Door-to-door delivery? What in Switzerland would have taken the usual UPS van right to the entry arrived instead by 40-foot lorry with articulated cab. Picking up the nice Latvian driver who now lives in Sligo at the local pub to show him our digs, he shook his head. He'd not make it tail first down our narrow tree-lined country lane, then through the stone pillars around the bend across the bridge. And, our lot wasn't wide enough to crawl in nose first, then turn about. In the end, I told him to unload the two-up palette and a wooden crate from Casta Acoustics in Italy right in front of the pub. I'd use my trusty old hand trolley for those last 800 metres. Under a cloudless blue sky, I made it safely down the main road, then past our three white lamas who looked on quite stoically chewing grass, reserving their spit for closer encounters. With typical rain, this would have been quite the bath.


As it turned out, the six straps around each individual box—there'd been many more fixing them to the pallet—were mandatory to prevent collapse to the below. Single-ply cardboard with no proper tops and bottoms and an open longitudinal seam would be hell to repack without an arsenal of straps and locks which aren't part of my reviewer inventory. RDacoustic had clearly given no thought to how I'd repack and return their shipment. This and the use of nasty styrofoam as protective liners was amateur hour at best.



The next photo illustrates how the Evolution is wider on bottom than top by leaning its side panels inward. Compared to the Casta Acoustic Columbus 22, this shot also shows the Czech to be as tall as a grown man. I just barely eclipse it whilst I could ride the Italian for bronco practice because it barely hits me at the crotch. Leathered up red with metal-flake gloss black for contrast, this speaker cuts a very imposing figure. It's something prospective shoppers must consider to not challenge domestic bliss in a fit of audiophile greed.


Used to Voxativ and Rethm drivers and their phase plugs, the whizzered Fostex with hollow center looked strange but is how it was delivered. The Oris 500 horns wrapped in reams of bubble wrap and stuffed into one horn mouth reminded me of wooden Ikea salad bowls with open bottoms. They were finely worked out but at €1'000/ea. massively more expensive than the Swedish kitchen accessories. Time for first impressions of the aural sort.


Those are best summed up with "where's the bass?" With just the bullnosed trim rings installed, already the core not even high band of Gerardo Nuñez's Flamenco guitar was brittle, whitish, hollow and a bit like long nails on glass because there wasn't sufficient anchoring and weight. The low-frequency content of the percussive cajón was MIA altogether. Given the enormous size of these constructions, their actual in-room bandwidth seemed most short. I quickly pulled off the lacquered rings—they simply press into four long screw extensions—and mounted the horns instead. If this were a final retail sale not temporary loaner affair, those wooden flares really ought to have been black or red lacquer. But that's beside the point.

With Aqua Hifi LaScala MkII, Nagra Jazz and FirstWatt SIT1 monos

The relevant point is this. For a big space like ours, the narrow-band gain injection of the add-on short horns—which affects just the fronts not rears of the Fostex widebanders—did flesh out the lower and central midband. It no longer sounded emasculated. Actual low bass was still barely hinted at. Just so, the midband was now properly present and weighted. It no longer was a caricature of normalcy. In our room then, the €2'000 horns weren't an option but mandatory. And, for proper full-range sound below 60Hz, I still needed to add our Zu Submission subwoofer to what already was a €12'000 proposition. Though in a different space to perhaps not translate to the present one, any such augmentation had not been required for the Voxativ Ampeggio. It most decidedly had not been with the Voxativ 9.87 system which I reviewed a year ago. Granted, that includes two active isobarically loaded 99dB efficient H-frame subwoofers doubling as stands to enjoy an unfair advantage. But this carefully engineered advantage deals with reality, not wishful thinking of what a widebander can and cannot do. Hence it delivered useful 25Hz bandwidth from a far more compact solution, albeit one that's a lot costlier, too.


The obvious question had to be, why spend this type of coin and accept this type of not caffeine but coffin statement if a puny €4'500 Casta Acoustics Columbus 22 offers far more complete bandwidth and normal tonal centredness (even a $1'250/pr entry-level Vandersteen 1ci would)? Was there anything to the Evolution that compensated to be so special as to outshine other limitations? A second question might ask how much or little a driver swap to a Voxativ accomplishes in this particular enclosure.