A desk being toppled. How to generate a wired output from an HP-Z230 work station? Our Audiobyte Hydra X1 USB bridge is too high-brow a battery-powered snob to bother with Toslink. But fortuitous timing had on hand an outgoing Mutec MC3+USB review loaner to quite literally bridge the gap. Now I could stream local files via J.River Media Center or cloud the subject with Tidal, Qobuz & Spotify. The pretty much instant message from the deep time? Tiny widebanders in the extreme nearfield staged like demons again and added virtual headphone immediacy inside what would be the sphere of a 1-meter wide skull. That again meant low-volume intelligibility not in need of being at all loud to make itself understood. In a non-studio desktop context where music will mostly be in the background so one still hears oneself think, that's key. It also meant that the visual barrier of the Z34c curved monitor couldn't interfere with the left-right panorama, only foreshorten the depth perspective.

By sheer necessity, the sub sat beneath the desk. Still I suffered no perception dislocation, of bass seeming to occur on a physically lower plane. What I did hear again was that intermittent wirier texture in the lower midrange whilst for example the Tord Gustavsen Trio's bassist navigated to middle C and The Other Side. At low SPL and with the bass attenuator dialed in soft, this effect was mild. From an intelligibility perspective in fact, it was arguably an asset because enhanced grip meant enhanced definition. Working the critic's beat, it's simply fair to once more mention this textural transition, of a more damped, striated and pressurized lower half and a more gushing fluid upper.

So the Ionic System reminded me of Anthony Gallo's tiny spheres with barrel sub. Like our Czech team, Anthony had determined that for the majority bandwidth, a 3-inch to 4-inch driver was his preferred poison. Hence that's what also appeared in his flagship line source. If you prioritize speed, insight and easy resolution over tone density, general mass and bigger air motion—a balance which particularly on the desktop is advantageous—being this tiny a driver is very good. Unlike the soundgil Cube, the Ionic system didn't feel hooded on top. High piano tones and cymbals had sufficient sparkle and air to miss feeling dark. Cosmetically and sonically, Spirula + Thunderstone were a sonic work-desk solution of high quality. That's why the absence of a driverless 24/96 USB input like Feniks Audio have it for their active Essence coaxial struck me as peculiar. But even the €4'000/pr Fram Midi 150 actives from Poland omit USB so Deeptime were in good company.

Deeptime. Contrary to reflexive expectations, this stylish 3-piece system from Czechia really does allow you to have a deep time with your favorite tunes. There's nothing superficial about it. When you think a bit more, there's no gluing or bolting involved which elsewhere assembles flat panels into speaker cabinets. These curvaceous cabs were grown from grains of sand in truly monolithic seamless fashion. Far more than just look good, that sounds good. Whilst as the main satellites Spirula will get the most eyeballs, it's Thunderstone's construction that's the even more mind boggling. Three long curved port pipes integrate as structural elements to stiffen the build and give a quality but small woofer far more power and extension than seems normal. Such complex geometry couldn't be molded and remain monolithic. To go where none have gone before, it only took two crazy Czech guys with extensive modeling and 3D printing experience from the automotive sector five years to elevate advanced loudspeaker enclosure engineering to the next level. To what hifi product will they apply their hard-won expertise next?

That it's the design-conscious lifestyle shoppers who are the first beneficiaries with the Ionic System is a lovely quite deep irony. Typical audiophiles who disbelieve that good looks, smart engineering and proper sound can all coexist and come from such a compact rig will be left out. So time out. But do listen to this song from Czech singer Marta Topferova first before you blip off. It too might just surprise you big… er, deep time …