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When the agreed-upon delivery window went by and weeks passed, I checked with Olivier. He'd forgotten. For someone who'd solicited us that was a first. As though to make up he then promised shipment within a week. A few days later he announced himself on a family visit to Montreux. He could drop off a pair if convenient. This would be ideal to interview him more directly than by email. I agreed. A day before Vital Gbezo checked in from London. He knew about the visit and mentioned having seen Olivier's operation in person.

Vital—former marketing liaison for Emillé, currently working with QAT—had been so impressed by their hand-fabricated driver assembly that he committed to helping Davis Acoustics with their international marketing at Munich HighEnd 2013. And Simon Lee had begun importing three select Davis models to South Korea. The brand's international expansion was in motion.

Olivier seemed near embarrassed when asked about port vs. horn loading. "This box is far simpler than you think. We experimented with all manner of really complicated lines—horn, transmission, hybrid—and what in the end worked best was this silly simple slot. There's no port tube behind it, no chamber or duct. It's just a rectangular breathing hole if you will. We first showed this driver mounted to an open baffle at Munich 2012. Two DIY guys in different countries had bought the raw driver in the show's wake and both recently contacted me asking for plans to this cab. Despite plenty of time to experiment with all manner of enclosure solutions on their end since then, neither was able to exceed what the MV One shown in Munich this year could do. So now you know everything there's to know about the box. It's stupidly simple. To get there however wasn't."

Things got more complicated once we began talking about the driver. "When we started Davis Acoustics in 1986, we only built drivers and after that kits. My dad was our chief driver engineer. One of his earlier kits called MV-7 is still popular today. Michel passed away last year and the 20De8 driver was his last project. He worked on it for over 1.000 man hours. The project started at the 2010 Munich show. Lumen White's manager approached us requesting a 93-94dB efficient widebander. Since market options for such a driver are very limited, he predicted great success if we managed. Naturally he didn't buy even one unit when it finally became available. Even so we took his initial query serious and worked very hard on delivering. My dad started at Vega before becoming one of the top engineers at Siare and Audax. That's before Davis Acoustics. He was always best known for the sound quality he achieved in the midrange. At Siare he helped develop the world's first carbon cone. That's why at Davis we still rely on Kevlar for many of our cones.

"With the 20De8 one thing Michel slaved over for a long time was the perfect diameter of its voice coil. Too big and you lose treble and vice versa. The final 54mm unit uses very thin copper windings on the outside of its Nomex former. Our Alnico 6 magnet isn't a typically perfect cylinder but a strategically steep truncated cone instead. And we use a copper ring for impedance stabilization. As a result the impedance between 100Hz - 20.000Hz remains within 7.9 and 8.2 ohms. It's nearly perfectly flat. The diaphragm's constant-thickness paper core uses an outer graphite skin to increase stiffness and a painted Latex-based skin on its inner surface for damping. The radial slits in the paper are completely covered by and embedded in the inner and outer skins. There are no holes in the drivers. My dad experimented with over 20 different dust caps and glues. For the latter he finally settled on a special Loktite formulation that falls between their hardest and softest variants. He also tried all manner of suspension materials but learnt that in this application nothing beat good old-fashioned foam [Voxativ too abandoned their earlier leather and went back to foam - Ed]. The terminal posts sit high because I wanted the shortest possible internal wiring. After many comparisons we finally settled on copper wire from a small Paris atelier called Hifi Cables."

"As a company we today make over 300 different drivers. This includes DIY, OEM, car and Davis Acoustics speakers. We can turn around prototypes in just 2 days. With the 20De8 our reject rate is a solid 50%. After full assembly and bench as well as subjective listening tests, one of two drivers has its cone cut out and replaced. We do our work by hand. The precision required for this driver necessitates very labor-intense production. We'd initially targeted the 20De8 at purely DIY and OEM but soon realized that to sell in quantity required opportunities to hear it first. Hence the birth of the MV One. It was key not to use any filter or auxiliary driver to prove the widebander's quality and not slow it down with any crossover parts. It's named MV after my dad Michel Visan plus 'One' for being one driver for all frequencies and his last-ever creation. Today MV Ones can be auditioned in France, Germany, Russia and China. Raw 20De8 drivers sell for €2.200/pr."

MV One in dealership

On the subject of competing drivers, Olivier was once again very candid. "We never copy anything by someone else or try to improve upon it. We focus on ourselves. Hence I'm far less educated on the actual driver market than you'd think. I've of course heard certain speakers at shows or dealers in passing but I never judge our drivers against the competition. I judge them purely on their own merit." After signing off happy with the sound of his MV One on my FirstWatt SIT1 and asking some questions about my front end—he still uses a CD player but plans to get into computer audio—Olivier left to meet his wife in Montreux, empty speaker boxes in tow.