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Getting connected: With a total of six pairs of binding posts your serving of cable salad will be grander than usual. With the photo as guide, the Kondo silver biwire in red connects the amp to the AMT and woofer inputs of the crossover module. The silver/gold Crystal Cable jumpers in white connect the low-passed woofer output to the bass bin's woofer input.

The short twisted set of jumpers connects the super tweeter's high-passed output to the input of the top module. You thus need to provide biwire cable and 20cm and 40cm long jumpers. Using the same cable all around would be preferable but I had no matching Kondo jumpers. The rotary controls of the omni tweeters can trim their output from 0dB to -6dB. With a 7kHz high-pass filter, this upfiring driver is exclusively an ambient overtone unit.

Thus M+D's OmniHarmonizer moniker. It properly describes harmonics radiating in a full circle. Unlike earlier iterations of this trademark solution the dispersion lens now affixes permanently to its base. It's no longer removable. The bass bins arrive with a threaded shaft in the front. Attached to it is a flat plastic footer on a swivel joint.

This cleverly protects your flooring while walking the speakers into position. Once final listening distance, setup width and toe-in have been locked in one replaces this temporary footer with the provided very tall pointy footer and protective disc. The spirit level built into the AMT module's top ledge assists with front/back alignment. The fixed rear footers simply don't account for any left/right offsets. Should the speaker lean sideways you will need shims under one of the rear cones.

Grills included for the woofers mount magnetically to three standoffs. Those must be screwed into the recessed receivers of the front baffle. The seamless synthetic marble will remind some of composite kitchen surfaces like Corian, Avonite and their kind - dense, heavy and textured like highly polished stone. The very mild white flecking in Daniel Lee's black synthetic and the pale crushed pepper in the white are attractive without attempting to look like natural stone. This avoids the faux which can plague particularly synthetic marble to look cheesy. Not here. The high floor gap and receding penguin/tuxedo coat tail scheme seems to float the speaker particularly in the two-tone finish. The white cheeks also slim down appearance. The eye is focused on the black center. Unconventional and angular, the Fantasia S cuts a rakishly modern profile. It could seem out of place in a traditional wood décor but at home with concrete, chrome, stone and leather. Think lofty.

Fantasia Sonics: Being familiar with numerous of their monitors, the floorstanding Fantasia does not sound to me like any earlier Mark+Daniel. Gone are the audible effects of forced alignments pounding out unnaturally endowed bass from ridiculously puny boxes. Fantasia's bass from a single 8-inch woofer remains surprising. But for the extension at hand the air volume behind it has been naturalized. That relationship is normal and as such balanced. This has relaxed prior artifacts of extreme effort, of steroid muscle and that permanently punchy always tensioned attitude. The Fantasia is not pumped up. It's easy and relaxed. This has a lovely benefit. It comes on song far sooner. M+D speakers could always rock out with a shit-eating grin. For all that partying they weren't really early risers though. On the dial. This reinforced popular notions—mine included I admit—that low-efficiency speakers are poor choices for background levels.

While its specified 86dB sensitivity doesn't rewrite M+D's usual score card, the resolution of the Fantasia S obviously kicks in wide awake at the crack of dawn where the stable mates of my acquaintance were still groggy or asleep. There's that greater ease again. Though I'm confident that far sillier SPL than my self-imposed town house limits tolerate would proudly reassert that feisty M+D muscularity particularly in the bass, my sessions didn't tap into anything unnatural or pushed. This gestalt was about gushing, not shoving - mature civility of understated refinement rather than adolescent punk 'tude to show up.

That includes the frequency bands covered by the airmotion transformers. Here previous M+D iterations could seem a bit too energetic. This wasn't necessarily on amplitude but dynamic contrast. The tweeters were leading. This highlighted zingy speedy aspects and incisiveness. The far taller version of the Fantasia must be coasting by comparison. As coupled to a larger mid/woofer and lower crossover point it seems more seamlessly integrated. It's probably closer matched on impulse response too. The minimum-effort folded planar unit plus the slightly grotesque hi-output dynamic unit with its massive butyl rubber roll surround do make for a conceptually quite conflicted beauty and beast pairing. In practice however they sound perfectly tailor made. Judging this marriage on sight would completely miss. My own conditioning too needed this reminder. Here even a short audition late at night would resolutely wipe out associated beliefs and instinctual misgivings. Daniel Lee clearly has spent the last two years upping his game and refining the core recipe. The Fantasia S is a flagship speaker alright. In reasonably sized rooms—say 18' x 36'—it leaves nothing under the table. Castle dwellers and free mansionites might keep looking at bigger badder artillery from the competition. For them $14.000 is still midfi. But folks with normal living rooms which must double as listening temples without disturbing the domestic peace can stop right here.

Armonia's €24.000/pr TWR170-SE above with its thrice-paralleled ATD Hypergraph nanocarbon mid/woofers and rear-firing Seas woofer for example proved too bass potent for my space. Up for review ahead of the Fantasia it had the Padua manufacturer pick them up again to revisit the bass system with rheostats. Those will allow the end user to adapt low-pass tilt and amplitude to any given room and prevent getting overpowered. The moral of that story? Flagship speakers too often really are too much. The Fantasia S is just right. This makes it no flagship in the ultimate sense. There a Wilson Alexandria, Focal Grande Utopia, Rockport Arrakis or Tidal Sunray roams to energize palatial expanses (or require forests of room treatments such as our own Mike Malinowski installed them).

It does however make the Fantasia a "what more could you possibly use" deal. As in, getting a Corvette to do grocery shopping or a Hummer to commute to work is pure insanity or silliness. That makes the Fantasia ask a very relevant question: "What more could you really want?"

As these speakers were beginning to break in, I was beginning to suspect nothing really. Would this early reaction change in the harsher light of more indepth experiments?