An e-stat's electrostatically charged membrane acts as a magnet for dust particles which can cause micro arcing to burn tiny holes into the foil diaphragm. Voce thus includes full protective dust shields. It also meant that MrSpeakers had to install costly new clean-room production beyond the requirements of their planarmagnetics. Because Dan is a self-professed weight freak who always schemes on how to shave off more grams and minimize mass to maximize comfort—Ether 2 is 80g lighter than its predecessor—his headband once again is his signature memory-metal NiTinol. Despite its barely-there thinness, it always returns to its manufactured shape.

Kevin Gilmore's amp design as implemented by HeadAmp's Justin Wilson with external power supply to connect by 9-pin umbilical is available in five each gloss and satin colours, with a smooth Alps RK50 or 24-step DACT attenuator and with metal or rubber footers. All options are selectable from their online menu. On circuitry, it's a reverse hybrid like a KR Audio. It combines transistor inputs (Jfet) with tube outputs (4 x EL34/6CA7) and omits output transformers for DC coupling. That combination produces a massive 54dB or x 500 of voltage gain and swings 1'600V peak to peak. It supports 1 x XLR and 2 x RCA for input sources and outputs on two 580V e-stat ports plus on RCA and XLR line-out loops.

To wrap up my intro, the Blue Hawaii SE/Voce sandwich represents one 'indecent' proposal of a true end-of-life headfi system: unapologetically costly yet also without compromise and still far cheaper and smaller than an equivalently good speaker system. Actually, forget about assembling a speaker system as linear and resolved as premium headfi. Inevitable room interference just won't let you.

My contrasting end-of-life rigs would equally splurge: €5'800 + €6'000 for the Bakoon/HifiMan combo; €4'800 + €6'000 for the Final version. As cheapskates of this elite bunch, €1'295 + €3'500 for the Job/Raal. Should you wonder about that, as pure ribbons the Raal  present as 0.0018Ω. Unholy smokes. Raal's own interface box plus pig tails plus main cable upconvert that virtual dead short to a purely resistive very happy 6Ω. Into that plugs a ~100wpc speaker amp. The interface box burns up about 95% of its power—the ribbons only need ~0.5 watts—but freely passes the current they need particularly for loud/low bass transients down to the 30 cycles they're shockingly capable of. Given those extra requirements—a ribbon's equivalent to the e-stat driver amp—the DC-coupled wide-bandwidth Swiss Job 225 makes for a radically more cost-effective far cooler cucumber than our butch class A Pass Labs XA-30.8. Now that we've met all the players, the table is set. Let's explore four discrete flavours for head-based UltraFi.