If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. It's a lovely aphorism for the self-employed amongst us who face the insecurities that come with their choice. Having turned a hobby into a job makes me one of them. Part of my gig's ongoing hobbyist spark is to reinvest into the biz by way of new office equipment. What for the home-based travel agent might be a new printer, app or fifth phone line is new hifi kit to me. That falls under reviewer tool box. Its express purpose is to broaden my options to mix and match incoming review loaners with copasetic ancillaries whilst keeping in inventory certain benchmarks that serve future comparisons and keep me honest (references one sold off to acquire new ones no longer work in that capacity). When it comes to loudspeakers, there's an extra proviso. Size matters. Whatever isn't in the rig must store somewhere and not in a rack. That impacts any living space without walk-in closets. And the more awkward something is to move—think size and weight—the more likely it'll get dinged when manoeuvred in and out on a regular basis. Being compact and of manageable weight are key!


On the same page sits my belief that compact 2-way speakers good to ~50Hz augmented by our infrasonic Zu Submission subwoofer give better full-range coverage for less coin than big bad passive multi-way towers. Frankly, the only compact multi-ways I'd consider as tools and references would be Vivid Audio's Giya 4 and KEF's Blade 2. Given that they wouldn't be primary players but on permanent revolving door duty, I can't allocate their sort of funds to any single hifi business purchase. Even the Mythology with stand and Sopranino continues a hoary tradition of no vacations. But that's okay. Where we live puts us on permanent vacation in many ways.


Due to a generous accommodation from EnigmAcoustics who were appreciative of this reality, a pair of Birdseye Maple M1 was finally within reach. As a purely private matter, that's not good enough reason to revisit the subject. Why then spill further pixels on something that's already walked off with an award? Blame the COS Engineering D1 DAC/preamp, Vibex Alhambra AC filter and particularly the Pass Labs XA30.8 as three office equipment additions of late 2014 not on hand when I reviewed the M1. I also replaced a 'power repeater' by way of GigaWatt's PF-2 filter with two 5-meter power cords. As it turns out, these hardware changes merit a few more words on the Mythology monitors which since then have equally impressed my old New Mexico neighbour Dick Olsher for The Abso!ute Sound. He called them "an insanely attractive proposition".


Whilst on references and tool-box comparators, I've also obtained a pair of Sopranino stands with their modest 10 x 13" foot print and seven height positions over a 35.4" to 42.7" window. That will serve review speakers without suitable flat tops or a profile too tall to put Sopranino well beyond ear level. It only made sense to think of Sopranino as also separate from the M1. After all, the power response of conventional dome tweeters is seriously depressed over what omnis or dipoles put on the same scales. Here was an easy way to rectify some of it and add to the data base of speakers which benefit demonstrably from Sopranino's assistance. Finally, getting enigmatic beyond a short-term review loan walks my own talk that this type of über monitor is all the speaker most people liquid enough to play in this league need or really should have.


To remain anecdotal, Fred Crane runs the StereoDesk and AudioPrana dealerships. In January he emailed to question the M1's cosmetics with the docked Sopranino. Feeling quite in sync with my tastes both aural and visual, his collection of brands reflects loyal 6moons reading. He thus couldn't fathom why Ivette and I (particularly my wife) would make such exceptional concessions for this one speaker. Having shopped the M1 to prospective clients for whom size and reported performance would be ideal problem solvers and price no issue, he'd run into the sternest of objections.


Did the photos really lie? Did the sound override any such concerns? I confirmed that I did not much care for Sopranino's glass cage. One, I view it as functionally redundant bling. Two, it's unnecessarily tall. The rectangular black panel should sit flush on the speaker top. Three, ideally it should incorporate into the monitor's body to eliminate the unsightly added cabling in the back just like Vienna Acoustics integrate their muRata piezo tweeter. Docking this one atop does look like a kludge and afterthought.


But
, after just minutes of listening (at least that's what happened in our household) all such complaints go up in a puff of magic smoke. In fact, Ivette made a 180° turnabout. When first I set up the speakers for their original review, she dissed their rectangular boxiness as conventional and unimaginative. Once I'd fired them up, she not only fell in love with their sound, she suddenly adored their looks. All this by way of tipping my hat at all the Freds of the world. You're right on, guys. And, it matters naught.


This reminds me of another anecdote about a spiritual 'crazy wisdom' teacher. Being fond of opera, he and a disciple once listened extensively whilst discussing who the greater tenor was, Pavarotti or Domingo. The disciple promoted Luciano, the master stuck to Placido. The longer their tussle went on, the more serious, worked up, argumentative, upset and contracted the disciple got.


Finally the master laughed. He patted his worn-out man on the back: "You were right all along. Pavarotti really was the greater tenor." The disciple lit up. After a brief pause, the master whispered conspiratorially: "But, I had all the fun. You completely lost your cool and your center. Being right so isn't worth that."


Again, Fred and his reluctant buyers are perfectly right about the looks of the M1 when the Sopranino is added. And trust me, you definitely want Tony Soprano singing for your side. But if being right about the resultant hodgepodge look misses out on the ravishing sound this combo makes, it'd be all wrong. So let's revisit what makes this mohawk'd monitor so special that we finally just had to add it to our stable.