April
2021

Country of Origin

Poland

TBA

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia/Avatar, Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with Elrog ER50; Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt monos, Kinki Studio EX-b7 monos; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room so no wall behind the listening chairs
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Preamp/filter: Passive Preamplifier icOn 4Pro SE w. custom 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass;
Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers:sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan];  Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: Kinki Studio Vision THR-1; Phones: Audeze LCD-XC on Forza Audio Lab cable; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R or Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a, Audeze LCD-2, Final Sonorous X & D8000, HifiMan HE-1000; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: TBA

The other 15. Attentive readers know. Poland's Cube Audio are working on a massive 15-inch widebander. And, they're working also on a new 15cm driver. Wrote Grzegorz on September 15th—there was a definite number's game afoot—"I'm still working on the 15" but for the last three months did very little with it. We had multiple production process enhancements and more but I needed a break from R&D. I will revisit the project by probably next week. We already developed a new motor with a 2" voice coil and 5kg of neodymium magnets. This motor has 2.2 Tesla of flux in a very wide gap that allows us to use a very thick Faraday ring. The driver arrives linearly at 20kHz (!) but I'm still not too happy with the overall sonic balance in that reasonably sized cabinet I want. More experiments are needed."

"However, Marek has actively worked on a new 15cm driver which is nearly ready. We'll have this for autumn and plan to use it in a small monitor, in a floorstander and a floorstander with extra 20cm/7.8" woofer. The sound from that little driver is astonishingly rich. It has an amazing amount of volume and depth of bass. We'll certainly send you one for review when we're ready."

When in the 13th century the Knights Templars settled in western Poland, they built things like the Saint Stanislaus chapel in the village of Chwarszczany. "According to at least one local legend, it's here that the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus Christ drank from at the last supper and which later held his blood, could still be hidden." At least so said a CNN Travel article on the subject. Local archeologists suspect a hidden tunnel into this structure. There's thus still hope for the legend.

In the annals of speaker builders, one holy grail has always been the point-source single driver which covers the entire audible bandwidth. Cube's big 15" is still searching for it, just not in Chwarszczany but in Poznán and not out in the fields with the lilies but in building #2 on Kopanina street. Their new 15cm/6" would have to use quarter-wave loading or separate woofer augmentation and for bass not pursue the very ends of the earth. In their willingness to keep engineering new and different drivers, Cube's Grzegorz and Marek go well beyond Zu Audio who to this day use the very same 10.3" unit for all of their speakers. In Gstaad it's sound|kaos, in Berlin Camerton and Voxativ which parallel the Cubevolution with their own widebanders that are smaller than the standard 8-inch diameter. But in Poland, it's Cube Audio who still labor over the undying myth of a widebander that's sufficiently broad of bandwidth to serve modern music. Whatever the next grail cup they'll fashion looks like—plain like the Indiana Jones version, gilded like those of romantic Arthurian authors—given their track record, it should invite applause either way.

April 6th. "We're very busy prototyping and optimizing production. Soon we should have the model with the 5" widebander and 7.8" woofer. I believe it'll finalize before the big 15" which I'm still working on. The smaller model should be ready around June and we'll start the reviewing cycle then. And thanks for asking, Marek and I are quite healthy, Marek already had Covid but for him it presented like a cold and I either didn't get it or it was so mild that I didn't recognize it. But I'm very cautious since my wife is pregnant and she can't take any strong medicine for the sake of the baby." Love and work in the age of Covid.

June 2nd. Regular contributor Dawid Grzyb in Warsaw had started his Cubist audio exposure with Magus the firstborn. He'd next reviewed/awarded Nenuphar. Now he published his review of Nenuphar Mini, a floorstander with the F8 Neo driver. "Had it arrived before Nenuphar, it would have received our red award instead. That's how good it is!" So Grzegorz & Marek could do no wrong. Given their early success, they were clearly careful to back up all subsequent models with whatever R&D marathons were required to insure they'd measure up. If you've set standards as high as Nenuphar—Dawid: "my loaner emerged as one of the very best speakers I'd heard regardless of type. I've been thinking of it ever since publishing the review more than two years ago. Lack of space is the only reason why I haven't committed."—measuring up could mean real nightmares. It explains not just the lengthy gestation period of Big 15. Anything new from this speaker house on Kopanina street won't just crack an egg and start walking a minute later. After Nenuphar, learning to fly is the gig. Cube Audio's next adventure would launch a brand-new small wideband driver, mate it to a passive woofer for likely at least a low-pass filter then have that combo take wing. Other than Martin Gateley of sound|kaos, none of the widebander experts had done so yet. Where Rethm and Voxativ bundle woofers, those always go active. Grzegorz & Marek had to learn how to blend a widebander and woofer into a seamless passive whole. At Rethm meanwhile, tireless Jacob George was just then revamping his Aarka through Saadhana range to relocate their rear-firing active woofers to the front and simplify their enclosure builds. Martin Gateley was hard at work on his dual 15" Ripol subwoofer.

Modern bandwidth, linearity and SPL requirements are very hard on just one driver. Making it two to tango can be advantageous. The question is, can the woofer learn to follow the widebander's lead and not step on any toes? That'd be the wrong kind of playing footsies…

… to be continued…