By August 18th, Grzegorz was tripping on a Q.lude. Reasonable compromise isn't in his blood. "We're hard at work and quite busy all around. It's curious how things develop and what kind of sound we can ultimately accept. The new monitors have now been suspended. I couldn't squeeze from them the kick I need to enjoy music. I can't enjoy speakers which don't play loud enough and take me to that other dimension; whatever that even means. For me it's mostly about dynamics, scale, soundstage and holography. I think I now finished something which I can truly enjoy. Even though it's not as refined as Nenuphar in a few regards, the qualities I listed come off at such extraordinary levels that I love these speakers. We are also rebuilding our audition room to comfortably evaluate bigger speakers. The room will exceed 30m² so be better for playback. That said, I now totally believe in our new speaker and know that I'm 99% there. What's left are a few more auditions over the next two weeks, then production of the first batch. We need some special parts using thermoforming and a few other tricks we were already working on so I'll do my best to get you a pair in October." Given these performance descriptions, how many drivers did it take our Cubists to get there?
"We have plenty of other developments in front of us too so once I close out the design and manufacturing process of the first Qualio model, I must revisit the 15" Cube Audio widebander. Since we used up some of our storage space to enlarge the audition room, I looked at the latest 15" prototypes lying on a shelf for the past 6 months to have a listen. In most respects I liked it more than Nenuphar right off even though some adjustments in the upper midrange and high frequencies remain. I have a few new ideas I want to try so that big driver is definitely something I must get back to ASAP. To sum up, we're working hard to deliver a few new speakers on which people can simply relax to be moved to that other dimension." Our meandering story is the speaker equivalent of a big Audi owner being asked to replace it with a Honda Civic. Here the poor chap tasked himself with the downsize then couldn't do it. It's the old champagne-on-a-beer-budget quandary. Authenticity too. If we can't wholeheartedly put our name on a product, why bother? To hit a price point? It's a clash between creative credibility, compromise and commerce. Some lower their standards without a second thought. Others are conscientious objectors. As the many switchbacks on today's path show, rebels with a cause don't pick the easy way out. With the Alpair then Visaton monitor scrapped, what did the charm of three end up with for our first fully sanctioned Qualio?
By October 5th, "multiple prototypes and endless off-the-shelf widebanders later, the first Qualio model will be ready for Warsaw October 28th – 30th. We'll get to naming next week. Now things are a bit crazy with all the production prep. Also, we're working up a new 18" two-way Cube flagship. That too will premiere in Warsaw. [See below – Ed.]
This was quite the journey. Indeed I believe that we needed this time to define the true soul of Qualio. As you know, at the beginning we wanted to do something cheap but still very good, relatively speaking. However, I love to slam and need the punch and scale of bigger drivers. As it turned out, no 15cm mid/woofer will do that for us. So we identified as the strongest point of Qualio consumer direct. Now we can afford to buy the highest-quality drivers, WBT posts, Jantzen filter parts and the retail price doesn't multiple as many times as it does with the regular distribution model. Finally affordable high-end speakers for all who can think a bit out of the box. On that topic, the first Qualio is a 3-way with 9.5" reflex bass for 28Hz reach, 6.5" widebander and Mundorf AMT. Widebander and tweeter work open baffle. Today I couldn't stop listening. It's really addictive. The vocals are awesome and scale dynamics and soundstage – let's just say that I'm in love. Even though this SB Acoustics Satori full-ranger isn't advertised as such but just as a classic midrange, its measurements out to 15kHz, parameters and sonic performance make it as full-range as most so-called widebanders. The Satori woofer has a free-air resonance of 24.5Hz. We also finalized a new Cube Audio flagship which combines our own new widebander with an 18" woofer, both front firing."
Alon | Nola showing three different hybrid open-baffle concepts.
So the first Qualio has conceptual Marchisotto DNA à la Alon by Acarian Systems, currently Nola by Accent Speaker Technologies. Carl Marchisotto is one of very few designers who over many decades already consistently held on to dipole mids/treble with box bass. His is a famous name with a proven track record to include on one's CV. To namedrop, there's also the late Siegfried Linkwitz, another vocal proponent of dipole dispersion for dynamic drivers so not ribbons, planar magnetics or electrostats. Unlike pure dynamic open baffles from Emerald and Spatial, ported bass can shrink size. If that vented woofer turns sideways, the baffle needn't be much wider than its midrange diameter. That's very different from a full-range OB's non-negotiable need for big woofers to overcome the loss of out-of-phase bass cancellation. It routinely mandates 12", 15" or 18" artillery often doubled up. Hello room divider panel. But not today.