In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Siltech of Arnhem/Holland recently unveiled the flagship model in what shortly is to become a complete line of loudspeakers designed with a $45,000 Comsol multi-Physic software program that was originally developed for NASA. Here it is employed to generate extensive simulations of electrical, mechanical, material and room-interface behavior from every conceivable angle of inquiry before actual prototypes are built.

For this project, Edwin van der Kley [shown above] has partnered with shareholders Ajay B. Shirke of Cadence Audio and Prakash P. Chhabria of Finolex Industries Limited for development capital and technology. Cadence Audio supplies the electrostatic tweeter panels whose 0.03mm thin diaphragm is a nanotech product created by the German Liebfrauen Institute whereby Teflon and Indium Oxide are molecularly rivet-bonded to go far beyond the usual vapor deposits and other forms of inferior coatings. Said to be very expensive, Siltech had to commit to a full 10 kilometers of this space-age laboratory material to have it fabricated for this use.

Limited to 39 pairs of an Exclusive Edition, the EU 75,000/pr Pantheon 25 will spawn the -- unlimited -- Model 20 with down-sized drivers and an ESL panel scaled back in width. Even smaller models with conventional tweeters are on the drawing board for an eventual four or five deep speaker lineup. Operated by Edwin's wife Gabi van der Kley [below], Crystal Cable too will develop a loudspeaker. Theirs will be based on the OB dipole concept and adopt a translucent baffle. While run entirely separate since its corporate inception, Crystal Cable will henceforth have to share Gabi's marketing expertise with Siltech seeing how Crystal's 4-year existence already competes with Siltech's quarter-of-a-century presence by way of distribution, sales and consumer awareness.

A group of about 60 distributors and members of the US, French, British and Dutch press including Jean Hiraga and John Atkinson witnessed the unveiling of the 290kg/pair flagship driven by dCS and Pass Labs in a cavernous hall of a country estate's hunting lodge.

During the introductory presentation, Edwin explained the goals for the Pantheon: room-invariant bass response; a nearly resistive load (4/5-ohm impedance remains within +/- half an ohm over the entire bandwidth); a phase-correct network (a 10-part acoustic 4th-order); minimal distortion; very high damping (bass Q at 0.38, midrange Q at 0.5); extreme SPL potential of 120dB; controlled directivity; and benign 90dB sensitivity.

To achieve these goals, the Siltech design team relied on the aforementioned Comsol software to perform unlimited virtual prototyping of cabinet geometries and materials with thermal, pressure and related analysis to create an acoustically non-reactive enclosure that purportedly allows for a 2.5ms impulse response from the 16-inch isobarically loaded, front-ported custom Audio Technology woofers in their composite sub enclosure.

A custom 7" Audio Technology midrange loads into a dedicated sealed enclosure whose dome-shaped panels avoid parallel walls. This internal geometry completely randomizes reflections, which Edwin showed via simulation and by comparison to rectangular and cylindrical enclosures. The rear half of the midrange enclosure houses the crossover network and medical-grade 6-element battery supply for the electrostatic drive unit.

The 19" x 5" curved tweeter panel is utterly impervious to moisture, heat, altitude, arcing or peeling. Its rake is adjustable via hinges to optimize HF path lengths with the time-aligned dynamic drivers for correct time domain behavior.

The resultant sweet spot is about 3 meters deep and 2.5 meters wide. During subsequent listening sessions at the Siltech/Crystal Cable factory in Elst, Edwin demonstrated the blatant audibility of a few degrees of tweeter tilt in a speaker that is essentially free from cabinet talk and spectral blurring to telegraph this level of transducer precision and timing accuracy without fail.

The bass alignment's low Q slows down its roll-off to be down a claimed 8dB at 10Hz while retaining 800 watt RMS power handling. With suitable amplification like the Pass Labs X200.5 monos, bass damping even under high amplitude is such as to convey no visible woofer motion.

Unique about the upper midrange chamber is the fact that the driver motor is not coupled to the basket frame and thus the front baffle. Rather, the magnet system attaches to a cross brace that terminates in the enclosure side panels. Explained Edwin: "Conventionally, resonance from the motor structure travels through the basket structure faster than acoustic impulses do through the actual diaphragm. This means that distortion precedes the output of the music signal in the critical vocal range. We wanted a wide open inner front baffle to avoid tunnel effects from ultra-thick baffles which inset their drive units. While requiring extreme precision during assembly, our decoupling system of the motor attenuates resonances sideways. The impulses of the music signal no longer compete with an earlier distortion transient which we eliminate."
All this results in what Siltech terms an energy-neutral cabinet. It mirrors similar efforts at Wilson Audio and Rockport. All internal wiring is Siltech G7 silver-gold alloy or mono-crystal flat ribbon wire. External jumpers for those not wishing to biwire are a special version of Siltech's Emperor.