AEquo

AEquo Audio - "STATE of the ART" loudspeakers from - Holland
"Next Level Performance" in High-End loudspeakers.

High-tech roots: Brainport Eindhoven 
To understand that the fact AEquo Audio originated in Eindhoven, is no coincidence. The designers and engineers of AEquo Audio believe in the credo of the region where they were raised: innovation trough collaboration, research and technology. At the same time, the location of the Netherlands between Germany, England, France and Denmark feels as being in the middle of Europe’s most important audio developments and speaker brands. Still, Aequo Audio likes to do things a bit differently, read about the most important technologies used or developed by Aequo Audio and about the truly unique and complete composition of new, state of the art technology, for exceptional next level performance in high-end loudspeakers.

Nanotech Materials for Next-Level Acoustics
Speaker cabinets made from a Metal Matrix Composite enhanced with special Nanotube/Graphene assemblies, twice as stiff as aluminium, with 10 times better damping, free from any resonance from 1hz to >100.000hz (!) and excellent thermal conductance (Nanocast-MMC). If needed, enhanced with pre-tensioned artificial stone optimised for stiffness and damping.  Or, an ultra-light Polymer Matrix Composite version; the ultimate solution for non-fatiguing and non-ringing driver membranes (Nanocast-PMC). These are a few fruits of the extensive research done by Aequo Audio in the material sciences. (more information about these exotic acoustic materials on www.diluvite.com)

Acoustic Driver Design
The engineers of Aequo Audio understand optimal driver design and carefully choose the best materials and dimensions, electro-mechanical parameters, and specific and optimal driver parts best suited for the performing role of each transducer. Engineered and assembled in collaboration with the world’s best driver manufacturing specialists from Denmark such as Per Skaaning,  son of the legendary Ejvind Skaaning, founder of Scanspeak and Dynaudio and responsible for many leaps in audio driver science.

EHDL™ High Frequency System
Based on extensive research of the relation of energy dispersion by all types possible tweeter systems and optimal sound performance, the EHDL™ (Enhanced Horizontal Dispersion Lens) system combines low distortion moving coil tweeters with a controlled vertical/horizontal dispersion lens for the ultimate holographic 3D soundstage and superb imaging. It solves the problems of top octave response irregularities as well as fixes the non-pistonic drawbacks normally encountered by soft dome tweeters without introducing the harshness of hard domes

Pure Analogue Active Bass (No DSP involved)
A fully analogue active bass system for the first hybrid speakers with all the benefits from active bass, without any drawbacks: deep natural extension, perfect coherency and point-source sound reproduction. Fast and large-scale slam, always taut and well- controlled, without delays and without D/A conversion. The full bandwidth output of the connected power amp is used, leaving its full character intact over all frequencies, but relieving it from the duty of driving difficult loads in the bass region.  This makes amplifier matching easy and allowing better sound than ever before, without the need to turn to beefier and bigger amps at higher price tags.  For the engineers at Aequo a logical solution to increase bang for buck in any system budget and forever solve the passive vs active dilemma, yet it's smart implementation remains to be a unique feature in today's high-end audio landscape.

ARPEC™ – Analogue Room Adjustment
Active bass controlled by the analogue ARPEC™ system (Analogue Roomsize and Placement Extention Control), enables very easy and intuitive room and placement adjustments, controlled by two stepless rotators placed on each individual loudspeaker. One rotator for room size, varying from XXS to M to XXL, the other for speaker placement, varying from standing in a corner to a position completely free of walls. Speakers are easier to place and get perfectly balanced, without the risk of any unnatural artefacts, or loss of coherency in soundstage, pace or timing. Easy, speaker-matching and safe, delivering that perfect balance in any room.

Reviews

Awards

Reviews

Blue Moon Award from Srajan Ebaen for Stilla
Sragan Abaen

SUMMARY: Excellence of bass extension and clarity must mirror in the treble or what's thrown off is tonal balance. It's because Ivo's tweeter is such a premium specimen on reach, clarity, dispersion and dynamics that the aforementioned continuity factored prominently. When bass exceeds treble, sonics get dark and heavy. Inverted, they get forward, bright and thin. When both are maximally loaded up on quality and quantity, coherence rules and the acoustic centre sits where it should. Yet bandwidth still stands out as a special virtue. And that signals rare completeness. This was thus neither a bottom-up nor top-down perspective. Instead it radiated out from the middle with speed and heft both perfectly centred. This played no favourites with regard to musical genres. Massive or minimalist, electronic or pure classical, everything was served and served up equally well. In our parking lot of 2018 speaker references then, that placed Stilla on the roof-less top level; without neighbours.

REVIEW: Enis Too - remember the Blue Moon award for the Dutch firm's maiden speaker? How about Wojciech Pacula's Best Product 2016 for Poland's HighFidelity.pl? Or the 5 stars Marek Dyba of HifiChoice bestowed? And Outstanding Product from HifiPig; plus a major thumbs up from our Polish contributor Dawid Grzyb of HifiKnights?

Not since Anthony Gallo's original Reference 3 had a speaker cleaned up the polls like Æquo Audio's Ensis [left] did across Europe in just 15 months since she bowed in the summer of 2016. She could do no wrong no matter the writer, room or gear. To anyone thinking, it was quite the testament to her designers' engineering choices. After all, those pursue exactly such universal—as in, repeatable—behaviour. At Munich HighEnd 2017, I'd interviewed the principals Ivo Sparidaens & Paul Rassin. The new model Stilla was waiting in the wings. I learnt that this wouldn't be a downsized or dumbed-down Ensis Two. It'd be a speaker of very similar performance, albeit for a smaller investment in a less radical form factor.

May 2017: "Stilla will be 90dB sensitive and a 107cm tall three-way with twin internal 7" Nomex-clad paper woofers behind a 14cm baffle which transitions into an elliptical back whose continuously diminishing radius prevents shell resonances and reflections. Like with Ensis, our 'boat hull' shell is artificial stone, again produced in-house with high-pressure thermo forming. The woofers are oriented diagonally inside the cab, with one 90° crosswise atop the other to exploit force-cancelling benefits. Activated by two 250-watt nCore amps, the bass drivers communicate with the outside world via a vertical pipe that's as long as the enclosure is deep, then curves up its spine. Tuned to 20Hz, it operates well below where normal-sized rooms respond; and therefore works in the pressure not phase/time domain.

"Our pure analog-domain ARPEC™ system simulates the bottom octave of a closed-box speaker. Like with Ensis, it can be adjusted for room size and placement near walls and corners to deliver taut bass without any boom.

"The EHDL™ high-frequency waveguide system redistributes some vertical into horizontal energy so that soundstaging won't suffer from floor and ceiling reflections. Optimized directivity delivers great results even in acoustically non-perfect environments. The midrange driver and front baffle colour options are the same as for Ensis. So really is the bass performance."

Hence my spelling of Ensis Too not Two. Stilla claims very similar performance for less. As in the Munich photo of an Ensis system, your amp will only drive the 5" 2-way head to see an easy load. The heavy bass lifting is handled by onboard class D amps. If you opt for the fully active version, another 100-watt nCore module drives the two-way head to eliminate all external amplification.

And that was the exciting buzz around Stilla at 2017's Munich show. Afterwards a great quiet descended over the project like a blanket of thick snow.

Then in February 2018, it thawed. "We are finally on the verge of the official launch. We actually sold out the complete first production batch and already have orders for the second. That is gratifying since nobody has heard one yet or seen an actual not rendered picture. A demo pair will be ready soon so I think it’s time to plan a trip to Ireland!"

For very extensive background coverage on relevant R&D goals, decisions and measured performance by chief architect Ivo.

The Stilla story is an important reminder. Unless one were content to launch yet another veneered rectangular MDF box with off-the-shelf drivers, true R&D means often multiple rounds of funding, here for the development of in-house manufacturing processes, the acquisition of cutting-edge industrial equipment, the creation of tooling, moulds and more.

For Stilla, development also included an ongoing collaboration with ace driver designer Per Skaaning of ScanSpeak to achieve a perfect custom fit of efficiency, dispersion pattern and harmonic distortion between the drivers used in the compact 20kg Stilla structure. Even the mechanical support beneath the enclosure is novel. Just as it was with Ensis, Stilla is as far from a me-too speaker as it gets. That's what's required to really push boundaries.

Putting a ding in fun. Again, hifi advances like the miniaturization of existing tech, novel production methods, new parts, performance increases etc rely on research and development. R&D funding for the military, medical, industrial and IT sectors massively trounces what even the largest audio conglomerates can allocate. What to say of small boutique firms? Hifi electronics rely on opamps, FPGA/DAC chips and transistors developed for these busier sectors to benefit from ongoing advances outside our small cottage industry which can't afford to finance them.

Meanwhile high-end drive units are limited to mostly hifi speakers. Pro and sound reinforcement units are for concert venues, clubs, churches and public address systems. As high-volume special-application parts, the automotive industry has its own catalogues and key suppliers. As we learnt from a recent KR Audio announcement, about a range of new tubes financed by big order commitments from LampizatOr and a UK-based e-commerce vendor, parts manufacturers can fund improvements with sizeable orders. Those of course tend to be very unlikely to come from new small companies whose operating capital is generated exclusively by sales. In their case, true custom orders—substantially more than just minor modifications to stock parts—only come after many years of successful business. Neither Jim Thiel nor Richard Vandersteen started out using their own drivers.

Æquo Audio did from day one. Already their first product sported ground-up drivers not found elsewhere. The Ensis midrange which Stilla inherited [above] combines a mineral-loaded self-damped polypropylene cone with an Accuton-style very fast symmetrical motor system. Like Ensis, this central driver is only low-passed on top with a 6dB/1st-order filter at ~2'000Hz. The lower roll-off mirroring the woofers which enter with a 2nd-order/100Hz low-pass is purely mechanical. This avoids the usual 3-way's midrange high-pass. Stilla is really more of a 2-way plus precision-matched active sub in one svelte cabinet. About the bass system which uses purely analog compensation to measurably mimic the behaviour of closed-box loading, Ivo explained that "Stilla wouldn't have been possible with the woofer tech of just 5 years ago." Their 7-inchers benefit from the latest advances of mating a long-throw cone to an ultra-fast motor system. Æquo's new soft-dome tweeter for Stilla sports the same optimized airflow magnetics of the Ensis tweeter, then raises acoustic lens efficiency which broadens lateral dispersion whilst limiting floor and ceiling reflections*. To fully control their cabinetry, production of thermo-formed synthetic stone was already in-house for Ensis yet developed further for Stilla. It starts with sourcing sheets of raw material whose thermal specs and tolerances exceed Corian and Hi-Macs and which contains 70% ceramics. It heats them at just the right temperature before a 20-ton press bends them into the desired shapes in precision moulds. This process R&D and related industrial equipment relied on the two principals' savings from previous jobs before the first Ensis ever sold. Later another smaller round of funding involved all team members and some of their families. This maintains 100% in-house ownership to prevent putting any ding in funding.

Relative to driver research, Æquo maintain a very substantial database of not only units they've bought and tested but of individual suppliers they've identified from whom various major driver design houses source their specific materials. This allows Ivo to strategically specify what exactly he wants for each of his transducers. Such detailed knowledge makes him an unusually active collaborator with his chosen driver manufacturers.

Relative to cabinet design, Ivo is adamant about time alignment to support a flawless step response. Much development time is spent also on resonance optimization. This led to research into the optimal thickness of the Ply and synthetic stone skins of Stilla's 'boat hull' and specialty glues which bond them to double as constrained-layer damping compound.

For Stilla, high-power music testing past the original plinth design of aluminium with synthetic stone inlay led to a revision. This increased the plinth's mass via added thickness to make this structure even more effective at sinking remaining front/aft cabinet resonances to ground - vital for clarity under stress like massive symphonic music at high SPL. No matter what aspects of Stilla's design I inquired about, Ivo had very detailed lengthy explanations about their respective why/how to demonstrate an unusually comprehensive approach to speaker design. Much effort was spent to reduce this speaker's physical dimensions yet guarantee full-range performance without typical compromises.

Those perfectly happy having big imposing speakers dominate their living space won't appreciate that aspect of Æquo's efforts. In fact, they may write off Stilla precisely because of her petite figure. That's not the target audience. The target audience are those who want big high-end sound in a compact package and not add a third or forth box called a subwoofer or two. They get that physical miniaturization without sonic shrinkage is a rather costlier proposition than inconsiderate design laziness which advocates grotesque sizes; plus one which categorically relies on active bass. Those who suffer conceptual issues with self-powered bass systems or class D for sub 100Hz coverage won't be compadre with Æquo's current approach. They will have to wait for their forthcoming €10'000/pr passive Adamantis. Work on Stilla and the future Adamantis passive speaker plus associated dealer feedback influenced ongoing design work 

Back to Stilla, on raw specs we get dimensions of 107x16x26cm HxWxD with a weight of 20kg/ea. 2.83V sensitivity is 90dB and claimed bandwidth 18Hz-35'000Hz. Impedance is a nominal 8Ω to "make her compatible with a wide range of excellent-sounding amplifiers of lesser power". The materials palette is synthetic stone, Scandinavian Plywood, HDF, billet aluminium and high-density sheep's wool. The connectors are WBT binding posts for the speaker cable and SpeakOn for the 3-metre power cord. The analog adjustments on top of the speaker are for room size [XXS to XXL] and placement [boundary compensation). The manual adjustment is for the cabinet tilt via single wheel. The standard finish is matte white. High-gloss black and various wood veneers occupy the first surcharge tier, custom RAL colours the second. Shipment is via shared single 50kg box, another nod at compact sizing and relatively low mass per speaker.

Because the plinths ship unattached, minimal assembly deals with just two screws per speaker. The bases greet the floor with three adjustable spikes each. Receivers are included. On parquet flooring and with this hinged plinth, it's easiest to stand up the speakers without spikes, then screw those in one at a time to insure that each meets its protective mark rather than bores a hole in your wood.

Topside one encounters the analog adjustment knobs tucked behind the grill's upper end. Intuitively, those knobs scale from S to XXL for room size to dial in appropriate bass gain [left]; and corner to close-boundary to free-space positioning as signified by equally obvious symbols.

"When there's signal, a dim blue light shines through a few octagonal forms on the top of the speaker. Putting the power cable in starts a short red/blue/green sequence. Green means no signal. After eight minutes of no signal, it prompts auto shut-down accompanied by a small click from the subs to let you know. Constant red means trouble so you would probably never see this. Flickering red means the nCore amps are clipping so we don’t think you’ll see this either. The spikes included aren't the final ones yet. We still have to wait a few weeks for delivery. They'll be these stainless-steel CNC-turned jobs with M8 threads and an adjustable wheel of anodized aluminium so the user needs no spanner for leveling on crooked floors. The new spike shoes are sandblasted to be less prone to scratching and their shallow profile requires less aim to meet the mark."

Once Stilla is rightside up, the fact that her integral black baffle is exactly as wide as a vintage jewel case hits very hard given 20Hz claimed extension. This is one shockingly narrow speaker. It makes knowledge of dual 7" woofers inside approach magic thinking when doubt arises as to how they could possibly fit. Even though we've already covered that, seeing these stone-faced facts is still an exorcise in head twisting. Not for nothing is the area where Æquo operate called Brainport.

At Munich's 2018 installment of Europe's biggest HiFi show Æquo had strategically teamed up with Antipodes Audio of New Zealand debuting a new super server, fellow Dutchies Mola-Mola for digital and volume and LinnenberG of Germania for current gain via their new Widor stereo amp in a still pre-production casing. Asking Paul Rassin 10 days after how the event had treated them, "it was a big success mainly because of all the work we did prior. I'd been collecting distributor and dealer data from interesting amplifier and DAC brands which would make a good match. I started mailing them on a regular basis since January. This resulted in numerous show appointments plus a lot of 'undercover' distributors and dealers who introduced themselves only after listening. A few signed up right away and more could follow."

Being just one newer brand amongst a glut of others plus the massive already well-entrenched establishment makes it very difficult to stand out. Having ponied up for a full-page ad in the show guide plus one of the few €18'000 new super cabins in Hall 4 of the M.O.C.—others were occupied by firms like TotalDAC and AudioNec—meant that the Stilla system was easy to find and could make very much better sound than the usual atrocious cubicles across the center's ground floor. Apparently enough industry folks had noticed to make the necessary difference.

When Stilla dropped a day after another speaker delivery, the downstairs system was already taken. Instead the Brainport visitors first hunkered down in an upstairs bedroom. Here layout and size favour the close-up nearfield. The Dutchies bumped off our usual Albedo Audio Aptica two-ways. I used small Track Audio spike shoes whose very deep dimples prevent spike jump when casually sliding loudspeakers across a sufficiently smooth floor to dial in their positions. Toed in steeply to face the chair, power cords plugged into a Furutech eTP-6, the upstream gear was a Chinese Soundaware SD card transport/DAC and an Austrian Crayon CFA-1.2 integrated.

The big word in Stilla's bass vocabulary was control. That meant textures equal to the higher registers. Just previous here I'd hosted Amphion's Argon7LS with their twin rear-firing passive radiators per side. Across their limited bandwidth, those add themselves to the front-firing active drivers for >13" compound woofer action. Without boominess but still a looser feel, the Finns had sounded positively massive in the bass. Now the Dutch went lower without throwing up that slightly inchoate wall of sound. Their low end became remarkable not for pointing at itself with unusual mass. It was utterly remarkable for behaving if you will 'midrangy' yet extending the adroit focused transparent textures of the vocal range all the way down into the bassment. Rather than overshadow the show with abnormal energy, the low registers fell in line, then went deeper than seemed possible from such narrow cabs. Needless to say, this relied on the right choice of control settings. Those happened to be 12:00 for each. Untapped output potential was reserved for the far bigger downstairs action to come. Nearly as surprising was Stilla's tweeter quality. Having had through over the preceding months top-shelf ribbon and compression tweeters, in this first showing standing in for our usual inverted Accuton ceramic units, Ivo's soft dome with its unusual bridge played in an even higher league of micro detail retrieval. At first, one perhaps wouldn't expect broader dispersion to be of much if any benefit when tweeters aim directly at just one listener's ears already. In actuality, it seemed that the opposing ears now heard more of the off-axis tweeters. This led to demonstrably higher intelligibility and tracking of sundry high-frequency dust motes, fire flies and other faint harmonic events. These textile tweeters didn't play second fiddle to hard cones. Au contraire, they outclassed familiar ones. That was another quality which bit me on the earse as it were. A far from insignificant €18'000/pr sticker already generated very real returns; and I'd not gotten 'serious' yet by transitioning into the higher-end big system. Quite a brilliant start.

Downstairs, Stilla enjoyed a momentary tryst with WestminsterLab Unum monos before our resident LinnenberG Liszt monos took over. Our hardware here had just updated with an ultra-cap powered Soundaware D300Ref USB bridge slash SD card transport. As a D/D converter, it improves the iMac's PureMusic/Audirvana USB output beyond what prior review loaners of costly audiophile servers had managed. In SD mode, it trumps even reclocked/dejittered USB to be our new reference source. Followed by Cristian Anelli's Aqua Formula DAC and EJ Sarmento's Wyred4Sound STP-SE 2 preamp wired up with a full Allnic ZL 3000 loom, this system worked at extremely high resolution with uncommon bandwidth and linearity. As they had upstairs, Stilla's low registers bridged the worlds of small woofers for speed and control with that of mega woofers for raw extension. As suspected, bass reach, control and evenness eclipsed that of our €10'000/pr passive Codex regulars. On occasion, lights even turned onto faint infrasonic happenings which live beneath already-low familiar bass lines, particularly so on synth-generated ambient chicanery.

This sense of unwavering visibility—of not mere, at times unexpected, bass existence but fine textural bass nuance regardless of pitch—was stunning. No less spectacular was its seamless continuity up the frequency ladder. Usually, bass textures differ from the higher bands by being swimmier. Even if we're used to it to not think so, a brief contrast to this speaker would settle it. Stilla's advantage for this continuity of controlled gestalt was grander than anticipated. Just so, it stayed well clear of what I heard as some overdamped dryness with the fully active thus class-D-all-over Kii Three monitors*. Having reviewed Ensis in a different room, I can't be certain. Still, relative to her behaviour in this space, I suspect Stilla's bass loading to be superior on room integration. That it also looks better is extra. That solving the bass automatically improves the upper bands by virtue of eliminated interference goes without saying. Likewise for the brain freeze between petite form vs. bandwidth; and how such cleanliness and power of the bandwidth had to mean costly drivers and a composite build which inevitably led to an elevated sticker. Deconstructing Stilla and putting her back together again does explain everything; except how, exactly, Æquo actually do it

Excellence of bass extension and clarity must mirror in the treble or what's thrown off is tonal balance. It's because Ivo's tweeter is such a premium specimen on reach, clarity, dispersion and dynamics that the aforementioned continuity factored prominently. When bass exceeds treble, sonics get dark and heavy. Inverted, they get forward, bright and thin. When both are maximally loaded up on quality and quantity, coherence rules and the acoustic centre sits where it should. Yet bandwidth still stands out as a special virtue. And that signals rare completeness. This was thus neither a bottom-up nor top-down perspective. Instead it radiated out from the middle with speed and heft both perfectly centred. This played no favourites with regard to musical genres. Massive or minimalist, electronic or pure classical, everything was served and served up equally well. With proper ancillaries, it again goes without saying that part and parcel of this show was truly capacious soundstaging, wall to wall with very high sorting separation. That is always an inherent aspect of high-resolution systems anchored by speakers of low distortion which must be based on quality drivers, minimalist filters and suppressed box talk. Here it helps to remember that without a high-pass filter on the midrange, Stilla is really a precision two-way monitor plus active subwoofer in a shared enclosure. It's far from a typical three-way with 4th-order filters. It explains why the vocal range would be this immediate and direct. Because Stilla allocates focused funds to built-in bass amplification, one can save money on what drives the less demanding small 2-way remainder. To mimic our setup sonically, one would replace the €12'000 pre/mono combo with a €2'000 Kinki Studio EX-M1 integrated whose review called it a virtual stand-in for the Wyred/LinnenberG trio. In our context, this would more than compensate for the extra expenditure of Stilla versus our usual Aulevel of performance. In our parking lot of 2018 speaker references then, that placed Stilla on the roof-less top level; without neighbours.
........ Sragan Ebaen

"This was, if possible, the best sounding set I've heard ACL in all those years. Good work, gentlemen"
Dutch Audio Club Limburg

SUMMAERY: After this gigantic mountain of music and information, I can not really say anything negative about these jewels of speakers or about the rest of the set. It is not cheap at all, more on that in a moment, but it is a classic case of 'it costs something, but then you also have something'. This was, if possible, the best sounding set I've heard ACL in all those years. Good work, gentlemen! Keep it up especially!

REVIEW: The first Audioclub evening of 2019 and this was one to remember. Let's get straight to the point; The speakers presented were something very special, in the good sense of the word. Aequo Audio demonstrated their Stilla speakers in the first place tonight.

This model was launched at the hifi fair in Munich in May this year. They were already at the same fair in 2016 with their first speaker, the Ensis. The Stilla's were remarkably wide apart in the room with a cloth in front. People who know this space already know; That's too much cushioning. But let's hear it first.

Aequo Audio designs loudspeakers, especially the Stilla, with the philosophy that they perform as well as possible in as many scenarios as possible. And that's a challenge, because we all know that space is the audiophile's greatest enemy.

To make the speakers as flexible as possible, a hybrid design was chosen in which the woofer is controlled by an N-core module. You can control tweeter and midrange of this 3-way system with your own amplifier, which then has a lice life. The result of this design is that it is fairly easy to 'play' with the adjustment of the woofer. DSPs are the gentlemen's aversion, which I can easily relate to, so a purely electronic adjustment has been chosen that presents itself to the end user in the form of two small rotary knobs. With these buttons you can adjust the speaker to the size of your room and the distance to the wall. This is in many cases different per speaker. Aequo calls this system “Adjustable Room and Placement Extension Control”, or “ARPEC” for short.

There is also a fully active version of the speaker, using two N-core modules per cabinet. One for the woofer and one for high and middle. The tweeter and midrange play in phase and on time throughout the range. The midrange cone is a bit deeper, which is why the speaker tilts back a bit to eliminate that time difference.

The listening has started. We start with an audiophile classic, The Eagles' “Hotel California”, as featured on their Hell Freezes Over live album.

The first thing you notice is a somewhat warm, dark sound character. The stereo image of the speakers, which are estimated to be more than three meters apart, is wide and neatly connected, but not very deep. The bass is easy to follow and musical, but dominates where I am (at the front at about 2.5 meters distance). The sound is not very loose from the speakers, but the set is still cold.

The next track is Sara K's “Me missin 'you”
This slightly brighter Chesky recording shows how well this speaker can reproduce wood. The dress goes away, the stage emerges, sustain becomes more convincing. The bass now tends to buzz, also in the back of the room. The slightly pinched overtones in the recording of Sara K's voice come off and open now that the dress is gone.

Jennifer Warnes' “Way down deep” is announced and the audience is already bracing: “oh dear, that song is already very low anyway”, they say behind me.

And indeed, the low is downright too much. Just stop the music and play with the ARPEC system. The audience demands less, and the audience gets less. The difference is ridiculously large. The layer no longer overherest, the buzz and boominess are out of the layer and voices completely separate from the 'background'. As a joke, the institutions are turned to their extremes. The speaker suddenly sounds thin, stereo image becomes completely left / right, completely flat. A kind of counter phase seems to be emerging. I like that these buttons go 'too far'. That way, as an end user, you can try what exactly which button does, and then choose a more sensible setting. The control range is nice and large.

In between the music we get more and more information about this speaker. For example, the cover / front of the speaker is made of compressed sheep's wool. It is not possible to remove, it is part of the acoustic design. The angle of inclination of the entire cabinet can be changed with one rotary knob on the rear leg. The speaker is on three spikes, one at the back, two at the front.

From low to high, an increasingly less rigid material has been chosen. The tweeter is therefore a textile dome and the midrange a mineral-filled PP unit. Few stiff materials have a self-damping effect and therefore do not ring and rattle. However, it is an art to keep them efficient and sound energetic. That is why aequo bets on a good 'motor', as they call it, by which they mean the coil / magnet part of the speaker. They see more benefit in perfecting that part of the speaker to keep it fast and low in distortion than in an expensive choice of materials. That does not mean that the cone design has not been thought about! The tweeter is an interesting combination of a dome with a ring radiator. There is a cone on the inner dome.A carbon rod runs through that cone, which ensures that the freedom of movement of the inner 'ring' of the tweeter is limited. This keeps the tweeter fast and rattle-free. While I'm normally skeptical about cone ring radiator tweeters (my annoyance at that disgraced Scan Speak Revelator tweeter is widespread), I dare say out loud that this is one of the best, possibly the very best 'conventional' (not ribbon / horn) tweeter I have ever heard. The thing performs beyond expectations.dare I say out loud that this is one of the best, possibly the very best 'conventional' (non ribbon / horn) tweeter I've ever heard. The thing performs beyond expectations.dare I say out loud that this is one of the best, possibly the very best 'conventional' (non ribbon / horn) tweeter I've ever heard. The thing performs beyond expectations.

Chris Jones' “Long after you're gone” starts.
The deep, round layer of this typical Stockfisch image is shown round, smooth and traceable. The steel strings have a convincing hoarseness that you rarely hear with a conventional tweeter. Voice is typically Stockfisch, on the bright side, but is displayed clearly without becoming ugly pointed. The set, now awake, has lost the dark undertones but has no sharpness in its place.

Macy Gray's “Lucy” shows how much air is in this set.
The space behind the trumpet is almost tangible and the natural sustain of the space in which this is included enters our room as if we were there live. The blowing of the trumpet sounds nice and dynamic and with a very lively attack. The rattling double bass sounds bizarre convincing, the speakers do something very well in the time domain.

Next up: Gerardo Núñez & Ulf Wakenius' track “Logos”
These are recordings that quickly go 'marrow and bone' but this also goes well again. All details remain nice and separate, these speakers refuse to become a 'mash'. Even with large, dynamic hits, the whole remains under control and every detail is traceable.

It's Pause.
The presentation has so far been smooth and well prepared. The questions from the audience are discussed extensively and sensibly, without losing track of time. The mood is good. New Year's wishes fly back and forth and the good presentation means that people feel free to ask questions. Nice detail; During the presentation, presenter Ivo mentioned that the design of the speakers was kept as small as possible because in some households there are also men or women who are less interested in the audio hobby. The fact that here is called "men or women" makes me happy. I always find it hard to see how, even in 2019, it seems normal in the audiophile world to grumble (behind their backs) about women. It is perfectly possible to share each other's hobby, whatever it is.My experience over the years has been that women hear the differences much better than men and are more aware of whether a change in the audio set is a good idea or a bad idea. Many positive sounds emanate from the room over the speakers.

After the break I sat halfway down the hall. In the middle of the room, some people notice that the connection of the layer is not always good. I have not experienced this myself. It is true that in those places the hall sounds a bit hollow and there is a crazy peak of around 150Hz. My spectrum analyzer on the phone confirms this suspicion.

During Mussorgsky's “Night on bald mountain” it is noticeable that, further back in the room, the high loses some of its definition and sounds a little less rounded.

The next track is the first in high resolution, instead of 44.1khz / 16 bit. It's about Third World Love's “Ain't no thing”
The higher resolution shows what smooth playback these speakers are capable of. Notes merge smoothly, vibrations and resonances are rounded and transparent. It is a pity that the men do not always run with this resolution, the speakers are worth it!

At this point in the evening, my pen, which I have been using daily since September, decided it was a good time to roll the last drop of ink onto the paper. The bag that Remi always brought with her offered a solution; Thanks to his pen, I can continue this review. Remi, you're a hero, thank you!

Van Kari Bremnes & Rikard Wolff's track “När Det Lider Mot Jul” is not a YouTube link. 
This recording was done with the singer and singer on top of the microphone. The result is what they call the 'proximity effect'. Voices then sound deep and 'sultry'. This recording is rounded, smooth and musical without unwanted whirring, thumping or resonating. Good cabinet design!

Karin Baggili - Down Town
Although not everyone will agree, I think music choice is positive. It is varied and apart from a single audiophile cliché, it is full of honest, fun recordings. So not just audiophile tingling tang!

Avishai Cohen Trio's "Beyond" is a typical modern 'audiophile' jazz recording in which a somewhat soggy, thick set low 
The speakers keep it neatly under control without going drone overbearing.

After this gigantic mountain of music and information, I can not really say anything negative about these jewels of speakers or about the rest of the set. It is not cheap at all, more on that in a moment, but it is a classic case of 'it costs something, but then you also have something'. This was, if possible, the best sounding set I've heard ACL in all those years. Good work, gentlemen! Keep it up especially!

"The high-end audio future is bright and thrilling with the brands like Aequo Audio!♫”
Matej Isak,

It is with great pride that Aequo Audio announces not one, but two prestigious awards won simultaneously for the Stilla. Aequo Audio humbly accepts this very unique honour, which Mr Isak calls so beautifully: "the mighty double-decker". In his already very extensive review, he did not yet include the music references, so a second part is coming. Two awards, and two review parts. For the entire review, please click the link below the following summary.

 

Summary:

"When the technology is properly implemented the speakers simply disappear. While this sounds pretty easy to achieve, in reality, the complete disappearing act is not that common. Certain speakers do push this agenda to the extremes, but so far none of the dynamic speakers managed to nail the "stealth technology" with the as the Aequo Audio Stillas can. 

Then again... The complexity never ceases to enroll effortlessness into the high-end audio realms that easily. Some typical dynamic speakers might have quit high translucent potency, yet it gets complicated with the timbre, tone and color formation as well as with the pin-point precision of sonic cues. 

Here is where the Aequo Audio Stillas is ahead by not a exactly a subtle advantage. Stilla speakers' laser-like precision is impressively blended with the splendid spatiality. There is no hint of the distortion entering in the domain of golden triangle (timbre, tone, color) and the sonic scape is not hampered at any point. 

With all of these qualities, the Stilla speakers embrace a bit different aural experience than what's usual expected. Laboratory like precision allows the pure music's transition that is of heart-melting impact. This translates with the remarkable sonic purity no matter what music is being played. 

I'm sure you've got quite a vivid projection of what the Aequo Audio Stilla speakers are capable of. These transducers are among one of the most transparent windows to an endless music universe regardless of type and genre being served to them. 

During the evaluation period, I've most highly enjoyed the Aequo Audio Stillas and surely miss them. Their ability to orbit music so effortlessly and without self sonic imprint is hard to forget and the stirring experience still lingers on. 

For what they represent technically and sonic wise I'm wholeheartedly (even in the first part) awarding the Aequo Audio Stilla speakers in a very special way. Stillas are more than worthy of highlighting with the combined Mono & Stereo Upper Echelon Award and Highly Recommended Product Award. Yes, the mighty double-decker!

As I was excited in my original Ensis review with the Aequo Audio next imprint I'm most excited to hand-on explore the next Aequo Audio adventures in the form of the passive Adamantis (€ 14.500) made out of the new material and the next in line D I L U V I U M."

 

Read the full review on monoandstereo.com >

Awards

A RARE BLUE MOON award from Srajan Ebaen for STILLA:

Aequo Audio is very proud to announce the first review of the new Stilla speaker by 6moons’ founder Srajan Ebean, resulting in an award right away. Not often it happened that a brand’s first, as well as its second speaker product, receive his prestigious Blue Moon Award. Nore is it common to find so many adjectives as “brilliant”, “stunning” and “spectacular” simultaneously in one of Mr. Ebean’s fair judgements…
In comparison to his large reference speakers - that more than double Stilla’s weight, and volume, and which are equipped with a full size 10 inch subwoofer - he states that these could not keep up with Stilla’s bass reach, control and evenness. For doing so with integrated active bass, including fully analog adjustability to room size and placement, he fully acknowledged how Stilla saves listeners big expense on amplifier choice and therefore total system budget. 
The highs get just as much praise in comparison to recently reviewed top-shelf ribbons (by which he must mean those such as the new ones of Kaiser Acoustic that took the large room before Stilla could move in) as well as his Albedo’s ceramics by Accuton. In fact, Stilla proved to be super-coherent and highly resolving/articulated in all frequency bands and equally suitable for all music genres, whilst throwing a big “walkabout” and “wall-to-wall” soundstage.
For the above and more highlights you find below, and for being so close in performance to the more expensive and multi award winning Ensis, he concludes Stilla is a “real disruptor and hot buy” that performs on the highest “roofless, top level”, and even without competition/”neighbours”. ...... Srajan Ebaen

“The high-end audio future is bright and thrilling with the brands like Aequo Audio!♫”

It is with great pride that Aequo Audio announces not one, but two prestigious awards won simultaneously for the Stilla. Aequo Audio humbly accepts this very unique honour, which Mr Isak calls so beautifully: "the mighty double-decker". In his already very extensive review, he did not yet include the music references, so a second part is coming. Two awards, and two review parts. For the entire review, please click the link below the following summary.

 

Summary:

"When the technology is properly implemented the speakers simply disappear. While this sounds pretty easy to achieve, in reality, the complete disappearing act is not that common. Certain speakers do push this agenda to the extremes, but so far none of the dynamic speakers managed to nail the "stealth technology" with the as the Aequo Audio Stillas can. 

Then again... The complexity never ceases to enroll effortlessness into the high-end audio realms that easily. Some typical dynamic speakers might have quit high translucent potency, yet it gets complicated with the timbre, tone and color formation as well as with the pin-point precision of sonic cues. 

Here is where the Aequo Audio Stillas is ahead by not a exactly a subtle advantage. Stilla speakers' laser-like precision is impressively blended with the splendid spatiality. There is no hint of the distortion entering in the domain of golden triangle (timbre, tone, color) and the sonic scape is not hampered at any point. 

With all of these qualities, the Stilla speakers embrace a bit different aural experience than what's usual expected. Laboratory like precision allows the pure music's transition that is of heart-melting impact. This translates with the remarkable sonic purity no matter what music is being played. 

I'm sure you've got quite a vivid projection of what the Aequo Audio Stilla speakers are capable of. These transducers are among one of the most transparent windows to an endless music universe regardless of type and genre being served to them. 

During the evaluation period, I've most highly enjoyed the Aequo Audio Stillas and surely miss them. Their ability to orbit music so effortlessly and without self sonic imprint is hard to forget and the stirring experience still lingers on. 

For what they represent technically and sonic wise I'm wholeheartedly (even in the first part) awarding the Aequo Audio Stilla speakers in a very special way. Stillas are more than worthy of highlighting with the combined Mono & Stereo Upper Echelon Award and Highly Recommended Product Award. Yes, the mighty double-decker!

As I was excited in my original Ensis review with the Aequo Audio next imprint I'm most excited to hand-on explore the next Aequo Audio adventures in the form of the passive Adamantis (€ 14.500) made out of the new material and the next in line D I L U V I U M."