"Motional feedback the way the Première does it has some peculiar requirements. For instance, it requires a much longer voice-coil former than usual. Also, ventilation is a significant concern. In the conventional Seas Prestige L18 which Première's woofer is vaguely based on, motor-induced distortion at low frequencies is so high that it masks airflow noise. With motional feedback, motor-induced distortion is almost eliminated so now the airflow became audible. This was amongst the things we addressed with our custom woofer. I like Hypex. They make great products and offer them at very competitive prices. I did consider designing an amp and SMPS myself but to get equal performance, the parts cost alone would have been as much as what Hypex demand for a finished product never mind my associated R&D costs. But Hypex plate amps may not be suitable for €40K speakers. Given pricing and DIY targeting, I don't believe they were ever meant to be used in such a way. I'd thus be wary of rebranded stuff where the name of a module's supplier is purposefully concealed instead of being used as advertisement like with Hypex."

DAC direct, 16Ω output impedance, standard 4Vrms XLR outputs.

The M8 mounting holes for a fixed stand connection at the bottom of the speaker are 15cm center to center across, 22.7cm front to back. Noel recommends a top plate no smaller than 15x20cm, no bigger than 20x28cm. With the tweeter's center 30cm from the bottom edge, 100cm ear height will want stand height of ~70cm. Noel had planned his own stand but the final design became cost-prohibitive. The market is flooded with options so buyers have plenty to pick from. I'd use EnigmAcoustics stands. One last bit of good hifi housekeeping is mention that though DSP based, the Première S has no user-adjustable EQ, embedded room correction or other adaptive features. In that sense it's like a standard passive. Its tuning is locked by the designer only subject to our room. Being sealed, it won't suffer the settling latency of passive radiators or ringy ports and its LF fade below system resonance occurs at 12dB/oct. to be slower or shallower than a vented system's steeper 4th-order function. That too plays to the -3dB/25Hz spec. For attainable loudness, "in a typical in-room stereo setup with a 3-meter listening distance, expect around 90-95dB peaks." That would squarely cover my most carefree zone.

On the appointed day our friendly AnPost lady drove up asking politely for help unloading Noel's single box. Inside it were two matt white samples. Not even generic power cords were included because I'd have needed UK not Schuko plugs which Noel doesn't stock. Of course I had the necessary 6-meter Zu Event specimens on hand. My stands' top plates sized to perfection. Inside and out 'twas already a very sunny day on Ireland's mighty Shannon river. With the tiny white LED at the bottom of the mid/woofer's baffle bevels proof of life after red for standby, I carefully ramped up Pasithea's reference voltage. I hit ordinary room SPL at just 5dB below full tilt. My day turned overcast. I'm no banger. Voltage gain seemed unusually short. On purist recordings hovering at -25dB for most their dynamic life, I couldn't get loud enough without marshalling extra gain from an active preamp. That seemed counterproductive to the whole concept.

So I queried Noel about his input sensitivity while I pulled a Wyred4Sound STP 2SE II preamp from the hifi closet. My days of hi-gain preamps à la Supratek or Esoteric's C-02 with its +24dB setting are long past. Hopefully EJ Sarmento's machine had enough? For most everything, its extra 17dB above source signal = 63 on its dial were plentiful. And my purist recordings now got proper loud when I just about maxed out my surplus gain. When Noel confirmed that his input sensitivity is a very low 4V, it all made sense. That choice creates a very quiet active speaker without any perceptible idle noise. It simply demands source voltages higher than a DAC's standard 2V/4V RCA/XLR outputs when recordings hover well below max.

Going forward, Noel has thus changed his input sensitivity to 2V and activated an extra 7dB of voltage gain. With those changes, he hears zero increase in self noise, ear on drivers. Asked where that extra gain comes from, Noel explained that it derives from the I/V stage after the DAC.

If you play the right music, the very first thing you'll notice with these is—by Thor the god of thunder!—genuine sub bass. At my SPL and room size, the 25Hz spec was no exaggeration. Not seeing the mid/woofers move from my seat suggested motion feedback hard at work controlling unnatural excursions with an iron fist. Naturally this was small-woofer'd bass. It didn't move anywhere near the amount of air which the close-faced dual AudioTechnology 15" woofers in our sound/kaos cardioid sub usually do. Première bass registered differently. That made it quite unique. One usually doesn't hear small-woofer bass reach this low. For raw extension, it categorically decommissions a subwoofer. That's hard to swallow in this age of rampant fake news but nonetheless truth in advertising for a change.