Optimization. After I had moved the Libération a metre closer to the front wall to minimize the acoustic reverb effect from at first >3 metres to their fronts, the matter of best amp presented a small gauntlet: from kilowatt Wyred4Sound SX-1000R monos with matching STP preamp to Pass Labs XA30.8; to FirstWatt F7 with Nagra Jazz preamp to Vinnie Rossi LIO with Emission Labs 2A3 mesh to Crayon Audio CFA-1.2 with either Nagra or Wyred pre. In all cases, dispersion pattern and massive cone surface proved dominant to create big tone and massive staging regardless. Electronics were a rather secondary consideration. There were changes but none of them shifted the core flavour. The Pass and Wyred muscle amps produced the snappiest bass, with the ultra-low output impedance of the class D champs ruling all others. The F7 got lighter, softer and more illuminated. The LIO's direct-heated triodes did a very particular depth layering magic. The Crayon had the very best treble, speed and transparency. For my tastes, that took the prize. It grafted a quasi counterpoint atop the potent main theme. Aqua's Formula DAC fed the STP balanced to harness its special transformers. The preamp operated at zero voltage gain though always actively buffered.

Subsequent production has replaced the woofer baffle's black felt cover with the same grained gun-metal grey leather as the head unit.

That sorted, true wall-to-wall staging completely obliterated apparent sources of sound even with open eyes. With the whizzer'd widebanders outside, ribbon tweeters toed in straight at my ears, raw width was tremendous yet the inner widebanders completely avoided collapse of centre fill or a thinning of density there. The claim that only narrow baffles get out of the way proved complete and utter crap. Despite their considerable girth, these open baffles did the disappearing act like proper illusionists. I suspect that out-of-phase cancellation around not just their sides but upper edges even reduced typical ceiling reflections to take more of the room out of the picture, hence get more completely out of the way acoustically.

Big music like Jamshied Sharifi or Hans Zimmer scores or classical fare à la Bruckner, Strauss and Tchaikovsky scaled like a low-gear turbo lunges: most enthusiastically. I quickly understood why Martin's Mahler madness had found its match. It goes without saying that wispy guitar-plunkin' elves and fairies also sounded more substantial and embodied than ethereal. That was back to how this radiation pattern and raw driver surface controlled the Libération's sonic identity.

That last statement is obviously true for any speaker. Being different than most, the Libération simply behaved different hence sounded it. On a practical level, it did so without requiring multi-amping or DSP like competitors from Emerald Physics, Kyron and Spatial; and without messy derrières of visible baskets, magnets and hookup wiring.

Intensity. The perhaps overriding Libérlistening impression was the 'i' word. On a more primitive level, it ties to raw SPL. Play anything loud enough and it can't help but get intense. 'cept here the primary cause for it seemed to be the huge mass of excited air. Preamp volume continued to play into it of course but how it presented was different from my experience of direct rather than open-baffle dipole radiators. Hence it was different from the just departed Ubiq Audio Model 1 which otherwise also fell into the big-bore sound category. When hifi chats invoke life-like sound, they most often refer to timbre as a realistic distribution of harmonic envelope for each instrument or voice; or dynamics. Rarely do they relate to radiation pattern. Yet to my ear/brain, the open-backed principle of the same load on either side of the drivers appeared to be the main agent of this life-like intensity. As a quality it utterly dominated. It said "don't bother turning me up unless you're serious about it" - serious being the undivided attention required to face it. Multi-taskers could feel uneasy about that demand. They might turn their volume down until it falls below the unusually early threshold of unavoidable involvement.

Clearly I'd brought an uninspected assumption to this encounter: that losing the box would cause tonal or dynamic dilution. Reasonable or not, that assumption proved 180° out of phase with actuality. The only qualities which actually lessened were punch and an associated degree of separation. Quiet enclosures like the Druid V's no longer sound like stuffy boxes. Still, their inner rear wall becomes an immediate immovable resistance to the driver's back stroke. That has it act more explosive on transients. Ditto for the sealed 12er of its matching Submission sub. That hits a very close-up floor before it disperses. On tone density, in-room presence/energy and resultant intensity, the Libération only piled onto the 'more' side of the ledger. Not having heard a competing open baffle in the same space, I had no notion whether all of it would prove typical for the general MO; or be in some ways specific to Martin Gateley's execution and driver choices. Prior meets with the genre certainly had not resulted in this reaction, probably because they weren't centred on paralleled widebanders.