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Since not even Karl-Heinz Sonder can overcome Physics, there are obvious limits to this solution. The progression is from fun to brick wall when undue playback levels plus bass boost cause distortion from extreme excursions. Hence the continuous operation of this control. Maximally clockwise the 20 to 90Hz range gets boosted from +11 to 0dB and cut from -3dB to 0 between 90 and 1000Hz. Fully counter-clockwise applies gentler compensation slightly frequency shifted. Here max lift is 5dB between 20 and 70Hz and max cut -2dB between 70 and 1000Hz.

Abacus Electronics claim that the C-Box 2 makes 40Hz flat and is only down 3dB at 35Hz. I regard such figures with caution since we listen not to sine sweeps but music which contains rather complex frequencies mixtures. But how the C-Box would manage in the seat we’ll find out shortly. First to the belly button. There’s a standard ¼" thread on the bottom. This could take a camera tripod or the €49 optional swivel footer. If you think a speaker mounted to a tripod is off its rocker, you’ve not been to my home. I think it a most splendid idea. My digital piano parks very close to the wall. This leaves no room for traditional speaker stands behind it. Yet a tripod would work. I’ve seem similar solutions on stage next to keyboards. It makes me think that some musicians would cotton to the C-Box too.

Time to get Spock eared. First stop was the desk top, in my case an ordinary writing desk. Here I usually run an external Edirol DAC. Speakers are well-worn Canton Plus GX which refuse to give up the ghost whilst a Trends Audio TA 10.2 handles the juice. This amp/speaker combo had a street price of €350 at the time to slot €130 below the C-Box 2 pair. For starters, I can in good conscience report that even in the nearfield the newcomer is completely free of hum. At the time the A-Box 5 wasn’t but Abacus reports that the current crop has been improved. Regardless, the C-Box 2 is deathly quiet without signal. Once it’s fed signal, there was joy as this box improved over my usual suspects in three clear ways:

Gnarly accurate bass astonishingly extended for the desktop milieu; wonderfully differentiated well resolved highs; and the type of soundstaging that’s usually hard to secure sitting that close. Take the Stranglers’ "Golden Brown". The famous cembalom chords in a valse beat were feathered out broadly across the stereo panorama. Why? Because the cembalom was close-mic’d directly from above its strings. This puts its low notes farther left than the high ones. While that can be an impressive effect, such a mix often runs the risk of having such an expanded instrument dominate those which are nailed to more defined spots.

No issue for the C-Box which really articulates the upper octaves. When percussion enters in the second round stoically fixated on the first beat per bar and consisting of bass drum, dainty hi-hat and cymbal work, each attack remained clearly defined and well separated from the cembalon. With my usual gear (Trends + Canton) the percussion struggles a lot more. Whilst the silken cymbal sounds aren’t fully obscured by the cembalon ruckus, they are moved far into the background. Next a brief but magical guitar solo appears on stage right which the C-Box rendered in equal parts buttery soft and crystal clear and well disconnected from the membranes. This avoided the typical nearfield problem of having sounds stick to the speakers like glue. Here a sound engineer might lift an eye brow and I know what he’ll say. "For mixing I need precision, not soundstaging romance." And he’s right, our tone master is. But he can chill here. Instruments decorrelate from the speakers but don’t move outside the stereo triangle. Recorded space and depth layering remain realistic.