Country of Origin


Zeus Ellipse DX45

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box at 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund Job 225; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Qualio Audio IQ w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; 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: Soundaware D1300Ref SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; DAC: Denafrips Terminator+; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossi Signature L2 + icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Enleum AMP-23R; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini, Dynaudio S18 sub; 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 Signatur;  Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
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: £9'750/pr

Munchkin. It's what we're up to today; the smallest speaker from the house of Hørning Hybrid. How munchkinious? 95cm tall, 26cm wide, 30cm deep. 25kg. Where it stands tall is on 95dB sensitivity and a single 12kHz capacitor as filter part whilst using a 45mm spider-less cone tweeter, 5" widebander and dual 6.5" neodymium-powered woofers for 35Hz – 20'000Hz ±3dB bandwidth. All drivers are low-mass paper so 0.2 grams for the tweeter, 5 grams for the 1.7 Tesla midrange, 15g/ea. per woofer. If you exhort "by Zeus that's cute but subversive", you've invoked the correct deity. Though thunderbolt-wielding Zeus at the head of the Olympian overlords doesn't typically conjure up demure, Tommy Hørning did name his smallest tower Zeus Ellipse DX45. If you find his lack of filter parts impossible, there are acoustic filters at 200Hz/12kHz. Those simply execute mechanically not electrically. It's how a widebander fan like Tommy gets to have his cake and eat it; in tineo or macassar ebony veneers. He avoids coils and capacitors on his woofers and custom whizzerless Lowther midrange. It takes little imagination to think that pulling this off must have been vexing in the extreme or anyone would do it and save a bundle on Mundorf and Duelund parts. It's this aversion to energy-absorbing filter parts which has purist widebander freaks shun them altogether. Instead they get religious on a single driver whilst accepting or pretending away associated compromises in bandwidth and linearity. With the highest musical fundamental just north of 4kHz, Tommy's single cap at 12kHz operates in pure and high overtone country. That doesn't really count as a conventional crossover. Building a 3-way like a purist single-driver speaker seemed like a very mean trick to me; one which I just had to hear for myself. In NYC, Jeffrey Catalano of HighWater Sound has been a long-time Hørning proponent and repeatedly garnered best-of-show plaudits for his demonstrations.

But I was in Ireland. Thankfully UK importer Iain Borthwick of Willow Tree Audio proved amenable to sending me a fully pre-conditioned pair across the narrow Irish sea. He's been with Tommy for a very long time to have observed his evolution as a designer. Now he wouldn't listen to any other speaker brand. In 2004 Jules Coleman covered a bigger Hørning for us but nearly 20 years later I'd never yet heard one. Time to get with the Hybrid program. I always thought of Tommy as that guy who since 2002 runs Lowthers as midranges to harness their strengths whilst stripping them off their weaknesses in single-driver mode. But such a summary, however correct, tells us nothing useful about how a denuded Lowther bracketed by helpers above and below performs. And what is his bass loading of two rear-firing woofers hidden behind a solid plate (firing in or out?), quarter-wave or transmission-line mouth far below them, small port in-between? Whatever Zeus' unconventional game, I didn't understand its rules looking at published photos. My inner storyteller always finds such mysteries extra compelling. Time to pepper Tommy with questions aware that to protect his IP, he might not answer some; or only in generalities. Giving away the farm is never smart.

Photo from Scott Hull's 2013 RMAF show report