By St. Patrick's day in mid March, Rethm's new monitor had a name. Aarka is Sanskrit for "one who praises", "a singer" but also "a flash of lightning". Make it rain? At the April show of Axpona Chicago, it actually snowed. But "for us it was great, with lots of interest in the new Maarga (we are making the same changes to the Saadhana), hence awards from Positive Feedback and AVshowrooms. As for Aarka, the first unit tested successfully. However, the space housing the electronics at the bottom of the cabinet was too complex. We decided to combine the six different boards into a single octagonal board that will fit neatly into the bottom of the speaker which is an octagon. We should get the new boards next week."

By July 30th, "we've fought with and finally conquered heat dissipation with both a class A and class AB amp packaged into a pretty tightly confined space with no vertical cooling fins. We have solved the problem with two extractor fans. The last few weeks were spent hunting for and testing various fans since we needed something dead quiet. That's done and changes are being made to the enclosures to incorporate them."

By September 14th, "we are finally on the home stretch. The last cooling solution of just fans was borderline so I kept looking for a 100% fail-safe solution. That meant more than another month of work to lose the fans again. Instead we introduced the heat sinks you see now. Earlier we tried to dissipate heat only through a few aluminium plates at the bottom of the speaker to avoid visible heat sinks. We just could not dissipate enough. That's when we tried fans. We finally accepted that we were trying to flog something into working that went against physics. I had to go back and find aesthetic ways of introducing visible heat sinks that dissipate heat upwards. We maintain the two circular holes on either side to help get rid of the heat within the electronics space at the base of the unit. All of that was a major design rework and responsible for delaying completion by about 6 weeks.

"We are now proceeding with final production. I never had such a tough time with any design before. Shoehorning so much into such a relatively tiny enclosure and getting it to work perfectly was a nightmare. But it's finally done and we hope to send your pair in the next month or so. In November I am doing the Warsaw show with the new Maarga. I'm still deciding whether I should show what has become a standard finish for the US, i.e. a matte gun-metal grey for all the curved surfaces and gloss black acrylic for the flat sides; or instead a metallic silver and white scheme." Having choices whilst predicting a particular crowd's tastes can be difficult.

The final Aarka design successfully continues cues first introduced with the €3'000/pr Bhaava. Jacob confirmed that the air pressure in the horn mouth is far too low to trigger microphonics in the exposed 6922. Once again, his architectural training telegraphs in an unusual design. By November 4th, "your pair is done and singing. We're shipping you the dedicated stands as well. Those too are done except that we're still waiting on the cups taking Aarka's spikes on top of the stand. I'm off to Warsaw tomorrow. But I've instructed my guys to send your pair as soon as the stands are done, probably by the end of the week. This one truly challenged all of here with its level of difficulty!"

Aarka and Bhaava

November 12th, "Warsaw was excellent, quite different from US shows. It was packed literally all the time, with a very high percentage of serious listeners who knew good sound. Marja and Henk visited to listen and seemed to like what they heard. This was the new Maarga with lots of changes from what you reviewed many years ago, with a new 400w class D amp for the bass, deeper enclosures with 6×9" woofers, a new labyrinth and modified widebander. David Grzyb from visited too. He indicated desire to do a review and I told him he could do the demo Maarga pair already in Poland. So we're arranging for that to happen." Covering this story from its first announcement in early March to the final stretch in November documented a bit of its behind-the-scenes gestation. Nothing like it falls fully formed from the tree. No low-hanging fruit here. In fact, this particular recipe with tube driver could just be a world's first.

As Linette Smith from opened up her Warsaw show report, "there are so many hifi brands out there that you need to make a visual impact in order to stand out from the crowd". Following that declaration, she picked out the Rethm & LampizatOr room for "such a cool vibe … incidentally this was one of my favourite sounds too but visually, just look at it.… Chic Industrial was the vibe in this room, simple but effective and letting the gear be the star of the show." Female voices on the hifi review beat are rare. So Linette's comments carry extra weight. They're the other half of the equation. They're the other set of ears that'll hear the resident hifi; the other set of eyes that must live with the visual impact. It's nearly invariably the eyes which make first contact, be it as a photo in a review, as a store window, what greets us when entering a demo or walking past the still silent hifi for that first morning cuppa in the kitchen. If looks don't appeal, the rest may never matter. Frank Hakopians at must have nursed similar sentiments since his show report too opens with the Maarga.