January
2023

Country of Origin

Lithuania

Challenger

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos and EX-M1 integrated, Enleum AMP-23R, Crayon CFA-1.2; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro SE; Amplifier: Goldmund Job 225; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature;  Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Active DSP speakers: Fram Midi 120
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: TBA but expected at ~€10'000/pr

As covered in my Warsaw 2022 pre-show report, Silent Pound of Kaunas in Lithuania bowed their 88dB Challenger. Its partially open-backed 36x35x124cm WxDxH 60kg steel hull sports clever computer-modeled perf loading for the rear radiation of its twinned midranges. Those bracket a short horn tweeter for more controlled dispersion. Safety glass on the plinth allows a glance at the crossover. The rear grill can be removed to see the open-baffle woofer magnets exposed. Numerous finish options from the RAL palette allow customization options.

Thinking folks immediately saw the benefits of dipole bass apply even into the vocal band due to strategic cardioid loading of the d'Appolito drivers. The earlier sound intensity drawing confirmed it. Audrius Balciunas' solution—industrial design by Moses Kang—looks like a clever wrinkle on standard open baffles. It enforces controlled directivity across a broader bandwidth than just LF. I call that effective free room treatment. It's an expanded function of the 'figure 8' dispersion pattern of dipole bass whose long wavelengths wrap around a baffle or box to create lateral out-of-phase cancellation.

It's why my preferred bass system is a big 2×15" cardioid subwoofer aka Ripol by sound|kaos. It cancels the need for huge bass traps by very effectively reducing room resonances and their deleterious effects on the frequency and time response. Kii Audio, Dutch & Dutch and Buchardt pursue the same benefits in different ways but for all the same reasons. Now Silent Pound propose an elegantly styled floorstander to hit similar targets.

More classic open baffle also from Silent Pound with 2 x 12" woofers, 2 x 8" mids and 1" titanium tweeter with 2nd-order filters.

On paper the Challenger takes the generic OB concept which Silent Pound explored in their first Discovery model to the next level. Above the bass, it works in the opposite way. It reduces not intensifies front-wall even sidewall reflections. For hearing more direct less reflected sound, the Challenger should be the ticket. But should, would and could are for speculators. To be certain—and know whether we prefer more directness to traditional box speakers which radiate ever more omni with descending frequencies unlike an open baffle's lateral nulls—mandates hearing for ourselves.

Since I didn't attend Warsaw's AVS show, I inquired about a review. The company's Martynas Serksnys was happy to oblige. It's gratifying to see new hifi brands emerge from Lithuania which for speakers already hosts 8mmAudio Labs, Audio GE and Audio Solutions whilst LessLoss handle cables/power products, Reed tone arms and Vostok Europe sporty wrist watches.