As my bypass switch confirmed, the prior selection hadn't needed the sub's extra coverage into the infrasonic realm. However, these next tracks did. First up was "Loom" from the Miles_Gurtu effort of Trilok Gurtu and Robert Miles. Alain's fabulous tweeter system not only locked in the splattering opening ticks and noises but the precise location of the many percussive transients across a spectacularly wide soundstage. It was no surprise that the sub rendered the jagged bass pulses in more brutal ultra-sec relief than the monitor solo.
On the Hukwe Zawose/Michael Brook collab Assembly and its "Kuna Kunguni" track, the Z165 obviously handled the snottily blaring brasses and tribal shouting vocals all by itself but the sub again added obvious gravitas to the low frequencies.
Likewise not only for the bass pedals of "Garip" from Mercan Dede's Dünya 1 album but its keenness of manipulated audible space. The tweeters handled the hoarse airiness of the ney flute…
… the sub augmented the opening downward sweeps of Patrick Chartol's "Oriental Bass" from Istanbul, its meandering e-bass exploits and sundry synth lows.
Once anything gets as dense and massive as "Paul's Dream" from Hans Zimmer's Dune Sketchbook, a big subwoofer becomes the difference between cinematic XXXL and home-baked normal.
This takes nothing away from the Z165's solo prowess. It's only for the first 20-40Hz octave that devotees of big tracks who know the difference will want more. It's that plus general ability to play louder more easefully and unstressed. In my 2.1 configuration with its ~30dB of untapped voltage gain at my standard levels, I'd never come close to real limits.
This session's bigger tracks also showed how this premium 2-way excels at imaging and casting capacious soundscapes. The breed always has the proclivity to ace these disciplines. It's tonal fullness and density which often betray limitations particularly as mid/woofer diameters shrink to 5.25" or 4" no matter how boisterous their port loading or exotic their cone materials. Here Alain's decision to go for 6.5" paper mostly splits the difference between the resolution/speed of smaller drivers and the increased weight and dynamics of bigger 8ers. Meanwhile the twinned tweeter horns enhance perceived resolution further. The upshot is overall insight that doesn't much trail a top 2-way Raidho; offers high frequencies of comparable resolve; then demands rather less by eliminating dealer demo privileges and cabinet curvatures. Compared to Qualio's IQ which moved back in, the Z165's overall demeanor and tone were leaner. Unlike the dipole Polish mid—and for that matter those of Aurai's Lieutenant and open-backed Z rangers—my ported Z didn't trigger reflective enhancements across the vocal bandwidth. Having studied each of my prior Aurai reviews carefully, Alain knew of my love for speed and airy shimmery treble. If I must pick, I'll always prioritize time fidelity on the crisply enunciated attack over the most endless of trailing fades or voluptuous tone textures. The Lieutenant's sub 100Hz entry for its dipole mid created more room bloom thus softened PRaT. The IQ's 600Hz filter on its dipole mid limits the bloom's dose and bandwidth to keen subjective timing. That better meets my speed/mass balance. On said gauge, the ported Z165 now fell on the speedier side. I simply knew why Alain had sent the close-backed version. It was his attempt to nail another man's tastes from afar. Given DAC-direct 1MHz transistor amps, my minor system tweak to best bed in the Z165 would add Vinnie Rossi's original DHT preamp fitted with our most lucid designer triodes so Elrog ER50. That sets the very small shift I'd still like. For a heavier dose to please lovers of a more UK monitor tuning, that preamp would exit to instead swap Kinki monos for our heavier darker class A Pass Labs XA-30.8. Any such steering is child's play when a transducer is this informative and responsive; when one's personal ideals are this close to want just a very mild course correction.
Zee end. That design priorities from the Western Electric era can sound this contemporary across modern music's bandwidth rather than the 60Hz-12kHz of last century's early movie houses might surprise. It just takes Gallic stubbornness to show how; and, I assume, disregard for common business-first management in favor of an enthusiast's curiosity and primacy to satisfy a personal sense of accomplishment. That some like-minded sonic pilgrims might join the victory lap then would be the cherry and whipped cream. On which note, speaker designers chasing a truly premium tweeter solution must keep eyes peeled on Alain Pratali's forthcoming OEM units. These ultra light-weight custom domes in aluminium horns really are UltraFi.
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