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Do the needful. That's how a non-native English speaker once presented his invoice. At last year's Montreux festival I heard Andreas Vollenweider and friends in a section of the Miles Davis hall. I stood right next to the sound engineer's mixing console. I had a permanent view on the SPL meter of his microphone feed. He never let it peak past 93dB there at the back. This got loud but was sustainable over two hours. Front row would have been quite unpleasant. A few years prior I measured SPL front-row balcony at St. Olaf's castle in Finland's Savonlinna during an opera performance. We never passed 90dB. Hello realistic volumes of civilized performances in large venues. At 3.5 meters in a 60sqm room, 90dB peaks are plenty loud.

Unless you want rock concert exposure. Good luck getting any work done. 90dB peaks at one meter on the desk top are insane.

W5 at the 3rd Son & Sens show in Montreux, October 2013.

Now backtrack. Use PureMusic's display to inspect recorded dynamic range. On the vast majority of music you'll be very lucky to exceed 12dB. For domestic playback, having speakers do the needful and the power it takes to settle that bill are far less than hawkers of kilowatt amps and prophets of 'realistic' dynamic range want you to believe.

With speakers the difference between models in a range is essentially undistorted output potential and bass extension. Sven's new wide-dispersion SLS2* combines 2+2 sidefiring flat-cone 10-inchers—four per channel—with dual 4-inch Tangband widebanders on the front and a simple 1st-order crossover at ~600Hz. For smaller rooms that'd be an Escalade for grocery shopping. Think right tool for the job. What would the W5 be good for once it hopped off the desktop?

* "Put on your space suit and be prepared to ascend. Speaking of which: depth, the final frontier. I have the SLS2 as wide as the room will have them and they still center fill like champs. Had a love shot taken as well as a number of pro shots. The Boenicke SLS 2 are unbelievable is all I can say. I've gotten nothing done for days as a direct result. The Dac I'm holding is the Musica Pristina Transducer. It took all comers into the active SLS2. The SLS2 were a one-off by Sven Boenicke who initially made them for a fellow with a large loft to fill with music. 

"Their dynamic capabilities are scary. 4 x 4-inch flat metallic drivers for mid to highs and 4 x ten inchers down low and 4 inches of ambient tweeters on the back make the staging the deepest in my experience thus far. They also come with a DSP board but if getting into the numbers isn't your thing, there are 4 presets on the rear of the speaker that should scratch every itch. Adjustable input gain makes matching to a DAC masterfully simple. The SLS2 with the Transducer and TBI Emperor subs is quite possibly the most fun I've had. Fun is not a word I use enough with audio. This combo has me just giggling at the sheer size of it. Magnificent. All of a sudden I'm listening to things I don't normally think to. Sometimes volume is a big part of real."  - Fred Crane, reader, retailer, importer [more on this here]

Desktop. First the W5 had to hop on before it could hop off. Here it would displace my usual Gallo Strada II with a TR-3D subwoofer on a footstool below the glass firing sideways. True, the massive Mapleshade stands rather frankenstein the setup. But elevating the Gallos and perfectly aiming their tweeters at my ears not sternum makes all the difference. To give Sven's tykes the same benefit if despite slanted baffles his widebanders still aimed low, I had my Scottish Ardán Audio precision stands. Those serve exactly the same purpose as the Mapleshades: isolate, elevate, align. The rest of this mini rig was Gato's DIA-250 integrated with built-in DAC and a 160GB AIFF-loaded iPod Classic in a digital-direct Cambridge Audio dock. Alternately I had an RWA-modified Astell&Kern AK100 with up to 24/96 ALAC files (actually 24/129 but Toslink only transmits 96kHz) or a 24/192 async USB feed. The Gato fed the cylindrical sealed Gallo sub line level. It'd do the same for the W5 with adjusted settings as and if needed.

That was my sonic yardstick for the desktop. How would the spring-suspended W5 compare?

But first a glance around back where an asymmetrical layout for both port and terminal plate gives the sidefiring woofer the thicker wall. And before you wonder whether that thing above the luxo WBT NextGen terminals is a removable plug to some hidden sand-fillable chamber; an aperiodic vent in parallel to the curved port; or some other decidely unexpected trickiness now that we figured we had the W5 all figured out...

... it's a tiny rear-firing ambient tweeter. With its deliberately low placement and the downfiring angle of the rear baffle's inverted slope, this tweeter might even reflect off your table top if placed sufficiently far from the edge. Either way this helps to energize the ambient milieu to give you more air and spaciousness even if you lack a nearby front wall. "This is a Tangband, the smallest unit I could find anywhere. It comes in at 6.600Hz with a 3rd-order high-pass."

As this review unfolded—Sven's German supplier of shipping materials proved even slower than us glacially patient Swiss to delay delivery—word came down that a matching subwoofer was in the works. Apparently the first few units had sold as quickly as they got made. Hence the Boenicke exhibit at the 3rd Salon Sons & Sens in Montreux relied on the sidefiring woofers of the biwirable SLS to augment LF response for big-room coverage.