With Martin contemplating doing Munich
with a front-to-back Swiss system for a change, he was set to visit Nagra in Lausanne after dropping off my loaners. Being shameless, I spotted a prospective op to sample Nagra's forthcoming Classic Amp replacement for the discontinued MSA. It was probably in listenable shape by now if perhaps not in final dress code yet. So I petitioned Nagra's Matthieu Latour to come up to us instead. Let Martin do his demo here. With the Nagra Jazz valve pre and soundkaos Wave 40 speakers, I had half the necessary bits already. If Matthieu brought the amp, the two men could hear a mostly Nagra system on both of Martin's models and see whether things were sonically copasetic. Matthieu was game. And so it came to pass that the three of us shuffled a bit of hifi kit.

Matthieu and Martin listening to the Skiny and Classic Amp, with Ivette looking on from behind. Wood frame to turn the companion subwoofers into an isobaric unit leans against fireplace.

It didn't take long to know that the combo of Nagra electronics and solid-wood speakers worked a treat. Before Matthieu departed for Lausanne, the two men had shaken hands on the arrangement. Visitors to the Munich show would thus be able to hear another complete Nagra rig with CD transport, HD DAC, Jazz and Classic Amp in the downstairs soundkaos exhibit right across from the popular newcomer stand, with all cabling by Vovox for that full-on CH effect.

100/200wpc into 8/4Ω, bridgeable to twice that, switchable RCA/XLR inputs, triggers for power-on via MPS power supply. Expected retail ~€15'000.

Martin also demoed his show pair of Wave 40 in glossy figured Maple, with the Walnut stands repurposed from my personal units and augmented by the review SK16 companion subs in solid Swiss Pear separated for wide stereo as one of many setup options.


Before Martin left, I'd asked him to configure the subs for isobaric union. The next photo shows that, with the mini towers set up scoops out as the preferred orientation in our space. With the Nagra amp gone, it'd be up to me to identify the very best dance partners for the review.



I rather thought that the Pass Labs XA30.8 would be one terrific option. I thought the same about a pair of FirstWatt SIT1 monos—or for more power, the F6 stereo—preceded by Alexey Syomin's just arrived Lilt DAC/pre combining a rare fully discrete converter with a direct-heated Russian triode-strapped pentode linestage with output transformers and analog resistor-ladder volume.


For other sources I had the COS Engineering D1, the tube-hybrid Aqua Hifi LaScala MkII DAC and the Fore Audio DAISy 1 DAC from Korea also valve buffered. Approaching 94dB sensitivity, these speakers certainly weren't power hogs.


Having crafted this particular pair to experiment with Swiss Pear wood, Martin confessed to not being too fond of its final appearance. He more fancies his standard Maple, Cherry and Walnut. But as a novel option, it was sporting to use it for the review pair and show customers another choice. Ivette in fact was rather smitten with it.


The very subtly freckled gray Corian plinth was the same colour as the tidy subwoofer control unit box. The plinth is slightly angled to lean the mounted speaker back at the desired tilt.


The auxiliary <200Hz rear-firing driver is the same cone as the widebander, albeit without wooden phase plug but instead powered by a Neodymium motor.


The black mask for the teardrop inset was a Neoprene-type material on my loaners but Martin confessed to still trialling different felts as well as working out a minor bevel around the driver cutouts. For those flexible souls who enjoy speakers far out in the room but not all the time, these are so light as to make moving them about child's play. Park them up against the wall, play them in mid room. Done.

Here we see a close-up of the main drive units...


... followed by the rear-firing 'doubler'...


... and finally the subwoofer control unit. This packs an ICEpower stereo amp preceded by a MiniDSP module which is custom-coded for 4 filter presets. Socketry is RCA and XLR in; AES/EBU digital out; Ethernet for a PC connection which lets Martin or his dealers access the MiniDSP menu for setup tweaks; a global 115/230 voltage switch; the master volume; the quad-banana output block; and a standard fused power IEC. The custom Vovox cabling in stealth gray parts into two very long runs which easily accommodated the wide split setup shown earlier.


Finally, a gander at the SK16 crossovers and how they fit into the Corian plinth.