Salt-crust baking. In preparation for my class, I did some mental gymnastics. As I learnt from sundry of my wife's cooking videos, a chefy way to bake fish is to completely pack it in a few pounds of raw sea salt. The salt traps all the moisture and hardens during the cooking process. That forms a dense shell which must be cracked open to get at the innards which essentially were left to steam in their own juices. To save time, a pressure cooker would do; or a clay pot like an Indian tandoori whose lid is sealed with dough. Unlike the pressure cooker's metal, clay will impart a flavour. Obviously a salt crust does that even more; and intentionally so. To meet our topic, replace pot/crust with speaker cabs, fish/veg with drivers. It's perfectly intuitive that our build-up of air pressurization inside a speaker's enclosure (whereby a certain percentage of internal reflections gets back out through the driver membranes) imparts a flavour. It clearly matters whether our speaker pot is made from stainless steel, aluminium, MDF, stone or wood. Should we really believe that suddenly breaking our pots with all their pressure trapping and colourization effects will be exclusively positive on the sound? After all, tandoori and salt-crust cooking are very strategic in their pursuit of more intense flavours. Those are prized highly, not shunned as deviations from neutrality.
Clearly the culinary tie-in of my mental gymnastics only works so far. Cooking on a grill over open fire or charcoal will still add flavour from the wood species whilst an open baffle only has pure air around it to season its driver stew. Still, it manages to point at something interesting. Panel speakers like electro/magnetostats are legendary for their transparency. Simultaneously, many feel them to be more pale and dynamically less endowed than their ubiquitous box brethren. Is that sheer conditioning? Are we so used to hearing box colourations that their sudden absence does not register as pure progress? Like Martin's admission that premium filter parts can be beneficial over complete abstinence, is there perchance something intrinsically good and right about having drivers backloaded by trapped air? We already know that one effect of box sound is a certain warmth. This can be managed but, when judged against panel speakers, never entirely erased. As speaker boxes become more rigid and inert, their sound often gets both cleaner and cooler. Whilst nearly everyone applauds more clarity, not everyone is equally fond of more frosty. As a properly conditioned experientially brainwashed box man myself, it stood to reason that suddenly going boxless should trigger gains and some losses. I was particularly curious about the latter; and whether they'd turn out to be short-lived concerns of acclimatizing; or would stick around as demonstrators for how box sound does have its own advantages. Owning a pair of soundkaos Wave 40, I'd compare a deliberately seasoned box against a missing box using the same core drivers. It seemed impossible to walk away from that meet without some very concrete opinions. Until it happened, I simply didn't know what those would be.
"Forgot to send these drawings last night. Ivette will prefer this new version. In the photo version I sent you, Libby the owl had aged prematurely. She's now had a face lift and the eyes have moved up again." That wasn't the only adjustment. "On the impending changes to our sales model, I have come to the conclusion that the importer/dealer model is a dying breed particularly for the less well-know niche brands. The big brands with more resources will survive a while longer I am sure but talking to our Bern dealer who really struggled this year, he is being used more and more just for people to have a listen and then go online to try and get a better deal. The majority of sales we did over the last 2 years were direct. For a product like ours, most dealers just plead poverty and say how bad the market is. With the new direct scheme, the Libération is down to CHF16'000/pr. This retains a much reduced dealer margin for those few enthusiast shops who want to work with us without insisting on the usual markups which drive final pricing well beyond sanity." As to favourite amps, "the best results I've had to date are with Nelson's FirstWatt F6. That controls the 18" beautifully. Having said that, I suspect you may find the beefier Pass Labs more suitable in your larger space but lets see. I have also traded my Berning Zotl for a new AM Music 833 with the large 120-watt glass. I had hooked up the Waves at a Cheshire show with importer Ian a year ago and loved the combination. It is not the big beast with the external PS but a newer more compact version." To put the direct savings into perspective, the new sell price for a pair of Libérations now is less than what just the raw drivers times the industry's minimum conventional retail markup cost soundkaos. The raw hardware of eight premium drivers from small suppliers here demands more than a pair of finished Rethm Bhaava retail for. By eliminating a distributor margin altogether whilst reducing their retail margin by half, soundkaos save the end user a pretty penny.

Delivery was by way of Polish Barczak flight cases with added wood base. Each speaker bolted to that reinforcement with extensions from its three footer receivers. Concise unpacking instructions awaited taped to the outside of each thick cloth liner swaddling the speakers. A spanner to remove the fixing bolts came thoughtfully included. The head units' front grills shipped uninstalled so the user will readily affix the magnetized Raal ribbon foam deflectors. Best subjective performance, between a pair, is said to be a distance of 11 exposed teeth on the tweeter's mounting plate edge. Best-measuring performance wants 13 teeth. The biwire terminals arrived with a wire jumper installed. The nicely machined two-part solid wood footers sported some freedom of motion built in to accomplish something similar to Sven Boenicke's SwingBase.

For size reference, I took a photo next to our Zu Druid V before those vacated the room to let the soundkaos move into their spots. Ivette walked behind them and marveled at how shallow they were. "They're open" she called out, clearly baffled. Like me, she marveled at the workmanship. The finished product looked so simple. All extraneous stuff had been eliminated. Just the pure design essence remained. No wiring showed anywhere, not between the modules, not between each and the massive Walnut spine. Contemplating actual manufacture, its hidden put-togetherness if you will... it all suggested very serious planning and crafty Swiss precision work. Those bronze mesh covers alone looked like a real nightmare to size and shape perfectly. Things were off to a splendid start, with the 90wpc Crayon Audio CFA-1.2—a 'high-power' Bakoon type—acquitting itself brilliantly. Had I by chance tapped into our very best amplifier match from the start?