Jarek had issued a stern warning. For proper audiophilistine cred, tripods wouldn't be considered stable enough. Busted. These weren't lead-shot damped extremist contraptions as just then parked in the dark of a bathroom turned indoor reviewer's tool shed. But once locked on height and tilt, then loaded and untouched by pushy hands, Jarek's three-legged stilts were just fine. Hopping off the 130cm wide desk meant zero resonance transfer but more work space. 175cm center to center soundstaged what here felt like in ultra-wide panorama. Sub 40Hz bass plumbed King Solomon's mines. Four-square win. Great way to start. IMAX at the home office?
Once the semi-enveloping scale's novelty wore off—center fill was still good—I actually had too much bass. I flicked the 3-pole rear toggle to its lightest LF balance. Time to clock some break-in hours and hunt for eggs. Easter and all. As a kid, I never understood how some eggs carefully painted by my mom ended up in small trees. Could rabbits climb? Can speakers fly? Not. But on a tripod's swivel, they go where regular flat-top stands would grow taller and more unwieldy, never mind not height adjust this precisely. Audiophilistine cred was crushed by real-world usefulness. DeskFi uncorked?
The back and undersides of Oslo II between the DMAX Super Cubes.
IMAX at the office really was no joke. Except for many years back with stand-mounted Boenicke W5 rather smaller than now Horten, I'd not had a midfield speaker inside my writing desk's nearfield. Wider staging was a direct function of being off desk. Likely related were bigger images. They didn't focus as though laser guided but billowed like a wind-filled spinnaker. This compound sense of more capacious staging and softer larger images added up to everything feeling bigger. Bigger guns, bigger impact?
Yes/no. The overall softness suggested greater subjective listening distance. That's like trading the sharpest most direct front-row sounds for a venue's farther rows. It incurs transient mellowing. Despite being physically close, ported Horten's aural perspective wasn't as intimate, über-focused or pseudo headfi-ish as that of the sealed Super Cubes. Like a single coat of paint without primer, its individual sounds also weren't as concentrated. For similar sensory impact, I thus played Horten louder. The Slovakians draw a most visual soundfield because their imaging articulation is unusually specific. Our brain localizes sounds by their leading edges. Those of the cubes are like hard-tipped sticks hammering out beat patterns on taut drum skins. Like wool-head mallets on slightly detuned drums, Horten's were mellower. Urban mythologists could invoke metal vs silk/plastic drivers. Perhaps they'd have a point? Like the valve amps Jarek fancies, there wasn't the transient bite I pursue with direct-coupled high-bandwidth transistor amps; or the aluminium-diaphragm blond Super Cubes.
That shifted sensory perspective away from using my ears as eyes as I do with the cubes. With Horten my inquiry into playback was more feeling based. I could attempt to break this down into why; or at least speculate. But I rather think that how our neural pathways interconnect—our personal form of synæsthesia—differs from individual to individual. Now what would be the point? Let's stick to sonic behavior. Leave personal response to each listener. Oslo II too is ported but downwards and through a far smaller diameter. Firing virtually instantly into the desktop telegraphed as rather more overt bloom/boom. Horten's bigger rear-firing ports with more physical space behind/around them didn't exhibit the same fattening and blurring. Still, Horten couldn't equal the less than half-sized Slovakians on PRaT. That's the beat fidelity of bass makers in music's engine room. From it derive drive, propulsion and temporal anchoring. Regarding linearity meanwhile, bigger Horten acted easily flatter than the seemingly 'forced' bass alignment of baby Oslo II. While long-term Horten would be too imposing for my office, I still preferred its more even-tempered sonics to Oslo II's nearfield balance.
Because I'd miss their IMAX effect, my SC5 soon fled the nest, hopped off the desk and perched equally wide on sufficiently tall Gravity stands. Horten made me do it. It even prompted a short article on soundstage basics.
Whilst still on Jarek's tripods, my next stop was foot of bed. Really.