Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 12.2), PureMusic 2.04, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, SOtM dX-USB HD w. super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, S.A. Lab Lilt [on review], Metrum Acoustics Pavane [on review]
Preamplifier: COS Engineering D1, Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan],
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer, soundkaos SK16 & companion sub [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event MkI and MkII; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s and subwoofer
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves and Krion or glass-based Exoteryc stand/s for amp/s
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail in Switzerland:
CHF 4'800/pr

"My name is Neil Clarke. I am the owner of Audionautics GmbH. We are a small Swiss company based in Luzern. We specialize in the manufacture of real wood loudspeakers. We currently have one model, the S-Series. That is a 3-way floorstander which combines a single AMT with an array of 9 mids and a single woofer. We plan to release a smaller brother later this year. We'd love for you to review the S-Series. I understand you are in Switzerland, canton of Vaud. It would be no problem and a great pleasure to personally deliver a pair at your convenience."

And so I was introduced to not just another brand in our small but industrious nation but yet another domestic speaker maker who promotes solid wood. Hello Boenicke and soundkaos. There must be something to our Alpine air and clean water which just cries out for organic wood, not composites or the ubiquitous saw dust set in glue called MDF. Applying the 3.5" Ø of our nine paralleled midranges which form a classic line source to some guess work on size easily works out the fact that this must be one compact speaker. In fact, it's all of a meter tall by 15cm wide and 22cm deep. Despite the 19mm Beech, this adds to a mere 13kg of fighting weight. In the same vein, the unopposed lateral woofer is just a 6.5". Response nets a claimed 38Hz-20kHz and efficiency as likely determined by that lone woofer is a standard 88dB.

All this begged a number of questions starting with that odd name. Why S-Series? Wasn't this a singular model, not entire range? Mating a line-source array of small mids to a folded tweeter made sense. The latter's surface area readily eclipses nine conventional 1-inch dome tweeters. But, does it copy our vertical midrange's dispersion pattern whose compound cone area equals a single very elongated 13-incher?

It's why Anthony Gallo's big line source alternated mids and tweeter; why Aurelia's top model paralleled three 1-inch dome tweeters in shallow waveguides or Scaena paralleled their mid/woofer pod array with stacked planar tweeters. Finally, given the multitude of 3.5" mids, why only a single woofer of such small size? Why not at least a standard force-cancelling pair of horizontally opposed woofers, multiple pairs or something bigger in the first place? Multiple bass units would drive up the efficiency rating. Plus, with such tall proportions vs. a small footprint with no outriggers, didn't a single sidefiring woofer cause undesirable asymmetrical torquing on the cabinet?

Neither a fixed plinth nor footers adjustable from above also meant that the all-important floor gap for the downfiring port's radiation resistance was left to fiddling with obscured spikes. With a delivery by the designer, I of course had the perfect op to sort all of this out in person.

But first, some basics. An economist might wonder why nine cheaper drivers instead of three dearer ones or one really posh unit. The line-source answer is that spreading the work load over multiple units hence motors and suspensions reduces each driver's excursions, thus benefits speed and linearity and the reduction of distortion. Additionally, a long vertical driver emits a cylindrical not spherical wave front. And that suffers less amplitude loss over distance to maximize amplifier power. It's why our three line-source samples apply the same principle also to their tweeters. In your chair a few meters off, you'd not want their HF energy to fall off more rapidly than the rest.