The lorry did have a lift gate but the pallet jack couldn't deal with our driveway's gravel. So four hands moved the pallet beneath the covered porch and the packed lorry was off to the next client. Once brought inside, each speakers turned out to be wrapped in thin foam paper, then cradled in thick foam spacers inside double boxes. Antoine's finish was truly illustrious. Even Ivette who now has a thick skin for whatver comes through our revolving review doors commented appreciately. The external crossovers sat in their own box.

The hardwired xover tails terminate in deeply hued copper bananas

WIth the M1 taking up the spots our Audio Physic Codex 4-ways had just vacated, they'd have pretty big boots to fill. Here we see them set up for their first come-on-song session. Obviously I just had to sneak a few curious first peeks. I wasn't disappointed. On a Baroque track I'd used in many a recent review for a very solid mental imprint, Alain's very particular tonal elegance assured me right off that the M3 hadn't been a fluke. Au contraire. These bigger Accuton mid/woofers too sounded nothing like popular preconception believes and often rightly so.

Usual signal chain: local .aiff files on iMac or SD card ⇒ Audirvana 3 ⇒ Soundaware D300Ref USB reclocker ⇒ Denafrips Terminator R2R DAC ⇒ Vinnie Rossi L2 with Elrog ER50 DHT ⇒ LinnenberG Liszt amps.

Proper etiquette simply demanded that I let these bed in snugly before getting serious. I sent email confirmation to Alain and Antoine that delivery had gone without a hitch.

By return email, I received confirmation that reader Paul's custom M3 were finished and being play-tested. Soon we could share notes on whether his expectations based on my review, his music, room and personal taste all met somewhere reasonable. Again, Aurai's attitude towards customization is "just ask", be it build materials, port location, internal or external filter, tweeter tuning, finishing and more. My first session netted very luxuriant tone already but not yet the simultaneous speed I remembered so distinctly from the M3's 6½" driver. Knowing that Miflex capacitors can get very big very fast, I asked Alain about their break-in. "That's exactly right. They're very large and in addition not metallic paper but foil. That makes them very long. In about a week, the balance will be right."

After a solid 24/7+, I still thought the sound fulsome and unhurried to miss the M3's uncommon marriage of tone and speed. It's something I'd originally expected from an 8" mid/woofer. In the wider presence region, one anticipates less resolution, more image density. Alain's earlier assurances to the contrary then had me see an M3-type upper midrange attached to which would be more bass and dynamics. "Antoine sent you two 10Ω resistors. They increase the speed of the Accuton between 1'000 and 3'000Hz. With the 8.2Ω resistor he put in, the sound is more audiophile slow and rich. At 10Ω it brightens up and becomes more cheerful. And, it's well possible that Zero Junior will still better match your taste. As a concept, it's faster and more precise." I don't usually entertain modifying a review loaner. Given Aurai's hands-on customization profile however, the M1 just begged for an exception. And there was this from Antoine: "By wanting to optimize the crossover, I modified the resistance value. By wanting to improve, we sometimes make mistakes. This was one on my part. The 10Ω resistors I mailed you now will reset the crossover to its original value." So I'd not yet heard Alain's stock tuning.

With 250wpc class AB Kinki Studio EX-M7, a DC-coupled 2.5MHz circuit with Exicon lateral Mosfets.

Before the correct resistors landed, Alain checked in on how the sound had progressed after my break-in regimen. "For my taste the sound is too thick, sweet, slow and heavy. It's very pretty but lacks the reflexes and resolution I expected based on my earlier M3 samples." To my surprise, Alain wasn't at all surprised. "I completely agree. It's very beautiful but not realistic. It's too calm. But it's exactly the audiophile type sound Simon asked for." Alain even indicated that if the ports were relocated to the front, they'd be "much more effective for definition and articulation." When I explained that obviously, I had to describe my pair as is, "you just convinced me that for the global market, I should voice them as I hear. With this tuning I meant to please Simon. At the time he was my only customer. It was somewhat of his house brand. Making him happy was legitimate and necessary." Indeed. It simply meant that my review would describe Korea's particular tuning. Readers not buying from Simon Audio could only take away that their M1 would sound different; not how different. The solution was obvious. Alain would ship my pair back to Marseilles, revise the crossover to reflect his new global tuning, then return it.