In situ veritas. Here's how the final cosmetic accoutrements with Alain's brushed logo and company decal add up front and back. One of the wind nymphs for which the company is named got stuck in the same collage somehow. With the drivers properly exercised from their first visit, I'd just give them a day of mild play to return to room temps after their 10-day lorry trip from Marseilles to Westport. With my system having temporarily upgraded to a review Terminator-Plus with matching Gaia DDC and active clock-sync between them, I could apply still more resolution to the task.
Switching from our resident Audio Physic Codex 4-ways, the M1 instantly showed like our Cube Audio Nenuphar though bandwidth was still broader and bass far better damped. Speed meanwhile was signature widebander style. What wasn't were test tones which tracked down to a mildly attenuated 25Hz! Just as with Codex, 20Hz of course wasn't in the picture. But M1 bass proved magically free of the narrow 50Hz bloom/boom zone which Codex traverses. This eliminated one specific room interaction even though the M1 sat in the exact same spots. During the late hours of arrival day, the octave above concert A still was slightly forward. In that register, oboes and violins in particular exhibited some stridency. A day later, that small emphasis had retreated. Just so, the ability for incisive nearly crystalline attacks was demonstrably higher than our Germans lay bare. Alain's tweeter too created shinier brilliance. To compensate a tad over the long haul, I might, in our direct-coupled Vinnie Rossi L2 linestage, replace our default fastest most lit-up modern triodes (Elrog ER50 as a contemporary interpretation of a 'super' 45) with Western Electric NOS VT52. With reflexes of such twitch, rather subtle shifts in how one voices a system telegraph to make all the difference.
With now far more cone area to cover the midband than Codex—31.17² vs. 13.85² inches—these heightened reflexes accompanied added tone weight for surprising 'shove'. And with the Zu Druid layout of mid/woofer on top, the central soundstage projected above the flower arrangement against the upper half of the curtains. This created a look-up perspective on a musical action that was exceptionally filigreed, dimensionally specific and deep. In short, Alain's new filter had categorically overwritten my first impressions. You and I must hit delete, then reboot. In your mind's eye, the correct sonic image now must start with the triad of speed, resolution and timing. That's embedded in bandwidth unusual for an apparently ordinary two-way tower of standard size. Then season with robust tone which floats atop rather than opposes these quicksilvery reflexes. If you know widebanders of Cube or Voxativ caliber, you can in fact borrow the triad straight from them.
The core rationale for a 2-way is of course to eliminate twin filters on its midrange driver. One means to negate any energetic restraints by which a high-pass filter separating mid from bass might strangle the directness of the all-important vocal range. Getting mid+woofer coverage on a single driver to seamlessly meet an informative tweeter whilst plumbing low bass like a more-way without faking up port-induced love handles isn't easy. One tends to see smaller mid/woofers mate to more ambitious ported alignments. That's the typical 6.5" 2-way tower or, if you're Michael Børresen, 4.5" variant. The M1 uses a bigger driver than either. One expects it to behave more like it had during the first showing – meaty/chunky but not maximally resolved and rather plumper overall. The final M1 Classic goes against this grain. It's not innately dark but light-filled. It's not even a bit slow but wide awake and very twitchy. Just so, it still manages to exploit its greater mid/woofer diameter for more tone mass and dynamic certainty than often go with such speed. Minor haggardness is a routine shadow of many a widebander. Hence their default choice of valve amps to inject 2nd-order harmonic collagen. That the M1's final amount of tone mass couldn't match the first showing is implicit. Far superior acceleration had to come from somewhere when neither drivers nor cabinet changed. So it's the distribution or proportional weighting of qualities which shifted. Resolution shot up, warmth diminished. What I didn't expect was how immediate the M1 was. Here it really did match our Nenuphar widebanders. On lucidity, the new crossover acted more like a 0-order than the mixed 3rd/2nd-order network it is. That was novel.
Relative to tweeter amplitude, we recall how it is magnetically set from -3dB to +2.5dB. "On the M1 I use the mid level for a flat response. If a client wants it brighter or mellower, that's easily done. Without add-on magnets, tweeter efficiency is 91dB nominal. In the M5, the AudioTechnology mid/woofer's 88dB must be matched so I use my add-on magnet for 3dB attenuation. Zero Junior is more sensitive than the M1 so I use the tweeter at its highest efficiency with my boost magnet." I personally don't see why you'd want to dim this exceptional driver unless you had a particular hyper sensitivity to high frequencies which some people do. Then it's good to know that the M1 can get a deliberately attenuated top end without typical shelving resistors.
Be it the orchestral strings of the first cut's Iranian National Orchestra and its lyrical tenor Salar Aghili; or swingé piano with contemporary Manouche guitar's greatest virtuoso working over a famous symphonic theme – the M1 was very keen to the tracks' dissimilar ambiance and microphone perspectives. Even complex multi-hued fare where populist assumptions give 4-ways the advantage was beautifully served like this sweeping yet impressionist oboe concerto with atypical orchestral layout and instrumental sections.
Now Simon Lee's assessment had come to Westport. On scale and gravitas, the M1 really was a different beast from the M3 monitor yet no longer played second fiddle on insight and esprit.
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