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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 1TB iMac running OSX 10.6.7 with PureMusic 1.82 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192, Apple iPod 160GB Classic, Pure i-20, Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold/Voltikus, Esoteric UX1/APL NWO-M, April Music Eximus DP1 [on review]
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100, Bel Canto C5i
Amplifier: ModWright KWA-100SE, FirstWatt S2 proto [on loan]
Speakers: Mark & Daniel Mini+, Amphion Helium 510 + Impact 400 subwoofer, Aries Cerat Gladius [on loan]
Speaker stands: Track Audio Precision 600
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event, Entreq USB and Firewire cables
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 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: €2.200/pr

Turning Lifestyle into a nasty four-letter word isn't something audiophiles should be proud of. Enjoying on a regular basis music within one's own four walls is nothing but a very distinctive lifestyle. It ought to be celebrated and elevated. Bulgaria's Everything But The Box was created to affirm how in audio lifestyle and performance needn't be mutually exclusive. They can and should be joined at the hip.

Speaker houses and media darlings YG Acoustics and Magico have popularized aluminum enclosures. Lately Stenheim and Crystal have followed suit. Yet they all—and for quite the coin—champion old-fashioned panel construction even if the Dutch apply theirs in vertical facets. EBTB employs high-pressure die-cast and highly curvaceous aluminum shells*. And they manage for pennies on the dollars of the other aluminators. They then apply flawless lacquer skins, finely turned/machined or laser-cut detail work in aluminum, steel or brass and optional leather appliqué. Decidedly modernistic —audio conservatives called "old goats" by ex gonzo journalist Corey Greenberg might think futuristic—EBTB speakers are conversation starters. Playful, hip? Over the top, outré? Opinions will diverge. Certainly it's a seriously fun break from box boredom. While for their show exhibit and debut of the Luna, Terra III and Subterranean II the Bulgarians opted for bold primary colors, their catalogue of 16.000 hues includes many far more toned-down possibilities and very attractive two-or-more tone schemes [see bottom of page].

Anthony Gallo's transition from $3.000/pr Ref 3.1 to Ref 3.5 at $6.000/pr knew all about the costs for truly seamless welding of metal halves even when performed on an angular stem and in China. But there are other aluminators which embrace curves and are priced well below the above four. One of those is the Danish €2.995/pr Fazon F5 from Dali whose statuesque geometry vaguely recalls KEF's Carbon/Balsa Blade turned around. When it comes to full-on curves, EBTB from Bulgaria and Vivid from South Africa seem to lead the parade however. Consider where those companies operate. Should this give pause to competitors who work in (cough) more developed industrialized nations?

With EBTB audiophile-approved details abound. There are variable-radius slanted composite baffles for minimal diffraction and time alignment. There are short solid aluminum or brass tweeter wave guides for acoustic impedance matching, uniform dispersion and diffraction control. There are solid aluminum or brass ports to prevent turbulence, optional Inox spikes for resonance control [Terra II with brass hardware and shipping crates at left].

There's dual-concentric driver mounting. The Subterranean II's 50cm Ø spherical enclosure is a solid 10mm thick cast aluminum. It fires a 12-inch long-throw woofer into a cast dispersion lens. There's a leather-lined upfiring port, a 200-watt inbuilt amp and, in the M2 version, another 75wpc stereo amp to drive the satellite speakers with. Just add a source. Pricing for the new 2-way Luna monitor (its cast skeleton and blue/yellow samples appeared earlier) is all of €1.000. For the pair.

In my role of been there done that where green isn't for envy but jaded, visiting the EBTB exhibit in München was a breath of fresh air. I was impressed by the fit+finish, the quality ingredients, the depth of available custom options and the fair prices. In this age of Apple hipness, getting audio from out of the man cave into the upstairs light of day requires style. For environs of a specific hi-tech modernistic bend, these speakers have style to spare.

So I asked EBTB's Marina Petrova. For a hand-out. "Could you spare a Terra III or two for an audiophile who is down on his luck with blandness?" Since this assignment was also about cool factor, I woulda settled for a single Terra III. Do mono properly, not like those poseurs with two speakers. But one glance by Marina was sufficient. I lacked any real cool. No vinyl chez Ebaen. Certainly no mono cartridge. I'd need two speakers like normal Joes. So I'd roll with the punches. Stereo it was. I'd of course known about the brand for years. With two reviews of their prior top model Terra II syndicated from Poland and Finland already, I'd simply never had proper cause to get my own ears involved. The launch of the Terra III finally changed my luck.