As we already knew, all drivers here are exclusive to Starke Sound so not much detail is divulged to protect their IP. All we learn is that the baskets are cast aluminium and the 10cm midrange with metal phase plug and 13cm woofer membranes run proprietary woven carbon fiber. The 2.5cm soft-dome tweeter mounts from the inside of the baffle to sit about a centimeter recessed inside a copperish very shallow wave guide. To prevent accidental contact, two vertical metal bridges run across the dome for protection.

Being particularly developed for close wall placement, the IC-H1 Elite duly protested with a leaner response that lacked in warmth, pressure and physicality on bass transients when I first set them up where my resident QLN Prestige Three are most happy, about 90cm from the front wall inside a 24.5m² space. Hence Yello's inherently clean "Kiss the cloud” from their Toy album which doesn't enhance the lower midrange just wasn't sufficiently fulsome and fulminant. So everything moved back by about a half meter. Voilà, tonality locked in better even if it remained on the taut shiny side.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star?
Starke's tweeter was a bit more present than 100% neutral but impressed with crystal-clear fully exploded resolution like with the cymbals on Fleetwood Mac's Rumors. But the longer I listened, the more this tweeter's rightness convinced me. Nothing seemed beyond its reach, not even the finest overtones of J.S. Bach's "Concerto VI in F Major BMV 1059" whose cembalo presented effortlessly in undistorted clarity.

Such class-leading detail put the Starke Sound tweeter slightly above Elac's ribbon in their €3'980/pr Vela FS 407; quite the stunt. Versus the heavily modified ScanSpeak Revelator in my €7'895/pr QLN Prestige Three, the Danish domes were as resolved but a tick silkier and microdynamically even more responsive. The very narrow delta also against the €9'000/pr Dynaudio Contour 60 was the real compliment; and to begin with, these are matters of personal taste.

Across the vocal range, the Starke Sound IC-H1 Elite operated equally open, clear and transparent and did so also at lower levels. These speakers sound very strong during background sessions. Hence vocals like Dawid Bowie's from Black Star tended to the more intelligible than chesty. 'Truthfulness over cheap compliments' was the motto which I saw as perfectly neutral. Impulses in the upper mids came across more direct and immediate than with my QLN or the earlier referenced Elac. Snares, toms and small drums exhibited the kind of instantaneous speed which eluded the bigger drivers of these 2-way competitors which double-task as mid/woofers. Here the Americans reminded me of the Inklang 13.4 Advanced line. By the same token, attacks also felt leaner because the lower midrange of the Starke Sound was clearly less emphatic than that of the Vela FS407 or Prestige Three.

I wouldn't call anything amiss but those who seek a warmer tonal balance with more saturated colors might find these IC-H1 Elite a bit lean. On the plus side of the very same equation, their tuning creates unusually transparent, controlled and well-sorted upper bass and lower mids which reminded me of full-range electrostats.