For me, trying to capture the essence of any audio component can only be done through musical description. But as I have said in this magazine many times, we listen to systems and not individual components, and the reviewing of anything requires some experience of the various audio alchemies involved. If we are to wring the best possible performance from audio equipment then, this demands paying attention to everything that contributes, including components and system infrastructure, adequate run-in, positioning, and of course patience – sometimes lots of patience.
As if I needed reminding, these demands came home with a resounding crash when Kog Audio arrived in the distant past of November 2013 to deliver a pair of Estelon XC speakers and install them in my living room. Ceramic drivers have intrigued me for a while and this was further fuelled by my time with the small Lindemann BL-10 that incorporated an Accuton ceramic bass/mid unit, designed by Herr Lindemann himself. The early reputation of these drivers as being dynamically brittle or tonally bleached soon went out the window, and I thought that the speed and rather sumptuous nature of the midband made the BL-10 one of the very best small/tiny speakers I have heard. I set my sights on one day securing a pair of high-end ceramic-driven loudspeakers: so the opportunity of a lengthy loan of the Estonian-made Estelons proved hard to resist. Looking at the models in their range and bearing in mind the size of my listening room, the (relatively small) XC seemed to be the only model that I could comfortably accommodate. This three-driver system sits in an exotically shaped cabinet, and comes supplied with a non-removable, integrated stand.