The monocycle bear; or 'P' for program. That Jarek is the consummate sonic tuner was crystal already in the upstairs system spinning CD. His is a midrange-forward darker aesthetic with bigged-up images celebrating density and flesh over separation, incisiveness or max res. Taking downstairs Susvara for a spin off Kinki's budget lateral Exicon Mosfet amp, its passive pot bypassed, I had remote control over activating Jarek's sound processor or bypassing it. Just then I had a newer Lebanese album on with male vocals, clarinet, strings and sundry hand percussion. 'P' removed some airiness in the voice and also shut down the upper-harmonic spray of tiny cymbal tickles, period. The upshot was less presence-region lucidity and compromised beat crispness to create a more opaque 'smoother' voicing. I applied apostrophes since without them, smoother suggests superior. But I didn't hear it that way. I heard a loss of energy, liveliness and gloss. "I liked Susvara so the correction is just minor but you will still hear it." Whilst Jarek calls his voicing a correction which implies something wrong without it, his liking Susvara correctly identifies personal taste so nothing absolute. Hearing it applied to my HifiMan planars confirmed what I'd already heard in the smaller rig. It's why Jarek is a consummate tuner. He targets a very particular aural aesthetic and knows exactly what components or DSP equalization locks it in. I prefer Susvara au nature because I don't worship at the same altar of smoothness. It prettifies the sound but diminishes innate rawness i.e. energy transmission. In my book, cleverly artificed hifi smoothness is a circus bear that's learnt a neat trick. But it's still a trick; and one I hear as such. Your amusement could well vary.

"Driven by my solid-state SET, proper processor tuning made a complete transformation of these minis into big full-range speakers." It's how Jarek prefaced his EQ for Boenicke's W5. With our 2 x 15" cardioid sub dovetailing in via a 4th-order Linkwitz-Riley 100Hz low pass whilst the speakers blend out at the same rate with a matching high pass, I obviously had zero need of bigging up the Swiss. Now hitting 'P' made a mess because Jarek's compensation was far from subtle. But even in full-range mode so sub bypassed, 'P' felt like an obvious and cheap trick. Bolting on extra bass amplitude did enhance black values and downshifted the tonal centre but also reduced contrast, burdened the little widebanders with undue weight and congealed depth of field. Again I disagreed with Jarek's makeover, this time a lot. Granted, clients who first opt for small speakers to then decide that they really want them to act like far more cone surface should applaud the monocycling bear. With experienced hands on the controls, it's nothing a DSP multi-band equalizer couldn't do without charging us an extra €1'000. But not having experience or confidence, getting Jarek to lock it in without us requiring a PC-based front end for playback afterwards can be an excellent alternative. It simply must be done on site to account for direct owner feedback. Now it could become a really welcome and rather unique added value.

W5 on repurposed Fram Audio tripod stands.

That being rather unlikely outside Poland, let's now focus on Lektor Joy the CDP/DAC sans optional processor.

If you've heard Boenicke speakers or LessLoss noise-killing tech then compared either to Børresen/Ansuz equivalents, you know how the sun can rise in the East or West. The gestalt or qualitative mix of approach differs. At its most basic, it's curves x speed, saturation x illumination, legato x staccato. Both can have beginner's and very advanced implementations. Thinking that the latter must eventually converge isn't realistic. Whilst each feels ever more complete—highlights no longer step on secondaries in overt ways—the sonic build's sequencing of sundry sonic aspects and the overriding feel of the presentation remain distinctively different. Perhaps even something fundamental in the classic analogue vs. modern digital discussion tracks. In those terms Jarek's allegiances are clearly with the darker softer Boenicke/LessLoss aesthetic. Identifying his ESS silicon and on-chip 32-bit digital volume choices predicts absolutely nothing meaningful. If anything, V-Cap's oil-doused metallized polypropylene capacitors could be more predictive if one were an inveterate parts roller. In our house, Cees Ruijtenberg's Sonnet Pasithea is the DAC of highest resolution and alacrity. JianHui Deng's top Cen.Grand DAC resampling all to DSD1'024 is a bit sweeter, denser and softer. Lektor Joy was even more so. As we scan this progression from left/Dutch to right/Polish, we notice how top-down illumination dims, focus loosens, image size increases, depth of field reduces, saturation intensifies, micro detail/dynamics shift to their macro expressions, background specificity turns foreground priority. C'est ca, fundamentally. Yet where on this axis we listen, possibly well outside the end stops set by my three samples, is arguably the key decision which well-curated systems reflect about their owners' audio/music priorities.

It's like deciding on our ideal row/seat if the cost of concert tickets were no issue. There's no right or wrong, just preference. My favourite oft-invoked image is a dim-sum bar's rotating table platter. All the dishes of a dinner party sit on it as each guest turns it to plate up. All the flavours are present but their respective distance to our chair changes as we rotate the platter. If we're guest of honour, we instinctively turn it so our favourite dish faces us because we want it first. It's equally natural that we skip dishes we don't care for. Yet they remain on the table. That's how I view hifi systems. When they mature, they feature many different flavours. It's the relative location of each—and possibly how big individual bowls or plates are—which varies from owner to owner. Creating more distance to one quality, more proximity to another builds perspective. That determines how music presents itself. Armed with this useful image, how did Lektor Joy set my table?

This shortlist of joyful: big billowy sound centred on the lower not upper midrange. No naked-blade transients, no iron-chef slicing and dicing. Texturally far-field for images bloomy and large. No hard separation in ultra focus but creamy continuity. Somewhat dimmed lower treble. Powerful upper bass. Hefty voltage swings for more macro than micro. More legato flow than PRaT-y staccato. Relaxed easy resolution. More here than there, more flesh than bone. Autumnal colours with plenty of half shadows not a high-noon summer's day bathed in white light.

The accountant's opinion: low-volume boutique production creates different price positioning than high-volume Chinese manufacture. That's baked into the Ancient Audio brand and non-negotiable.

Quibbles: no display dim/off, no I²S or AES/EBU. About the first 30 volume steps are useless by falling below a room's ambient noise.

Assets: current-production top-line transport mech from prior Phillips engineers involved with the famous CD-Pro2. Top loader eliminates drawer wear. Amp-direct connection eliminates preamp, absence of tubes related maintenance. Analog inputs welcome a phono stage. Optional custom-calibrated processor for speaker/headphone tuning.

Takeaway lesson: misjudge a book by its cover if the author is as crafty as ours to set a valve-informed analog-volume sound with transistors, ESS silicon and digital attenuation.

Final words: Remember the name. Nomen est omen. This isn't a bean-counter's analytical tool but pleasure machine for personal indulgences.

Ancient Audio comments: Hello Srajan, thank you for the review! Let me comment briefly. I read every page with much more attention than my wife was watching Game of Thrones. I'm glad that your review confirms the goals of the project and the initial impressions of first customers. This is not Lektor Tool. Not Lektor 007. Not Lektor Fast and Furious. Not Lektor Die Hard. This is Lektor Joy. Your little enthusiasm about my Digital Speaker Processor is no surprise for me, either. Both Wojtek Pacula and my friends from the Kraków Sonical Society don't like it in their systems. However, everybody likes the speakers which use it. Both Ancient Audio and Fram's active speakers got many awards from all of you. One year ago during our session, we used my Vintage Horten D speakers as control monitors to compare the Adam Czerwinski Band's Jazz Christmas Carols record. We had the rare opportunity to compare studio files, analogue master tape and finally the commercial CD. These same people who complained about the processor as an option to big passive speakers now listened to the processor inside my active speakers with great pleasure. So what makes the impression so different? Here I have a very interesting issue to work out. It sounds like Mission impossible which only means that I'm not giving up. Best regards, Jarek