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This review first appeared in the May 2008 issue of and can be read in its original German version here. It is herewith translated and presented to an English-only audience through a mutual syndication arrangement with As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end has a link below it to his e-mail should you have questions or feedback you wish to send. All images contained in this review are the property of or Expolinear. - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: analog - turntable Acoustic Solid MPX; tone arms Phonotools Vivid-Two, SME M2 12"; carts Denon DL-103; Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce; Shelter 501 MK II; Zu Audio DL-103 - digital - audiolab 8000CD
Amplification: integrated - Lua 4040C, Myryad MXI 2080; preamp - bel canto PRe 3, Funk LAP-2; power amp - bel canto M300 monos; SAC il piccolo monos
Loudspeaker: Volent Paragon VL-2, ZU Audio Druid mk4, WLM La Scala [on review]
Cable: low-level - Ecsse Baton + Symphony, fis Audio Livetime, Funk BS-2, van den Hul Integration Hybrid, Zaolla Reinsilber NF; phono - fis Audio, WSS Silver Line; high-level Ecosse SMS2.3, fis Audio Livetime, Ixos 6006 Gamma, Zu Audio Libtec
Power distribution: fis Audio Livetime
Rack: Creactiv & Taoc AS-3
Review component retail: €3.700/pr

Big cheeks, no jowel sag
How best to cure my shoulder tear and grievous lower back? The good doc would prescribe plenty of fresh air, regular swimming - and a gig focus on cartridge assignments. I'm not supposed to lift anything substantial. Once on the mend, I might advance to class D amps. Possibly. Add a generic band aid for good measure but certainly not the Expolinear T-200 Limited Series 2. Though slim, this 2-way tower scores a hundred-weight. Each. Granted, others are heavier yet. Thanks for the reminder. And, I do know how to keep my back straight and lift from the knees.

Its dimensions of 96 x 19 x 32cm (HxWxD), neither gnomish nor giant, don't alone explain this mass. That's due to the stony smirk - er, cheeks whose 2cm thick red Roman Travertin is standard trim and tradition for each of Berlin speaker house Expolinear Elektroakustik's models. (A collection of 60 natural stone variants stands by for your perusal). Those stony slabs meet a 13mm MDF carcass with a 19mm baffle. The final twist in the material mix is the glass top and black trim front and back.

This sandwich notion for a loudspeaker cab is simple but effective. Different materials resonate at different frequencies. Where one sings, the other stays mum and vice versa. This drastically undercuts cabinet flex. "Let
the drivers talk, not the enclosure" is the mantra. The German market has known the Expolinear T-220 for eight years but eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the Series 2 suffix (for about a year). So the model was tweaked but it's barely noticeable to the eye. The added efforts addressed particularly the crossover network and its parts and the ribbon tweeter which now is guaranteed to maintain long-term stable acoustic parameters.

Ribbons are another Expolinear tradition and developed in-house. Their thin aluminum strips are charged with neodyms and a substantial transformer behind the driver performs the requisite impedance match. The specs list 92dB/W/m sensitivity which for the 87dB T-220 gets the break shoe applied to not lead the parade. The 12dB high-pass sits at 2.700Hz. To keep up with the ribbon's inherent speed, something light is required down low. Enter the third Expolinear tradition, two gleaming Podszus/Görlich midwoofer cones - them of the wicked wrinkles. This revisits sandwich construction with two alu-foil skins around a mineral hard-foam core. The latter damps without contributing mass since foam is predominantly air yet its hardness contributes the desired stiffness. For superior shape integrity, the Görlich is a full cone without the customary central cut-out of dust cap or phase plug collar. This crosses off the triangulated demands for "light, stiff and well damped".

Cone surface machismo with the Expolinear T-200 isn't boisterous. At 10cm across for their diaphragms, the Görlichs instead brag with heightened linear displacement. Their high-compliance relatively softly hung membranes face an internal volume of 8.7 liters in a bass-reflex alignment which thankfully vents out front (agreeable since that puts the ports farther from the wall). Jörg Henning-Reinelt, Mr. Expolinear, takes pride in his network ingredients (Tritec coils with seven discrete insulated conductors, ClarityCap Golds custom- trimmed for this model and Orotofon 6N copper hookup leads). Connections are via "ultra-solid" biwire terminals which is firmly factual. "Ultra ergonomic" it's not as I discovered while replacing the metal jumpers with proper cables.

To prevent turning the living room floor into my biggest acoustic resonator while diluting the elbow grease required to find the best location for the Expolinear T-200, I parked 'em on my good old stone tiles faced with slippery felt, not the most novel of ideas but certainly effective. The combined 60kg per stood solid as Brittany dolmens, my hand on the floor during wicked beats at high levels showed minimal vibratory action and I could move the stone towers about with ease. Perhaps this didn't fully gel with the décor but who cares? Otherwise, a slab o' slate might be the ticket.

Thus I slipped 'n' slid across the room to test various speaker widths and chair distances. An hour later I ended up where I started. There it staged best and instruments and vocals locked in sharpest. But the initial issue -- somewhat lean bass -- remained. Cable swap? Zu Libtek? Bingo. This obviously matched. Team work. I might have tried it sooner but I did get at the base personality. This Expolinear transducer is a/ ultra precise and b/ not necessarily so. Which simply means that the T-220 is highly transparent to what precedes it. Sonic component signatures parlay readily and aren't shrouded by the speaker.

To preview the gist of it, loud is in the cards but full-body massages are not. While Podszus/Görlichs make appearances in car audio, their target audience isn't the rusty VW Polo fiend but rather the player who drives to the polo match in a Maserati Quattroporte while chilling to Norah Jones. Hence Jazz exploits at realistic SPLs are within reach but Big-Beat pork fests are best avoided.

"As heavy in stature so light-footed in sound" seems fitting. I'd be shocked if a direct connection didn't exist. Or synergy, between low-mass driver reflexes and lazy dense stone sandwich enclosures. Forget fundamental blurring, this sound picture is ultra clear and uncolored. Most of all, the Expolinear T-200 is effortless; easy and liberated yet precise and

accurate. This is no air-whip soufflé. All the room coordinates are sorted with Germanic efficiency but never mind checker-board obsession, for that it's all far too self-assured, too agile top to bottom. Be it hi-hat ticks, guitar picks or dry drum kicks down low, it's all presented effortlessly. Lucinda Williams' "2 Cool 2 Be 4-Gotten" surprised in how easily damped these small sweet cones erected the drum set. Truly relaxed if you didn't ask for concert levels - rhythm and flow galore with these high-value Berliners. In audiophile long hand, "first-rate and consistent time domain behavior across the board".

The low registers struck me as less manifest. Certain speakers cheat with upper-bass girth to suggest faux lower substance. The case here is the inverse. The Expolinear T-220 rather sucks in its gut to pretend at being lean until true low bass arrives to prove that while the earth won't shake, this slim tower does reach low and more importantly, articulate. All it took were a few Nik Bärtsch discs. However, this speaker does practice a bit of understatement rather than puffed-up cheeks. On balance, I'm not completely convinced. A bit more oomph at the very bottom would be better, me thinks. Yet displacement isn't the central T-220 theme. Proper tracking of the music is. Quality over quantity and rather less of the latter. Perhaps that's ultimately most clever. Hmm.

With the tonal balance viewed holistically, the Expolinear T-220 does seem quite balanced, with just a small tick to the fresh side of things. (It would be novel to chance across a darkly shaded speaker with a ribbon tweeter.) I deliberately looked for various albums to turn the T-220 into a nerve rattler. Tough noogies. It's quite common with such designs to merely crank the juice for the innate lightweight tendency to lead more and more until the balance fully tips. Volent's Paragon VL-2 is such a speaker where high SPLs elicit flinching. The T-220 scales up and the nerves never twitch. Nothing shifts. Granted, I could live without the minor 'reach for the light' but that's a matter of taste. Others seek it out.

On virtues, the soundstage which the Expolinear beams down into your living room is first rate. I said so already? Twice makes nice. Not too forward, not too distant, not outrageously broad but damned deep whenever the recording allows. Particularly image focus is high and instruments and voices are embodied, dimensional, sharply outlined and the famous air occupies the in-between spaces. Do you dig on counting orchestral seats? Knock yourself out, the T-220 keeps track. Despite this abundance of precision, there's a relaxed undercurrent. Ditto for very high resolution. Nobody works a jagged spot light with commandeering prompts of "lookie here, lookie there". The whole terrain is equally illuminated. Whatever minutiae occur are simply noticed. That's the essence of it.

So, what doesn't cut the mustard? Well, my lower-back mess didn't really improve.

The classy Expolinear T-220 Limited Series 2 won't appeal to SPLs freaks and bass fetishists. This is a speaker for more sophisticated taste buds. Special to these ears is the combination of high precision and relaxation, self-assurance and flow. Everything flows but doesn't lose control. As always, a personal audition explains it best.
  • Image localization is high, sounds have body and outline, the stage is generous particularly in the depth domain. The 'reach and touch' factors of the presentation are all well present.
  • Resolving power is very high and even across the spectrum.
  • While in no danger of seismic shocks, the bass does surprise with how low articulation extends. Ultimately balanced with a minor depression in the upper bass which leads to a note of freshness in the total picture.
  • The mid/high bands are neutral, open and nicely differentiated into tonal hues.
  • Room pressurization isn't on the menu.
  • Impulse fidelity, rhythmic élan, exact timing and flow very much are. The T-220 connects the notes and presents them without effort, properly buoyant and loose. Occasionally you'll hear fingers snap.

  • Model: Expolinear T-220 Limited Serie 2
  • Concept: 2-way bass reflex tower
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB/W/m
  • Nominal impedance: 8 Ohm (6.2 minimal)
  • Weight and dimensions: 96 x 19 x 32cm (HxWxd) / 47kg each
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