Prior to any listening I had to set Aarka up in my room and adjust two critical dials on its rear panel. Choice of companions was enjoyably straightforward. My LampizatOr Pacific DAC and Trilogy 915R preamp respectively handled digital conversion and volume. Considering their stickers, these were overkill but as hardware I've used daily had to stay. Otherwise a less costly DAC with variable outputs à la iFi Pro iDSD would have sufficed. On utility, size and overall usefulness it'd actually have fit Aarka's price far better. That's the lovely thing about this Indian affair. To get going needs no more than a DAC with volume control plus two power cords and interconnects. Speaking of which, my loaners' inputs saw LessLoss C-MARC power cables and DIY ICs as all my usual interconnects were too short.
Snap-on cladding makes for easy replacements should different finish options become available.
Aarka's rear dials dramatically alter its bass from subtle supportive pulses to omnipresent excess far beyond anyone's comfort zone. Luckily multiple in-between steps allow for precise and gradual adjustments to season to taste and space. Low pass at 90Hz and bass volume at four out of eleven dots were my ideal settings. They secured bass heft and power along the lines of typical floorstanders not monitors. We'll get back to this. More importantly, Aarka's dials set up my way remained noticeably below half mast each. I didn't dare speculate how pushing them all the way up would sound. It's worth mentioning that two years ago I cut Maarga's isobaric woofers driven by internal 400wpc class D amps at 120Hz and half their full level so noticeably higher than now Aarka's on both counts. Yet the result was still leaner if memory serves.
Widebanders differ and consequently have varying positioning needs. My sound|kaos Vox 3afw monitors sound fabulous when distanced at some two arm's lengths from the listening chair and crossed there. Cube Audio's Nenuphar wanted just a slight toe in. More aggressive tilt messed up their imaging. The Swiss cones are free of whizzers, the Polish membranes feature three. Unsurprisingly Aarka's 5-inchers with paper whizzers produced their most pleasing coherent sonics firing pretty much straight out just as floorstanding Cubes and Rethms had done before them. The more Aarka looked inwards, the more tunnel-like, narrow and odd their spatial projections became. When asked about his preference, Jacob explained that he never toes in his speakers. That confirmed my observations as being on point.
Aarka's sealed topology and rear woofers welcomed experiments with coupling this artillery to my front wall. Here the recipe was simple. The shorter the distance, the stronger, more contoured and powerful the bass became. The obvious price to pay was decreased imaging depth. In one of his emails Jacob shared that in his 40m² listening room, Aarka already at 2.5m from his front wall makes gargantuan bass. In my far smaller cave it did the same about one meter from nearby walls. On sheer bass quantity I honestly couldn't ask for more. The same held for spot-on ratio between elasticity, bloom, boldness and control. This was hardly surprising. Speakers without ports integrate easier with listening spaces, roll off shallower, don't inject resonant boost so create tighter more visceral bass. With its muscular snappy bottom end that hit properly elastic and tactile beats, Aarka was clearly geared in this manner but also showed pleasantly fatty fill which gave me something to think about.