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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Esoteric/APL Hifi UX-1/NWO 3.0GO, Yamamoto YDA-01
Preamp/Integrated: Esoteric C-03 (transistor), ModWright DM 36.5 (valves)
Amplifier: Ancient Audio Single Six, Yamamoto A-09S and A-08S, FirstWatt F5
Speakers: ASI Tango R, Zu Essence
Cables: Complete loom of ASI Liveline
Stands: 4 x Ikea Molger rack and butcher-block platforms with metal footers
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters, Advanced Acoustics Corner and Wall Orbis
Room size: The sound platform is 3 x 4.5m with a 2-story slanted ceiling above; four steps below continue into an 8m long combined open kitchen, dining room and office, an area which widens to 5.2m with a 2.8m ceiling; the sound platform space is open to a 2nd story landing and, via spiral stair case, to a 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls from a converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse and 2nd-story landing.
Review Component Retail: €10.000/pr

A Classic Revisited
Rethm is a labor of love, not commerce. The Saadhana remains testament far more to doggone persistence than lucid business sense. After eluding profitability for ten endless years, anyone else would have resigned by now. Not Jacob George, the Indian designer from Cochin. His real income is architectural, heart and soul remain idealists and tied to Rethm.

This review too is a labor of love. I've already reviewed this speaker. Owned it too since. The newest incarnation isn't really sufficiently different to warrant a re-view in the usual scheme of things. But this is not your usual speaker nor are we wedded to one-size-fits-all tactics.

Love can labor under friendly resentment. Vital Gbezo, Emillé Labs' ambassador who had invited Rethm to participate in their High-End Munich 2009 exhibit, was upset. Alternating speakers in his room between Rethm and Triangle, he too had been bitten by the Lowther Perfected bug. He really wanted that show pair.

Why couldn't he write Jacob a check and ship it straight to his abode in Blighty? "Jacob told me they're going to you (oozing disappointment). You wanted to be current."

They were and I was. The arrangement had been made well prior to München. Drat. I felt bad for the affable Vital. But not too bad. After all, he had the hots for my pair. Hadn't Moses already a commandment about that? Thou shan't covet thy neighbor's hifi.

These photos detail the new. The cleverly simple rail base not only enforces proper spacing and perfect in-line-ment of the nested modules but also allows the final assembly to be easily leveled and floor spiked with four long master points that are adjustable from above. When those points are retracted sufficiently to clear the Teflon slides, the entire assembly can be moved about carefully. Push from the metal rails to not have the speakers jump tracks as their mini spikes are merely nested in small hollows.

These functional and aesthetic enhancements are well implemented and welcome but Jacob also upped the power of his internal bass amps to twice their previous rating to go beyond just external changes.

The real reason for today's followup is twofold. It's a reassessment given that my room and ancillaries have drastically changed since the original review. How would this design hold up against a few more years of experience and possibly improved listening skills? It's also a spot light reminder on something really deserving. It's further apt because commercial success of any significance continues to walk right past this highly evolved, very specialized speaker.

Why vexes the designer. Audience response at Munich was fabulous and made it his best showing ever. Thanks to Emillé's gracious invitation -- Sri George could never have afforded participation otherwise -- the Saadhanas finally had the properly sized room to show off their stuff. Last year Rethm and collaborator ModWright had been confined to one of the ground floor's tiny prison cells. The walls of those temporary sound cubicles flex like Popeye's forearm and leak bass like a boom truck. And the Saadhana is no speaker for prison cells. Don't slam it against the front wall without risking a costly parking ticket for compromised performance. The Saadhana thrives on breathing room.

Being about as deep and narrow as Corey Greenberg's fave NHT 3.1s of yore, the Saadhana concept has always been contentious. From hate to casual shoulder shrug and back to hate, sighted love has probably rarely blossomed. It's been the speakers' emotionally charged performance that clinched the occasional deal as long as appearance and practical considerations didn't break it. My wife detested the looks of my previous pair. Yet she absolutely loved the show samples. She kept inquiring when they'd arrive. That's due probably not merely to the different color scheme. There are after all quite a number of revised secondary design cues too. Those one doesn't consciously identify. Yet they flow into a more refined appearance and thus trigger a rather more favorable sighted response. The really relevant thing with the Saadhana of course always has been what happens when the music begins to play...