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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Apple iMac 1TB running OSX 10.6.6 with AIFF files up to 24/192, PureMusic 1.74 in hog and hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Burson Audio HA160D, Weiss DAC2, iPod Classic 160GB, Onkyo NS-D1 digital-direct iPod dock, Pure i-20 digital direct iPod dock, Antelope Zodiac Gold w. Voltikus [on review], Red Wine Audio Black Lightning 18V DC [on review]
Preamps: Esoteric C-03, ModWright LS100, Bent Audio Tap X
Amplifiers: ModWright KWA-100 SE, FirstWatt F5
Speakers: ASI Tango R, Living Voice OBX-RW [on review], Mark+Daniel Fantasia S [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of ASI Liveline, Crystal Cable Ultra, Zu Event, Entreq USB and Firewire

Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF-2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: Short-wall setup, 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: €7.500/pr

Having already reviewed Aurelia's Cerica, we've crossed paths with Antti Louhivaara's cylindrical wave radiators before. Then it was the shorter monitors. Those subtracted from today's top model a total of eight woofers, four per side. To briefly recap—for two interview pages refer to the previous article—this Finnish engineer was responsible for award-winning designs at Amphion before launching Aurelia. He is adamant. Dispersion continuity is vital to eliminate handovers between drivers from audibility. Even if a wave guide were to match a small tweeter's radiation resistance to bigger mid/woofers, surrounding it with multiple line-source drivers won't do.

Graphica in Cherry veneer at Scandinavian hifi show

The tweeter still acts as a beamy point source. Its paralleled neighbors behave as controlled-dispersion cylindrical radiators. That's a mismatch.

What's needed is a treble system which behaves as line-source radiator too. A long ribbon would be perfect. Except such a ribbon suffers power handling limits. It also requires a higher crossover point with steeper filter slopes. In Antti Louhivaara's minimum-phase 1st-order scheme that causes other mismatches. Enter the carefully developed wave guide module with three in-line Titanium dome tweeters. That unusual solution integrates cylindrical wave propagation across the speaker's entire baffle. The sound propagates in one unified shape as a cohesive radiation pattern or continuous front. This can't betray seams to the fussy upstairs referee of our ear/brain. We cannot hear the crossover transition window or point at the handover. It's about optimal driver integration.

There are other benefits as well. Paralleled drivers increase surface area. This minimizes excursion requirements. That drives down distortion but drives up compound sensitivity. Here it nets 91dB. Proper acoustic integration of this tall vertical array requires a minimum sitting distance of 2 meters. So-called nearfield listening which minimizes boundary effects actually occurs up to four meters away. The implications are obvious. Whilst sitting in what domestically seems the far field (12 feet between speaker and listening chair make quite the distance in an average living room) the Graphica's deliberately controlled dispersion pattern continues to behave as though in the nearfield. This makes it rather more immune to lateral reflections.

Two underhung 5.25" woofers even with a BL factor of 12 as used in the previously tested Cerica monitor are naturally limited in punch and bass extension (40Hz in-room). That's where the Graphica's additional woofer quartet per side promises a potent difference. Practical reach builds out to 30Hz.

That's still no infrasonic turf but likely sufficient for most. Far more importantly, air-moving capabilities scale up. This should better translate the violence of a rim shot, slap bass or kick drum in the midbass power zone where dynamic vitality lives. A simple 6dB electrical filter separates the signal into two ways for this system of nine drivers to maintain proper timing fidelity.

Available in shiny gloss black, a matte Cherry veneer or Louhivaara's personal favorite gloss white, it's all professionally applied in the People's Republic of China. Crossover and wave guide manufacture plus final assembly occur in Finland.

The Isomatric woofer cones are from England. The tweeter domes are from France. The Graphica on its circular plinth stands 1.5 meters tall. It's just 145mm narrow and 350mm deep. Weight comes to 30kg each. The twinned ports fire out the rear. Antti Louhivaara shares line-source love with another very clever designer. Anthony Gallos' top Reference 5 LS model too is a super slim and tall cylindrical wave radiator. At $19.000/pr it plays in a different league of course. Thinking folks familiar with the work of either man might simply take mental note that for their best efforts each opted for the skinny line source concept. Having awarded the original Gallo Reference 3.0 and its 3.5 successor and having been impressed by Aurelia's Cerica, I was naturally predisposed to expect big things from the Graphica. Or would it be spindly tall tales only?