Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac late 2020 with Ventura 13.4, 40GB RAM, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-6 & SW-8 network switches, Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box at 100Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & EX-M7 stereo; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Qualio Audio IQ w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Vibra 68 footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Kinki Studio Earth; 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: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: FiiO R7, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC: Sonnet Pasithea; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box at 60Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Amplifiers: Gold Note PA-10 Evo monos; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini, Dynaudio S18 sub on sound|kaos Vibra 68 footers; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF + Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Masterclock: LHY OCK-2; Headphones: Final D-8000; Headfi/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Loudspeakers: EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: BACCH license €999, speaker €15'704.64/pr
The Hollandaise triumvirate of upscale consumer active speakers is made up of Æquo, Grimm and Dutch & Dutch. Today is about the double D. "Our 8c speaker has been around for a few years and the very first review was done by Marja & Henk for 6moons. The last time I spoke with them was over drinks in Warsaw. They were a remarkable couple and made a lasting impression. Since that first review, we have come a long way. The hardware is still the same but the DSP software has radically improved. In collaboration with BACCH Labs we're releasing firmware v2.4 with BACCH today. If you're interested, I'd love to have you review the BACCH-enabled 8c." I told Martijn Mensink that I was all in if he really was given my rooms. Their layout puts speakers from 2 to 3 meters from the front wall. I rather thought—and their above cover shot seemed to confirm so—that the cardioid design brief with its rear-firing woofers relies on closer proximity to come off as intended¹. Were my setups a deal breaker? If not, I very badly wanted a whiff of aural BACCH (flower) remedy. How does it work? Via plugin for their Ascend RoomMatching software. "BACCH technology solves the challenge of acoustic crosstalk which occurs between the sound of two speakers. Stereo source material contains immersive spatial cues that are normally masked by acoustic crosstalk. The BACCH algorithm unmasks these cues which results in an unprecedented listening experience from just two loudspeakers. The fact that ours are cardioid so highly directional makes them perfect for this. Ascend is an integrative combination of embedded, web, cloud and mobile software which offers digital synchronization between speakers, direct streaming, DSP control, room correction, secure updates and now 3rd-party plugins as well as a range of other features."
¹ In this instance we can appreciate two obvious benefits of close wall placement. 1/ we maximize bass output. 2/ we minimize time delay by turning the 8c into a virtual in-wall that can only radiate forward not backward to extend the midrange's cardioid dispersion downward. With long bass wavelengths, 10cm of wall clearance are rather immaterial. With onboard DSP and 500 watts on the woofers, we also expect that D&D's RoomMatching algorithm would readily compensate for more 'free-field' arrangements simply at the cost of ultimate bass loudness and time coherence.
Before I'd yet heard back from Martijn on whether this gig was a go or gone, reader Michael Ian Fanning contributed some hifi history: "When I read your preview which promises a solution to acoustic crosstalk, I immediately thought of the audio marketing genius Bob Carver who produced an innovation much the same dubbed sonic holography. Carver integrated this module into the preamplifier section of his various amps and produced outboard devices such as the C-4000 and the C-9, the latter of which I purchased back in the early 1990s. I've attached an old print ad that breathlessly espouses its benefits. "At its heart, the C-4000 is a high performance console preamplifier with precise RIAA phono equalization, low distortion, high slew rate, wide dynamic range and a high degree of control flexibility. But its similarity to other fine preamps ends there. The C-4000 goes far beyond mere accuracy and fidelity. Its goal is a dramatically higher degree of realism than has ever been achieved before in audio reproduction. Thus its Peak Unlimiter undoes the dynamic compression which makes many recordings and broadcasts sound canned. Its Auto Correlator noise reduction system strips away the veil of low-level rumble and hiss which form a perpetual psychoacoustic barrier to realism in the reproduction of musical timbres.
"And its Time Delay and revolutionary Sonic Hologram Generator break through the limits of listening-room acoustics and the two-channel stereo medium itself to provide a remarkably three-dimensional you-are-there realism with a sonic image which subjectively extends far beyond the loudspeakers in both breadth and depth. Sound images will exist to the left and to the right well beyond the limits of the loudspeakers. A very occasional sound image may exist all the way to your right or to your left. The 'front-to-back' or 'stage' depth will be from 10 to 20 feet in front of you, with sound images clearly floating in space behind and from time to time in front of the loudspeakers. You can turn your head to 'look' at the sound images and they will stay 'put' in space. Sound images will clearly emerge from beyond the limits of the room boundaries. At your listening position and from all around you including over your shoulders, you will sense—and this is very hard to describe—an almost palpable 'feel' of the space or 'sonic signature' that belongs to the concert hall or recording studio. The sense of the hall is related to very low-frequency standing-wave energy and the complete illusion will be convincing, believable and well-defined.""
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