Goldilock's porridge. Like it, Oslo II's size was perfect for my work desk. With extra-long hardwired RCA cable on the slave, it took just one coaxial input cable then plugging the 24V/4A switching brick into a live outlet and flicking the master's rear-mounted power toggle to on. The digital-in light lit automatically. Tord Gustavsen's new Circle album emerged in hi-rez 24/96 downloaded from Qobuz Sublime. Again like porridge—it's good for you but doesn't look it—the li'l Krakower boxes felt more modest and weighed less than the DMAX Super Cubes they displaced. Especially the untreated cardboard port tubes looked most basic. But you only see them before setup never after. For my seated height, the integral tilt bars still had me view box tops. The drivers aimed slightly too low. Two spare rubber footers added the necessary 2cm lift. Ready. But cave potestatem. Beware the power (supply). It's always live unless unplugged from the wall or turned off by switched outlet. Actual draw is negligible. 24/7 action will simply mark life expectancy. Unforeseen were the metal baffles and the tilt bars' effectiveness at absorbing vibrations. Whilst not 100% kill switches for resonance transfer, I didn't feel real need to futz with isolators. I did however set the DSP toggle to less bass more treble when the low end on ambient and electronic music got far too fat and bloomy. Coming off the sealed Slovakian control monitors with proprietary FIR filters to perfect their time-domain behavior, I was extra critical of port ringing and related time smear.

These 18mm blondies with Sapele hardwood edging and outboard power amp had moved off the black Fram of the previous page to Ivette's office. There they upgraded her all-metal white Feniks desktop actives. Reshuffled bliss. The single-driver sealed cubes had beat up my €2'500/pr Poles on lucidity, resolution and timing then managed at just €690 to warrant a second review on

Getting Oslo II without the €200 digital input brings it to within €100 of the Slovakians and their amp of just analog XLR inputs. Comparing Oslo II over its analog input would be fiscally fairer but involve iFi's €3'249 Pro iDSD Signature converter/preamp. Rather more sensible was Mytek's €1'295 Liberty II DAC. I had my ducks in a row.

If it walks and quacks like one, you know your duck. My analog feed from the DAC adds subsequent A/D conversion in the DMAX's external amp. You could assume that my iFi/Mytek swap didn't matter to them. Dead wrong. Source had a definite say. The combined pro DNA of Mytek/DMAX equaled ultra transparent. iFi's 1'024DSD resampling injected textural elasticity, color saturation and keener decays for greater depth illumination. The Mytek played it more damped, dry and maximally focused. The iFi injected just the right dose of pliancy. Oslo II's more voiced audiophile DNA started out with more billowy textures and greater warmth. That telegraphed already over the Mytek. It just didn't end in a draw. The polarizing price came in bass coin. On the Tord Gustavsen Quartet, upright bass betrayed obvious ringing. It meant textural looseness, bloat and compromised timing even with Jarek's mellower bass tuning. The vast majority of listeners of course are used to ported bass. They feel right at home. They hear nothing amiss. If alas one arrives from bass that's Ripol, dipole or cardioid, be it in speakers or headphones like the Raal ribbons, one hears textural discontinuity and lack of driver control loud and clear. It's that pebble in a boot that's got to come out.

Analog over Mytek's RCA outputs.

The sealed cubes still don't fully equal the bass timing of my cardioid sound|kaos DSUB15 or SR1a earspeakers. They simply get so close as to have become my desktop boxes of choice. Oslo II thus crossed my path too late. I'd already set up on sealed-box turf. The SC5's extra FIR filtering in the time domain then tossed out the key. Unable to execute a mental delete, Oslo II had to play bass-light fare to downplay its ported personality. I meant to judge it on its own merit. Otherwise personal preferences become pure color commentary. Now "Mickey liked it, John didn't" suffices; which it shouldn't. Interpose a good week of distance to hopefully recalibrate my ears.