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An OBX-RW derivative custom commission for a luxury yacht installation dubbed Cosmotron

"Why do I prefer 2-ways over conventional 3-ways? Simple. With the latter, you must listen to the all-important midrange through two filters - a low-pass and a high-pass to create the obligatory band pass. For more bandwidth, I much prefer a 2-way plus subwoofer. Or a 2-way plus super tweeter. Or even a 2-way plus super tweeter plus subwoofer. That's in fact the recipe for our Vox Olympian."

Intro recap: The Living Voice OBX-RW is the outboard crossover version of the top model in a four-deep range of cosmetically identical speakers. They are 6.5-inch MTM two-way floorstanders with integral black plinths. Similar to Harbeth and Ocellia, the cabinets are deliberately lossy and thin-walled. This releases vibrational energies quickly rather than stores them. Two proprietary shallow paper cones bracket a Scanspeak Revelator silk dome. The paralleled drivers not only net a claimed compound 94dB voltage sensitivity, they eliminate the usual tweeter series resistor by now matching the higher efficiency of the treble unit. With biwire posts on the external crossover input, the Kondo SPz silver umbilical between crossover output and speaker input is naturally biwired as well. Crossover components are cryogenically treated, meticulously laid out and naturally hardwired with a grain-oriented harness.

Even so, Kevin Scott would be first to admit that any casual glance at his best small speaker won't impress hardcore 'philes.

That's because in this price range, buyer expectations usually include more and bigger woofers, burlier taller enclosures built of thick inert materials and—what on the face of it at least would seem—more hi-tech drivers. According to those standards, the Living Voice Auditorium still walks the line. Once we advance to Living Voice R2 and RW stickers however, the competition seriously scales up their drivers and boxes. Here the Brits make an anti statement. That requires or should primarily appeal to more sophisticated shoppers who trust their own ears over applying preconceived notions on value to the purchasing decision.

The bigger auditorium at Definitive Audio here with the final pre-production prototype Vox Olympian/Elysian driven by
Kondo's M-77 preamp and Gakuoh monos
with a Resolution Audio Opus 21 two-box digital deck.

Finalized Vox Olympian with Elysian bass system

The OBX-RW is the ultimate expression of a proven design platform which previously enjoyed strong endorsement from all the UK print majors. If the OBX-RW has dropped out of the press, it's because many years later it still looks as it did during its original tour of fanfare. Prompted by supplier changes, the revised design has evolved as far now as the maker believes the concept can be pushed. Being Kondo's UK importer—an arrangement reciprocated by Kondo's Hong Kong importer who represents LV speakers—Definitive Audio aka Living Voice references their speaker design work against some of the best valve electronics extant. Beside Kondo, they also retail Art Audio, CEC, New Audio Frontiers and SME. That's relevant. It connects with the world outside the laboratory, test bench and navel gazing.

Fully regulated custom battery bank with power inverters which at Living Voice runs complete systems all day long.
Very unusually for a manufacturer, Kevin Scott routinely delivers and sets up Kondo/Living Voice systems all over Europe on both land and water (homes and yachts). He works as system consultant, setup man, voicing expert, trouble shooter, importer, retailer, designer and manufacturer. That combines a uniquely broad set of skills under one roof. Against this backdrop, the apparently modest OBX-RW begins to look somewhat more immodest.

It's that context and my prior exposure in the Harrington Mill which have me revisit the best small speaker Living Voice currently makes. It seems deserving of being reintroduced to a broader readership. A claimed 94dB sensitive domestically unassuming box not threatened by £100.000 of preceding electronics but rather developed alongside them isn't an everyday find.

Available in a large variety of fine book-matched veneers, the OBX-RW should appeal to the interior decorators. How about audiophiles?

Sharing the range's footprint and profile, OBX-RW components are said to be matched very critically to two decimal points. This includes Clarostat non-inductive wire-wound resistors, Hovland discrete film/foil Musicaps and hand-wound air core inductors.

Then there's star grounding and a triple-braced cabinet. The tweeter is the Danish Revelator shown above. Like all models in this range, claimed bandwidth extends from 35Hz to 22.5kHz. Impedance is 6 ohms. The external crossover boxes measure 12 x 42 x 26cm each and are fully veneered like the speakers. Gross weight per speaker is 20kg. This reflects the deliberate low-mass philosophy just as the moving mass of the custom mid/woofer—diaphragm, voice coil, spider and surround—was deliberately lowered. Clearly the OBX-RW started life as the less-is-more Avatar II. Where other speaker houses would follow up with a visually far more ambitious and imposing model, Living Voice has instead maxed out the more aspect of their existing minimalist platform. It seems to be a very risky gamble considering perception. To come off should rely quite heavily on buyer sophistication. Would the ultra-tweaked RW's tall price tag be justified with less ambitious ancillaries than the birth-giving Kondo electronics? I had my $2.000 Bent Audio Tap-X preamp and €5.500 Trafomatic Audio Kaivalya tube monos to represent top 'everyman' ancillaries plus the usual arsenal of FirstWatt and ModWright transistor amps.