In Warsaw, kick bass had been one of the attractions. Now I spun up Marcus Miller's Fender Jazz axe with "Papa was a Rolling Stone" from his Afrodeezia album. The Equilibrium provided sufficient control, substance and the needed agility to present the melodic bass runs in their proper light. Here SoReal's Melissa valve integrated standing in for the trade show's Rogue integrated teased out the percussive aspects of Miller's signature slap bass with even more conviction than what on paper were my more powerful Silvercore/darTZeel separates. Due to excellent timing from the valve-amp/Idea S8 pairing, this could really flap some pant legs.

In fact, the company's smallest floorstander and the demand for stiff dynamics were on very intimate terms. This got extra energetic as soon as levels crept past standard room volumes. Now the impulsive attacks on These New Puritans' "Orion" from their Hidden album really hit hard. Chapeau. That I didn't expect from a box this size. Once demands scaled back to more subtle transient workouts like the filigreed percussion on Patricia Barber's "Constantinople" from Modern Cool, the S8 relaxed its reins a bit. The sharp brief conga hits still came off realistically but the barely tapped more fragile finger-tip tickles rounded over a tad.

Here not only my thrice-costlier Acapella had higher differentiation of micro flickers. Even the price-competitive Backloaded-Horn N°4 from Ichos was a tad more attentive and accentuated. In short, the Idea S8 wasn't quite as convincing on microdynamic gradations as I'd been impressed by macrodynamic vigor.

That said, a solid all'rounder mustn't justify its existence with peak performance in every single sub discipline. The real attraction is a proper mix of talents. To do all musical genres and styles justice, a neutral tonal balance is simply prerequisite. Here much depends on the critical midrange where the S8 did a really excellent job. During a recent nocturnal surf session across the broad Qobuz swath, I chanced upon an acoustic take of Lea's new song "Treppenhaus". With its sparse instrumentation of piano, cello and guitar, this cut makes it easy to detect any tonal weakness. Likewise for the female vocals which for Pop aesthetics are actually produced quite naturally. Colorations telegraph easily. Here Equilibrium played nomen est omen by walking the path of tonal balance. Some might think the voice slightly shortchanged on luster and drama yet the piano came off exceptionally well and the cello sang believably sonorous. In short, this speaker handled known challenges with aplomb and its even naturalness reminded me of far costlier kit like Dynaudio's Confidence 30 or Verity's Otello which I'd sampled at prior trade shows. No bad company there.

Should you associate beryllium tweeters with emphasis even excess, you'd be surprised. After admittedly lengthy break-in, this driver integrated neatly without any undue weighting of the top end. With Arnold Schönberg's Violin Concerto, Isabella Faust has picked no picnic. What's more, these overtone-laded tone poems are little fun in any system with a forward presence region. Thankfully the Idea S8 didn't overplay that card. The "Allegro" of the 12-tone maestro's less accessible opus was pleasing and the timbre of the violin fluid and never glassy or hard. In the final analysis, a bit more upper-harmonic gleam and more intense bow-action 'sawing' in the high registers could have still narrowed the gap to the live experience. That said, for long-term comfort, this voicing is more conducive than any no-prisoners attitude. Here I'm thinking of the ceramic tweeter in my previous Kharma 3.2. Regardless of Isabelle Faust's virtuoso chops, this piece would have devolved into a really hard case. Before I engender knee-jerk reactions about the S8 being a bit too tame on high, check out "Life goes on" from Carla Bley's eponymous album. The fat timbre of Andy Shepphard's saxophone won't lack for brilliance. What's more, his reed sounded wonderfully open with plenty of headroom. On such superior productions, this Equilibrium was a real class act.