Country of Origin


System N°7

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: iMac 27" fully loaded, Audirvana 3, Soundaware D300Ref, Denafrips Terminator with 32 x upsampler
Pre/power: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature w. Elro gER50, LinnenberG Liszt
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex 
Cables: Allnic Audio ZL3000/5000
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra 
Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc & amp stands
Room: 5 x 10m continuing into open space
Review component retail: Crayon starting at €3'300, Albedo at €7'450/pr

Systematically. It's how we'd like to assemble a satisfying hifi. The actual route to it is often more haphazard. Even reviewers can chance upon an unexpectedly winning combination well after a review first published. So these short features grouped under the same constellation logo are about the grace of hindsight, occasionally from sheer dumb luck when certain items just so happened to be on hand and produced unexpected sparks. In all cases, our archives will already have published feature reviews on the main components. But those reviews are about parts. Today's report is about proven combinations. Often the key players will be the amp+speaker pairing. After the room, that's the biggest variable. Adding a particular digital source (I don't do vinyl) won't markedly tip the balance or wipe out the winning bits. Neither will cables past a base level of competence. So don't expect complete itineraries. This is about locking in a particular sonic flavor or presentation with the most important determinants. Sorting out the secondary and tertiary players remains at your own discretion.

With Bakoon AMP-13R. The Crayons work even better into this load.

Golden oldies. Today it's about two of 'em, one in an Austrian elders' home, the other in an Italian. Actually, Austria's holds two inmates, the Crayon CFA-1.2 and its younger cheaper CIA-1T kin. From Italy comes Albedo Audio's Aptica. 7 years passed since I reviewed and bought those. But like human cells which renew every 7 years, they're as fresh now as they were then. The following exchange paints that picture.

"I'm an audiophile from China. Could I ask you a question about Albedo speakers? I know you own their Aptica and I'm also very interested in their speakers. I think you heard their new flagship Atesia. What did you think? As you know, this design is rather different from their classic models like yours and uses the latest Accuton Cell drivers." To which I replied, "I never spent time with the large Albedos. They were designed especially for Asia. Albedo's importers there asked for something bigger and costlier. My personal means and interests are more modest. So I've never pursued their big stuff even though Albedo offered it to me. I have neither the room nor back to unpack and pack it up again by myself."

The reader came back with "I too guessed that's why they developed the two latest Atesia and Alecta models. But I have a large 50m² room with good ceiling height of 3.2m. I'd like to know more about Atesia's actual performance in a room. I really appreciate the intelligence of designer Massimo Costa. After many years of using Aptica, what do you think of it and what's the main difference to other brands which use Accuton?" "Most brands using Accuton rely on steep filters. My model uses 1st-order filters. To me that makes a big difference. My room is 100m² in total and I don't need anything bigger." I wasn't surprised when he was. "I'm very surprised by what you said. Perhaps you're right. What do you think of Albedo's medium-sized floorstanders Axcentia MkII and Acclara?"

The man clearly conflated bigger with better. It was time to apply the tourniquet.

"Most people shop with their eyes not ears. Also, in Asia hifi is still a status symbol. So bigger heavier shinier speakers are popular. Often they're actually too much for the smaller rooms typical there so their owners get sub-optimal performance but spend far too much on it. I've not heard the mid-sized Albedos either. My Aptica with a good amp can do 35Hz. If I want more, I add a big subwoofer below 40Hz. Now I have a far more compact system that looks and performs better. That's because active sealed bass with EQ provisions always beats passive non-adjustable bass with ports. You might say that I've heard and seen too much to still believe in the necessity for über hifi. If you can afford and enjoy it, by all means. But if we talk about what's required for a given room to make good sound… often less is more. How loud do you really play? How far away do you sit from your speakers? How much bass below 35Hz is on your music? Those are all reasonable questions to ask before one goes out shopping for speakers." As expected, to this our man didn't reply. The blood had stopped flowing.

Two-ways have an oft-missed advantage. Their main driver only sees the low-pass which separates it from the tweeter. Except for rare instances which run wide open, a 3-way's dedicated midrange adds a high-pass to separate it from the woofer. More filtration means more phase shift and time delay to further upset the impulse response. Aptica uses minimum-phase filters and a clever transmission line with two internal Helmholz resonators to cancel the major organ-pipe resonances of any open tube. Should you add a subwoofer in augmentation mode, you still don't add a high-pass to your mid/woofer. But if you use a Crayon, you won't hear the need.

Crayon CIA-T1

You'll get mini monitor soundstaging, articulate timing from pistonic diaphragm operation and very unexpected bass power from spontaneous synergy. Crayon's special switch-mode power supply delivers faster higher current than an equivalent linear supply would. Roland Krammer's proprietary current-feedback circuit of wide bandwidth mirrors that speed. It belongs into what I call the 'Swiss' sound aesthetic à la CH Precision, Goldmund and Soulution. If wide-bandwidth DC-coupled sonics exemplify clarity and quickness, some can tend to the minorly cool and aloof.

Just like a fine not syrupy cordial adds just a subtle note of flavor plus textural hints of oil over pure spring water, so does the Crayon. On flavor it belongs into the Job 225 ⇒ LinnenberG Liszt ⇒ Bakoon AMP-13R vein. On power it exceeds the Bakoon but like it, packs pre/power and remote control functionality under one hood. Then it adds a pre-out. To my ear sense and sensibility,  that makes this an especially winning combination. Perhaps break out these golden-oldie inmates and give them a new lease on life?