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Having recently hosted the 100dB Rethm Saadhana with no crossover on its good-to-55Hz widebander; the 101dB-rated Zu Druid V with merely a 1st-order high-pass on its compression tweeter; and the 93dB soundkaos Wave 40 with minimum filters on both widebander and ribbon tweeter... I ought to have been perfectly positioned to decisively condemn Stavros' parts-intensive networks. Yet what I actually heard were one-driver coherence and equivalently exacting point-source soundstage sorting powers. And there also were things I didn't hear. One, the Saadhana's remnants of speed-based whitishness and dryness were absent. Those seem common byproducts of the extremely thin paper required to achieve such high efficiency (Voxativ suffers them likewise). They are best eliminated by valve amps which I no longer own. Two, the Druid V's upper midrange opacity was absent too. This thickness or congealing seems a result of much thicker paper and a 10.3" driver taken up all the way up to 10kHz. Stavros' small Fostex was clearly the more resolved. Three, I heard a lower amount of detail retrieval at micro output levels. Here the super efficient Rethms ruled. The progression of wakeup calls thereafter tracked the sensitivity rating of each model. It was no surprise that the Stentor came in last. It likes to be played louder before it fully arrives and its own torque kicks in.

What I didn't hear either was the Wave 40's highly projectile gushiness. Its deliberately low-mass energy-shedding Alpine Spruce tonewood enclosure embodies a theory which opposes Aries Cerat head-on. To my ears the musical-instrument concept and Martin Gateley's specific implementation across his ~55Hz to 40kHz bandwidth give the Swiss eggs an undeniable advantage in communicativeness. Sounds simply fly off their activated enclosures and scale up exactly as a small violin does so effectively in real life. What I call the concrete bunker ideal of speaker enclosures—here Magico is currently perhaps most famous but Aries Cerat belongs to the same school—does make for great cleanliness versus standard MDF-based box talk. There's simply an energetic restraint which the thin-walled tonewood concept doesn't suffer by contrast. That sounds bigger, freer and expresses greater carrying power over distance.

But just because the Stentor's precision crossover is clearly a thing of complexity and its 88dB efficiency pure run of the mill, those mechanics did not manifest as audible hurdle to compete with the widebanders on seamless coherence. This tracked my prior findings of the Gladius. I've heard that speaker extensively side by side against Voxativ's Ampeggio which eventually led me to divesting myself of the latter. Whether the Stentor bettering the Gladius now was primarily due to its more sophisticated crossover I couldn't say. Such cause/effect interactions are only determined in actual R&D. What I can say is that the Stentor had the more extended powerful bass; the higher overall articulation; and the even better micro detail. These admittedly weren't revolutionary but small evolutionary improvements. Same approach, more learned implementation. The puzzling thing was how the new model could sell for so much less.

Back to xovers, efficiency, immediacy and musical persuasiveness, I found it illuminating how the soundkaos is the only one to use a low-pass on its main driver and at 93dB has the lowest sensitivity of my hi-eff lot. This flies in the face of popular widebander doctrine. Like so many other hifi points of contention, it's important to judge each implementation on its own merit. Keep an open mind. Trust your ears. Did the Stentor-over-Gladius gains arrive without shadows? By being more exacting and resolved, the Stentor eliminated a small degree of fuzziness which has the Gladius a tad warmer but also less precise. This was easiest heard in the midst of great rhythmic complexity, say the interlocking Malaysian percussion patterns of Spirit of the People; a Turkish formation of four lightning-fast darbuka players attacking each other like horse-back warriors; or Indian-style drum spectacles à la Trilok Gurtu or Zakir Hussain.

Whether the broader Gladius baffle too affected my perception of its warmer less lucid midband was ultimately academic. In the vital upper bass the smaller speaker had more impact and body to sound fuller but not warmer which presumably comes from a very deliberate filter adjustment. Whilst Stavros insisted that the Stentor wouldn't work on my 10wpc SIT1, he was dead wrong. Trying to figure out why our experiences diverged so much, I eventually learnt that his own space is massively overdamped to eliminate room effects during design work. Obviously such quasi anechoic damping absorbs big swaths of acoustic energy. To compensate for the concomitant loss of output now requires far higher amplification. In my normal living room I'd experimented with acoustic damping panels right after we'd moved in. Those had completely killed off the spark of life naturally generated by mid/treble reflections. Much to the delight of my wife who hated their looks, those panels exited to never reappear. The upshot was that the SIT1s worked like a charm. The only thing the 100-watt ModWright KWA-100SE had over them was superior bass control. Starting out with sealed bass loading which eliminates the pervasive ringing and exaggerated room interactions of most ports also meant that the SITs' small losses in ultimate LF grippiness felt negligible.

When Sonus faber's Venere 3.0 showed up, I moved out the Stentor for a quick sound check Italian style before returning to the Club Med of Cyprus. The difference of resolving power was far greater than one encounters between modern DACs. The Venere 3.0 was comfort food, the Stentor sophisticated gourmet dining. It also had greater bandwidth on either end, the airier top end with more teased-out decays and performer halos and bass reach which to improve upon with my colossal Zu Submission sub meant setting the latter's low-pass to 10Hz for very little infrasonic assistance. Where the Venere could do impressive stage width, the Stentor was far superior in the depth domain. Here acute distinctions of relative distance depend on time rather than amplitude. Excellent timing shows up in layering specificity and rhythmic fidelity. These were two areas where the Stentor clearly excelled.

Of the tweeters I'm familiar with, Raals have become favorites. They avoid the crinkly metal textures I hear with other ribbons and don't suffer the dynamic forwardness of AMTs. Like the lot they challenge seamless meshing with conventional midranges. Just because a speaker flaunts a Raal ribbon guarantees no better performance than were it to flaunt no crossover for unity behavior. Here one must credit Stavros' design chops for getting his integration spot on. The one thing his various design decisions sacrificed was voltage sensitivity. Getting this type of bass reach had to steal from efficiency to pay for the compact footprint and smaller internal air volume. This quite literally means that the speaker is less efficient at translating tiny signal voltages when one listens at very subdued levels. A hifi whisperer the Stentor is not. But then its name would be all wrong if it were.

By mounting its bass driver relatively high, the Stentor deliberately avoids pronounced floor bounce. Combined with its sealed loading, this makes for persnickety fine articulation and superior pitch definition. That equals extended low-fat bass. It never felt lean though because the upper bass exhibited that very small but effective emphasis. Once you meet properly done sealed bass, reverting back to common port loading seems relatively primitive. Dirty sloppy seconds at best. Once you hear a Raal ribbon perfectly integrated, soft-dome tweeters will seem quite hooded and slow by comparison. Finally there's something to small midranges which larger ones don't do.

Conclusion. If the Stentor were a DAC, it'd be a Metrum Hex for its needle-point timing, sharp transients, unclipped decays and natural but not enhanced tone. If the Stentor were an amp, it'd be a single-ended transistor rather than triode amp for behaving supremely lucid, quick, wide bandwidth, linear and utterly non-fat. If the Stentor were a widebander, it'd be closer to a Rethm Saadhana than an Ocellia and completely different from a Zu. If it were a conventional speaker (which in the final analysis it is of course) it'd be far closer to a Magico than Wilson. In the end it behaves very much like a highly accurate point-source monitor with integral true 30Hz woofer addition. As a new product, the Stentor confirms the brilliant impression Aries Cerat made with their Gladius. Where the Stentor still betrays enthusiast hobbyist roots rather than keen business savvy is by beating its bigger elder but charging essentially half. What commercial mainstream brand would commit such a crime to its own wallet? Kudos to one Stravros Danos in Limassol for swimming so stubbornly against the stream of green. If he perfects his paint finish to stop telegraphing remnants of the underlying layer construction, he'll have an all'round exceptional speaker on his hands. Naturally nobody who hasn't heard one will believe that it performs at such an elevated level. It'll take more than just one review to convince folks to give a speaker from economically busted Cyprus a fair shake. But whoever does will be laughing all the way to the bank...
Quality of packing: Wooden crates.
Reusability of packing: Many times.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: A cinch.
Condition of component received: Paint still betrayed the subcutaneous stacked-Ply layering. Production already switched to thicker primer/base coat to prevent this.
Completeness of delivery: Perfect.
Human interactions: Good.
Pricing: High value for the advanced quality of construction, drivers and crossover complexity/parts.
Final comments & suggestions: Proper time alignment requires raising the rear spike to lean the speaker forward. Depending on seat height and listening distance this could involve a pronounced lean to look somewhat peculiar (though it doesn't affect stability).

Aries Cerat website