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.

Promo image of Sparks with Hegel integrated and turntable.

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 also review the new Spark which already has that midrange and essentially cuts Codex off at the belt line. We'll learn what Manfred's 2nd-best midrange does. And given our 2×15" Ripol subwoofer from sound|kaos, you could argue that Codex is overkill to begin with.

Today then we'll let the Sparks fly instead. UK distributor Elite Audio had a seasoned pair to send across the Irish Sea. As a knee-capped Codex, the glass-clad Spark measures just 48x20x37cm HxWxD yet still puts a solid 18kg on your stand of choice. Audio Physic's Sherpa M stand retails for €499/pr.

From top to bottom, the 3-way monitor's drivers are a a custom Wavecor 180mm/7cm woofer with double surround; a 3rd-gen 39mm/1.5" tweeter; and Manfred's spiderless 150mm/5.9" midrange. 4Ω sensitivity is a standard 88dB and the woofer ports through an oval slot high up on the rear baffle. Were it a sealed bass alignment, it'd not make the specified 40Hz from an enclosure this compact. Invisible to the Spark-arrested eye is the use of silicon carbide foam liners nearly as hard as diamond. Very strong to double as braces, they present as 85% air to not steal much cubic volume; and their micro-chambered makeup renders them excellent diffusor traps. It's multi-tasking in the materials realm. Conductive copper foam features in the custom crossover capacitors, more ceramic foam as diffusor inside the bass port. Or as Thomas put it on behalf of Manfred who enjoyed a vacation, "we always do non-conventional things with our speakers". Here that includes how the port executes. I believe certain quarters refer to it as aperiodic i.e. a damped port, acoustic resistor or resistive vent.

Left to right, top to bottom: honey-comb material, ceramic foam, elastomerically decoupled glass, honey comb and foam inside multi-lam cab, magnetic footers, custom capacitors.

And here's something else. As I laid out in a recent feature called Thanks a Million, this year's Munich show had no shortage of €100K+ speakers. Starting with Børresen 5¼" 2-way M1 right at that entry point, Rockport's Orion wanted $133K/pr, Göbel's Divin Marquis & Divin Sovereign subs ~€140K for the combo. Avantgarde Acoustics Trio G3 + SpaceHorn got €179K for the set, Spanish newcomer Lorenzo Audio Labs' LM1 €181.5K. Audio Vector's R11 Arreté demanded £190K, Estelon's Extreme Mk2 €198K. Opening up the €200K club was Stenheim's Ultime Two followed by Raidho's TD6 at €210K. Tune Audio's Avaton weighed €260K, Focal's Grande Utopia BE €269K. Sucking still more oxygen from the room were Stein Music's Bob XL Plus Ultimate at €348K, FM Acoustics' Inspiration XS-1 and Kharma's Veyron 2D at €350K, Mårten's Coltrane Supreme 2 at €400K whilst taking El Dorado's 1st place were Wilson Audio's WAMM Master Chronosonic at a record $685K.

What, you ask squeezed for air, did Audio Physic want for a pair of Medeos with thirty (!) drivers? ~€159K depending on finish. Consider how some of this elite lot drive stock albeit from top-class driver suppliers. The German team under Manfred Diestertich insists on unique transducers. That's true already for Spark. Whilst rarely mentioned in the same breath as the luxury speaker brands, on raw engineering Audio Physic play a very bespoke game indeed; made in Germany no less. Today we'll find out what £5.5K buy us there. We already know about the raw materials including that unique midrange from the €38K Cardeas. What's left is der Klang: German for sound. To insure that these Sparks would flare to life exactly as intended so at the right height, Elite Audio UK proposed to send the matching Sherpa stands along. I agreed. Their top plate would fit perfectly too, making for smarter photos than a mismatch on that score.