With the W8.  Probably the first thing one hears from the W8 especially when set up deep in a room is truly enormous staging. Mini monitors tend to ace that but in general lack the gravitas and solidity which demand big bass to come off. The W8 does mini-monitor soundstaging plus grown-up scale and conviction. Hand in hand goes a midrange that's decidedly not forward but rather slightly scooped. That reinforces the perception of unusual depth then adds presence-region friendliness. Next on the notice board of a well-prepared first date should be a sense of textural softness which differs for example from our Acelec Model One. Instead of solid wood, their cabinets use thick rubber-bonded aluminium like a Magico gone Dutch on origin/price. They're about timing precision and extreme focus from mechanical damping. By contrast, the W8's separation is of only medium-high resolution and its microdynamic expression is less aspirated. Its special discipline is the tonal richness one encounters midfield in a concert hall.

To curtain or not, that is the question. Remembering Hamlet, I opened the usual heavy curtains across the downstairs French doors. With this central soundstage glass exposed, I had more hard surface for the W8's rear tweeter to reflect off. That opened virtual sky lights on treble energies beyond what the already very capable big Fountek F85 did. For an ace track to demonstrate the effect, take a short walk on the wild side. This won't be to most people's taste. Never mind, it makes the point, brilliantly. It's from the Cafer Nazlibas album Feryad-i Kemani which translates to Cry of the Kemanche. That's a spiked fiddle which here solos over minimalist ambiance. Constantly varied bow pressure invokes a very dirty effect. Strings break up into flageolet with varying degrees of overtones. Those flicker like a swarm of fireflies around the ascending fundamentals. Many will find this trying to hit 'stop' before it's over; or miss half the action because their dynamic range in the upper midrange and treble is insufficient.

Over the W8 extra enabled now on ambient retrieval with the curtains opened, I could play at full uncompressed throttle without flinching to explore the expanded tone modulations which this bow master culls from his ancient instrument. Though the difference was far from drastic—no floors were mopped, no nights turned into day, nobody blew into the weeds or out of the water—our ultra-bandwidth class AB Kinki EX-B7 monos were even more brilliant and informative.

To their front-row center balance, the P1's energetic perspective was somewhat more midfield. That would seem to track with Sven's preference for monitoring his recordings deeper in the ambient field of his concert venues. His amplifier was just a bit softer on the attack and thus slightly cozier than our fresher more incisive monos from China. Again, this wasn't a big difference but when honing in with tracks like this, demonstrable. The EX-B7 walked still closer to the stringed edge if you will. I love that. Others will prefer a slightly tamed perspective by moving a few virtual rows back. They'll favor Sven's amp.

In the W8 review, the real point of this exercise had been to advance an important point. Its 3" tweeter is a very special customer of unusual off-axis response. It's so good that versions of it appear in the W11 and W13. Like the inverted Focal was for earlier Wilson designs, this Fountek is a signature ingredient for Boenicke speakers. Ivette's W5 has it too. It's more dynamic than typical 1" domes and doesn't bundle 'n' beam the same. So when the flood lights come on, they really come on. Also, because a lot of subtle spatial cues live in the brilliance and air regions, excellence across that bandwidth nets extra points for soundstage depth and the audibility of recorded space. Here that's relevant to the P1 in that unlike many class D amps, its top end isn't coarse, slightly dull or prickly. It's fully turned on but smooth. In my experience of class D, that twosome isn't common so a special attraction of Sven's very first amplifier.