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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: APL HiFi/Esoteric NWO 3.0GO/UX-1
Preamp: Esoteric C-03, ModWright DM 36.5
Preamp/Integrated: FirstWatt F5, ModWright KWA-150
Speakers: DeVore Fidelity Nines
Cables: ASI Liveline lo/hi-level + one power cord, Crystal Cable Ultra power cords
Stands: 4 x Ikea Molger, Ikea butcher-block platforms with metal footers
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: The sound platform is 3 x 4.5m with a 2-story slanted ceiling above; four steps below continue into an 8m long combined open kitchen, dining room and office, an area which widens to 5.2m with a 2.8m ceiling; the sound platform space is open to a 2nd story landing and, via spiral stair case, to a 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls from a converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse and 2nd-story landing.
Review Component Retail: ca. €4000/pr in Europe (varies with country due to VAT inclusion)

Depending upon the manufacturer of their cultural baggage, viewers will instantly recognize an inverted Nike logo or the upside-down V for 'victory' sign. Or a Starship Enterprise Federation member. Or a stylized boomerang. Whatever you see, there won't be arguments that Paul Schenkel's Rithm speaker sports a form factor that's never before happened upon a loudspeaker. It makes the Rithm far more a fine furniture design statement than the usual blunt hifi trophy.

On the hifi page meanwhile, the vital stats make this a 7-inch dual-concentric down-ported two-way. The popular Seas unit parks its 1-inch soft-dome tweeter inside the throat of the poly-cone midwoofer. The Rithm runs acoustical 18dB/octave filters for both the high- and low-pass centered at 2500Hz. Sensitivity is a low-ish 85dB and frequency response 50-20,000Hz. Weight is a svelte 15kg and surprisingly petite dimensions are 70 x 21.4 x 58cm HxWxD. While none of that begins to touch upon the cosmetics, the designer would be first to stress that separating one from the other is folly. The high-pressure bent and laminated 'drawn bow' arches for the wooden tops and bottoms don't merely mean style in the looks department. They're also lightweight and strong to combine attractive qualities long since exploited by Scandinavian chairs. The affordable Ikea Poäng lounger at right is arguably the most popular and widely distributed sample of this breed. Its breathy wooden rails support up to 170 kilos.

Strength from constrained layers of wood and glue plus light weight transpire to superior self damping for Davone's speaker enclosure whose inset side panels are painted MDF. Shape and structure eliminate the need for internal fillers and braces, hence form meets function and not just the eye. But many eyes have met the Rithm since Davone's first 2006 sightings. And they must have liked what they saw. Consider Chris Sommovigo of The Signal Collection whose Stereolab Angelus project around the same dual-concentric drive unit was only abandoned because his cabinet supplier, promises notwithstanding, proved incapable of the desired finish level. "Our crafty Davone Dutchman who now lives in Denmark meanwhile pulled off one terrific enclosure and superb finish. His Rithm also sounds very good. That gives me exactly what Angelus was supposed to: a non-hifi looking speaker of modest dimensions that meets my ultrafi criteria." Fühlen Coordinate of Japan too signed up. Like Signals, their other lines like Octave, Piega and Trigon show the ambitious performance ingredient while the company name is a clever amalgam of feeling (that's what fühlen means in German) and design. Does that not seem perfect for the Davone Rithm? Coordinate your emotions.

"To link the worlds of high aesthetics and performance hifi is challenging of course. For example, the original Rithm hid its binding posts completely. Making the one-time connections was somewhat fussy but with the grills installed, it did remove the last 'I'm a hifi machine' echoes completely. Furniture shops and certain hifi dealers like your domestic importer in Switzerland had no issues. They got the point right away. More traditional hifi dealers who were attracted to the Rithm for the very same aesthetic reasons demanded more standard functionality however. Thus the production version had to adopt a more standard post mounting on the rear. As you know, one can't ever please everyone."

To please himself, Schenkel remained in his adopted Denmark when it came time to farm out cabinets. "The firm who builds them also builds B&W's 800 Series and designer furniture by Arne Jacobsen and Peit Hein. They are exceptionally experienced when it comes to high-pressure wood forming with very specialized machines. Naturally, I investigated Chinese suppliers too but by the time they accounted for my initially smaller quantity needs and I factored in shipping and associated costs plus expected QC issues, it was far more attractive to outsource locally. One other aspect of my enclosure design to warrant
mention is that it neatly hides the cubic inch requirement for good bass from a 7-incher. You can't get realistic bass from a small enclosure without complicating the load behavior and putting your drivers through more serious excursions. I needed volume i.e. size but I didn't want to really see it. The final shape neatly solved this dilemma as well to give me aesthetics and performance on multiple levels."

"For CES 2009, I really deliberated what to show with. While many of us like tube amps, those are the most hifi of all components when it comes to appearance. I wanted something petite yet powerful, modern yet nicely styled. Bel Canto was the answer and we had very satisfied feedback from our exhibit." "As the music-loving count in Milos Foreman's Amadeus would have put it, there it is: Davone seems as design conscious as its corporate cousins over at Bang & Olufsen are. Yet Paul Schenkel prefers to work in wood rather than metal. And unlike the giant firm whose 2007/2008 fiscal turnover was €548.000.000, he is new and small and still hoping to make his mark.