Being on all manner of mailing lists, I'm routinely the recipient of surprising but interesting news. The below just popped up in my Outlook Express and with permission obtained to share it worldwide, here it is. Enjoy - Ed.

This summer I finished the most exciting audio design of my professional career. As you know, there exists a lot of different equipment able to reproduce music in different ways. "Kick-impact - only Krell"; "famous Audio Note magic"; "built as lute by Sonus Faber, plays live like a violin"; "top Tara Labs cables create a soundstage as vast as an airport"; "Linn CD-12, at last a CD substitute for analogue sources" etc. A problem always remained. Top equipment reproduced certain factors of live music very well but others were missed. For example, systems with good dynamics had problems with artificial sharpness. Another system with excellent voicing had no impact. One system could do Classical music very well, another excelled on Rock. Music reproduced on vinyl can play back as live only when all aspects of the sound have been addressed.

To create the perfect system capable of reproducing music equal to a live performance is the dream of every serious designer. It was my dream too. Fortunately, it was a lucky coincidence that all the requisite ingredients recently came together. I had a very good source already, the Lektor Grand; an excellent amplifier, the Silver Grand Mono; and a lot of experience with different designs of speaker systems. I have helpful friends at the Sonical Society of Kraków, I have good distributors helping me to make the profits needed to finance my family and my constant product development.

For the final touch, one element was missing though: a brave investor willing to finance a no-compromise speaker project. Fortunately, one year ago during a nice meeting with the Knights of Society described by High Fidelity On-Line, our special guest Mr. John Tu, president of Kingston Technology, got infected badly by the audio virus. He is also a jazz drummer so the whole meeting was very interesting due to his experience as a musician. He decided to order the best possible audio system I could create.

The most difficult demand was to create perfect sound in a 100 sq.m room. My Holography speakers are very good but insufficient for rooms bigger than 35 sq.m. So I applied a semi-active concept whereby a tube amplifier drives the high-efficiency mid-high frequency section and a special transistor amplifier the bass section exclusively. I designed two nice speakers with this concept, the Aktiv Monitor at 91dB efficiency and the Harmony at 93dB.

But none of the above designs were able to play a 100 sq.m room with perfect reproduction of all aspects of sound. It was necessary to find another solution. High-efficiency full-range drivers like Lowthers or horn systems alike suffer midband colorations, lack of detail and soundstaging. Something different and better was necessary.

I had very favorable impressions already of a cone/ribbon combo as applied in my Holography monitor.

Both the Eton mid/woofer with its Hexacone and the Raven with its true ultralight ribbon and heavy magnet work well together. In my opinion, these are the best drivers available.

Attack, low coloration, detail and space were already first rate. But efficiency at 87B was far below target for the reference assignment. The Eton woofer looks common but its cone is made as a Nomex and Kevlar honeycomb. This sandwich is stiffer and lighter than other solutions including ceramics, an invention used in aerospace and race technologies and patented by Eton for speaker applications and used exclusively by them. So I considered the biggest of the Raven drivers, the R3.2 MMX. It is a monster, of a size and weight comparable to a finished monitor.

The more important thing is, that beastly Raven R3.2 can cover almost the entire critical audio band, from the midrange (600Hz) on up to the highest treble (35kHz). All of this is reproduced by a small ribbon much lighter than air (35mg), a delicate leaf of MMX aircraft alloy six times more reliable than aluminum and powered by huge magnets that beam almost 1 Tesla of force into a 20mm wide air gap. My speaker would have a special transformer to match the ribbon's low impedance to the 8-ohm standard. The driver is expensive but absolutely fantastic.

Additionally, it lowers the crossover point out of the critical 2-4kHz presence region where the ear is most sensitive but where 95% of speakers transition their drivers.

The Raven 3.2 sports an 98dB/8-ohm sensitivity. Remembering my required room volume, this driver would be directly connected to my tube amplifier crossed over passively ahead of the amp. No energy would be lost in the network and the amplifier could deliver full power into a dedicated bandwidth-limited part of the audio band.

The challenge were the lower frequencies between 20Hz and 600Hz. The bass and lower midrange had to be perfect as well. Woofers larger than 8" were out due to midrange compromises, hence I tested two Eton units, a 7" and 8" woofer.

It was a surprise to realize how similar bass control, attack and speed were between both drivers. One reason was the lower bass reflex tuning in the bigger box since a 40Hz cabinet worked closely to compare with an active bass-reflex resonator in the smaller unit. Because low-bass response of the bigger unit was far superior, I selected the 8" woofer for my project. For it, I designed a special transistor amplifier. It produces 160-watt into 8 ohms, uses a regulated power supply and performs well. In the future perhaps, it could make a good, cheap stand-alone amplifier. The bass system uses an active filter ahead of the amplifiers so the woofers too are direct-coupled for better control.

Because the tube/ribbon circuit works at 98dB/W/m efficiency and 18 watts (12dBW) of paralleled 300B power, it can deliver almost 120dB of sound pressure level in the mid/high band without horn-loading.
To match this SPL capability, it was necessary to use a far more powerful cone/transistor circuit. The Eton woofers only offer 88dB efficiency so a 22dBW 160-watt amplifier was needed. Because low frequencies propagate differently from the mids and highs, I needed higher headroom for the bass power to create reserves for bigger rooms with lossy walls. The final speaker system would sport four woofers and amplifiers per side.

The most difficult design aspect was stitching together both worlds - ribbon/tube and cone/transistor. I spent two months on experiments and at last a prototype was playing. The results were incredible. I was "prepared" for high sound levels, impact and bass drive. But the remainder was more interesting still. The midrange was free of coloration and finely detailed, the high tones free of "sanding" or other sharp quirks. The whole system played music with natural ease. It was the first time we auditioned music, not equipment.

Now it became possible to complete the final design. The most difficult aspect now was the cabinet shape, having to contain a 200-lite volume, five drivers and four transistor amplifiers. The speaker system had to be beautiful, sexy and light, otherwise it would disturb and interfere with my client's environment. After many trials, I settled on the visually most pleasing form, an airplane wing. Such a wing is not only beautiful but has good aerodynamics and excellent stiffness due to its curved walls. Here is the design:
Two finishes were offered, black piano gloss and Rosewood semigloss. The cabinet was crafted from Marine-grade Plywood with stiff reinforcement braces to build up like a classic aircraft affair.

All walls were glued from thin Ply sheets so the final cabinet was very stiff despite a wall thickness of only 30mm.

We had some finishing problems with Palisander and finally selected Indian Applewood and applied a special coloring to it.

It was very difficult to take good photographs due to the size of the speaker.

After first trials in my 27 sq.m room, it was clear that the speaker was too large and the sound too dependant on listener position. Specifically, the woofer distances created disturbances in the midband since there wasn't sufficient listener distance for the whole system to cohere into a unified wave front.

So I decided on a 2.5 instead of a 2-way system. The lowest and highest woofers would get additional bass filters to merely augment the inner ones in the lower bass. Where to place the crossover? Because my idea was to use the shortest possible signal path, I decided to install high-pass LC filters in the tube amplifier chassis. Because these amplifiers would pass only 600 - 40000Hz signal, I fabricated a special speaker transformer with lower inductance. As a result, the 300B amplifier has better high frequency response and is more transparent compared to the 2006 stock Silver Grand Mono. Additionally, the internal output capacitor of the Lektor Grand SE CD player had ten times lower capacity and it was possible to also use the V-Caps on the amp outputs. Because of that discovery, the very best Teflon/tin capacitors were applied in the entire signal path of both source and external amplification.

The final test was very exciting. Wojtek Pacuła of High Fidelity will describe his impressions separately. I can only say that the whole system evidenced no limits in any aspect of the sound: dynamics, space, timbre, focus. Despite the relatively small room, we felt as though playing mini monitors with an extra 1000% of dynamite. The most difficult music like symphonic, big band and drums had authentic live levels but nothing was disturbed. We played truly loud but nobody fatigued. Instead, everybody wanted to play louder and louder.

The biggest difference between the single-woofer prototype and the final 4-woofer 1200-watt-total speaker was bass. Despite massive kicks, woofer displacements were minimal, a key asset for dynamics where their voice coils remained within their fully linear range and the bass amplifiers worked under quarter-power loads. Space was better, focus was better, timbre was better than the best monitor I had ever auditioned, the Sonus Faber Electa Amator. Additionally pleasing was low-level listening. I auditioned the system during a few nights at 40 - 50dB with great pleasure.

Of course everything can be improved and so we changed my cables to top XLO, Tara Labs, Oyaide and Cardas and the sound assumed even more "LSD" splendor. But in the end, it was the first system to cater to all musical aspects, to fulfill the illusion that musicians were really playing in my own room.

Then it was necessary to pack the whole thing into solid crates. Without the CD player, we occupied six the size of wardrobes (or coffins depending on preferences ), with a total weight of over 1000 pounds (475 kg). Airplanes landing in Kraków were too small to expedite these crates so they travelled to Munich by truck.

Due to the care of my agent, everything arrived on time at its final California destination and in perfect condition. Alas, the first trial was catastrophic - bass was fatally flawed, the soundstage was puny. I spent all day experimenting with correct speaker placement. The final room turned out to be openly connected to a kitchen and hallway so extra bass power was needed to fill these volumes. At last, the complete system was installed. Despite their height, the speakers were nicely matched to the interior mood of Asian and European antiques and a Steinway Grand as intended.

Sir Ryszard (a knight with a broad knowledge of cables) performed an AC mains improvement with special wall outlets. Room acoustics weren't perfect but finally the system performed with excellence. The best impression we had occurred in the garden - we played beautiful records of Chopin Mazurkas and felt that somebody played the Steinway Grand and serenaded us.

Summing up
I think that my Ancient Audio Wing Speaker system is the first to reproduce all aspects of music without any artificial additions. It makes a real impression of live musicians "being here" no matter what kind of music. And I am afraid that it is possible only as a complete system with full synergy. These speakers are sensitive to right placement and setup isn't easy. Hence the Wing Speakers should be selling only as a complete installation together with the right cables, electronics and room acoustics improvements. It will be expensive at a total cost of $250 -300K or even higher. I know that more expensive systems exist but in my opinion (and those of a few friends who have heard it), this is closer to the musical truth than any other.

Now I'm considering a less expensive and smaller system, thinking about a single-woofer Little Wing version. Simply reducing any presentation by 50% or 75% without compromising is never easy. I'll work on this speaker after the hunting season in autumn is over...