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Software trumps hardware. Whilst PDF downloads of Goldmund's overview papers on their Alize, Proteus and Leonardo research projects should glaze over all eyes not mathematically honed, one underlying truth is easily appreciated. Hardware is relatively inflexible, slow and dumb once compared to the millions of computations per second that software is capable of with real-time responsiveness. The upshot is that within reason, software-enhanced hardware will beat otherwise superior non-enhanced hardware. Hence the world's most expensive passive speaker driven by exotic amps won't stand a chance against a far smaller fully active DSP-corrected box of comparable pedigree.

The operative conditions are 'within reason' and 'advanced DSP'. Run-of-the-mill digital signal processing applied to poorly designed speakers with built-in junk amps won't magically polish a turd into a tourmaline. The cure could be worse than the disease. Here the ProLogos benefits from the same 3MHz Telos/Job gain circuits as Goldmund's separate amps; and the very same Alize 7 topology D/A conversion of their standalone converters.

Goldmund have spent very significant man years to research the audibility of time-domain errors. They meant to first identify various sources of such errors in our playback chains; and then learn how to avoid/minimize and/or correct them. By definition time errors are delays. If they cannot be prevented, frequency components which aren't delayed must be properly time-shifted forward to sync up with the mechanically or electrically delayed components. This involves various delay times which are specific to various frequencies. It's intuitive that effective correction should be highly complex. The required theoretical background, higher math and code writing skills to customize field-programmable gate arrays for such purposes and execute surrounding circuitry exceed the skills of traditional amplifier and speaker designers.

Goldmund store in Korea's Hyundai department store of Kang-Nam

It tend to be the big multi-nationals like Philips or research-driven firms like Bang & Olufsen who contract with technical universities for specialized research projects which take advantage of government-funded laboratories and post-graduates educated in the very latest tech. To be blunt, there isn't enough money to be made in hifi to attract the requisite talent that could really advance our state of the art. That talent tends to migrate to IT, medical, aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical or other big industry like oil and weapons.

Here Goldmund beg to differ. Though 15 full-time employees make them relatively small, they support four resident engineers in their Geneva facility alone. Beyond this core brain trust there are three or more off-site experts who work on sundry Goldmund-sponsored research projects at different Swiss universities. It's Goldmund's pursuit of the extreme luxury market in Asia which finances investment in this IP. Or as I put it in my factory tour, they're really a science lab who build product only to fund their ongoing research with self-generated sales. Unlike government-subsidized projects, this creates perfect autonomy beholden only to their own vision. Here the fully activated ProLogos in standard 3-driver 2-way or 3-way 'plus' guise is their currently most concentrated amalgamation of all their proprietary tech packed into the physically most compact dimensions achievable. That such extreme integration would conflict head-on with audiophile snobbery and our insistence to mix 'n' match as though we knew best - heck, all that goes without saying. Obviously Goldmund aren't alone working this field. In the upper end there are active DSP-controlled speakers from Meridian for perhaps the breed's most prominent high-end proponent. In the lower reaches we've seen offerings from Dynaudio, Focal and Elac for just three, with brands like ADAM, Genelec and PMC bridging pro and consumer whilst the pro market itself specializes in active speakers of varying sophistication.

Goldmund's wireless active speaker concept starts with this Micro Metis ad.

Deactivated, the ProLogos reverts to a traditional passive box which conforms with the vintage audiophile mould. But that'd be moldy and stuck in the past. As mentioned in my factory tour, I pre-auditioned in Geneva a three-stage progression from passive ProLogos with Job Pre2 and 225; to the same driven by the Job Pre2 and Telos 500-watt monos; to finally the active ProLogos. Without any doubt the latter had the most bandwidth, dynamics, resolution and linearity. If you can escape the hobbyist curse which plays at armchair engineer to give the keys to your hifi kingdom to Goldmund's real engineers instead; if you despise physically imposing speakers in your domestic sanctuary; and if you can forgive its current looks and are sufficiently flush... then the all-in-one ProLogos Active becomes a relevant choice.

WiFi haters like my wife and I tap it coaxially off our music computer's USB bridge (Goldmund have identified a Chinese supplier of true 75Ω RCA connectors to make it easier on their global partners to terminate the necessary runs for their clients). WiFi lovers connect Goldmund's USB dongle to their music computer or server and stream away. That now covered the basics. To recap the essentials, the old way of doing hifi might pursue carbon-fibre enclosures, super-exotic drivers, gold-infused pure silver wiring, separate dual-mono electronics with outboard power supplies and the lot. To compensate haphazardly for impedance mismatches, speaker nonlinearities and unpredictable room interactions, the old way was addicted to continuous component swaps. Though possibly moving a system up over time, those swaps invariably over- and undershot. They never hit the central bull's eye.

Private Goldmund home-theatre installation.

They couldn't. They didn't correct for what was fundamentally wrong. Instead they supplemented one deviation with another. This was an endless zigzag which essentially shot blanks in the dark. And make no mistake. All that is very much ongoing. For most in fact that chase continues to be half the attraction. A final solution like the ProLogos is only for those who have tired of the chase; or are wise enough to refuse it in the first place. In short, the ProLogos is very much not for your typical audiophile. His focus on the means not results inevitably gets bored with permanence no matter how superior. That might explain why Goldmund haven't really pursued the traditional audiophile. They focus instead on a wealthy clientele which couldn't be bothered with our strange commitment to ineffectiveness. Goldmund's clientele insist on turn-key solutions which work perfectly and continue to do so without requiring any further attention. That's the business model to which our Swiss are committed.