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Having used for a number of assignments the Italian Albedo two-ways before they were due back, I'd been immersed in their sonic world for weeks. Peeling out the eggs which Martin delivered in their cleverly engineered packaging—it has the stand fully assembled, wooden body protected in a custom-sewn bag and foam liners above it—I was curious. How powerfully would the tone wood flavor of projection and carrying power assert itself by contrast?

I needn't have worried. Memory of the review pair had played no tricks. That special quality was evident within the first few bars. It was obvious well before I'd decided which of my amps I liked best - Crayon CFA-1.2, Bakoon AMP-12R, FirstWatt SIT1. As expected my Nelson Pass monos got the nod. And just as remembered the wavy whisper magic was splendid. On the same night that Martin had dispatched them I started another shorter audition in still quasi disbelief that they were finally here to stay. Once my ears had calibrated to the much lower SPL, I suddenly found the sound too loud for the late hour. I turned it down again. Five minutes later this sensation of over-saturation reoccurred and once more some time later. I ended up a mere few clicks above dead mute. If it had been stomach not soul food, the satisfaction index of very tiny portions would suggest an all-organic energy bar with nuts, cereal, blue-green algae and dried fruit. Very high caloric density where a little goes a long way.

This wasn't a dynamic expander action such as we'd get it from 100dB+ hornloaded speakers like Avantgardes. This was nearer to entering a live-music club. You come in close to stage. After a few seconds you must move farther back. Things are too intense and incoherent. You move around until you settle on just the right distance for your tastes. It's like standing at the end of a pier where big waves break. Getting moist from wind-carried spray is fun. Getting buried in icy full-on watery assaults and drenched to the bone is not. Getting wet at how far back is projection power. It relates to perceived loudness or fullness. Rather than peak power however—the horn advantage—this refers to primary mass. The upshot was basic. For the same volume the Wave 40 sounded bigger than the Albedo Aptica. Not more dynamic, more immersive. As you see in the above photo, this worked at max cinerama stretch without center collapse, hole or tonal thinness. The air felt more completely energized wall to wall and front to back. Whilst I lack any measured proof that the instrument-style tone wood construction was responsible, it's pretty much the only candidate left that doesn't duplicate or overlay otherwise similar speakers I've reviewed.

From Karl Schümann's AudioMachina website: "There seems to be widespread acceptance of, and even overt desire for, loudspeaker cabinets which 'sing along with the music'. This is simply anathema when attempting to achieve the highest fidelity in musical reproduction. Consider that the sound-radiating efficiency of any surface is a squared function of its surface area (or the fourth power of the diameter). Furthermore consider that in a typical cabinet, the cabinet’s surface area can easily be a thousand times greater than the midrange cone’s surface area, making the cabinet literally a million times more efficient at radiating energy into the room. If the cabinet walls move at all in response to the midrange’s vibrations, the boxes can easily put vastly more energy into the room than the drivers themselves! And since this is a particularly pernicious form of coloration, robbing the transient attack of much of its energy, and then lingering long after the actual musical signal has ended, any loudspeaker with a less-than-herculean effort devoted to cabinet rigidity should simply be dismissed outright."

Applying this credo to summarily discredit and dismiss the Wave 40 supposes that its walls flex. They might, eventually. That would simply take SPL far in excess of my own application. Schumann's sealed enclosures trap extreme internal pressures. The Wave's more than fist-sized 'mouth' doesn't. It's not about singing along like Glen Gould. It's about highest possible sound transmissibility through a given material, in this case how fast sound waves migrate through tone wood as opposed to another wood or how fast they'd travel through aluminum instead*.

* Martin mentioned a famous German violin builder who has done controlled research and measurements on this topic to show how various wood species suitable for luthiers perform differently and why. He plans on including some of this data in a forthcoming 'Provenance' booklet that will be included for future buyers to provide them with the full background on the Wave 40 project.

Reader Fred Crane: "There's a recording of Tom Jobim's "Wave", by JJ Johnson and Joe Pass (on an album of the same name) that surely must be an analog of the Wave speaker. For it too is all about mellifluous flow. The kind of music wherein nature herself might have been the composer. How different a path from that center many in the world of speaker design have chosen. Many roads to Valhalla I suppose and I enjoy them all - most anyway. Still I wonder if in the connection of science and earth, a case could or has been made. I suppose I should talk to a music therapist. Perhaps there's a grant somewhere that could more fundamentally explore even-ordered distortions versus odd-ordered versus complete purity; divided music versus music with integrity in the time and phase domains. I believe especially in this area that there is a connection. No wonder that I'm a first-order or no crossover guy more often than not. My brain works enough without having my subconscious sort time anomalies prior to my enjoyment."

Various speaker designs emphasize certain qualities over others quite by necessity. This invites a particular mix of ancillaries and setup specifics to highlight or minimize those qualities by enhancement or counter compensation. It's only absolutist claims which devolve into a radicalised sphere rife with intolerance and judgment. Everyone else maintains an exploratory mood and celebrates the underlying unity—love of music—in its splendid diversity of beliefs, tastes and needs.

As a reviewer I believe in owning multiples in any given component category to mix and match incoming loaners. A very practical side benefit is that it avoids eating the same cuisine each day. No matter how good, boredom sets in. That's human nature. It confuses sameness with a sudden lack of satisfaction. Variety is the spice of life after all.

That said, the Wave 40 ticks off an awful many personal hot buttons. Given the above descriptions added to my prior review might sort out whether it could be your own dream speaker too...
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