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This review first appeared in Issue 5 (2/08) of Inner World Audio where it can be read in its original Finnish version. The writer translated it personally and we feature it here for the benefit of our English-speaking audience. Kari Nevalainen also contributes to 6moons directly and it gives us great pleasure to return the favor and offer samples of his Finnish work to a broader readership - Ed.

Reviewer: Kari Nevalainen
Financial Interests: click here
Analogue Source: La Nouvelle Verdier with Ortofon RMG-309
Cartridges: Ortofon SPUs, Denon DL-103 etc.
Digital Source: Audiomeca Kreature transport, Sentec DiAna DAC
Preamp: Shindo Aurieges, Dynaco PAS (heavily modified)
Power Amp: Shindo Montille, 6V6 custom design, Sony integrated
Speakers: PHY/Fostex based widebander speakers, Altec 904-8
Cables: PHY, Kimber, Belden, Supra plus various mid-fi cables
Power Cords: generic
Accessories: Sound Organisations rack, Gregitek equipment platforms, different isolator pads
Room Size: 4.5m wide by 5m long by 2.8m high
Review component retail (with VAT in Finland): €1600/pr

According to a lesser interpretation, "everything but the box" means not your typical box speaker. A stronger reading suggests a speaker that exhibits all other shapes except a rectangular box. The stronger interpretation is correct in today's case. The weaker one wouldn't have sufficed. From one angle, the Everything But The Box Terra II looks like a fan, from another like a balloon. One can find sharp-tipped cones the shape of a sliced egg. And so on. When painted black, the speaker resembles a swollen mite or a snail on its hind leg. This is a haute design speaker, no reason to be shy about it. A dealer of a design shop wanted to buy this speaker immediately for himself, no audition necessary.
But is the Terra II just a design speaker? The shape of the 20mm thick baffle (real wood, not fiber) helps to minimize adverse diffraction effects and evens out the frequency response. The 27mm SEAS textile dome has no enclosure but is sealed from the back. The hooded protrusion behind the tweeter functions as handle: "Yes, the baffle shape was arrived at precisely because of diffraction. Nothing in our design is just because of beautiful appearance. Perhaps only the handle is not directly connected to the sound", explained EBTB's Dobromir Dobrev.

On the front, a flared aluminium depression encircles the tweeter. It's hard to believe such a shallow flare would possess anything but decorative value. Alas, the manufacturer's claim is for a genuine HF horn or waveguide, the purpose of which is to further remove response irregularities and attain as uniform a radiation pattern with the mid/woofer driver as possible: "We spent tens of hours in the anechoic chamber to precisely shape the horn."

Between the tweeter and internally leather-clad reflex port (its mouth piece is made of brass) sits the sine qua non of this speaker without which it would not be what it is: a 4" Morel mid/woofer with NdFe motor and 2-inch voice coil. This is loaded into a 6mm thick cast aluminium sphere or bowl as they call it, to which are affixed narrow decorative metal strips better known from cowboy aesthetics. It's sheer physics that such a sphere is extremely rigid and quite non-resonant (not to the extent however that vibrations could not be sensed when a hand is placed upon it). "The bowl is very rigid. It can handle very high pressure. In fact, it can handle pressure many times higher than the compression of the low frequency driver would ever create." - Dobromir Dobrev

The ball shape can be problematic in that inside it may give rise to certain hard-to-control resonances, which would then be reflected back to the cone of the driver: "Yes we had this in mind when we designed Terra II. The shape by itself helps to prevent this and we chose a very good and powerful LF drive unit. This problem would only appear if the driver were overloaded." - Dobromir Dobrev

The speaker stands on three adjustable spikes, one in the front, two in the rear. The spikes have a matching protective counter piece as just one of many small details in this speaker. The Terra II looks eccentric or funky in a creative way. Only a terribly dull observer would characterize its appearance as plain. Admittedly the term odd ball did come to my mind when I first laid eyes on the Terra II. Literally.

It's obvious that with the Terra II, Everything-but-the-box strives to differentiate itself from other players on the market. But standing out is a contact sport of expert skills. Very often it succeeds only when a product remains sufficiently similar -- not different -- than the others. Products whose design idiom carries no correlation with precedents are readily considered guilty of unhealthy self assertiveness and freakiness; not infrequently for good reasons. The key word as always is context. What looks weird in one environment can look super cool in another. And so it is with the Terra II.

Out of the box, Everything-but-the-box's Terra II placed on a normal stand (not their own) sounded bizarre. A moment prior I'd been listening to a jazz LP through my regular system but with inexpensive Usher S-520 speakers and decided for the sake of comparison to run the same track through the Terra II. During the speaker switch, the female vocalist had somehow caught a bad summer flu and her voice now sounded clogged up and nasal. The cause unveiled itself quickly. Behind the sphere there's a rotary switch decorated with a Terra relief. It's a passive HF control realized with coils. At the minimum position, it mutes the tweeter entirely. No wonder the lady had sounded mischievous! The fact that she didn't sound completely idiotic was due to the fact that the mid/woofer creeps up to almost 6kHz, thus covering not only all fundamentals but also the main harmonics relevant to the timbre of her voice.