I would say at the outset that, generally, I am not a fan of big speakers. Over the years, I have heard too many installations in homes and recording studios where big bandwidth systems have exercised a room’s dimensions and acoustic foibles to the detriment of any subtle musical pleasure. On the very few occasions that I have heard big speakers work, it has been in natural large living rooms where the live and reverberant characteristics have been lightly treated and the quality of the music, general warm friendliness of the location, and moderation with the volume control has made the music both understandable and enjoyable. For me an audio system has never been a substitute for ‘live’, and for manufacturers, subjecting your giant flagship models to demonstration room vagaries is always fraught with potential peril. Having said that, I should also point out that I have never lived in a room where such speakers would be remotely comfortable, with room to breathe.
That all being said, I was recently invited to The Ideaworks in Central London to take a listen to the new Estelon flagship speaker, the Extreme. Having very much enjoyed Estelon’s smallest stand mount design in the comfort of my own home I was interested, but naturally wary that this was going to be another power session marred by lingering one-note stomach-churning bass and searing high frequencies, all laid on with a megawatt trowel. I needn’t have worried really as Kog, the UK distributors, just don’t go in for that kind of thing at all.
I loved Alfred Vassilkov’s baby, the XC. It had just about everything a stand mount should, being concise, full of out-of-the-box energy, and musically expressive, which, for me, is the most important thing by far. I had seen pics of the Extreme and it looked intricate and complex, but not particularly huge. So, when I first saw the Estelon Extremes, I was surprised at the way the elegance of their lines masked their actual size. Yes, this is a tall speaker, but it is quite slim and its sculptural form is emphasised by the twin elements of the design interwoven within the central V structure. This is held visually separate through colour and finish.
Again, for full-range flagship models, the Extremes’ shape is elegant and the complete opposite of the mammoth dimensions and mega cabinetry of so many ‘top of the range’ models from other manufacturers. Even the quick phone snaps I took of it that day made them seem so much smaller and compact than their actual height, which can vary, depending on where the upper section has been set.