Returning to our resident IQ, I saw how deep Challenger played counter polarity to Qualio's airy light-filled quickness. The Polish feel is that of a fully linearized/liberated widebander with no bandwidth limits. The Lithuanian expressed itself far more heavy and thick. That manifested what I shall call a hall-of-sound aesthetic. Think archetypal wall of sound then expand it to full 3D. From wall to hall in one letter. Another useful pointer is the density of ultra-compressed recordings; just without the dynamic compression element. When we first compare compressed/uncompressed tracks, the former sound more robust, meaty and full. It's only minutes later that always-loud sameness loses its appeal. For today, stop this tie-in well short of the secondary reaction. Focus solely on the initial impression where compression just means heightened materialism, naught else. Being the black to our speaker's white, it speaks to different sonic priorities. That's back at my earlier Zu mention. In my little black book of speaker dates, the Zu sound really is the closest kin. Challenger simply moves copiously more air. That scales up the effect significantly. Now yeah-buttniks interject with ill-disguised impatience. What about Challenger's core difference, its dipole/cardioid dispersion? Surely that's the dominant portion of its unique selling proposition? It would be; if I came from generic box speakers. As this photo shows, I don't. With the Ripol sub shown earlier, I'm already doing Challenger's thing just inverted: cardioid in the bass, dipole on top (with some box coverage in-between). For me, the primary difference played out elsewhere: on perceived speed vs. mass, transparency vs. body, overall tonal balance.

To go gloriously gushy over controlled directivity would need a reboot of my auditory OS to a time when box speakers with sub 200Hz omni bass were still my default yardstick. I've since found a better way; including adjustable active bass to control relative LF output separate from the master volume. This the all-passive Challenger omits; and in my room to its detriment. On that score it's only half of my 'final' solution. On dispersion pattern it's a close stand-in so represents what I view as the correct way to deal with acoustically untreated rooms. It's just no longer personal news. It's patently obvious. Of course relative to speaker normalcy, it remains unconventional hence outlier news. Personal sympathy with that has simply long expired. If people refuse to really think about these matters, it's not my job to convince them otherwise. Suffice to say that on full-bandwidth control of directivity, Silent Pound's Challenger is a very rare example of a speaker which gets it. Though it reads arrogant, I won't follow up with 'your mileage may vary'. Sound doesn't magically behave different from room to room. Room modes are unavoidable. We either treat them acoustically with high-mass traps; attempt to EQ them digitally with room-correction software; or use speakers which behave directional in the bass. Listeners into extreme results could well combine all three approaches. I will add that dipole/cardioid dispersion is particularly useful in narrow rooms where speakers set up in unduly close proximity to side walls. By creating acoustic lateral nulls, such speakers eliminate two walls from acting as sources of secondary (reflected) sounds. What results is more clarity and expansive soundstaging. That competing speakers of such dispersion can still sound wildly different is one big takeway from today's gig.

To reiterate another point, controlled dispersion can look as outré as the earlier referenced Treble Clef Audio M; or Anthony Gallo's original stacked spheres with cylindrical diaphragm tweeter sticking atop like a mohawk. Here Silent Pound tread very silently. Their Challenger looks thoroughly modern yet 'good conventional'. It really should take precious little convincing on aesthetics. With steel as main building block, calling the resulting super-shallow and rigid structure tank like is no exaggeration either. Who are ideal fellow travelers on this Challenger's voyage into sonic space? First off, thinking folks. They grasp the underlying concept, its sanity and needfulness. Second, folks who favor a dark dense fulsome sound to give full-range electrostats, planarmagnetics and their dynamic equivalents a wide berth. Third, folks who love bodacious bass, high SPL but not subwoofers. With Challenger delivering a 25Hz test tone with good output, nothing else is required. Four, folks who when listening quietly prioritize not resolution but tonal filler and mass. Five, soundstage lovers. That's back at hearing less room, more signal so a closer just out-of-head approximation of headfi's room-invariant performance. On which subject, if Challenger was an over-ear headphone, it'd set up shop in the same alley as Final's original D8000 with the factory leash; the first pre-Fazor Audeze LCD-2; or today's Meze 109 Pro. Whilst certainly not identical and by necessity sonically grossly more petite, they all book solid areas of overlap to serve as further pointers.

Having now met Challenger in the full-metal two-tone jacket, its branding is even more bizarre. Though it can do silent, it's really built to go big and boisterous. Just look at the cone surface. It effectively doubles up being open backed. We now also know that 'pound' isn't a fitting measurement. A tonne would seem more à propos. Of course Thunderous Tonne doesn't make a fetching brand name either. So we'll chalk Silent Pound up to yet another unsolved hifi mystery. Not mysterious is what common issue it weakens very nicely indeed; how it goes about that; and that pro-arena cellulose drivers will make dynamically exuberant materially robust sound. Shoppers wearing their thinking caps also realize that unlike box-loaded woofers which exploit the compression of captive air and the resistance of immediate cabinet boundaries, the backs of dipole woofers in effect see the entire cubic air volume of our room. Now bass damping is a function of stiffer suspensions (surround and spider) and amplifier control. The latter looks at high current and ultra-low output impedance. Given Challenger's tuning, I imagine advanced class D like Alberto Guerra's AGD Production's being ideal. In closing, Challenger the name is very well chosen. Even if you never get to hear it, just thinking about how it works should challenge conventional audiophile thinking. In an ideal world it'd mark the end of more box speakers. In the real world it'll remain a rare exception added to a small if growing list of alternate solutions. It's where those tired of box-speaker sound look for inspiration and options.

Welcome to that tiny club, steely Challenger of Lithuania!