Sleepyhead? Do your best work after dark? Then setting up a compact hifi of source+Horten is far from bizarre. It's a real sleeper. Not only does it take up little space. It exploits lots of open space behind it. Moving the front wall this far back rolls out tremendous soundstage depth. It minimizes reflections and rear-port reactivity. And since you're still close propped up on your pillow, semi nearfield benefits of lower SPL and less room impact remain. Enter another small nit. Jarek made no channel-swap provisions. The master channel is fixed to right. If that matches your layout, fine. But should your electronics and wall outlets sit inconveniently or out of reach on the left, you can't assign the master speaker to be left. If you enter analog, swap interconnects. Easy. Not so when you enter digital. Now you'll have inverted channels. Back on our tripods, their tilt heads created proper tweeter alignment at lower height than a standard stand would have to then look rather more out of place. So don't discount Horten's unusual ¼" bottom thread. Enough on that.

To tick off all boxes—all but remote control unless your digital/analog source has it—the stands for Ivette's EnigmAcoustics monitors replaced the tripods. Being taller than our Track Audio specimens was key. But I also noted the gold trim on their bases matching Jarek's logo plates. Since I entered S/PDIF, I made sure to put the master speaker on the right. Now it was all about potatoes and veg. First-time hifi shoppers focus on sizzle and steak. That's treble and bass. An 8-ounce slab o' beef might look impressive but is hard to digest and high in cholesterol. Ditto for hot oils popping, burnt butter and charred bits. They do little for your heart health. Growing experience pays more attention to veg, potatoes or grains. That'll be the midrange. It's the Central Plains of the big country that is audiophilia. It's where majority nutrition lives. As a valve aficionado, Jarek knows this. Horten's tuning reflected it. It was neither top down led by a super-aspirated ribbon tweeter; nor bottom up led by a big-coned woofer fronted by copious power and current. It was a midrange-out perspective led by tone. The overall feel was relaxed, slightly fulsome and bloomy. It was comfort sound. It wasn't a speed-first adrenaline fest of popping transients and peppery percussion. It wasn't a lit-up scenery of extreme walkabout lucidity. It wasn't about stretched-out space between images and hyper-specific edging. It was about warm tonality, a richer upper-bass/lower-mid transition, density and the soft time signature of a larger port.

Should that conform with expectations of more classic tube sound, it's probably no coincidence. Jarek should feel rather pleased to have distilled then written that profile to class D Horten's DSP. It gets there with no fuss of glowing maintenance, noise and eventual performance drift. It gets there carefully seasoned and locked in with apparently simple and very few ingredients. If it's the end not means that most interest you—means of a more separate nature would also demand a fatter wallet—Horten makes a compelling mostly guaranteed case. You benefit from very experienced ears. You exploit the strategic removal of swapperoo vagaries whereby designers of separates have zero idea of, or control over, what their customers will actually hear. With Horten, the designer's sound transitions more intact. That's particularly so over the digital input. Differences will be subtle at best to never touch the core voicing. A 5-year parts & labor warranty is always nice. So could be an indefinite "hear it as the designer intended" guarantee. Here that's included unless you really botch your setup; like parking these within inches of a front wall to exaggerate the port loading. Changing DSP profile can't screw anything up since it still reflects the designer's parameters; and one's favorite setting is restored with just one switch. There's much to be said for it all if one doesn't view a hifi's primary appeal as a never-ending story of buy'n'sell changes. In fact when one compares the otherwise needed stuff to what Horten manages inside just one box, one might feel self-conscious (stupid?) for having bought into so much more complexity.

Having a dual 9.5" Dynaudio sub on hand showed how Horten on its own goes low enough to where sneaking in a sub in augmentation mode already creates unwanted overlap with a standard 40Hz 4th-order filter as defined by its -6dB point. Yes certain infrasonic pedals and the violence of really big drums will go farther with a powerful sub. For most intents and purposes however, Horten solo will be sufficient and more linear. On that score, I identified a 24V/5A linear power supply for $599 delivered to take the measure on Jarek's stock laptop brick; and whether one can take its sound still higher.

I previewed that 160W unit on the Fram Midi 150 temporarily set up on my desktop in lieu of the DMAX Super Cubes. It was dead quiet mechanically and electrically and not even ran remotely warm to the touch; exactly what you wish from an overspec'd power supply designed properly.