I deliberately exposed the attendant visual scenery with strategic filler flash. It  documents the richly saturated colors and dramatic sonic mood of mysterious half shadows. Having already listened here with Merrill Audio's ambitious Element 114 class D amp with GaN transistors and zero NFB driving Børresen Acoustics 02 2.5-ways with next-gen ribbon tweeter and carbon-composite mid/woofers, that combination had played it decidedly different. It was far more lit up, immaculately sorted, tensioned down and obsessed with outside-in detail. In the same breath, it had toned down tonal saturation and tightened the reigns on textural generosity as that well-gauged voluptuousness of Kevin's aesthetic. To release that aroma fully does require the right ancillaries.

On said note, I also tried the obvious 114/OBX combo despite Merrill Wettasinghe's warning that soft-driver speakers wouldn't like his high damping. That foresight proved golden. Whilst somewhat higher resolution did exert itself already in the live location din of Mayte Martín's opening bolero from her Cosas de Dos album, its inherent juiciness dried up demonstrably. Timing hardened up into more rigidity. The fundamental ebb'n'flow of this musical style stifled. Into this load with doped-paper cones and fabric dome, our LinnenberG Liszt monos preceded by Elrog ER50 direct-heated triodes in Vinnie Rossi's preamp were far superior at recreating the vacuum-tube audio gestalt my wife and I had so admired in Lynn and Kevin's home.

That gestalt is best described as mildly autumnal and judiciously operatic. It emphasizes musical drama. It elevates transportation to elsewhere over analyzing its means. That means that our journey of 10'000 miles really does start with the first step. We're on the journey right away. As such we're not concerned with arriving because at that point, the journey would actually be over. Who really wants that? Only those who cannot even listen to the end of a single tune before they start commenting on various sonic attributes, on hits and misses and other judgments.

This observation aims straight at the different reasons why we might do musical playback. It can be background ambiance like sonic wallpaper or a water fountain. It can superficially distract us from more mundane concerns. It can keep us awake on a long monotonous drive. It can entertain our minds, have us study or admire player technique and compositional structure. It can make us sentimental or change our mood. It can stimulate our vitality, even sexuality.  It can take us outside/beyond ourselves into a zone where something happens but the one to whom it happens isn't there as usual.

None of these reasons or still others we might name are more valid than any other. It's simply the case that overall system voicing or style of presentation will affect which of these different purposes are best served. If it wasn't clear yet, I propose that the OBX-RW3's real strength is at triggering the last one mentioned.

That's how the last step becomes the first and our journey into inner spaces begins.

Should you protest by insisting that surely the 'wrong' electronics could seriously shift this equation, I'd agree. I simply started this particular journey with a visit to the designer's personal system. That gave me foresight into which direction it could go and how far. And that set my course and purpose accordingly. I thus think that it properly represents why Kevin Scott became an auteur speaker designer in the first place and why these 25 years later he's still at it. Exploring inner spaces, eyes closed, body fully relaxed, a CD playing through to the end without interruption to get very deeply lost and thus found… that's his core purpose. If it's also yours, wouldn't it make sense to check out his speakers?