When the rubber hit the road—like rings one throws onto posts to win a cheap furry carnival trophy—I measured the mid/woofer center on my taller stands. My ears in the chair were a solid 20cm higher. Building in tilt with the rubber rings overcame my height advantage. I was finally lined up to get serious. I even upgraded the source to Soundaware's super-cap powered D300Ref whose clocks again sync'd to the Denafrips Terminator+ which received digits via I²S over 8K HDMI2.1 cable. In this system, I never really warmed to the sound even though plenty of strong suits materialized. Image specificity was very high. While it's something small monitors tend to ace, this Jern went farther by canceling typical micro blur which chattier box constructions throw into the mix. That was most obvious on percussive transients so anything that cracked, slapped, snared, tapped, rattled, clacked or crashed. Such noises registered without typical time confusion. Gone was its blur often identified as warmth or texture. In its absence, image locations marked with that extra degree of lock we expect from needles on a faquir's bed. Forget sleeping. Those needles won't prick us in some generalized vicinity. They'll prick us in very precise spots. The 15H had clearly mastered that needling trick for image localizations. In my free placement, it also meant wall-to-wall staging with depth through the front wall. Soundstaging monsters of the first squadron indeed.

However, a wider byproduct of this greater exactitude was dryness and global damping. Whilst bass hit 40Hz with dynamic exuberance unexpected from a small sealed box—how did all that pressure generated inside not reflect right back out through the cones?—it and the rest were more clipped than elastic. I also never escaped the feel of a somewhat monochrome soundscape. I felt teleported into a wintery Nordic scenery. Colors mute. Temps cool off. The air is clear and super crisp. Contrast is ultra high, Aurora Borealis around the corner. The net result of it all was informative yet strangely stark. In a typical reflex to inject more color gumption and emotional life, I reached for the preamp throttle. All that did was get louder than I wanted. The upshift into a higher octave of involvement remained elusive. I could admire numerous technical performance aspects. I could enjoy the associated mind funk of such huge sound free of apparent origins, with perfectly satisfying bass reach issuing forth from diminutive Matryoshka dolls parked rakishly on outsized perches. But it still didn't project across the room so I didn't reach the promised land of artistic communion. Like Moshe the Egyptian I kept crisscrossing my desert. I was a disassociated spectator. I'd move things downstairs to rejig the entire setup. Something just wasn't happy upstairs. I even had a cheap ground-floor trick in mind should it be needed. 

Then I read Ralph Werner's Lyravox Karlsson Tower review, about an active monitor with add-on bass bin. It converts a ported Accuton two-way in a stiff chemically welded synthetic stone enclosure into a docked 3-way with two active woofers plus one passive radiator. There I came across this paragraph, italics mine: "Whilst the monitor head retains its original rear port, converted into a 3-way it no longer operates as one since its driver now high-passes at 150Hz well above port resonance. Yet the designer finds it useful to not seal off since a vented box works better for mid-band impulses. Were their small 13-liter cubic volume sealed, strong captive air pressures would act like a brake on transients." Though I could be clutching straws to explain my reaction, that's in fact what the 15H sounded like to me: overdamped to not ring out properly. I didn't think the grey-iron chassis cause. Acelec's Model One in its very inert bitumized aluminium box or Kroma's Mimí in a well-damped Krion equivalent hadn't acted alike. Of course they both are ported. It had to be the combination of a truly rigid box, sealed alignment and small cubic volume with unexpected bass reach. Might an amp with higher output Ω downplay this behavior? 

Whilst downstairs, the Danes stopped over in my office. Their compact size makes a sufficiently solid desktop one logical destination. Rather than Purifi's high-feedback ultra-low Ω amp, I selected Simon Lee's i5 integrated for a richer darker more bottom-up signature. Massive Vermöuth Audio speaker cables happened to be handy spares to make the connection. Audirvana Origin served up local files through a Singxer SU-2 USB bridge into an iFi iDSD Pro Signature DAC. Adjustable Gravity Audio stands usually hosting DMAX SC5 lined up the Seas mid/woofers, face-on toe in completed my basic homework.

Et voilà. In such nearfield proximity fronted by deliberately denser electronics, my upstairs reluctance to warming up to the Iron Age vanished. I again had maximally mapped 'n' sorted imaging. That's quite the trip staring at a the physical barrier of a curved 34-inch screen. Again I had solid dub-ready bass. But now the transient needle work had mellowed. Colors were deeper. My ability to hear more natural tonal elasticity and fades had improved to overwrite the earlier clipped—dry-cleaned, starched and pressed?—delivery. I simply won't focus on the desktop. €5'580/pr with rings should rather exceed what most allocate for office/gaming sound when these are additionally passive to still require suitably small ancillaries. Just so, in the above context the Jern were lust-inducing elite performers for well-heeled sound freaks prepared to go posh separates. That stopover proved how my upstairs reaction wasn't cast in iron like a sour epitaph. I now had very high hopes for the main system. Would it recreate the nearfield experience of naturally lower SPL in a classic audiophile 'free-field' setup with higher SPL? If the desktop success was primarily down to lower amplifier damping, the 0.25Ω Enleum AMP-23R should work ideally. If the desktop success was more down to lower internal cabinet pressures applying less braking on the mid/woofer, might things devolve again in a larger room sitting farther away to play louder? Only one way to find out.