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I eventually ended up listening to the Terra II's HF setting a notch below max (+ 5dB) but above the mark the manufacturer describes as "the most neutral setting". By neutral they mean most linear but linearity wasn't my issue. The ultimate requirement is that the speaker and the music sound good to one's own ears; in the acoustics of one's own listening room with the system that one happens to own. And for that, the HF EQ can be a handy device.

Such a feature is particularly useful in that this speaker can be perched atop a stand, squat on a desk on either side of a screen or monitor or float off a wall with custom fasteners. In its delightfully versatile owner's manual, the manufacturer provides instructions on how to squeeze maximum performance from the Terra II. The first piece of advice recommends that the accompanying system be of the highest quality. The second deals with the ideal placement of the Terra II in the room. The third requires that only well recorded albums be used.

The latter is strange. For one thing, all speakers tend to sound better with well-recorded music. On the other hand, music on less than perfectly recorded albums is still music and often the better music. The first recommendation is not indifferent although with the amps I tried (including a Roksan Kandy L.III in for review) the Terra II did not strike me as overly sensitive to amplifier quality. The Terra II is 86dB efficient to require a minimum 50-100wpc amp. It's a clear no-no for low-power tube amps and yes, I did try.

The second counsel is by far the most relevant. It took me a while to find the proper room coordinates for the Terra II. In terms of tonal balance, the most critical part was to find the correct height in relation to the listening distance (approx. 3.5m). When the location was solved, the sound quality hit home.

Arguably other things being equal, the angle of baffle inclination takes care of initial time/phase differences between tweeter and the mid/woofer. However, the appropriate angle for the ear depends on listening distance and stand height. The phase behavior of the Terra II can be fine-tuned by raising or lowering the rear feet. As for how much in centimeters, a table in the manual provides reference values per listening distance and height of stand. My recommendation is that this phase alignment be taken serious.

Who said that a haute-design speaker has to be antithetical to a technically correct speaker? The Terra II encompasses more technical wisdom than many ordinary two-way box speakers combined: "Unique products require a unique approach for manufacturing. We mix science and art, technology and traditions." - Everything but the box

When everything was settled for the audition, the Terra II sounded quite clean, pure and uncoloured. If somebody perceives mild gimmickry in how the Terra II looks, there's no gimmickry at all to how it performs. The sound is coherent and consistent. It's distinctly disassociated from the cabinet with a firm center image and the soundstage is comfortably three-dimensional (albeit not as much as with the firm's Pluto F - but that's another story). There's very little boxiness in the sound to to not artificially stretch the stage horizontally.

The tone is never bright not even with the HF control at max. Those who've trained their ears to accept and expect a flat response to 20-30kHz and only that could be disappointed as the highest frequencies are reproduced and on some occasions even in a rejoicingly decay-rich manner but overall, the highest notes and details therein are presented as part of the whole and don't stand out. The treble reproduction here is not what an expensive high-end tweeter with detectably rich and silky harmonics would do. And it's not aimed to.

It wouldn't be completely wrong to say that the tonal balance of the Terra II relies on the condition of the bottom end. Without wanting to compromise the mellowness and fullness of the sound, this has to some extent occurred at the expense of the upper midrange and treble weight as well as the mental picture of overall transparency. The sound is not warm as this term is commonly understood in connection to speaker
evaluations. Rather, it has an exiting flavor of reserve as though part of the energy from the mids to highs was first stored in a filter, then burst out into the air in a neat pattern.

The specs announce 69Hz as the - 3dB down point. That figure probably refers to the speaker's free-field response. In fact, I later heard the Terras in a studio-type environment where lack of bass extension was more noticeable. In room and 60cm from the front wall however, bass descends at least half an octave lower. Not a word about bass anaemia. Pekka Väänänen's growling electric zither in his Voyage album, Per Mathisen's electric bass in Helge Sund's mouthwatering Big Band record Denada and even J.S. Bach's Nun Komm organ choral [Naxos 8.550927] were produced completely plausibly and wonderfully from the midbass on up. The Nun Komm organ choral was good performance also with regard to the midrange. In general, the Terra took in big music surprisingly well although as a speaker of small volume, it's no dynamic fiend.

It must be added that although the upper bass of the Terra II is not artificially boosted, it's not as flat as it could be. It's merely a reminder that the Terras are operating in the tricky commercial niche where all small speakers seek to achieve as big a sound as possible. When music demands the presence of mid/upper bass, the choice is commendable. When music contains no bass notes, the Terra II may add a tad of color where there should be none.

In advance I thought that the Terra II might be a speaker for which one needs to select music that flatter its virtues and avoid music that reveal its vices. At first I thought my expectations would prove right but eventually I ended up inserting just about any music into the CD player or on the platter and paid no attention to possible systematic faults as obviously, none were to be observed.

They say that matters of taste must not be disputed because they cannot be. Why not? Even if the culinary flavor of an oyster is beyond dispute, the design of various objects certainly isn't. It's possible of course to draft together a
panel of experts who've dedicated their lives to comprehension of design matters and let them define universal evaluation criteria. Then go ahead and start assessing objectively. The fact that you or I retain our individual likes and dislikes does not remove the possibility of reasonable disputes on matters of taste.

Brilliantly finished, the Everything But The Box Terra II avoids boxiness like a poison. It requires from the viewer/buyer a certain open-mindedness and perhaps even a dollop of gumption. To listen requires no other criteria than those normally applied to all speakers. Those criteria can be quite tight too and the Terra II will pass them as well as several nothing-but-the-box speakers. The only difference is that manufacturers of typical box speakers must work harder to avoid sonic mistakes predicated upon adherance to the box model.

P.S.: The review pair was black and it's not a bad choice for this speaker. In addition there are three standard colors (Pearl White, Fire Red and Titanium Grey) and an almost unlimited number of optional colors that the speaker may be ordered in.
Quality of packing: Standard.
Reusability of packing: Good.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Easy.
Condition of component received: Flawless.
Completeness of delivery: Excellent.
Website: Up to date and informative.
Human interactions: All questions to the manufacturer were quickly answered.
Final comments & suggestions: Forget your prejudices; this is a speaker to watch and to listen and it's about music rather than sound.