13 centimeters. Those were the virtual heels which my Spanish bases added. No more ruby slippers. Hello tall teal pumps. Those rectified my gender confusion. Hey, it's the 21st century. Now teenagers fret over whether they're binary, 3rd gender or need plastic surgery. While Concerto Köln's Baroque period ensemble—on the brilliant Vivaldi album by clarinetist Martin Fröst on Sony Classical—still registered heavier and fuller than usual, Fadia and Mike's timbres on Naseej had drifted apart for greater differentiation into male and female. Some of her faux masculinity normalized. Fundamentally the Soul 6 still had the typical PA effect of fattening up tone and expanding images. While living in Switzerland, I attended plenty of amplified concerts around Lake Geneva including Andreas Vollenweider, Ibrahim Maalouf, Taksim Trio, Dhafer Youssef, Natasha Atlas, James Carter and Lila Downs. Compared to unplugged concerts in smaller venues, the PA balance was always bassier and far more dynamic. Then its images bloomed far bigger to expand an electric guitar's halo well beyond the physical outlines of the instrument. Though higher speaker elevation had added more upper freqs so minor aeration, the core flavor remained. Now it was simply better balanced. Classical string quartets still were on a meat not vegetarian diet. As such they weren't the most accurate discipline in Soul's quiver but more on its far side. Dub like Kalya Scintilla's "Lotus Heart" remix meanwhile was a very special forté. That lived smack in the heartland of Soul 6's mix of undeniable strengths.

This headfi system of smsl SD transport, Auralic Vega DAC, Schiit Jotunheim R amp and Raal-Requisite SR1a ribbon earspeakers is my reference for recorded tonal balance and detail before room EQ and distance losses interfere.

It makes the ideal juncture to deal in more obviousness. Soul VI loves to stretch its legs and get rowdy. Visiting college students with a key to your crib wouldn't call these old men's boxes for the pipe 'n' slippers brigade. They'd exploit their crankiness until the police arrives. Given the backstory, that's expected. Still it bears mention if only by way of confirmation. Soul 6 plays it big, bodacious and bold. These qualities scale up rather more linear than usual as one turns up the throttle.

That and related stuff squares directly with Zu's branding. To prevent more obviousness, I'll return to what in this context became more counter-culture music while we explore Soul VI's reactions to sundry amplifiers.

But first, more specific Soul strengths. Two sides of one such coin are textural temerity and percussive perspicacity. T2 is equivalent to eating a finely blended soup. Suddenly you bite on an unsuspected chili seed, a bit later into a tart pomegranate pod. These textural exceptions virtually explode intense flavor. They spike powerfully from their mushier surroundings. Musically, such mush could be pedal tones or lengthy legato passages, the spicy bits things like the crisp clacks of castanets or violent rim shots. Now make them all occur simultaneously. Punches in bunches. Giving these distinctive feels of how different sounds begin maximal individuality is textural temerity. Related is percussive perspicacity. That relies on first-rate timing so steep transients without phase confusion. This effect is strongest on noises like hits, cracks, claps, snaps, slaps and rattles – anything with startle factor. It triggers our nervous system to recognize realism like shattering glass or a car door slam. Zu's dual-concentric high-efficiency driver without preceding filter parts to couple directly to our amplifier outputs does this percussive violence very well. The following groove shows this in miniature as bloom in the bass guitar, wiriness in the upright, watery woodiness in the clarinet, steeliness in the qanun, warm sweetness in sampled symphonic strings, blur in certain synth warbles, spiciness in percussion and so forth. It all happens together yet the Soul 6 kept the different textures nicely separate and distinct.

Another benefit of Zu's driver-within-a-driver concept is image mapping. To track that, nothing succeeds or fails like 80-head orchestral where an arranger or composer exploits each instrumental group separately for maximum layering. Given its Heavy Metal credentials and the likely diet of the majority audience, not all Soul listeners might recognize fully just how well Soul does in this discipline. For that you don't want wall-of-sound dynamically compressed Rock. You want to spin up more purist recordings groomed for complex 3D spaces with clearly assigned distance variability. Feed Soul 6 such fare and you might be surprised by how this squat punk aces certain very audiophile stunts. If that's raw, it's a rather refined sort of raw. Giving a sizeable whizzer major tweeter duties applies rather more vibrating surface to the job than the ubiquitous 1-inch dome tweeter. More air excitation equals greater energy transmission and more dynamic headroom. Any presumption that the Soul 6 would be weak on portraying the metallic oscillations of cymbal crashes for example has entered the wrong movie. It's the uppermost fizz or airiness which despite 'super' tweeter and extra setup height didn't render as fully as with our resident speakers. It certainly didn't equal my aces for that discipline, the Serbian ribbon headphones nor the dipole horn tweeters of Alain Pratali's Lieutenant. But then none of the residents equal Soul's boisterous boldness. Different skill sets for different listener priorities.