The next morning I awoke to thoughts of rascal saint George Ivanovich Gurdjieff who on his death bed is rumoured to have said to the disciples present that now they were all effed. I always took this to mean that without him pushing them hard to transcend their limitations, left to their own devices they'd fall back or stop developing altogether. Then I thought about Simone who, headed for the Munich HighEnd show in a few days, would finally chase down his first speakers. His wife had just allowed him to install a system in their shared living room. Coming off extreme headfi with Immanis on a Riviera Audio Labs hybrid amp, Gurdjieff's laced yet laconic farewell seemed poignant. I've already been down that road of trying to 'clone' speaker systems to behave like an SR1a. With next-level Immanis, the gap widens still. It virtually predisposes one to a small Mark Audio Alpair 5-type spiderless widebander crossed actively to a cardioid sub; or an upscale equivalent like Camerton's Binom-1; or a Qualio IQ if one has the space.

How else to stand any chance of duplicating the direct-to-ear immediacy, crossover-less purity, point-source immensity and utterly reflection-liberated low end of these on-ear ribbons? I also thought on the kidney-shaped occipital pillow which frequent fliers use to sleep seated without their heads rolling sideways. A lot of headfi produces a soundstage similar to such a pillow. It sits toward the back of the head. With Immanis in particular, all of that had shifted. It wasn't in front of me like a computer screen of course but distinctly no longer 'back there' as a quasi airline pillow. For me the frontal leakage zones seemed to not just assist the lateral expansiveness. They also moved the stage forward. And I was very pleasantly surprised that despite its high published grams, Immanis wore rather more forgetful of its specified weight than for example my Audeze LCD-XC. Being flat round slices closer to the head than bulging cups should help but kudos must also go to how evenly the overall structure distributes its weight. This is an instance where a paper spec doesn't translate properly. On my head I could forget about wear fatigue far better than the formal number suggested. Contributing to this forgetfulness was not feeling pressurized air build-up from chamber compression. It's more reason why it's easy to play these ribbons louder than is good for us. The usual acoustical discomfort that comes from tactile pressure on our ear drums is simply not there. That absence adds itself to the overall comfort level. If I were a betting man, I'd predict headfi competitors to come aboard Alex's leakage train. It's a clearly effective very clever solution. Obviously I have no idea whether it would lend itself to the loading of conventional headphones as well.

If advanced enough, what once was the bartender at the local sauce joint is now called a mixologist in a swanky hotel bar. He/she is an expert at crafting cocktails or mixed alcoholic even free-from drinks. Immanis too is a mixologist. It blends together attributes of different headfi tech. On speed and fully developed super-fine treble, it's like an electrostat. On dynamics it actually exceeds most slower heavier dynamics. On body and bass power it approaches planars which move big air. On bass control it's closer again to a well-damped dynamic or in fact an open-baffle speaker. Without the Star-8 cable, Magna tones down the electrostatic dose and goes a bit heavier on planar warmth and upper-bass impact. As an early SR1a adopter, to me the 1995 cocktails are more multi-layered than the open-baffle predecessor. That shouted more exclusively ribbon. Of course part of that was being the first-ever true ribbon headphone I'd heard. But even in hindsight it strikes me as packing less of the other aspects and more of the electrostatic race-track signature. In the end it's neither here nor there. It's just another attempt to describe the 1995 ribbons in ways which listeners of sufficient experience and exposure might relate to.

Other than the liberated soundstaging of what looks like a classic so fenced-in circumaural design, the perhaps most shocking aspect is the sub bass. Many planars reach it but do so in far less precise pitch-defined texture-obvious fashion. I call it elephantine bass. It's big and stomps in the mud but that's about it. That shimmying strips of wavy aluminium can equal planar bass extension but demonstrably improve upon its damping should come as a shock to anyone knowing true ribbons only as speaker tweeters. To milk this virtue requires synth bass to slip beneath the purely acoustic threshold. Be it Kalya Scintilla, Desert Dwellers or Govinda, my type of synth-laden electronica sounded better than ever because it eliminated those micro bursts of haze and blur which usually follow subterranean beats or droning pedals. That's equal-opportunity treatment. Immanis treats its low end as adroitly and finessed as its treble and everything between. There's no textural drift where below the beltline, things are portly and soggy to varying degrees whilst above it, all is clear and sharply focused. That discrepancy is like water. The deeper it gets, the less light penetrates and the more our eyesight distorts. Immanis bass doesn't suffer that distortion. One Absolu!e Sound reviewer coined the term 'continuousness'. I don't know how he applies it but it seems fair game to appropriate for Immanis' textural seamlessness. That's back at wishing people good luck getting anywhere near it with mid/farfield speakers. It's Gurdjieff telling us that after experiencing Immanis with superior ancillaries to reset our expectations, we're essentially fucked. It's like a future-sound template which presently seems unreachable. Again, I've already worked on its speaker equation for four years to know how to get closer. But matching it in a reverberant room? Not really. It's how Immanis and Magna owners can listen at a truly advanced level that's off limits to most speaker owners no matter their investment or beliefs. Though your accountant could fight you on this, going Raal 1995 really is the most cost-effective ascent to SuperFi.

Before I conclude with my last page, a quick word on the new cables. The tight weave around their twisted veins feels far more luxurious than the original cable that came with my SR1a and eventually broke. I should think that the new pig tails on the Star-8 will prevent mishaps caused by thin solid-core conductors getting bent at the ends one too many times. This leads me to a small warning. When fully extended to fit my tall head, parking either Magna or Immanis on their mushrooms drops their cable entry so close to the support surface that the cables must bend. Paying attention to how one parks these should pay off. Ideally I'd like the stand stalk a bit longer to give the headphones a bigger lift and let the cables hang more freely rather than crunch up. And, on my two headfi amps with either variable or parallel impedance outputs—the Silver Fox has four settings, the Kinki a high and low port—both produced noticeably higher output voltage in 'high' when Alex's 32Ω would have suggested 'low' as the proper match. Rather than wonder about mislabelling, pick whatever gives you the highest SPL because that means the most optimal power transfer.