Given their extra resolution, I next cued up the "Poco Allegretto" of Brahms' 3rd Symphony performed by the Intercontinental Ensemble on the trptk issue Traveling Light. It was recorded in 352.8kHz DXD without dynamic compression or limiting. It used seven Sonadore microphones, Merging Technologies AD/DA converters, Hegel H30 amplification and KEF Blade Two speakers with Furutech cabling and conditioning. The ensemble is a classical nonet to combine a woodwind quintet with a string quartet whilst performing symphonic scores transcribed for them. So they travel light. But there's a secondary meaning. By stripping down massed symphonic forces to just one member for each key section, it's easier to hear small structural elements and intertwining lines which normally get drowned out by a full symphony. Now the listener travels lighter and more easily through the musical terrain.

Again, Courbet N°5's extra resolution dug deep into the audiophile chestnut of truth of timbre and its relative, tone modulations. If you weren't there, you can't ever know what it's supposed to sound like. That said, when each instrument is so clearly recognizable as it is here rather than being diluted by a chorus of 12 first violins, 10 seconds and so forth, it can become more categorically a very unique violin or viola which still modulates its tone for expressivity. Now timbral differences or specificities enlarge not shrink. From that you can say that a good recording and highly resolving playback chain were required to increase that contrast ratio of pure tone, hence our discernment of unique harmonic signatures as though they were written out larger. And, by direct inference, that gives you feedback on the abilities of your loudspeakers. Courbet N°5 had clearly little self sound to become so transparent to this ensemble's finely honed timbres.

As you might tell from my musical examples, Courbet N°5 led me to choices which took full advantage of its strengths to demand top-quality recordings. Compressed Pop worked just as well but, if one knew the difference, felt nearly a bit wasted on such insightful transducers.

That's always true of course. In this instance, it simply felt more apt than usual. Hence my reliance on acoustic instruments particularly in a classic milieu. At least to me that's far more telling than electronica whose original sounds I couldn't even guess at.

The only realistic limitation here were low bass reach and welly if one went clubbing in the crib with infrasonic synths. For more on that score, there's the Courbet N°7 with its bigger stronger woofer. The obvious trick to stacking up on the N°5's bassiness is a darker heavier high-current amplifier like our Pass Labs XA-30.8. That will also soften up the top to be useful on the recorded brightness that's become the norm. Of course passage on that good ship demands €6'500, then still requires tickets for a preamp and a DAC and a source. It's why my assignment focused on the SAG AIO. At €4'500, it includes the lot. That renders the entire double-wide stack on our right side wall obsolete, purely static and thus destined for the hifi cemetery. Just spin up a CD or stream from a USB stick. Done.

C'est vrai. Not having crossed paths with a core Davis Acoustics model in two decades of writing on hifi felt like a very sore oversight I was happy to finally correct. This photo from Olivier Visan's full-line catalogue whittles down today's story to its core message and key appeal: unique very good drivers whose design DNA traces back 33 years. In hifi terms, that's an eternity. What it means to the buyer is sound quality which elsewhere—think brands like Apertura, Avantgarde Acoustics, Goldmund, Jadis and MBL who all buy drivers from Davis—can cost more, sometimes a lot more. If you're not stuck on looking at a shinier badge to impress your friends with, Courbet N°5 will secure you advanced resolution aka high fidelity in finely styled, nicely built/finished yet still simple cabinets. This is a very clever successful design. Owning it would, at least in my book, make you a very clever buyer and a proper audiophile success. But if you just mean to play back overproduced stuff, Courbet N°5 would actually be too good for such purposes. More than most, it really thrives when fed a premium diet. That's because it's a bona fide high-end speaker which simply hides out underneath a mainstream sheep fleece. Bwahahahaha.