Small(er) room moxy. This time a shot-gun biwire Black Cat Cable connected widebanders and woofers to the same Bakoon AMP-13R terminals. That worked just as well as line level. Again I had no need to engage the ground lift switches on the active woofers. They played it dead mute until they saw signal. That came from a Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport. A Gold Note DS-10 in fixed DAC mode digested its digits. Woofers faced out again to shorten path lengths of first sidewall reflections. Whilst the visual impact of two deep-black monoliths was unapologetically on the heavier side, the smaller Nenuphar danced as aurally light-footed as Fred Astaire's heirs. In instant self validation they proved perfectly fit for our ~4x6m space under a slate roof. With no ported basses ringing to cause spotty boom, precise enunciation was tops across the bandwidth. As dumb luck had it, nothing asked for changes to the downstairs woofer settings. I set the transport on endless repeat, the volume low enough to not disturb the rest of the house, then closed the door.
Assorted coats and jackets make for free sidewall treatments. It'd be entirely the wrong look for downstairs but in a bedroom, it's permissible and cozy.
With a fully pre-cooked Linear Tube Audio Ultralinear integrated amplifier inbound just then, I'd even have an all-tube option designed with higher-sensitivity loudspeakers in mind. While the Irish weather gods rarely smile upon us, the audiophile gods sure were in a good mood.
Whilst still having the departed Acelec Model One monitors with Zu Submission subwoofer firmly in my mind's ear, I inspected direct contrast impressions for the new setup. First was detail density. We're familiar with image density. It applies itself to the apparent physicality of individual performers, say four to five in a typical ensemble.
But there are also secondary sounds of location ambiance. With them we map space. Reflected decays of acoustic or electronic reverb act like miniature light flashes. They illuminate venue dimensions as an acoustic other than our own.
Still other sounds are incidental noises. Finger changes on frets, key clacks, reed buzz, bowed player mechanics—even audience din on live productions—feed our virtual sight with subliminal data which enhance realism.
I've grouped such assorted background data into classes just to indicate hierarchy and explain detail density. Now these lower data classes gain in equality with the primary data. They become coincident as though they'd moved up within the hierchary to now share the same plane of importance on the top or in the front. The obvious upshot is greater profusion or simultaneity of fine detail.
These same details were present also with our prior speakers. They only occupied a lower plane to seem less important. Most will call the difference higher resolution. If our reference already has high resolution, even higher detail magnification no longer is synonymous with hearing things we never did before. It's only about low-level data which to our attention gain in relative prominence.
Related was greater dynamic contrast. This isn't about peaks or how loud music gets. It's about subtle shadings and nuances of dynamic micro fluctuations inside a beat which suddenly isn't as even or monotonous as it appeared; inside a melodic turn of many notes which no longer are all equally loud but slightly different.
It's as though a loudness sieve which determined our dynamic gradients had become finer. Now smaller differences make it through. Even playing music quietly, these differences don't compress or equalize as quickly as before. Lower SPL retain more dynamic nuance, hence interest. Dynamic range has broadened.
The third key difference was bass quality. Stereo rather than mono coverage down to the recorded limits was plainly more informative and often also directionally more specific. This wasn't about lower extension or going louder. This was about moving the clarity threshold downward. Think about a split aquatic photo. The upper image half is above the water line, the other one below it. The upper half will be sharper and better lit. Air doesn't cause the same micro blur and darkening which even still water does.
Such a line—between what is clear and what is more opaque, between midrange and bass—also exists in audio. Until we hear it reset, we simply won't be fully aware of it. With Nenuphar Mini BASiS, my plug had been pulled. All the virtual water had drained. Everything down to the lowest bass now was above the line. This included timing, pitch, localization, texture and dynamic nuance of equal sophistication as the rest.
Active sealed stereo bass EQ'd to +3dB/30Hz and (very important!) matched by design to the transducer reproducing the 100Hz+ range really worked its magic – a bit like this painting of the lucky angler in his floating miniature lighthouse.
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