With the Divina Minor in the first setup, we had to really experiment to get close to the sound we look for in the sweet spot. We moved the loudspeakers closer together, further apart and tried various variations of toe-in or not. Whatever we did, the sound failed to convince. With Opium Moon we experienced the same difficulties. This album by an L.A. based quartet is one of the rare finds of late that offers mesmerizing and hypnotic soundscapes.

One of the key elements of Opium Moon is the fretless bass next to the hammered santoor and violin. Of course the small Italians were limited in bass extension though an advertised 57Hz should have been fine. In our setup and despite the ports blowing hard, roll-off below 80Hz was quite steep. Whatever we tried, the sound was too bright. Even after running the setup for a few hours to warm things up, the overly sharp character persisted.

This led us to switch amplification. Out went the LM1875-based 20wpc 'Gainclone', in came our Yarland  FV 34 CIIISA, an EL84-based integrated tube amp. Though rated at just 10wpc, these are soft-clipping tube watts. With this cute tube amp in the loop, the sound shifted ever so slightly to a somewhat warmer milieu though the emphasized treble remained present. For a break from the earlier atmospheric albums, we cued up Oj Tak! by Chlopy Kontra Basia which here and there reminds us of Musica Nuda in Polish. It's fun especially on dark days.

Basia Derlak's voice is never one of the fullest but with the Divina Minor, any body present in the recording was lost. Time for another amplifier switch.

Enter a Devialet D-Premier. Contrary to the others we tried, this French multi-purpose class A/D hybrid includes tone controls to alter the tonal balance. We played some of the above recordings and also Fly Fly by Céline Bonacina.

This French saxophonist plays catchy sensual jazz that's uplifting and captivating. With the tonal balance flat i.e. zero on the dial, the sound was still too edgy and sharp. Reducing the treble in 1/10th of a dB increments, we finally settled on -6dB. With that much HF cut to compensate for the early LF roll-off, the sound finally felt balanced and pleasant enough to listen for a longer time.

Some other noteworthy albums we explored in this setting was German guitarist Andreas Arnold with his mix of jazz and flamenco on Odisea. With this album, the small Italians depicted the guitar at live size and with plenty of air for a good 3D illusion as long as we listened on axis. But a little shift in listening position and the speaker gave itself away, arguably not as much as without the -6dB cut but still noticeably so.

Our conclusion for the wrong pair hadn't been easy. That Divina Minor had been peculiar. Care Orchestra meant "to interpret music in such a way that it makes our products masterpieces of excellence, unique pieces of design aesthetics and quality sound." We just weren't certain of their primary goal. After our time with these speakers, we thought that aesthetics came first and sonics a far second. Yet even in the looks and finishing department, the company came up short. The crude bottom and misaligned dress plate on the back missed reasonable expectations. Sonically, the tuning and driver layout didn't work. Whatever we tried—and after many years of reviewing speakers, we aren't exactly greenhorns—only by surgically diminishing the treble by a full 6dB could we see any light. That plus the idiosyncratic avoidance of a proper mirror-imaged layout to limit speaker interactions had us wonder. Was Divina Minor ready for the big leagues?

When we learnt that actual production was mirror-imaged and used different internal parts, chances were that all of our text thus far had to be scrapped. But our publisher decided differently. Rather than delete it, we'd use it as our new starting place. We'd describe if/how final production voicing had changed; if/how the finish had improved. It would have been convenient to compare them side by side but Carlos said that "I need to retrieve that first pair for our laboratory asap, I cannot wait." By May 1st, we'd still no replacements. We'd have to wait until the middle of July. Then we received this note from the firm's Ola Onadipe.

"I hope the speakers were delivered. I'm writing to give you more information on the speaker and a clearer understanding of how we work. The main aspect about Care Orchestra is that we are a custom shop. We don't do standardized production but always start with a base model which we then customize to our clients' desire. That could be finish (leather, wood, marble, lacquer, fabric), things like grills or anti-vibration footers, crossover adjustments for specific applications. Many times we perform made-to-order calibrations of our speakers to specific amplifiers. Our speakers aren't mass produced but made by hand, from cabinet assembly to lacquering to leather appliqué. Being hand-made definitely leaves certain finish imperfections but those only make it all the more authentic. This is an important part of our DNA which differentiates us from other producers. About the Divina Minor on review, there is no standard price, just a base price of €3'200/pr for the version you have. Should a customer ask for a solid marble cabinet for example, that price could increase to perhaps €8'000/pr. We've already done deep black opaque, orange lacquer, Cavallino leather, blue leather, silver crossovers and more."