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This review first appeared in the April 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Xavian Primissima in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Xavian - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacu
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime
Preamp: Leben RS-28CX
Integrated amp: Leben CS300
Power amp: Luxman M-800A
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Cables: CD-preamp Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52, pre/power amp Velum NF-G SE; speaker cable Velum LS-G; power cords Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 on CDP, 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 on preamp and power amp
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CDP
Review component retail: zł 2.200/pr

The Primissima bookshelf speaker from the Czech Xavian company owned by Italian Roberto Barletta belongs to his entry-level series Suona. Suona means sound and Primissima the first one. Those two pointers suggest the potential client – somebody who begins their adventure with music and how it is presented. Despite a low price, this speaker maintains the company’s signature traits for its dearer models - beautiful craftsmanship, wood veneers and high-quality drivers. Barletta makes no shortcuts. The Primissima is a sealed box. A bass-reflex box would have been so much more convenient. Frequency response would be broader, the -3dB bass frequency would be lower and there would be more subjective ‘punch’ (nothing to do with real bass in small monitors yet mostly viewed as asset). Instead we get a fairly big 180mm mid/woofer and a clever crossover. This allowed a significant 88dB efficiency for a mini speaker at a fair impedance – the manufacturer claims 8Ω. This of course is a mean value. Minimum impedance is much lower but still there should be no problem driving these.

Sound: I used the following discs - Feel the Difference of the Blu-spec CD. Jazz Selection, Sony Music Japan, SICP-20050-1, Blu-spec CD + CD; HiQualityCD Jazz Selection, EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90010, HQCD + CD; Ben Heit Quartet, Magnetism, Acousence Records, ACO80108, 24/192, FLAC; Diorama, Child of Entertainment, Accession Records, A 119, SP CD; Electric Light Orchestra, Time, Epic/Sony Music Direct (Japan), MHCP-1161, CD; Frank Sinatra, That’s Life, Reprise/Universal Music Company/Sinatra Society of Japan, UICY-94423, SHM-CD; Kate Bush, The Whole Story, EMI/Toshiba-EMI, TOCP-67822, CD; Madeleine Peyroux, Bare Bones, Rounder/Universal Music LLC, UCCU-1188, CD; Milt Jackson Quartet, Milt Jackson Quartet, Prestige/JVC, VICJ-41534, K2 CD; Monteverdi, Ottavo Libro dei Madrigali, Concerto Italiano, Opus 111, OPS 30-187, CD; Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, Rounder, 478020, 24/96, FLAC; Sonny Clark, Cool Struttin’, Blue Note/Audio Wave, AWMXR-0003, XRCD24; The Eagles, Hotel California, Asylum Records/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-11936, CD; Tool, 10,000 Days, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, 819912, CCD; William Orbit, My Oracles Lives Uptown, Linn Records, AKH 351, 24/44,1, WMA.

As I put it in the KEF iQ30 review, good loudspeakers can be divided into two categories – those which own us from the start and suck us into their world; and those which take longer to grow on us. Either cheats a bit. The first one withholds its weaknesses until after the wedding, the second one has more to offer than first glance suggested. In truth it’s all about us, the listener. We must approach both of them over time. The Xavians belong mostly to the second category. This was especially apparent after the KEFs, which were perched on the stands just before the Czechs. The British loudspeakers have a deeper denser midrange and far better treble. Paradoxically, this did not equate to superior sound. KEF’s metal tweeter is uniquely advanced but relative to other elements in this price range—mid/woofer, crossover and enclosure—out of place. One notices it sooner than the rest. This can lead to a less coherent sound perception at least occasionally. By comparison, the Xavians are far more balanced. No particular bands wave at us nor are there any holes. This always suggests solid engineering.

As you will have already imagined, here the midrange wasn’t emphasized as it was in the iQ30. Regardless, it remained the most important part of the sound spectrum. With mini speakers, that’s the law. They never do low bass. It’s why the final tonal balance that’s dialed in becomes so important. With the Xavians, everything is even and in its place – plain good. This is decidedly no dry sound but neither does it bloom to enlarge beyond what the size of the speaker would suggest.  The upper treble is softer than in my reference Dobermann towers or the above KEF. We could even call it slightly withdrawn. But because there’s no elevated bass-reflex midbass, only a clean linear processing of that range, this was a vital choice or else there would have been too much treble.