June
2022

Country of Origin

Germany

Codex upgraded

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Sonnet Pasithea, Soundaware D300Ref SD card transport & USB bridge; Preamp: icOn 4Pro S w. hi/lo-pass filter; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; 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: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Goldmund Job 225; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; 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: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl SD-9 transport; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €2'000 upgrade kit [drivers and xover boards]

At HighEnd Munich 2022, Audio Physic launched a radical new driver with super-thin flat membrane which they already registered for a patent. It premiered in the limited edition Medeos flagship. Lead designer Manfred Diestertich calls it a marriage of dynamic and magnetostatic elements without either's compromises. He predicts that this driver platform will not only be with their company for the next 10-15 years but make its presence felt across the industry. We've seen dynamic driver rethinks from Arya's AirBlade, Børresen's iron-less concept, Cabasse's triaxials, Ilumnia's novel suspension, KEF's Uni-Core, the Linæum derivatives by Audio Consulting/AudioNec and of course Manger's bending-wave unit. But I'd not yet heard of any described as a dynamic/magnetostatic hybrid. So the curious will keep their eyes peeled on Audio Physic.

If you're one of the ten lucky customers ending up with a Medeos to have your say over its finish, you'll only get drivers which operate without traditional spiders. None of them are conventional. Each 5-way speaker sports 8 x 11-inch woofers in a push/push arrangement on the side walls whilst the sloping front adds 4 x 180mm mid-bass couplers to 300Hz, the novel 150mm midrange to 2'000Hz, a high midrange to 5'000Hz then the HHCT 3+ tweeter. Manfred packed all of this into a multi-plex enclosure with honey-comb composite interior which measures 175x32x55cm HxWxD and weighs ~200kg. That I'd really have loved to hear. Due to Covid I just didn't attend. But it gives new meaning to hearing a snowflake fall. Its frame doesn't just look like a snowflake. Like a snowflake, moving mass hence inertia are exceptionally low. Similar to a ribbon tweeter, that will make it ultra responsive to minute voltage variations of the music signal. From that one anticipates extreme resolution and dynamic nuance. Ten lucky Medeos owners will be first to know this difference; and perhaps help offset some of the embedded R&D investment.

In a Zoom chat with Manfred, managing partner Wolfgang Lücke and Thomas Saheicha, I learnt more. Their new 5-inch driver inside its 155mm basket attaches a 0.1g polyester-based film directly to the 3D-printed snowflake frame. That suspends on a classic surround behind its rim as seen in the sideview below. The assembly's total moving mass is just 3.5-4g. Because that's driven directly via the central voice coil, the film itself needs no conductive surface traces like classic planarmagnetics. It's why Audio Physic call it a hybrid. Due to its low mass and resultant good sensitivity, a classic ferrite motor coupled to an 11Ω voice coil attains the ~89dB value which dovetails ideally with the company's woofers and tweeters, no resistive padding required. Across its 200-3'000Hz bandwidth, off-axis response is perfectly flat to suffer zero beaming.

Open-cell copper foam behind the membrane acts as back-wave diffusor. That also attaches to the '-' terminal to become a grounding device. Manfred explained that listening to this transducer ruins one for any and all traditional dynamic versions; even his own. That already advanced dynamic Wavecor midrange embeds an invisible aluminium ring inside its rubber surround. Thus pre-stressed, this outer suspension eliminates the need for the inner centering spider traditionally made of impregnated pleated cloth.

For Medeo's woofers, half work in classic mode to be driven directly by the music signal. The other half gets its signal inductively through the active partners' 2nd voice coils to behave as quasi passives, albeit with magnets and voice coils. It opens the doors to more flexible in-room owner adjustments via an array of controls. To build in the needed excursion capabilities, Manfred's woofers replace a classic spider with an inner surround. Hello double-surround bass drivers. Currently Manfred still builds each snowflake driver by hand. Talks with specialist German driver manufacturers have commenced to outsource formal production in parallel with the patent process. Over the last two years, 3D printing has made the necessary progress to facilitate the creation of the ultra-lightweight snowflake assembly. It couldn't have been made earlier. Traditional molding would be cost-prohibitive during lengthy R&D cycles where each change requires a new mold. Instead Manfred simply wrote a new file and a specialized 3D print shop returned him the new part two days later. Eventually this concept might lend itself to being scaled up to 8" and perhaps even down to tweeter duty. Covering music's 200-3'000Hz heartland is the present focus.

That segues into today's assignment because during the same Zoom chat, our quad of Germanic audio nuts conspired to have me compare my still original Codex to the current version. That benefits from Manfred's HHCM SL spiderless midrange with revised crossover board. I'd then review the new Spark monitor which has that midrange and essentially cuts Codex off at the belt line. I could thus already report on what Manfred's 2nd-best midrange does in our 4-way white Codex upgraded to current specs except for internal enclosure tweaks—I'd do the filter/driver swaps myself—and the brand-new 3-way stand-mount.

iMac/Audirvana/local files ⇒ Soundaware D300Ref USB bridge ⇒ Sonnet Pasithea DAC ⇒ Passive Preamp icOn4 Pro ⇒ Kinki Studio EX-B7 250W monos ⇒ Codex ⇐  LessLoss Firewalls.

… to be continued…