"For my filter I use a passive asymmetric crossover reaching 4th order. This blends the acoustic and electrical slopes of the drivers into one coherent whole. As for crossover points I prefer not to disclose them. I think our directivity data are more informative. The vast majority of hifi and high-end manufacturers don't do that. There are excellent balanced systems in the high-end market that use some form of directivity correction but very few apply those solutions throughout the entire frequency range down to the lowest frequencies. Especially from 20-30Hz up to 200-300Hz where room modes are a major concern, speaker directivity has a direct relation to the room modes caused by energy being radiated into the room." When my first question to the designer netted little new, I tried another. Who makes his drivers? When the palletized and strapped shipment arrived by unmarked white van, its man and I had to separate both speakers to heave them out individually. Once dollied inside my hallway, the boxes turned out to be square sleeves taped up of individual cardboard panels with taped-on edge rails. The speakers sat on crumbly black styro bases which had broken to pieces to head straight for the bin. To protect their paint, the steel hulls wrapped in white foam paper. This material tears as soon as one tries to remove its tape.

All this was workable for 1-way shipping. After all, the Challenger had travelled from Lithuania to Ireland just fine. Looking more dubious was re-using the materials for the return. I'd need new cradles to prevent the speakers from sliding around their wooden ship bases, this time not made from crumbling styro. Clients paying €15K/pr expect a lot better. So (cough!) does this critic. Hifi engineering never stops at product. It must include proper packaging. It's an area where many newcomers have initial issues that require subsequent sorting. It's all par for the global shipping course. Reviewers simply prefer not having to be the ones to say something this basic. "Thanks for the feedback. We'll rethink our packaging and have it delivered by the time the speakers ship back. We'll also change freight forwarders to make sure transport arrives with a lift gate."

Though Challenger's bottom covers in coarse felt already, a hollow spacer box included a small carton with gleaming metal plaque as proof of ownership and warranty; and eight disc footers with long bolts and rugged rubberized skins to protect flooring and build in perfect level means. In no time two Challengers played wall huggers in our hallway waiting on Qualio's IQ to exit the main system so they could move in.

Where the Challenger sings the Sinatra blues—my way or the highway—is with its banana-only posts. Perhaps industrial designer Moses Kang thought exposed terminals ghastly to conceal his and enforce one-way use? Certainly Børresen and Raidho speakers too go ape on just bananas. Precedents exist. So spade-terminated Kinki Earth cables were out and I stuck with warmer/thicker Allnic ZL8000. Also, folks forking over €15'000 on speakers are liable to be invested in costlier cables. Should theirs be forked, I could see reluctance to getting them redone.

My first session with 250-watt class A/B direct-coupled monos (~450w/4Ω) checked up on bass balance/control vis-à-vis our central sound|kaos sub. Upcoming photos show the active crossover in bypass. It compared twin Ripol 15-inchers in 6dB/80Hz to four dipole 12-inchers. On raw extension, the latter were virtually identical. On raw output for this room, they were too much. Incidentally, I use port bungs in the resident Qualio IQ for the same reason. On bass damping, they were a far second to the drier Ripol system. Its woofers fire into each other at close proximity, its rear waves slam into immediate casework walls. That installs high self braking.

Without nearby boundaries, the Challengers' woofers must rely solely on their stiffer suspensions. For crisp stoppage aka no overhang, that wasn't nearly as effective. Rather than suffer overly ambitious and underdamped bass, I'd continue with my active 4th-order high-pass as I do for our own speakers. Hello texturally seamless low bass; at linear not fat amplitude. Now the Challenger could strut its dipole then cardioid radiation higher up without interference from below. A larger room could love the Silent Pound for its very robust bass output. I simply had to work with mine. For that I had the perfect adjustment.

It won't surprise that the Challenger's large cone surface was a beefeater on chunky tone textures. Its sound was decidedly non-vegetarian much less fruitarian. Preventing it from getting unduly dark was an excellent tweeter of just the right amount of fire and brilliance. Playing Brazilian a capella with Trio Esperança showed how on vocal-range focus, the Lithuanians beat our usual hybrid-dipole Poles. Where those sound more spacious and airy if also very slightly diffuse/billowy, the heavier thicker Challenger drilled down deeper into image specificity. That probably were diminished sidewall reflections in action across the midrange. Voilà, unedited quick first impressions.