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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, Nagra HD DAC with MPS [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, Job Pre2 [on review]
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2, F6 DIY; Crayon Audio CFA-02, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Clones 25i [on loan], Aura Note Premier
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica, soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5se, German Physiks HRS-120, 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 in Switzerland: CHF31'000/pr passive, CHF45'000/pr active, CHF65'000/pr active plus version, box stand CHF5'000/pr, mechanical grounding frame CHF9'500

Higher tech. Horse-drawn carriages. Bicycles. Steam engines. Hybrid cars. Most audiophiles would think of a modern hifi like a car. That'd turn some fancy systems into outright luxury vehicles; and with stickers to match. To keep things honest, I'd propose that instead vintage sweat-powered bicycles are the far more apt equivalent. As endless cable rolling proves, analog signal transfer across wires is bedeviled by colourations. But that's peanuts compared to the very bitter nonlinearities and sour distortions of passive crossovers and all of the conventional speakers which use them.

This basic fact has given rise to sophisticated speaker and room correction devices from the likes of DEQX and Trinnov (plus equivalent software plug-ins from Dirac & Co.).

They act as de facto bolt-on motors to update our primitive speaker bicycles. These digital engines attempt to push our antique boxes into a tech milieu which actually corresponds to the 21st century we live in; and whose modern digital software code is already capable of so much more.

A more advanced speaker concept must thus toss out these primitive passive frequency divider networks altogether. This means active. Now discrete mono amps per channel direct-drive each transducer. These mono amps are preceded by a digital crossover cum DSP engine. This creates precise driver matching, precise amplitude/time-domain behaviour and precise compensation for known mechanical enclosure behaviour. It also eliminates impedance mismatches between traditional separates. Removing the passive filter between amp and drivers increases control. Converting it to an active filter in the digital domain eliminates phase shift and enables far steeper or compound progressive slopes. Adding corrective DSP in the same box harnesses the true power of digital where software rules over hardware. To complete our active smartspeaker—which by implication and very correctly calls traditional boxes dumb—we finally eliminate lossy analogue wires and their many unpredictable colourations. Enter the wireless active speaker.

CEO Michel Reverchon in Goldmund's conference room

Fast forward to 2020. Chances are very high. Five years hence, modern homes will stream wireless full-resolution music, possibly even true hi-rez. In the ongoing quest to declutter living rooms of stuff and consign stacked altars of audiophilia to the cemetery, a pair of ultra-performance active loudspeakers (or multiples in different rooms or multi-channel installs) connected to one small central hub aka signal router will become one very plausible scenario.

At least that's what Goldmund's active ProLogos anticipates. Hence it's here today. The obvious anachronism is its currently arch-conservative appearance. It's the antithesis of Apple, Samsung and Devialet. It's fair to propose that with the ProLogos, Goldmund presently just preview what happens when an engineering-savvy firm packages all their existing tech into one box of the smallest possible footprint yet fails to simultaneously update their cosmetics and form factor to match their concentrated tech injection.
For them the next step is inevitable. They must borrow from the Fine Sounds Group. The most important man at Sonus faber today isn't an advanced acoustician and programmer like Goldmund's VĂ©ronique Adam. It's an industrial designer who is being relentlessly pushed as a celebrity fashion star, leading our contributor Joël Chevassus to pen a think piece on this trend.

Goldmund's CEO Michel Reverchon would be first to concur. For 2015 he is readying an international design competition. Its winning entry and designer will begin to inform Goldmund cosmetics going forward.

For now we agree to put behind us what's in plain view: for all of its forward-looking tech and unlike Avantgarde Acoustics' highly styled fully active Zero One horn hybrid, Goldmund's ProLogos on the standard box plinth looks no different than a vintage maxi monitor in the Harbeth/Spendor mould. Worse, in the optional mechanical grounding frame it converts into a quasi-robotic clamped shoe box atop a short broom stick. The fashion aspect remains to be sorted. On that final front it's still a typically audiophile product. On all other fronts it's already the audiophile Antichrist to pursue a very different customer altogether.

This review will thus focus on embedded tech and sonic results. Having previewed the latter during my factory tour, I'll predict that because this package is physically very compact, chances are high that cosmetic objections or at least lukewarm receptions for its looks will quickly die in a sonic knockout.

The ProLogos on either stand just reaches the top of the Apologue's upper bass module to be a quarter its size viewed head on. From the side of course the Apologue is more than 10 times as voluminous.

The ProLogos is a pint-sized dwarf to the enormous fully active modular Apologue which even in its limited edition of luxo veneers and gold plating exerts Klaatu-type dominance. Now pause for some essential Goldmund background before we proceed: Visit to Geneva.

Private Goldmund home theatre installation