ease. I particularly enjoyed how the Extreme I always left sufficient space between the performers to avoid crowding. Listening was very relaxed. Against this the recorded musical tension arose very clearly.