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Clairaudient 1+1 v5

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac late 2020 with Ventura 13.4, 40GB RAM, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-6 & SW-8 network switches, Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box at 100Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & EX-M7 stereo; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Qualio Audio IQ w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Vibra 68 footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Kinki Studio Earth; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: FiiO R7, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC: Sonnet Pasithea; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box at 60Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Amplifiers: Gold Note PA-10 Evo monos; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini, Dynaudio S18 sub on sound|kaos Vibra 68 footers; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF + Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Masterclock: LHY OCK-2; Headphones: Final D-8000; Headfi/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Loudspeakers: EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: $4'500/pr

"I was just speaking with an associate who suggested that you might enjoy hearing our ClairAudient 1+1 v5. It would be great if you loved them enough to review them. Robert Harley rates them state of the art in The Abso!ute Sound. Please let me know if you'd like me to call to share more." That was Audience AV's prez John McDonald writing in from SoCal's sunny San Marco. How to love something enough before hearing it? At 6moons we don't home sample first then decide whether to review. We commit upfront. Whilst we certainly study specs and other data to preview suitability for our room, ancillaries and experience level, we don't cancel a gig after we've received and heard samples. Unlike the 1+1's all-hearingness, I'm not omniscient though John's mystery associate certainly seemed to possess an active gene. I'd been aware of the speaker since its first incarnation. It really was right up my alley.

Here a custom 3-inch titanium-alloy widebander with 2.5g of moving mass, ±5.5mm excursion, 1" wide voice coil and 40-watt power handling bumps into an in-phase rear-aimed mate to increase SPL and spaciousness whilst building in force cancelling for a quieter enclosure. The cheeks host opposing again force-cancelling 4" passive radiators to extend reach in lieu of ports. It could be an ultimate desktop speaker where I'd precede it with the superlative Enleum AMP-23R. It could be a full-range marvel once actively dovetailed with a superior subwoofer then set up free space for most capacious imaging. With a dual 9½" sealed Dynaudio Pro sub upstairs and a dual 15" cardioid version from sound|kaos downstairs plus matching analog active precision filters with selectable 4th-order hi/lo-pass values from Lifesaver Audio, I certainly own appropriate hardware. First I had to insure that John knew that we no longer live in the colonies but Ireland's EU half. There'd be long-distance shipping and potential VAT to contend with unless an EU dealer could loan from inventory.

The book on widebanders has a few chapters. There are classic single-driver efforts which tend to rear-load an 8-10" driver with a quarter-wave line, folded horn or wrinkle thereof. Think Cube, Lowther, early Rethm and Voxativ. Zu uses different loading plus a 1st-order tweeter at ~10Hz. Mark Fenlon's Markaudio from China's Quandong Province engineers far smaller wideband drivers in the Ted Jordan lineage. To get sufficient bandwidth now parallels multiple units; and/or adds woofers like current Rethms do. The Audience solution falls right between with a mirror-imaged bipole widebander then two auxiliary bass radiators not one or more woofers. This can theoretically eliminate all filter parts—more on actual reality on the next page—to execute the classic single-driver ethos across four drivers. Inherent to smoking clean filterless freqs without coughing is that all response tweaks must be done successfully in the mechanical domain. That's down to how transducers interact with each other and their enclosure whilst massaging those parameters with endless prototyping.

Zu's DWX is a rare example of a 10.3" ported mega monitor widebander with 12kHz/1st-order high-passed tweeter.

Given that today's 1+1 represents the concept's 5th iteration, we appreciate that ongoing experience at Audience AV has continued to tweak them for greater linearity, bandwidth and SPL stability. With the original 6 x 8 x 9.5" 8lbs cab unchanged in dimensions or shape, John will explain all invisible changes across the design's iterations. This requires making sufficiently loud and the right noises. Otherwise our fickle market assumes that it's still the same old same old. No matter how good or glowing its reviews, the stubborn worship of constant progress "knows" how nothing designed even just two years ago can possibly still lead the race. A 2-year old iPhone pegs its users badly out of date. Without Cupertino's massive PR machinery to manage global product refreshers and hype up sales aloft often marginal changes, getting the message across that a boutique monitor speaker looking unchanged is really new and improved is far harder. Audience's The One launched in 2011 and introduced the first iteration of the current 3" driver which today has a dual-gap motor and 12mm excursion. The speaker's final form factor locked in with 2013's $1.8K/pr 1+1. Looking unchanged a decade later equals virtual sales prevention unless someone bangs the big drums. Time to call Hans Zimmer!