Stepping up(stairs). With Apertura's Sensa having just vacated these very spots, Crayon's CFA-1.2 integrated was still in the driver's seat. On the French boxes, its 90 watts had worked superbly and better than the otherwise very similar 25 of Bakoon's AMP-13. Both had worked better than the 200 watts of Purifi's class D demonstrator amp. On the Brits in matte-black stealth mode, the Austrian crayons were still technically correct and filled in all the paint-by-numbers outlines in proper color. On feel however, they played it too buttoned up. The music wasn't gushy enough versus my very fond memories of Blighty. I had to step things up to more elastic class A. I had to bring the SIT-3—silver front panel borrowed from F7—up from downstairs for a bit of Downton Abbey action.

Here is a quick look at WBT haven with a cool dozen quality terminals per channel. That's 24 for the set! Unmistakable color coding there and on the Kondo loom plus Lynn's 'grey heat shrink to speakers' directional note wired up the lot without thinking twice.

Stick-on rubber bumpers for the surprisingly heavy crossovers allows owners to place those short side up as I did, face down or belly up. With the OBX arriving burnt in, they only needed a day of having their magnets come back up to room temps before handing me the keys.

Even before the static-induction transistors had fully checked in—they do like 30 minutes before lift-off—I knew I was made. Like a pair of Lucchese boots worn for years, the sound was that comfortable familiar fit. Driven from the COS Engineering D1's single-ended 2V outputs with purist analog volume, I had sufficient gain for my needs but no excess. The firm's pending D10—40% less with many new facilities like headfi, streaming, phono and alphanumeric display—gets 6dB more. Leaving potential mayhem for the downstairs servant's quarters, I was ready to lend two ears in a ~4x6m space.

Alas, after I'd been there and done that for a bit, the sonic fit proved just a bit too comfy. Think well-worn 2nd-hand boots like I used to try in Santa Fe's posh vintage shoppe. Nothing chafes or binds but the supple vamp leather is too loose. And whilst you pronate, the original wearer supinated. At minimum you'd have to resole the pre-loved goods. Likely you'd need insoles for a tighter fit. In hifi terms, I had insufficient resolution, speed and grip. What dominated instead were relaxation, softness and textural looseness. For this smaller room, the extent of these aspects was overdone and woolly. Looking for hardware alternates, I eventually returned to the Crayon but now preceded it with the CanEver ZeroUno HPA.

I used not its DAC-direct but amplified zero feedback class A push/pull outputs set to a standard 2Vrms, not the possible 17Vrms max. With Lundahl transformer coupling and six power toroids, this Italian deck without tubes still celebrates old-school valve circuit notions of heavy iron in the power supply and, in lieu of coupling capacitors, magnetics in a short simple signal path. A quick highly resolved amp now amplified fatter more tonally developed input signal. That gave me a closer semblance of the Blighty memory than the original COS/Crayon pairing had. Until I got to downstairs' Western Electric VT52 in the Vinnie Rossi pre for actual direct-heated valve perfume, I was all set. However, I would soon learn that our bigger room had these speakers stretch their legs more and unfurl fully like a sailor who goes flying once the spinnaker opens.