That's further encouraged by coherence in the time domain. Where on this score I'd noticed minimal hangups with the otherwise fabulous Inklang 13.4 Advanced Line, the Americans now exhibited no such exceptions. Another advantage I wouldn't underestimate is that the tonal balance, imaging and resolutions don't shift or dilute at modest playback volumes. David Bowie's "Lazarus” [Black Star] thus remained enormously entertaining even at levels dimmed down for neighbor-conscious 1:00AM consumption. Bravo.

In our German market, Starke Sound's IC-H1 Elite are a fresh breeze for a very attractive price. They already perform without boom in smaller 10m² rooms. Starting at 20m², they should be positioned close to the front wall which becomes a real problem solver. Anechoic chambers excepted, they'll also reach low enough to generate a seemingly non-lossy sonic illusion. Real strengths are stable broad soundstaging, impressive transient articulation and lightning-fast impulses. Personally, detail resolution, transparency and precision across the audible range all exceeded what I'd heard in this price/size class before. Add coherence which I didn't expect for a 3-way that's still within reach. Jazz, evolved electronica, classical and singer/songwriter fare but also Prog Rock & Co. are all ideal dietary items. Compressed-to-death metal orgies, Hip Hop and Techno meanwhile won't be on heavy rotation with these tonally fat-free transducers. With happy voltage sensitivity, even less muscular amplifiers ought to be right at home. Neutral electronics like my €8'900 LinnenberG combo did well and when Norma Audio's SC-2 preamp starting at €5'400 entered the chain with its more fulsome suaveness, the sun rose to add warmth. The right valve amp too could be well worth a try. Inherently lit-up lean playmates should excuse themselves, however.

Psych profile for the Starke Sound IC-H1 Elite …

♣ The bass and upper bass/lower mid transition is slimmer but exceptionally articulate, quick and responsive.
♣ Certain ears will miss some pressure and shove down low but that's more a feature than bug since the firm have seven active subwoofers in their portfolio.
♣ Extends lower than the published specs suggest.
♣ Absolutely flawless and maximally neutral in the midrange.
♣ Crystalline airy treble with very high resolution and extension without any frostiness or hardness.
♣ Very impulsive reflexes for steep unfettered transients.
♣ Crisply outlined imaging with soundstage scale that adapts fluidly to individual recordings.
♣ Images are focused and more compact than oversized.
♣ Astonishingly coherent 'time-correct' presentation not simply for a three-way in this price class.
♣ Remains involving at low levels where neither the bass nor treble vanish.
♣ Excellent fit'n'finish and attractive optics.
♣ Available in custom colors and always three different textures.

Concept: Passive bass reflex 3-way
Dimensions & weight: 385 x 180 x 258 mm HxWxD, 11kg
Nominal impedance: 4Ω
Sensitivity: 90dB/W/m
Finishes: black chassis with black aluminium baffle or piano gloss yellow or white with silver baffle are the stock options; other colors upon request.
Warranty: 5 years