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Needless to say, I'd not remain in the dark for long. Part of all reviews but particularly firsties is some company background beyond their website to give prospective buyers surrounding facts that might influence a decision. Off went some questions for the dubhmeisters, including one on hifi production in Ireland given its apparent rarity. Here's what came back. "The speakers are corner-loaded folded horns but unlike most very neatly sized. They have a response of ~45Hz-30kHz and present an easy 6-ohm impedance. They match up well with practically any amp we've tried once power is about 5wpc. Not fussy about amplification after that although very revealing of the amp and everything else used with 'em. Not that fussy about placement either. We use a mix of high-grade MDF and high-density resins bonded to achieve constrained-layer damping for better bass. We don't use a conventional crossover but minimal high-quality components to achieve a response correction for the driver. Because a loudspeaker is also a piece of furniture, our Dubh are finished to satisfy. High gloss black or white or any colour on request." That actually was all the stuff I'd assembled from the web.

To get specifics like dimensions, weight, the identity of the driver, the length of the line, its number of folds, the type of response correction (notch filter, other), some R&D facts on specific driver options eventually rejected for the final choice, amplifiers used, design goals, price... for all that I was hoping for extras. Which in this age of information really aren't.

Whilst waiting for Ireland to return the ball, I spotted this first un-grilled photo on Twitter. The driver looked 'Jordanian' in size and material—small and like aluminium—but the dust cap or quasi tweeter wasn't Ted Jordan's pointed geometry. It didn't look like a Tangband or Dayton either. I was certain I'd seen it before but couldn't put my finger on it. A Fostex FE103En perhaps? Such are the games we play when the solution is a wee bit of patience. But now the 30kHz spec made sense. Anything bigger and it'd not make it up this far. Clearly horn and corner loading had to compensate heavily on the other end. Such are the decisions widebander purists have to weigh. Go with a tweeter/midrange and milk it for all its bass worth with clever enclosure shenanigans. Or go with a mid/woofer and roll off prematurely in the treble no matter what your marketing department might spin. Clearly Eist had gone for the spark of life that comes with proper top end reach. You'd expect speed and terrific soundstaging but limited power-zone dynamics and no bottom octave. But that's what subwoofers are there for.

On backloaded unassisted widebanders (no tweeters, no woofers), top options are exotica like the €12'140/pr Thomas Scherer Evince at left, an 'externalized' transmission line affair built from Birch ply and mineral panels; the oft-reviewed super-efficient $29'750/pr Voxativ Ampeggio next to it; Marja & Henk's gigantic €20'000/pr Arcadian Audio Pnoe horn at right; and other cost-no-object attempts at realizing the full in range of the single-driver concept. Most of them get big, many outrageously expensive, a few bizarre looking. The Dubh seemed to differ on all three counts.

Yet it's no 'bookshelf' monitor either for that other wrinkle on the genre which attempts to reduce size but not bass by pursuing conventional port loading à la Omega Loudspeakers. Nor does it 'cheat' by tagging on auxiliary drivers like Zu, soundkaos and Tune Audio do with tweeters and Rethm with active woofers. That the single-driver concept can work well even on the more affordable beat was recently demonstrated by David Kan's review of the JohnBlue Audio Art JB3F. Its small driver loaded into a quarter-wave transmission-line/rear-horn hybrid got compared to butch Mark + Daniel monitors with their trademark long-throw woofers... and not only lived to tell the tale but had our man prefer its bass. If you've been wanting to get into the pure widebander milieu without playing the ponies, sacrificing undue real estate, incurring the interior decorator ire of She Who Must Be Obeyed or needing extreme sensitivity... then the Irish Dubh would seem to be a good option. That was my take from afar. How would it hold up in the flesh? How would Eist's answers to my questions flesh out this presentation?
Meanwhile reader Olav Håland had this: "This must use one of the Mark Audio drivers. Mark was with Ted Jordan for a long time but today is very good at designing his own widebanders. I have used his Alpair 10.2 aluminium driver in one build and also did one with a paper Alpair 12P. Both are very good and a favourite with many DIYers today. But they both use six mounting screws! I use mine with a homemade version of your SIT amp with the 2SK82 parts. A perfect match! But because of its four screws this driver in the Dubh cab must be the Alpair7. Or the small CHR70G. I guess it's the Alp7 because that's capable of wider bandwidth – 35 to 28'000Hz in a good enclosure!" Hifi sleuthing at its finest.