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A parallel review of SGR Audio's burly EL30m 300-watt monos had me hunting for the most copasetic speaker mate I could muster. Sounding on my resident boxes very warm and heavy veering into the dark and opaque, I finally tried these bridged bipolar heatsink-bristling machos into the MV One. I also swapped out my customary Nagra Jazz for Esoteric's C-03 preamp set to 0dB gain to act as an actively buffered passive. Then I swapped AURALiC's Vega + Audirvana+ for Metrum's Hex + PureMusic. This hit upon an astonishingly persuasive outcome. It looked all wrong on paper yet sounded terrific to the ear. In such cases you trust your ears, crumple up theory and toss it to the trash. Without claiming to make tech sense of it, I'd simply suggest that the below-first-gear behavior of these muscle amps faked up just the right mirror on usual valve action which has wideband makers from Rethm to Voxativ swear by tubes and pass on transistors. It really worked a treat. So never say never. Without a single tube in the signal path, my 'bad electrostat' issue with the MV One had gone with the wind. Why? Who cares. We know what line that movie ended on.


My SIT1's output impedance is SET-typical high. The wholesale removal of the port-type bass ringing and bloat with the EL30m was suggestive. Should you go with actual tubes, a push/pull type's lower Z-out could be preferable to a no-feedback single-ended. Something like Trafomatic Audio's EL84 Kaivalyas might be ideal. On to sonics. The uncut directness of the speaker's concept proved to be a new lease on life for poorer albums which were under not over-cooked. Think muffled. Passed Indian ghazal legend Jagjit Singh's The Voice from Beyond sports only tracks previously unreleased for obvious cause. Yet the opener as the best of the bunch is one gorgeous composition sung beautifully if still let down by dull production values. With the MV One you'd not have known though the sonically even more compromised tracks were beyond its full restoration powers.


Overcooked Pop dynamically compressed and groomed for boom, sizzle and pow to impress in the car went the other way. It was exposed a bit more for its crimes against high fidelity. Though very far from peakishly ragged in the presence region, the MV One did betray a small more constant lift. When hit by a male singer's high register—say a Middle-Eastern extended full-throttle warbling that rides the right tone as Turkey's B├╝lent Ersoy demonstrated—this could get a tad exposed. Ditto for very steep transients in that range like from a xylophone. This was far from excessive however and in effect very different from vintage Triangle Electroacoustique sound with its trademark up-turned treble. Instead of hot this minor lift translated to clearer. As highlighted with triangle and cymbals in particular and spatial suchness in general, the upper treble lacked radiance and brilliance. It sounded farfield hooded and slightly dull. With these amps the 20De8 clearly didn't make the common widebander mistake of too much low treble energy or uneven dynamic contrast where the 4.000kHz octave bites, seems 'too fast' or otherwise forwardly exposed. This opened doors to an experiment.


Having on loan Enigma Acoustics' Sopranino self-biased electrostatic super tweeters from their review, I set them up with a single rubber bumper in their backs to get their main axes aligned with my ears. I dialled them in for lowest xover point and full gain.


Still too high up in frequency to render cymbals completely brassy, what the Sopraninos did instead was light up the stage and embolden tone. This was uncanny on say a quality ECM production of Greek pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos and Anja Lechner whose con arco cello tone benefited too [Melos]. Aside from sonic gains Ivette even thought that the add-on tweeters made the plain French boxes look better and more interesting. I agree.

Of all the speakers I've tried the Sopranino with, this was without doubt the most powerful pairing. It reminded me of my friend Dan. His Voxativ Ampeggio Due with field-coil drivers are topped by Acapella ion tweeters which he swears by. Now I could relate. What Engima's costly add-ons did for soundstage specificity where spatial relationships crystallize properly was terrific. In ways whose mechanics I don't fully understand the benefits to wetter more radiant tone far outside their operating range were just as real. Seeing how my more lit-up amp cadre of Crayon to Bakoon wasn't as copasetic yet as the SGR monos, the Sopraninos would remain put for the duration.


On checklist items, mid bass down to about 40Hz lacked the weight and slam of conventional dedicated woofers but was seamless, dry and articulate. Taut finger snaps, not brutal jack hammers. The speaker even showed sufficient glimpses of the lower range to not feel malnourished on ambient fare. Obviously these were mere hints but as such quite effective. Those needing more would opt for careful subwoofer assist with a ~40Hz low-pass. This did the trick nicely as confirmed with my Zu Submission. Unlike the tweeters I didn't consider that add-on vital so out it went again. On this count the MV One solo goes a bit further than my soundkaos Wave 40 if not quite as far as the even bigger Tune Audio Prime. On upper bass shove and crack meanwhile Zu's Druid V operates in a different league to all of them. That's were personalities come in.


The Druid V majors on feistiness and punch but its big driver gets somewhat opaque in the upper midband below its tweeter. In this final combination shown above, the MV One + Sopranino reminded me most of my soundkaos Wave 40 with one proviso. It lacked their peculiar projection power. This sound was solely behind the speakers, forcing my attention to reach for it. The Waves' sound originates there as well but also carries forward into the seat and beyond it to the kitchen. And the Swiss work swell with my resident amps and have their tweeters built in. But on general tonal balance and the right mix of speed and body, the MV One with the $20.000 monos from Down Under had pulled even. At this juncture I felt that the right but far more affordable valve amp should give similar results.


Without clocking the exact days, some time passed for things to settle in fully and advance to the next level.