Once the RDacoustic widebanders had left the building, Julieta left the media room and took to our main stage. Bakoon's 15wpc AMP-12R tailor-made for 96dB widebander efficiencies vacated too to instead welcome the far burlier Pass Labs XA30.8. On it, Blondie the cat volunteered for a quick class A belly roast which lasted two tracks before things got too hot. Running one of the playlists I'd curated for the Czechs and with just half an hour of setup changes in-between, I had a solid base from which to observe differences. Staging even wider, Julieta's images were smaller and more defined. The rear-hornloaded Voxativ had them fluffier and grander, like a swollen spinnaker sail. Julieta's ported bass went slightly lower and was the clearly tighter than the box with the far greater cubic volume fitted with a wood-cone Voxativ. Julieta's treble was the more extended and its off-axis response wider. Finally Julieta's frequency response was more linear, lacking the minor hot-spotting in the 2nd octave above middle C. On gestalt, Julieta was tauter, smaller and more precisely tied down, articulated and focused. The widebanders played it looser and freer if also less enunciated. The big deal for this assignment? Javier Millan's xover was not really outed as the evil energy-sucking vitality-killing pestilence the no-order brigade would claim. Getting the greater more even bandwidth from something far smaller and more décor-friendly than the man-sized Czechs was a liberating win for the two-way concept with its intrinsic hi/lo-pass networks. True, it wasn't as gushy, billowy and huge of images as the big rear-horn widebanders. Yet on sorting, layering, separation during busy stuff and linearity of amplitude and dynamic contrast (the widebander gave up dynamics and damping with descending frequencies), the compact Spaniard was superior. Call it a matter of listener priorities.

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Power-zone attacks, on a Cheb i Sabbah dedication track by organic ambient wizard Mercan Dede, had real grip for zero bloom slop. Yet this coexisted with unamplified instruments that showed no tonal desiccation as can often be the case with high damping. It's in the bass and at higher levels where one expects a smaller speaker to lose at least bits of its lunch. Obviously anything can be overdriven, eventually. But at even stout levels standing at the back of a 15-metre long room, Julieta kept perfectly lady-like composure. Or was it stone-faced? Either way, the dead-box exoskeleton of Krion clearly proved its mettle on big kettle drums, synth beats, popped bass guitar strings and other more demanding brutality. It's a bit of a head turner how today's most advanced medium-sized but long-throw mid/woofers from ScanSpeak, Audio Technology & Co. can dish it when loaded just so. They won't move the air of a 12er for that guttural skin assault but they can certainly kick like a shaolin movie hero. I think of that as sneakily feisty rather than blatantly macho.

Surprising again given such well-damped low registers, con-arco cello, G clarinet and assorted 'tenor' instruments all had really saturated plummy tone. This was anything but pale white like the rigid cabs. Here one suspects the tonewood contributions; not that you could turn them off to check. This parallels the notion of sounds not firing but rolling out of the speakers if you can relate. Overdamped speakers or even electronics can mistake their job for a firing squad. Not Julieta who was round in all the right places. Likely because the ¾" tweeter allowed taking the mid/woofer higher than usual, the presence region too had lovely weightiness, with a treble that wasn't turned up but sweet. This worked a treat on the massed violins so typical for the Middle-Eastern songs I fancy.

Meanwhile take densely overlaid shenanigans like "Acatao" on IndiaLucia's second CD. Flamenco and Indian ensembles clash for layered mayhem which easily defaults into chaotic congeal. Here the dense box really helped keep the lines from clumping up like cat litter. Some of that separation power actually exceeds live music unless one sat very close - which with the usual performer spacing, could have other side effects. It does however add quasi visual assist to walk through complexity. In concert, that would be far easier by also seeing each performer and their various fingering, bow, drum stick or mouth actions. Without video, playback lacks that entire dimension. It's why many audiophiles favour pseudo visuals as embedded even in our optical terminology of soundstaging, depth of stage, imaging, performer outlines, focus and the lot. Suffice to say that as a super monitor, Julieta had all of that audiophilia in her back pocket. Time to roll electronics and track possible flavour shifts.

Job 225. That's our resident poor man's Soulution. It's an example of the contemporary Swiss school which champions very wide bandwidth, DC coupling and class A/B circuits with negative feedback. For the smaller media room's German Physik HRS-120 omnis, that amp's speed, immediacy and inherent leanness are a perfect complement to the speakers' warmer fuzzier behaviour due their true 360° dispersion from 30Hz to 23'000Hz. That activates the ambient field even in the higher registers where direct radiators do not. Not requiring the amp to add tone but to instead act as minor grease cutter is what makes this our golden pairing. In the same room and at its closer sitting distances, I'd not say the same about our ceramic-driver Albedo Audio Aptica. That box would appreciate a bit more fleshiness being handed down from what precedes it, be it in the amp, preamp or DAC or all of them combined. That's back at the mix'n'match task. It combines various hardware puzzle pieces with hopefully no misfits or missing bits. How would the Job 225's well-damped man-erisms respond to Julieta's hidden femmy curves and unyielding stone facade?

It promptly dried out musical moisture to move toward more of a Soulution/Magico aesthetic. Focus and detail were very high, including so-called staging holography. The rich blood of the tubed Fore Audio DAISy1 DAC unencumbered by the Vinnie Rossi Lio as autoformer passive injected a bit of colour saturation. Still, the primary sonic virtues were on magnified resolution and a rigid progression of music across time. Bass was very firm but possibly slightly overdamped. As such, it was not as extended and ripe in this bigger space as I'd heard Julieta already. Whilst hard to fault in generic audiophile terms, I was bothered by the straight-jacketed feel. Everything was checkerboard sorted to a Teutonic 't' but the ebb-and-flow element seemed stunted. The sound was very proper indeed but not its feel. I was so not compelled to listen that this episode didn't last long. Who cares about good sound when the music suffers? My takeaway was that the hard Krion aspects need to be properly managed so as to not dominate but simply remain a foundation upon which something else blossoms.

Pass Labs XA30.8 vs. FirstWatt F7. The former is our go-to pure class A refined muscle amp. With it, the change of musical gestalt was instant. Whilst the sound was slightly darker, softer, more laid back and less explicit—I called it like being inside an ancient cathedral with stained-glass windows in its feature review—the one moon's influence was back. Instead of rigid metronomic time keeping, this was organic, elastic and breathing. There was wax and wane. The tides fluctuated. The straightjacket had been ditched. This even benefited bass power and dynamic scaling. How would the 25wpc Firstwatt F7 do? It's a smaller amp, lighter on wallet and back alike. Given these acoustics with their high gabled ceiling and 15-metre length, a less weighty sound was actually beneficial. Ditto for lighter bass vis-à-vis twin-port rearward interaction with room boundaries. To compensate for the Pass amp's greater color intensity—to see how much I might recoup with a strategic preamp swap—I lassoed in the Nagra Jazz. Now the musical weave loosened up even more. Not only had the corporate tie come off already, now the starched white shirt's top three buttons showed chest hair and even the sleeves rolled up. Colour temperatures increased too. The various puzzle pieces of musical virtues intersected fortuitously. I had good sound and musical song, not synthesized drum machines. Because Miguel & Javier were announced for a visit to fill in background on their project, I'd leave things alone until their arrival to see whether their preferences agreed or would ask for further adjustments. Watching two designers chase their ideal sound with our hardware options would be great fun I thought. It's not something I have opportunity to observe a lot.