Country of Origin


Component of 2022

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It lives. So Frankenstein's creator awed. Now it was my turn. Imagine designing your dream hifi component fully duded up and kitted out. You finally meet it in the metallic flesh and it works exactly as you hoped. Except here I designed nada. I simply dreamt a wouldn't-it-be-nice thought out loud. Lucky for me, one island over Pál Nagy was listening. He soon wished he hadn't. There was good reason why something like it didn't exist. Yet. Made of sterner stuff than surrender, I told his lengthy Gradient Box genesis tale elsewhere. Today reports its first live sighting in the wild so out of Pál's home lab. A Sasquatch by the Shannon river. Because of the quasi 'commission' nature of this smart subwoofer filter, any award from me is out of bounds. But I don't see why that would forbid it from featuring on this page as my very personal Component of 2022. Its existence is due to the dearth of fully flexible hi/lo-passed such filters which execute in the analog domain for zero latency; and use top-spec parts so the high-passed signal to the main speakers in particular isn't compromised by a generic plate amp's DSP filter. Another key ingredient I asked for was remote control over all the key functions so setup can be done from the chair; and a shelving EQ to counter a Ripol sub's inherent roll-off. Unlike Magico's €48K filter fixed at 55Hz, this one sells for £2.2K ex VAT.

Two bays of 7 selectable filter hinges each to, on the remote fly, compare between the A and B side values in the seat. The display rotates for belly up during setup, then flips back when the Gradient Box sits on its rubber bumpers.

Given the involved complexity, friendly price and at least initially very narrow customer base, it's a product which really shouldn't exist. It's why until now it hasn't. After all, who ever heard of proper 'philes using a subwoofer or two for music not movies; and even more outrageous, filtering their mains to remove any low bass from their voice coils? Precisely. Philistines. Doing it took me nearly 20 years on the beat. It began with my discovery of cardioid bass via so-called Ripol bass systems in Bastanis/Voxativ speakers then Bruno Putzeys' clever DSP-heavy Kii III. Later I learnt of the standalone German ModalAkustik sub designed with input from the Ripol inventor. I finally ended up with Martin Gateley's big 2×15" sound|kaos version. That ruined me for the sloppy time signature of generic box bass, be it ported or sealed. Such bass radiates omnidirectionally to bounce off four walls, ceiling and floor plus solid furnishings. Reflections arrive late in time. Their delay follows direct bass to wrap it in blur and fuzz. Add narrow-band room-mode boom for bad measure. Hearing a very good portion of it removed due to strategic acoustic cancellation without unsightly bass traps was a major personal wakeup call. The finalized Gradient Box is the last piece of that puzzle. Being able to set different hi/lo-pass frequencies including deliberate offset between channels plus sub and mains via any mix of RCA or XLR will now adapt my 2.1 system to any incoming review speaker in a jiffy.

Bypass engaged.

Not everyone needs a Swiss army knife. Sometimes a butter knife will do. If you're happy to jump in and out of the seat while trying to dial in your ideal filter freqs, there are costlier analog crossovers from JL Audio, spl and Wilson to keep you fit. If your speakers change a lot because you're a reviewer, dealer or polygamous 'phile, you should prefer remote? Paying less than the manual alternatives might add incentive? My formal review has all the dirt. This page is basic proof-of-life notice so you can plan your own ransom fulfilment and liberate superior bass integration in your digs.

It lives; my component of 2022. Dig it!