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Proof of concept delivered. The W5 is the perfect proof of a concept close to my heart. In standard not manse rooms a small monitor + sub avoid most if not all room issues. This makes far more linear clean bass since the latter is separate, powered for the task and adjustable. The small box pulls a Houdini on soundstaging and in general suffers far less box talk for higher midband resolution. On coin it saves from big to monstrous over passive towers with equivalent reach. But the latter's room integration and linearity would still be a mostly far second. One prerequisite for success at least in my book? The sub's low-pass must be below 55Hz, preferably 40Hz or lower. The monitors thus must meet it low enough to avoid the THX-style 80Hz handover issues.

If such a combo can play loud enough—hard figures in a moment—the one thing it'll never do like the big passive box is move air. For illustration look at Sven's W10 in Warsaw. Those quad-paralleled midranges launch a cylindrical line-source wave with far greater impact even if measured decibels in your seat were the same as the W5. Not on dimensional scale where the W5 actually out-images the W10 like I described in my Basel report but on density and concomitant guttural triggers, the bigger speaker invariably outdoes the li'l guy. Most normal-sized rooms simply wipe out the latter advantage with what happens below 200Hz. This besmears clarity and intelligibility above. Very simple proof comes from comparing what your test tracks sound like over your speakers to a quality headphone driven properly. By taking your room out of the equation, you'll hear what the recorded top-to-bottom balance of your music really is like. And that's a most valid point since on tonal balance the W5 + sub mimics such a headphone check if the sub was integrated properly.

All of that was still hifi 101. It'd be true also for a KEF LS50 at half the coin. But now the W5 reaches beyond its ken to play it hifi 303 by offering something many wildly costlier speakers do not. I'm back on tone. My prior €26.000 Voxativ Ampeggio or my friend Dan's €100.000 Dué version with field-coil drivers don't do W5-level tone unless injected with valves. The W5 arrives pre-injected. Think mild valve emulator. It's active even with very fast inherently leaner transistor amps like Goldmund's Job 225 or Bakoon's AMP-12R. A Zu Druid V plays it gutsier in the upper bass but its thicker tone is paid for with presence region opacity where the W5 is far more open. A vintage Serblin-era Sonus faber monitor would be kin folk but still play it warmer and more romantic than the Swiss. A closer stand-in from my book of acquaintances is actually Kevin Scott's top Living Voice Avatar OBX model.

Getting this quality of natural tone tends to cost lots more not just for the boxes but the electronics required to make it so. Here's how Marja & Henk put it in their show report about the Boenicke demo: "We were really stunned by the effortless performance and complete absence of hifi artifacts. The large room was filled with music and devoid of any concerns over imaging, soundstage, dynamics, liquidity, coherence or whatever other audiophile checklist items one could muster. There was just music. Already from this relatively brief encounter we will state that if we had to start all over again with assembling an audio system, we'd turn to Sven Boenicke for speakers first." That's from experienced listeners who own Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega and Acarian Audio Pnoe speakers.

with Crayon Audio CFA-1.2

Now here's how the audiophile police should write up the W5 after one glance at this photo:

• Cosmetically ridiculous. Not properly manly. Mega cred destroyer. Macho suicide.
• All wrong silly stand without lead-shot fillable column and no carpet-piercing spikes.
• Exotic toy status. Yawn. Next.
• Perhaps suitable for background music and girl+guitar outings if such old man's stuff floats your leaky boat.
• Too expensive for the desktop where it might otherwise just work.
• Dynamically utterly unsuitable for serious big systems. Off to better things. Adios!

Here's how I write it up:

• Monkey-coffin haters will adore the W5 on its low-rider stands. Jewels pour la femme? Not needed. Buy these and she'll foot the bill without bribes.
• Out/upstages its own €30.000 stable mate and pretty much any other big box extant.
• Plays loud and big enough even for a grand loft without compression or distortion.
• Exotic insider tip status for real-world happiness.
• Definitely suitable for background music and girl+guitar outings but so much more.
• Perhaps too expensive for the desktop though it works most splendidly there.
• Challenged on big-rig air displacement if that's a primary trigger.
• There needs a subwoofer but over less supplemental bandwidth than you'd think.

Reality check. In the upper photo you'll have noted the running Mint Muse SPL meter on the iPad mini. At stout in-room levels I clock a median of 60dB A-weighted with 80dB peaks. I usually listen lower. I very rarely manage sustained 70dB volumes with 90dB peaks. In my 5.5 x 12m room those simply get obnoxiously annoyingly loud. If you don't know your own level, get an SPL meter app. Chances are high that your figure is lower than you figured. Once you do the math that has lovely benefits for amplifier choices. To keep it short for today's purposes, the W5's high-quality drivers and clever woofer loading produce all the decibels I could ever stand even were fortunes to deposit me in a capacious open loft tomorrow. Career headbangers of course didn't even make it this far. They believe that THX reference levels of 85dB SPL with 20dB of headroom are healthy and desirable. They go after speakers which not only cater to that but also energize far more air for rock-concert type physical attacks. Horses for courses.

Back in my world and a room that exhibits more absorption in bass and treble and more reflections in the midband, the W5 with sub—low-pass at 50Hz—worked significantly better than my B-10 at x 4 the sticker. Its 10-inch woofers fire in both directions to over-activate midband reflections. In this room that gets darker and clouds over midband lucidity. I've thus arranged with Sven to trade back his 'big boys' for two pairs of W5. That's not to keep you in the loop of my personal acquisitions. It's to make a basic point. Small can beat big not just on coin and cuteness. One pair will be for the main system, one for my wife's. Ivette fell head over heels over these already in Basel. Then hearing them from upstairs in our digs whilst playing downstairs closed it. Having accompanied my audiophile travels over more than 11 years, she has never expressed interest in any speaker for herself before like this. That might tell you something about how the W5 doesn't just cross off the must-be-small requirement which women are born with just like hand bags. It not only does all the expected usual monitor things. Its killer blow is a quite rare quality of tonal richness that adds to how big it plays.