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Reviewer: Stephæn
Financial Interests: click here
Analogue Sources: Nottingham Analogue Studio Space Deck driven by Walker Audio Precision Motor Controller. NAS Space Arm with The VTAF® from Pete Riggle Audio. Dynavector 17D2MKII, Dynavector 20xl, Denon 103, Audio Technica OC9 cartridges.
Digital Sources: Wavelength Audio Cosecant USB DAC v3 (Transcendental 16/44.1 DAC module) fed by iBook G4 with dual 500GB LaCie Firewire drives; Tube Research Labs fully modified Sony SCD-2000ES (for SACD playback). Secondary: TRL-modified Alesis ML-9600 high-resolution master disk recorder.
Preamps: deHavilland UltraVerve, modified/upgraded Eastern Electric Minimax (larger PS, 12FQ7 ready, gain cut to 9dB); Jolida JD-9A, Herron Audio VTPH-1MC and Monolithic Sound PS-1/HC-1 phono stages.
Amplifiers: Wright Sound Company WPA 3.5 monos and AudioSector AMP-1 integrated amplifier. Secondary: Outlaw Audio RetroReceiver.
Speakers: DIY Altec 604 MLTL. Secondary: Zu Audio Druid Mk.4; Sound Dynamics RTS-3; REL Strata III.
Cables: DIY WM-XTC; Audience Au24 and Zu Audio Libtec cables; Audience Au24, Audience Maestro [on loan] and TG Audio Lab custom copper interconnects. Secondary: Analysis Plus cables and interconnects.
Stands: Two three-tier Grand Prix Audio Monaco units on GPA Apex footers
Isolation: Main: GPA Monaco. Secondary: Lovan Affinity Pro6 Series rack, Acoustic Dreams Dead Ball Isolators; Neuance platform
Powerline conditioning: BPT 3.5 Signature; cryo'd Pass & Seymour wall outlets; Audience, T.G. Audio Lab SLVR, Analysis Plus Power Oval, and Zu Audio Birth and Bok power cords [both on loan]. Secondary: Brick Wall PW8R15AUD
Sundry accessories: HAL-O® Vacuum Tube Dampers, Herbie's Way Excellent Turntable Mat, VPI 16.5 record cleaner, Shun Mook Valve Resonators, Auric Illuminator, and Walker Audio Vivid CD & DVD Enhancer
Music makers: Epiphone Dot (Gibson ES-335 knock-off) and Chet Atkins CE (nylon-strung classical) electric guitars; Fender Blues Jr. amp; Privia PX-555 keyboard and 1906 Ellington upright piano.
Office system: Soundquest R601 Tube Hi-Fi FM/AM Classic Radio and a Gibson J-100 acoustic guitar
Room size & treatments: 26' x 19' x 9' (a fractured 'L', nominally 16' x 19' with 12' feet of the 19-foot dimension opening to the 20-foot section of the 20' x 12' kitchen/eat-in area); concrete slab, sheetrock walls. ASC Tube Traps and Sound Planks, Echo Busters absorbers, Shakti Hallograph Soundfield Optimizers and Acoustic Revive RR-77 Ultra Low-Frequency Pulse Generator.
Review component retail: $650/pair

When it comes to a speaker that's roughly 9 x 10 x 6 inches (including the binding posts!), no one would object to pointing out that small is an understatement. Pint-sized would be much closer to the truth. Don't you think, your honor? It would be easy to forgive people for not expecting high-end features or great performance. Doubly so for those accustomed to listening to much larger speakers. Yes? After all, one could argue that simply looking tasteful and sounding reasonable would be an accomplishment. As we shall see, the Evidence show otherwise.

The Features
Forensically speaking, this diminutive go-getter includes low diffraction chamfered corners on resonance-controlled cabinets which are finished in high gloss black. Just like some pianos; quite a find at this price. On each box, you'll also uncover a pure aluminum true ribbon tweeter with an acoustically controlled faceplate; and a high performance 4.5" Mogami paper mid/woofer. On the network board, investigations will show that components are crimped, not soldered; and that the gold-plated, large size, high-current binding posts are bi-wire capable. It is noteworthy that the high-pass filtering on the tweeter does not affect the mid/woofer. No grill cloths are provided or required as a metal-mesh cover protects the mid/woofer and the tweeter ribbon is recessed.

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The Performance
We'll get to that later. For now I'll just say that midway through the trial, we did request a change of venue. So while they were initially deposed as bookshelvers in my office, they showed enough gumption to be tried as mains (both times on 35" stands) in my primary listening room. While I can imagine that some folks would use them on their desktop as 'puter 'peakers, I don't and didn't see myself doing that. The drivers need more than a few feet to align though they are suitable for a nearfield listening approach at five feet and beyond. I guess if you have a really big desk...

The Back Story
When Ed Kojima wrote to request that I give his speakers a listen, I suggested that he must have me confused with someone else. I copied Srajan on my reply so he could alert other writers of the opportunity. SE's response was "...somehow Ed is dead set to have you do the review." This struck me as odd as Ed's product would certainly be a departure from the Altec 604 drivers in 9+ cubic foot boxes that I've been enjoying for past two years. In fact, to project the volume of the Evidence at one-third of one cubic foot would be generous. If my math is right, I could fit 30 of his speakers into one of mine.

Ed wrote back late that night to tell me that he was not confused. The rest of his reply was interesting: "I enjoy listening to old Altec speakers such as A7, 604 with SET amps. These systems are much more realistic, sweeter and fun for me. But under some circumstances I think that listening to Altecs is like going to your neighborhood market in a big truck. Some time ago, I was looking for nice speakers for SET amps in a small room. The ones I found were low sensitivity and split the middle of the vocal range, which I do not like. Please review my first product, which attempts to address these concerns."

It would be hard to say no to a fellow Altec enthusiast but I almost did. That would have wrong on a number of levels, but I have to admit to prejudging these little critters. How on earth could they satisfy my appetite for big sound?