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The concept itself is perfectly sound. Active monitors are ubiquitous on the recording console and slowly but surely also inch their way into domestic desktop setups where the absence of external amps and cabling are real assets. Sitting less than a meter removed creates obvious challenges for multi-ways, hence Jarek's search for the ideal widebander. It took him six months and plenty of prototyping to finally settle on Dayton's 4-inch all-aluminum RS 100 driver.

With a resonant frequency of 87.5Hz, his very long vertical port fires down for instant boundary reinforcement to enhance response without breaking supernatural records. A wooden spacer in front and single spike in the rear fix the intended loading. Though the speaker is short—100 x 239 x 210mm—Jarek claims that its single driver requires no further tilt back than the already rakish baffle to produce proper treble balance at the ear.

His active electronics include an analog compensation network to linearize the driver as well as user-adjustable treble and bass controls. There are standard 1V XLR and RCA inputs—only one speaker is active, the other slaves to it passively—and one 0.5V RCA input for low-output portable sources like iPod & Co. And of course there's a mono sub output and a coax output to the slave unit.

The XLRs confirm that Jarek views the Studio Oslo as a serious nearfield mastering tool at home in the small studio* just as it is on the consumer's work or play desk. At such short distances one necessarily stares the speaker straight in the eye. A natty dress code thus was essential. Ancient Audio offer a variety of wood veneers and gloss lacquers. To show off the latter, Jarek asked that I pick one from the RAL catalogue. Eyeing the reed green of my Ikea desk's tempered glass top, I emailed him the requisite code.

* "The name was inspired by the famous Rainbow Studio, birthplace of  the best records of Cool and  Scandinavian jazz due mostly to the ECM label."

I'd once before heard modest widebanders from Spain's Passion &ound stage shockingly big out of small ported boxes leashed to a class T amp. I was certain that a designer with Jarek's excellent track record had massaged the basic recipe which here is arranged in the key of class AB for all its 30 watts worth of Philips TDA8566Q. Power from the wall goes through an SMPS wart but any similar 17-19VDC job may apply. The late addition of a perfectly matched subwoofer promised to be the cherry on top. Or foundation platter to serve up this miniaturized attempt at domestic wow+cute factor plus audiophile grins.

The woofer would be particularly useful for action soundtracks to put da boom boom in di riddim as a Jamaican singer extols on an Andy Narell record. That's because Jarek also sees the Studio Oslo leashed to flat-panel televisions where seating distances increase and special effects mine depths which acoustic music does not.