The Up3's clarity stems from its timing precision as an absence of reluctance. It also stems from a lack of bloat and ringing. The effect simply mirrors the Dutch nonet's inspired take on big scores. One first violin plays more precise than a cadre of sixteen. No matter how well trained, even the most civilized hordes never start and stop exactly as one and here and there even differ on intonation. The Intercontinentals and the Up3 prioritize clarity and sorting so superior intelligibility. Call it higher listening comprehension. It strips out ambiguity. It deletes indecisive stop'n'go which blurs tonal beginnings. If such rhythmic insistence is a misgiving you nurse with ceramic drivers, the Up3 has it in spades! What might have seemed joined at the hip to you in prior encounters with such timing alacrity was tonal grayness. Then a monochrome tendency clamped down on full color development to feel pale; or like an overabundance of white. With the Up3, I didn't hear that. Though our very fast amps held up an 'Umleitung/Detour' sign before the exit to the lush life came, I found tone density and color intensity not far from what's achievable before piling on more subtracts from transparency and beat fidelity. Again, two violins in unison always sound fuller and heavier than one but in real life, two already betray offsets in timing, intonation and vibrato. For each added violin, that effect multiplies. It's up to you how far you push this with your system tuning. I'll just say that the elite Duelund parts must have played their part in hanging rather more flesh onto rapidly moving bones than 'typical' ceramic sound I faulted in the past. Let's call it three perfectly unison violins from an ideal world to make the point – not as full and heavy as an orchestra's first string section, not as lean as a soloist but just as precise and unhindered by doppelgängers.
Comparing Hendry's Raal ribbon to Alain Pratali's horn tweeter to the upfiring Raal of our sound|kaos Vox 3Awf, Hendry's thin film didn't seem turned on to the max. That's just a way of saying that it didn't err on the side of being overly explicit or hot. I used some of my usual treble spectaculars. The Up3 was just a tad mellower so less charged on upper harmonics. That too played its part in not acting high-strung in this class of fast accurate incisive transducers. At the opposite end, the Up3 didn't lack any extension, just some raw impact versus the M1's quarter-wave line and larger cubic volume. By not loading the room the same, that arguably played to superior cleanliness. Though ported, in this bigger space I heard a well-damped alignment quite ideally split between control and power. Of course our 250-watt amps of exceptional bass control had a say in that. But the message was clear. If a Studio Monitor seems a bit loose or bloomy in the bass, look at the amp not the speaker. My upstairs bassiness had almost certainly been due to insufficient power and current.
Ribbons often equal integration challenges. They seem faster than their coned companions; or dynamically forward like air-motion transformers. With his choice of stiff pistonic ceramics and how filter and physically staggered baffle align them, Hendry's driver types aren't stitched up to fail but stitched together as one. The ribbon doesn't lead so the treble isn't forward, the mid/bass doesn't lag. Given the excellent timing and rhythmic perspicacity, you'd expect no less. But it's good to circle this wagon and cover the subject from multiple angles. Soundstaging was typically enormous but in my mind, that's more setup than physical box. What was the box was refusing to insert ghost, wandering or ballooned images. We're back at higher listening comprehension particularly when multi-layered music starts to twist and turn its many strands into virtual knots.
The unusual sidefiring port enables inward orientation to deliberately delay the first sidewall reflection thus weaken it over distance. That and high amplifier damping extended in-the-pocket snappiness down the bandwidth without loosening its grip. Rather than woolly and ringy from an over-ambitious ported alignment, the shiny Bali monitor hit as true and precise slightly beyond 40Hz as our room allowed. Clarity, speed, linearity and extended bandwidth all added up to what we expect recording engineers need to do their job. Our kind also assumes that they listen too loud. Here the Vermöuth played as loud as I could stand.
May contain traces of peanuts. To return to our Spanish cacahuetes, the famed pistonic precision of Accuton's ceramic drivers was on full display with the Studio Monitor. If to your ears such beat fidelity is undesirable, then these won't be for you. If however your actual misgiving with ceramic drivers was a harmonically bleached prior encounter, simply change the electronics. Many showgoers disliked early Wilson demos but suddenly found religion with Lamm. Others failed to hear ear to ear with Magico/Soulution pairings but found enthusiasm with Audio Research or McIntosh. Making an inherently clean, quick, linear and precise speaker slower, fatter and softer is easy. Surround it with the right electronics. It's the opposite that won't work. If a speaker is confused in the time domain and uses inferior drivers with mediocre crossover parts, those aspects are irreversible. They remain filters which strangulate what precedes them. On those non-negotiable terms, our Vermöuth is closer to a tabula rasa than most. It can be molded to a high degree because it starts out with so much transparency, precision and speed. By seasoning to taste, they can cover a tell-all studio environment as well as a lusher consumer lair. For the latter, our hardware collection would borrow the Pass Labs XA-30.8 from the 2.0 video system. This biggest of the Vermöuth monitors really is more of a chameleon. You make it the color you like most.
Postscript. When I emailed Hendry that the review was live to request a call-tag pickup, I learnt that the pair's next stop would be Down Under's Blue Mountains. Former contributor Edgar Kramer who now helms SoundStage Australia will do his own review. So stay tuned for a 2nd opinion…