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Settling in. Whilst I can't comment on break-in with fully cooked loaners, I can confirm changes past delivery. Those progressed just as the man had said. At the recommended settings, the sub centered between desktop Stradas beneath them on the floor seemed overly energetic in the upper bass/lower mid transition. Simultaneously the Stradas' own reach was stunted. This made the sound at ear level lightweight and hollow and bloated at the feet. The musical message was still mixed up. It was a directional upstairs/downstairs affair, not a one-piece whole.

Once the Stradas dropped their testicles and the sub refrained from overdoing its upper reach, the blend on raw amplitude was nearly perfect. It merely required minor backing off on the TR-3D's attenuator. Remaining giveaway of sub activity—beyond the obvious mind fuck of solo Stradas doing 25Hz—were bass striations. Sounding unnaturally ripped as though plucking a very low piano string at full force with an oversized knitting needle made for textural discontinuity. This wasn't about loudness offsets or bass originating from downstairs rather than ear level. This was about directionally induced wiriness.

Compared to front-firing woofers 'sidewinders' always lack some punch and visceral impact. Now I needed less of the latter. Why not turn the TR-3D sideways to fire at the closer sidewall? Bingo and ka-tching. For my desktop, that little trick did most though not all the business (in a standard far-field setup I'd expect better performance from a front-facing TR-3D). This decision is strictly on a need-to-try basis. Over the following days I kept very finely tweaking the low-pass. Nearing conclusion meant that cross messages of bass there, everything else over here had been silenced almost completely. The last reminders would be very low transient peaks as Øystein Sevåg's Link likes to mix in. Those still stood out because of mechanical woofer-to-floor coupling which telegraphed through my feet. Attempting to eliminate that feedback by adjusting bass amplitude made the bass too weak. I needed to get the TR-3D off the floor to duplicate how the Stradas on my glass top were decoupled on Gallo's wobbly viscoelastic 'coins' beneath the stands.

TR-3D firing sideways to the close left wall

With the subwoofer upon an Ikea footstool whose combined height just fit underneath the glass top, mechanical feedback as well as acoustic floor coupling were history. Now I had to readjust the bass attenuator for a bit more output ending nearly back at 12:00. Bass EQ went from off to 3dB for the most satisfying infra bass. This completed the progression from telltale cyborg jackhammer bass to naturally swinging 'invisible' bass. Important contributor for seamless integration was Strada polarity. Unlike absolute polarity, proper polarity is whatever hookup between amp and speakers creates better sound. Reverse both speaker cables at the amp or the speakers. With time-observant speakers geared for speed and transient fidelity that manoeuvre is telling and not contingent on track or album. One way will sound jumpier and more transparent. This could be 'right' polarity (black-to-black/red-to-red) or 'wrong' inverted polarity. Either way it's proper polarity. Especially in the nearfield where the TR-3D's tightly sprung operation with that very small internal air volume creates excess punchiness—massively so directly on the floor and face forward—the Stradas benefit from maximal punch of their own to texturally blend. Proper polarity supports that. And it's one quick, easy and free check-up to perform. Just do it!

Having arrived. When far off-axis well outside the stereo window my wife quipped that "these make anything else you've had there before sound absolutely broken", she didn't know just how cliché that phrase has turned. Yet she was right. To be more descriptive I'd simply replace broken with clogged up. If we stick with the faucet or shower head visual, the Stradas really pulled out all the stops. By comparison EBTB's Terra III or Amphion's Ion+—perfectly good if more conventional monitors—inserted spatial and energetic blockages. Filters. Minor reluctances. Those things turned down full gushing to relative trickling. Energetically paler, dynamically more compressed.