Just then reader Paul who had until then listened to Kroma Audio Mimí checked in with his first M3 impressions: "Wow. You better have your house in order with these. Cold and not broken in for sure, the tweeter is already the best lens I've ever heard. The bass is spectacular even though not fully fleshed out yet, phase correctness and impulse response are the best I've heard, micro and macrodynamic capabilities the best I've heard in this component category. Unwavering regardless of how you try to trip it up. After break-in, maybe it's time to finally remove the STP SE and inject a touch of romance? We'll see. I may consider the new reference Athena active preamp from Denafrips. Looks to be a lot of bang for the buck to add what I may need given their house sound. Either way, I can already tell with confidence that this is a speaker anyone would be wise to work backwards from to suit taste. Efforts likely to be rewarded."
Next Simon Lee checked in. "Here in my room, no competition between Model One and Three. Three is excellent but no comparison to One which has everything except for the speed where I think Model One is closer to concert sound, 3 more to near-field acoustics. I believe you will have the solution very quickly. Alain is a fast worker as well as a no-sleep engineer when he works on something. So it will be no problem, just some bad wiring or positioning." With even Simon calling the Model One slower, more diffuse and thick than the M3—that's concert sound unpacked—now I was doubly curious what Alain's re-tuned M1 would sound like. Or perhaps personal expectations vis-à-vis my earlier M3 samples were simply unrealistic?
Then Paul was back. "It's been about 80-100hrs. Left for the weekend playing them louder than I listen to on a Sonos digital amp out of the main electronic loop. Now the bottom end came up, the top down. I'll spend some time with them this week before I ship out my sold STP. No further agility needed. Waiting on a black Athena from Alvin. Hoping for a just a tinge more foundation and softening. Then I'd be there in spades I'm guessing. I may not get that with the specs on the Athena but am betting a bit on the Denafrips house sound.
"But I'm extremely happy already. Prior to the Mimí I owned Alta FRM2, very dynamic fast 2-ways with 6.5" aluminum Morel. Interestingly, bass speed and articulation between the two is very similar, with the Alta going a touch deeper. It was its strong suit. However the Raal tweeter integration I didn't like; or perhaps it was just the signature sound of the ribbon tweeter which I ultimately didn't care for. It couldn't provide body or dynamics to strings, guitar and piano. The M3 has sprinkled into the backdrop of all that speed and articulation the sense of real wooded instruments playing. That’s a tough act to pull off – uncommon bed fellows as you indicated." So Paul heard what I had. I was off the hook. By then Schenker had picked up my M1 pallet to put Alain on the hook for new filter tuning. [M Zero Junior in matte cherry above.]
When Alain received then measured the pair, he found that Accuton had altered their 8-inch cone to change its amplitude response. "With this unannounced change, the classic Simon filter which Antoine installed no longer worked properly. I listened to it at length and agree that it didn't sound right at all. I will install new Rike chokes, correct the filter to the changed driver and to the M3 philosophy so that both models will share the same sonic profile. I'll also relocate the filter inside the enclosure." Submitting screen shots of his monitor, the before/after response certainly looked quite different. Realizing that my prior M3 review had already described the new global voicing, it was just a bit curious that I'd subsequently been sent a Simon filter version even if it was badly misaligned by changed transducer parameters. What really mattered of course was finally being on the right slope; and for Aurai having learnt that they needed more stringent driver testing when even suppliers like Accuton can be guilty of making changes without notifying their clients. Antoine explained that he will need to purchase the same measurement gear Alain owns to tighten the tolerances of his QC. Why play-testing didn't reveal these sonic issues I don't understand. In fact much about this story I don't understand. But as a hifi reporter, I follow wherever the story leads. Occasionally that means confusion, setbacks and detours. Some of today's are commented upon in our letters section.
After further exchanges with Alain who needed to follow up his earlier assertion that a front-firing port on the M1 would be superior, he revisited the challenge of too many options."I've decided to offer our M1, M3 and M5 models in a classic (rear port, tweeter on baffle) and monitor version (front port, pod tweeter on top). That simplifies choices and avoids confusion." Here the 'monitor' appellation signals maximal timing precision from front ports and physical time alignment between drivers. Alain also rethought his M1 crossover from the ground up.
"I developed a new type of filter which I'll patent this winter. Your review M1 will be the first to officially introduce this new crossover. It will also come in the bigger M Zero Junior and M Zero models whose tweeters only come on top. The M3 you reviewed remains unchanged. It's now simply called M3 Classic. What reader Paul bought would be a half Classic half Monitor, port in front, tweeter on front. Going forward, the Monitor version will also get the top tweeter to have just two orientations." Alain had also finalized his metalized decal to formally mark his speakers under the Aurai Audio brand. My M1 review pair would return in the same Classic guise it had left, with rear port and tweeter on front. The differences were the new filter; relocating it inside the enclosure to eliminate two external crossover boxes; and adding the fresh decals front and back. Confusion slain, product improved? I couldn't wait to hear the results.
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