This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below
"We use TI's PCM2704 USB DAC chip. But where generic USB headphone amplifiers use that chip's analog output, the Piccolo forwards its S/PDIF digital output directly to the digital amplifier, with the clock regenerated by Cirrus Logic's CS8416.

"This scheme avoids signal degradation from PC to digital amplifier to deliver really transparent sound and resolution. The Tymphany driver already had an excellent frequency response but we added DSP to get our desired target response with some deliberate tuning of the low-frequency response. It was very delicate works and really required true hifi sensibility on the part of our voicing expert. Then we contributed enclosure design technology to optimize performance."

The right speaker contains the PCB for the electronics, the left one is identical except for the lower board. An included cable transfers the left-channel signal to the passive unit. The active unit runs off a DC power adaptor which itself plugs into the wall with a standard power cord (included). The shipping box also includes a mini-to-mini stereo patch cord for the analog input; a USB cable; the credit card remote with watch-type battery; and a micro-fiber cloth to polish the high-gloss fronts without scratching.

2.5" drivers can have amazing clarity in the all-important vocal range. I'm talking about "you must be bloody kidding!" transparency, speed and projection power that track very small inflections. Now subtract requirements for large excursions since this is a nearfield proposition. One remains well within the comfort zone of such drivers where they run linear without distortion. Gallo knows it, Morel knows it, many manufacturers know it. The trouble with big-room speakers is that they lose output with distance; must energize far more cubic air volume which ups requirements on the bass drivers to convey believable impact; and because of it, rely on multiple drivers splitting up frequency duties between them which determines where they must meet. In standard 2-ways with ambitions to do respectable bass, most agree on a 5.25" as ideal. Bigger and one gets more bass but less vocal finesse. Smaller and the tonal balance gets too lean.

In 3-ways, a 2.5" midrange becomes possible again and ATC for example makes a very famous 3-inch dome. Due to its SPL requirements for the intended studio mastering and home audio applications however, this driver is very expensive and based on a monster motor, advanced cooling and other technical solutions. The little Piccolo gets away with a cheap but quality Tymphany/Peerless unit to hit a bull's eye of speed and clarity that belong in a completely different league.

There's no low bass at all and even the mid bass is mostly hinted at. The designers built in a respectable upper bass boost however to properly anchor the frequency response with plausible weightiness and prevent male voices and celli from feeling disconnected and emasculated. It's a parlour trick of course and within the church of audiophilia, frowned upon. But as any good trick performed masterfully, I'd bet you good money: you will fall for it to experience that intended breathless suspension of disbelief. And yes, like any spoil sport, you can immediately set out to pay real close attention and catch the illusionist in the act red-handed.

Frankly though, that would brand you an idiot. Magical performances are supposed to be enjoyed. Don't dissect them for the machinations behind the scenes. For all your smarts, you'd miss out terribly. While the childrens' faces are aglow in magic and mystery, you'll be the loser. So yes, the Piccolo is an illusionist. Anyone paying attention can quickly discern the trick. But the Piccolo is a very consummate illusionist. You can segue back into child-like wonder immediately after you've crossed off your adult 'gotcha' moment. I suggest we do just that.