Delivery was uneventful even though it did involve a 40-foot fixed-cab lorry whose driver refused to even attempt our country lane for just concern over having to back out again around a few blind bends. So he stopped at the local pub on the main road. Cracking the wrapped pallet open inside his truck, we loaded one box into our compact Swedish hatchback, then I came back for seconds. During this minor hifi chore, rain which was nearly sleet wasn't bad so the boxes got barely wet.

Packed in cardboard/foam liners, the first Bhaava emerged inside a nice draw-string cloth bag. Once upright, it duly let go of half a handful of saw dust and assorted wooden refuse. Apparently it had practiced deep pranayama in Jacob's wood shop. The second's lungs were empty. It had gotten boxed up on an exhale. No power cords were included. A prospective buyer could look at unusual lengths if these speakers ended up in free space well away from convenient power sockets. My 6-metre Zu Event MkII came in very handy. Be sure to account for this requirement which doesn't apply to normal passive boxes.

Upon plugging them in, I noticed how the back panel pushed in a bit on top. Apparently it wasn't fixed there*. A white power LED, banana-only terminals, a level control and lo/med/hi low-pass rounded out the accoutrements. Once powered up, the internal amp was inaudible. Perfectly in line with Jacob's own sensibilities on cable construction, I used Samuel Furon's Ocellia OCC Silver cables which sleeve their solid-core silver conductors in a mix of two grades of crystal powder inside a natural rubber hose.

* "It isn't fixed. That panel attaches only at the bottom to an aluminium chassis which carries all the electronics. About the only thing that can go wrong with powered speakers, naturally, would be something in the electronics. In the current environment where dealers and tech support disappear, we needed an easy foolproof system by which a customer could take things into his/her own hands. The bass amp module was therefore designed as a complete modular unit which is accommodated by the aluminium chassis and fixed to the bottom of the enclosure by 4 bolts. The control panel had to be part of the swap-out so that a customer does not have to get into soldering connections. In the event of a problem, all one has to do is open the bottom of the speaker, disconnect incoming and outgoing speaker wires, remove the entire aluminium chassis and put in a new module. Whilst it's more expensive for us to send out an entire new module rather than just replacement parts, we felt this would be a great service to owners who have no access to tech support. Besides, we certainly do not expect this to happen often so the cost considerations become minimal."

For first proof of life, I set both controls to their centre positions, then leashed up the 10-watt FirstWatt SIT1 monos. On our Zu Druid V, those have proven victorious in our residential battle for favourite widebander amps. Cueing up some Dulce Pontes fado, it was immediately clear that I'd have no complaints about top-end extension or detail recovery. The slinky bass on Charbel Rouhana's lovely "Dangerous Woman" confirmed the same about the opposite extreme. Within minutes, I felt set for what promised to become some splendiferous €3'000/pr widebandering.

But first, some acclimatizing of the new hardware which had come in from the cold of 2°C late November. We even had a minor dusting of snow already, atop the holy mountain Croagh Patrick overlooking us. It said that a few days for the magnets to defrost would be sensible before getting serious. I was surprised though by how good and communicative things rang from the bell. Unlike hoary Lowther lore—of drivers broken in by the time you're selling them off for a pair of normal speakers—I expected no cruel or unnatural punishments. Except for bridged amps of the wrong kind: "Please note that if any of your amps are BTL amps with a DC voltage at the output terminals, it will cause problems to both our bass amps as well as your amp. We just had a customer in the US write in saying that his new Maarga amp is dead on one side and distorting on the other. He was a nice guy and admitted that he found the problem: using a FirstWatt F1J which apparently has a 15v DC current at the terminals. Knowing of your affinity for FirstWatt, I thought I'd warn you. This is an issue with our speakers since we take our bass amp signal from the speaker terminals, not a line level input." Jacob's warning was boiler-plate standard for this type speaker. But that made it no less important to remember.

FirstWatt SIT1 monos, with Clones Audio 55pm monos and Vinnie Rossi LIO DHT in standby for some amp swapping.

Actually... Rethm had done the punishment on my behalf though it wasn't too cruel. "These had about 2 weeks of play for about 7 hours per day. They were not harsh to begin with and just open up and become more relaxed and extended with break-in. I heard them the first time not expecting much and went, hmmm. I still wonder why nobody has attempted to make a true high-end speaker with this driver! What struck me right off was the very organic and natural nature of its music making. But of course that's when the real work began: extracting as much top-end detail as possible—which is where we removed the dust caps and inserted phase plugs—optimizing the rear horn to extract the best out of them; and getting the bass module and drivers to work with the widebander in the kind of harmony I was looking for. Getting the filters right and getting the dynamics in the midbass was months of work."