Cheap trick alert! Cue curated catty chuckle. Set up 'deep space' then crossed out at 80Hz/4th-order Linkwitz-Riley to hand over to our 2×15-inch cardioid sound|kaos sub had the 15H off the proverbial leash hunting big game. With all herniating LF duties cast off to a specialty bass weapon, the 5¼" Seas mid/woofers cruised not bruised even as SPL rose to room-pushing volumes. Imaging was immense yet confidently locked and layered. Tone and color scale were spot on to require zero ancillary alterations. The only adjustment was inserting a Wyred4Sound STP SEII between analog active filter and sub. That's because the incoming Danish minis were significantly less sensitive than my outgoing French floorstanders to throw off the latter's fortuitous gain match between 25wpc main amp and 250-watt bass amp. Now the sub played way too loud. Proper balance restored minutes later. With it the iron dolls disappeared into an enormous sound bubble with linear bass down to an unproblematic 25Hz. Cheap tricks. This one really works even though it's far from cheap. It simply proved that fronting generous cubic air meters still had Ole Lund Christensen's premium smallish drivers well within their wheelhouse. In fact, this setup exemplified my ongoing crusade for properly hi-passed 2.1 systems of elite monitors plus Ripol sub in ways that would rattle even the most recalcitrant opposition. This isn't the place to reiterate the obvious advantages of such 3somes. Suffice it to say that nothing in this performance would send me back to my resident towers. The Jern-plus sound wasn't identical to theirs across the same bandwidth yet very much on the level.

The primary difference was down to still greater imaging precision as a likely upshot of Jern's extremist enclosure. I find it a myth that big speakers can't image very well. But there's also a psych aspect. Smaller speakers don't overlay virtual performers as much. Rather than seem in the way or simply obvious originators of the sound, small speakers disappear more effectively to our eyes. And those influence our earperience. After all, ears and eyes don't process data perfectly separated. There's crossfeed. When it manifests as seeing colors with sounds or other more extreme dual processing, it's called synæsthesia. In more amorphous ways, it's true for us all. Because of their excellence with all aspects related to soundstaging as a visual discipline, the Jern will appeal especially to listeners whose primary crosslink with their ears are the eyes. Here they are truly monstrous in the best sense of the word.

As previewed on the desktop and recreated in my primary listening room if strangely a miss upstairs, sharply honed imaging chops and their appeal to the observer stance of looking at the music didn't exclude the discipline of density and fleshy colors or in-room projection. With these top-quality transducer and filter parts, reasonable assumptions that small dead 'boxes' will ace speed and precision at an obvious cost of leanness and whitishness had no ground to stand on. Obviously the mid and lower bass benefited from hugely scaled-up cone area and displacement. Which is the whole point of 2.1 arrays. The big question was how the 15H would solo. That puts full-range signal on small voice coils to heat them up sooner and increase their resistance. That opposes dynamic linearity. Greater excursions increase distortion. In this instance of a small sealed enclosure, there was a potentially added rev limiter of compounding inner pressure putting a brake on the inward stroke. I'd already experienced the best-case scenario in spectacular fashion with an expectant nod at Jern's forthcoming Foundation 500 force-cancelling sub. Now I reverted to a potentially worst-case scenario of having small drivers without port assist or deliberate boundary reinforcement play a good-sized space whose owner is used to 25Hz extension with power.

Whilst still in golden-child mode, a few words on the gold dome. I heard its standard version as implemented by Javier Millán in his Kroma Atelier Mimí monitor. His darkish voicing is a deliberate nod at classic romanticism. Favoring more top-down illumination à la Raal ribbon or Alain Pratali's bipole horn-loaded low-mass tweeter, I'd not marked his ¾" Hiquphon dome in my small white book of special attractions. Of course parts fetishism or disdain can never cut through the vagaries of implementation. But it's human to turn prior encounters into judgment calls. Once bitten twice shy. In Ole's implementation and/or as a higher-spec part, the H15's gold tweet was far more brilliant. I played a few fave zingers to track HF rise and overtone intensity. I underwent Hiquphon conversion therapy. This Ole-special part is not a genteel customer when a recording demands incisiveness, bite or freshness instead. Those glittering sympathetic strings on the sitars of Anoushka Shankar and Jasdeep Singh Degun had proper warbling fire. That left nothing to my imagination. No need to fill in blanks. This tweaked gold dome fired live ammunition without getting obnoxious like certain metallic-sounding air-motion transformers can. So my earlier impression of this part repented. I'd made a 180° turnabout. Hiquphon. Good dog!