Espresso. Americano. Latté. With white Nenuphar gone, the black loaner stack played barista once more. A double Espresso came from the Bakoon direct. Espresso added the Vinnie Rossi with Elrog ER50. Espresso with one lump of sugar switched to Western Electric 300B. Americano with two lumps combined the COS Engineering D1 DAC/pre with FirstWatt's SIT-3. Latté with three lumps switched back to the Terminator DAC but added the Vinnie Rossi to the SIT-3. For my personal bias, the ideal combination of dominant speed with just a bit of spatial/reverb enhancement tethered the Bakoon to Elrog's 'super 45'. Skipping ahead to replace Bakoon with FirstWatt inverted that balance. Now tone, languorous timing and reverb dominated. Speed stepped far into the background. So we could describe this progression also in terms of the front and back foot, about how the transient/decay balance was weighted. The Bakoon combos had their weight on the front foot. This prioritized the leading edge. The FirstWatt options stood on the back foot. This elevated the trailing edge. Subjectively, the former were more exciting, the latter more relaxed. It reiterates how easy it was to slow down and plush out this Polish speaker. If we started out with a pudgy thick design, we'd never be able to make it this direct and immediate. The speaker itself would keep its foot on the brake. Again, adding weight is a lot easier than losing it. In my book, that makes Nenuphar Mini BASis ideally malleable to move easily into quite disparate personal bull's eyes.

Cosmetics would arguably look better were the woofer cab depth to meet the monitor's. But with width and height set by the widebander, the extra cubic volume needed for the lower cab meant more depth. The monitors dock on four very basic plastic bumpers glued to the woofer tops. Believers in elaborate decouplers can easily insert their favorite aftermarket jobs. Each Sub10 comes with four tall spikes and its woofer grill was reluctant to pull out so I didn't try harder. It's fair to mention that specialty subs today may include remote control, programmable presets and built-in room correction via microphone data capture and automated compensation profiles. Despite very fat stickers, Cube's subs lack those extra IQ points. Exotic artisanal product from a low-volume newer brand can't prioritize value like a mainstream brand can that's fully vertically integrated. As such, Cube's pricing parallels equivalents in the Berlin portfolios of Voxativ and Camerton.

When CD first bowed, 'perfect sound forever' soon met its harsh reality check. By 2020, CD as a media format had become entirely irrelevant for cloud-based streaming customers. In fact, many of them started their playback lifestyle without ever having owned a CD. Yet high-end brands Accuphase, Accustic Arts, AMR, Ancient Audio, Audionet, B.M.C, Burmester, C.E.C, Ensemble, Esoteric, Gold Note, Gryphon, Jadis, Jay's Audio, JMF, Luxman, Métronome, mbl, Nagra, T+A and others still make elaborate disc players which sound better than ever. What's more, when Phillips discontinued its famed CD-Pro2 transport, Austria's StreamUnlimited stepped in with their 3-beam CD-Pro8 module. Gryphon's Ethos below is one of the first to incorporate it.

When Lowther-based widebanders first re-issued as esoteric alternatives to the vast majority of multi-way speakers, they had linearity and bandwidth issues. Theoretical superiority met a harsh reality check in the listening seat. Very few anachrophiles proved willing to overlook the flaws for other strengths; or to strategically compensate with soft expensive SETs. But instead of joining the dodo, the breed disregarded the general apathy of the mainstream audio press. It stuck around and evolved. Driver manufacturers simply saw far too little volume to support the genre. Eventual exceptions include Seas and Wavecor. On a whole however, it was up to small speaker brands to help themselves. Mint yer own driver was the new mantra. From Rethm to Zu, Ocellia to sound|kaos, from Camerton to Voxativ, AER to Lii, alternatives popped up. Some of these drivers are exclusive to their makers. Others are available OEM. Most are very expensive. In finished speakers, some show up solo to still champion the original ideal of one driver for the entire bandwidth. Others face the reality check of modern LF-heavy music with its synth-based sub bass. They add powered woofers. To me that's the most exciting new direction for this entire niche genre. It redefines its appeal and performance.

Cube Audio's Nenuphar Mini BASiS is one of the most current examples thereof and very shiny at that. Physical CD media remain the performance yardstick by which streaming audio must be judged. Unless you own a superior disc spinner, you simply can't know that. It's similar for filter-less true point-source speakers when augmented by active sealed or dipole bass to avoid the ringing and timing issues endemic to ubiquitous passive ported bass. If implemented as well as it is here, they're a performance benchmark by which far larger heavier passive multi-way speakers must be judged.

Despite any posturing to the contrary, unless you've heard something like a Nenuphar Mini BASiS, you simply can't appreciate that. Sad but true. So perhaps put an audition on your calendar to sync yourself up with the most current status quo of today's admittedly exotic speaker genre?

I'd highly recommend that you do. To make wise choices, a comprehensive education is everything!