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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent, Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2; Crayon Audio CFA-02, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Clones 25i [on loan], Aura Note Premier
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5, German Physiks HRS-120, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Zu Audio Submission
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 + Vibex Two 1R on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Desktop system: iPod/AK100 digital transports, Wyred4Sound minT, Gato Audio DIA-250, Gallo Strada II + TR-3D
Room size:
Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 9.5m open floor plan combines the living/listening room, kitchen and office. Added to this space the speakers see the air volume of the entry hall and a long corridor plus the 2nd-storey 6 x 9.5m loft. Wood-panel ceiling slopes up to the loft. Parquet flooring. Lots of non-parallel surfaces ('vertical gable' windows, twin-angle ceiling, spiral staircase enclosure, fireplace enclosure). For a pictorial tour, see here.
Review component retail: €3'500/pr

It's Dubh, not dub. Duh. Pronounced doo. And don't call this compact hornspeaker a Briton. You'd get more than your knickers in a twist. But making this mistake is unlikely. How many hifi products can you name that are Irish? I've only reviewed one - the Ardán Audio Elevation Pro desktop speaker stand. This would be the second. Chances are you'll remember such a rarity. Of course google 'dubh' and what's likely to come up is the 10th century Scottish king of Strathclyde. Or the sgian dubh, a dirk or short knife again of the Scottish highlanders from the times when they weren't allowed to carry weapons. We're certainly deep in the Gaelic whose meaning here apparently is blackness. An cat dubh is a black cat. Inky. So let's start at the beginning. Before there was light but already banshees in them thar Irish hills.

It's September 5, 2013. The writer is Francis Morrin. "I am writing to see if you would be interesting in organising a review of our new isolation feet named E_sorbs. We are a small startup company based in Ireland and founded by myself and business partner Gerry Deegan earlier this year. However we've been working together for the past 2 years on our range of products, principally our E_sorbs and Dubh hornspeakers. We have other products already in development for release in the future. So far we've been selling products direct and recently also through a retail outlet in the UK."

My answer was pragmatic. "Seeing that I use the shelf-less Artesania Audio Exoteryc isolation stand, I wouldn't be able to help. But I'd be rather interested in reviewing your speaker. You say the right things: single driver with minimal crossover for response correction, rear-horn loading, attractive appearance. Let me know if a pair might be available. I've got just the right amps for it too: 10-watt FirstWatt SIT-1 monos, 15wpc Bakoon AMP-12R, 30-watt FirstWatt F6 stereo and 60wpc Crayon Audio CFA-1.2 (better than valve SETS in my opinion of which I've owned a fair share)."

Fran proved amenable though some time would pass before I'd hear from him again. By March 10th, four days before our move to new digs on the hilltain above Vevey—it's called a mountain but given the snow-capped peaks across the lake it seems closer to a tall hill—I learnt that Eist Audio too had moved. "Well, after many delays, a factory move and more, we are finally up and running. I know it's been months but now I have a set of speakers ready to ship."

Eist Audio's new factory, status October 2013.

His timing was spot on. To facilitate our moving house, I'd cleared out all review inventory but not really organized anything for after. The thing about the Dubh just then? Whatever intel on it was available felt a tad sketchy. The website had little story. There was no published price, dimensions or weight. There was essentially just the one shot at the above right. There was no owner feedback and barely any forum chatter. Never mind formal reviews. Mine would likely be the first. It wasn't exactly an info'dubh or data embargo but this loaner delivery still would get far closer to a real surprise than most others. There I've gone over the glossy PDFs, commercial photography, show sightings and extensive specs to know what I'm getting myself into well ahead of the man in brown ringing my bell. I also know what stuff costs. Here I was partially in the dark. A mite dubh. What the one photo above did suggest was a perhaps thrice-sectioned line vented to the rear—the proper term(inus) for transmission lines and horns is actually mouth—and surprisingly shallow depth if one were to guess at an oversize grill width of ~8" given claimed HF response.