As they emerged, packed in individual flight cases and from the icy cold of the distributor’s vehicle, it became clear they were relatively new, so there were few early expectations. They might be the smallest in the Estelon range but, standing a metre away from the back wall, the tall, slender XC still made a considerable visual impact in the room and their black lacquer high-gloss finish emphasised their presence rather than diminished it. If I were to own a pair, I would certainly consider one of the lighter custom colours to minimise their visual impact, though having said that, it is surprising how familiarity has seen their physical presence lessen as I have come to appreciate the way their curves seem to shift in changing light.
Where the first half hour of a test drive in a new car might be informative, it was anything but with the XC. If ever there was a case of the speaker driving the room, this was it. The copious levels of bass I heard at first were quite overwhelming, but the cabinets were still icy cold to the touch. Having observed this sort of thing many times before, I know better than to make any quick judgements. At the end of that first evening’s gentle workout it was clear that there was some way to go and that’s putting it politely. Fraser from Kog Audio (the UK distributor), who has more experience with Estelon that anybody in the UK, urged patience and I completely agreed. Hour by hour and day by day, things began to change as the XCs and I became better acquainted. They did their work and grew more comfortable driving the airspace that was allotted to them. Like a new puppy they stopped chewing the furniture and (slowly) became part of the system as opposed to its wild, unruly child.
As the days became weeks the Estelons and I began to form a musical alliance and an unspoken agreement. I would supply them with the best I had to offer in terms of the remarkable dCS Vivaldi CD player and my David Berning Pre One and Quadrature Z amplifiers. I would feed them via a pair of Nordost Odin speaker cables and take great care with their positioning, making micro adjustments to their distances from each other and the back wall before moving on to their toe-in angles until they and I were happy. They would tell me musical stories and I would listen. It was a partnership that would take a couple of months to fully develop and even as I write, is becoming more intimate and open.