… here's a very particular track. Its Karnathic violin is for Jacob who practiced on the instrument as a youngster. Let's contrast Aarka to two other monitors which compete directly on price. I had on hand a pair of sound|kaos Vox 3f loaners and our own Acelec Model One. Both are considerably smaller and less polarizing cosmetically. Where I enjoyed Aarka's looks, Ivette found them "far too busy". This cut contains many cayenne-peppery transients, from cajon cracks to percussion slaps to flamenco guitar plucks and rapidly bowed violin string blister. Using the same amp, the Dutch with its pleated AMT tweeter, ScanSpeak mid/woofer and rubber-bonded aluminium cabinet cracked hardest, thus timed most in the pocket. As smallest of the lot albeit with the most drivers, the Swiss and its Raal ribbon were the most overtone suave and telling of tone modulations. Aarka's bass was the most extended and powerful, hence its feel of venue space most tacit. On outline sharpness as subjective image focus, the descending sequence was Model One, Vox 3f, Aarka. On subjective warmth, the same sequence ascended.
For more fusion not confusion, I cued up the encounter of the Quadro Nuevo and Cairo Steps ensembles, with Sheikh Ehab Younis on power vocals and Eric Satie's "Gnossiene N°1" as source material. This is a live cut. It relies on the biggest possible scale that a hifi can muster to convey at least some of the encoded energy. Here Aarka had the undeniable advantage to come out first amongst equals. If you want a visual reference to know what authentic scale should be, click here. It plainly wouldn't fit our room. Given inescapable shrinkage and dilution, in the subjective realm of perception, Aarka felt biggest and most potent.
This promised a seamless transition into the bigger downstairs room.
Now a Vinnie Rossie Lio integrated with 25wpc Mosfet amp, Slagleformer volume and internal DAC hogged the driver's seat. That mixed it up yet still kept things simple. After all, Aarka's concept suggests that most owners will prefer fewer boxes. Lacking the digital inputs of our €4'000/pr fully active stand-mounted Fram Midi 150, this Rethm even in fully active mode requires a variable already analog signal. D/A conversion and volume control must happen off-board. So at minimum, a variable DAC is a must.
This listening space continues into a kitchen and lounge area separated from the kitchen by a dual-entry fire place for ~80m² of total area.
With its adjustable low-pass and bass volume, Aarka includes a flexible analog EQ. To go leaner, move both down. To fatten up, move the low-pass hinge higher, then season with bass gain. Lio already is on the warmer chunkier side. To compensate, I lowered bass entry to 60Hz, its volume to 10:00 o'clock. That opened up visibility into the rear of the soundstage and lit up and accelerated the midband. With just a few twirls on four knobs, Aarka had adapted to its new environ and temporary owner.
There was zero issue with energizing this larger space with vaulted ceiling and the amp's passive attenuator sat below its midpoint when SPL were solid. With the room and ancillary hardware transition licked, a few more sonic confirmations.