Whilst Mimí is a compact and well smallest in the Kroma catalogue, the Vox 3f was even more so. The photo shows how. Spinning up Gönüldün, a lovely album by Eda Karaytug, I put the 5th track on repeat, swapped speaker cables and moved my chair left and right to toggle sweet spots.

On timbre, Eda's sinuous vocalizing in the older arabesque style is deliberately tailored to the accompanying qanun and violin to evoke a courtly Ottoman/Byzantine setting. These stringed instruments and how they're played radiate a lot of upper harmonics and her voice mimics them. It took just a few bars to understand that by comparison, the Kroma was decidedly darker and, on this particular overtone score, rather more dull, matte and reticent. What Jacob George of Indian speaker house Rethm calls breath of life fell squarely to the Vox 3f to demonstrate. On the same volume setting, it also played a bit louder than the 90dB rated Spaniard for another wrinkle in the Vox recipe. With its type bass and marginal cubic volume, one would usually pay a heavy sensitivity price. Our Albedo is 85dB. Achieving sub 40Hz extension from such a petite cabinet and in-room behaviour higher than a competitor's published anechoic spec (!) isn't exactly a page from the generic speaker cookbook.

Comparing concepts, Mimí was our traditional two-driver 2-way, Vox 3f a less conventional four-driver 3-way. Its extra 'way' gave it the undeniable advantage of a dedicated small midrange liberated both from yeoman work in the bassment and—very important—a typical high-pass. During playing red musical chairs, that gave the Swiss superior open-throatedness, greater expressivity via more pronounced tone modulations and microdynamic gradations of inflection and emphasis – in short, higher intelligibility of artistic intention. Otherwise the two designs were comparable on -3dB bass and overall tone density but the sound|kaos was quite superior in the other extreme. On a practical note, Mimí doesn't bolt to its radically more expensive stand like the Vox 3f does to its perch. For the Kroma I thus use BluTac. Finally, Kroma champion synthetic stone panels bonded chemically to avoid screws, sound|kaos solid wood glued up like butcher block before machining it.

Which segues into calling out yet another Swiss wrinkle like a crinkled chocolate wrapper. The Vox 3f behaves not that far removed from the theoretical ideal of a pulsating sphere. Given its narrow baffle, the output of its woofers wraps around the cabinet across their entire coverage to meet a frontal driver with excellent off-axis response which hands over to an omni treble. The upshot is a closely clustered omni-ish driver array to invite my next experiment. I call it nearfield extreme width or n.e.w.™. Approximating a giant headphone, such a setup produces a more immersive soundstage than the typical audiophile midfield layout. At this spacing it of course only works if a speaker doesn't collapse in the center to default to left/right dual mono. Sitting so close maximally cuts out your room and reduces SPL loss over distance. You can listen more quietly yet still feel engaged and immersed. And that equates to more listening opportunities at odd hours. The Vox 3f was unusually gymnastic with its split to focus dead center even seemingly overstretched to create an enormous sound-field bubble. For that one doesn't need a big room at all, just a speaker with a tight driver grouping that comes together at close proximity.

The final wrinkle to work over is the very effective decision to bring in the mechanically joined magnet-butting woofers at 200Hz. That gives the vital upper bass aka power zone a lot more kick and grunt than allocating it to a 4-inch driver. Speakers with bigger widebanders augmented by woofers routinely push that transition down to 100Hz or lower which isn't where such drivers are at their best. Dedicated bass drivers with heavier cones and higher Xmas are more suitable there.