Measurement confirms a number of observations, starting with the basic fact that the Hylixa does indeed combine low sensitivity (estimated c. 83dB) with fine bass extension. That said, while the far field averaged frequency response above 250Hz is essentially very well judged and impressively even, the bass end seems to be rather less smooth. Although the actual extension is quite impressive, significant excess is seen at around 50Hz, alongside some loss of output between 100–250Hz.
The impedance trace might be a trifle curious, but it does at least stay above 6ohms for most of the audio band. However, it’s a little too current-heavy from 70Hz up to 300Hz, and this seems to be especially true around 100Hz, where it drops briefly below 3ohms.
I found that this speaker became increasingly seductive over the time I spent listening to it, though this should not be taken to endorse its total sound quality. I’ve long suspected that high sensitivity is a good thing for the sake of dynamic drama, and that would seem to be further reinforced here, as dynamic expression is a little too restrained. However, the level of box coloration is very low indeed, so the noise floor is similarly low; dynamics therefore might be somewhat challenged, but the actual dynamic range is consequently very high.
In fact, despite its compact dimensions, this speaker does have serious high-end capabilities, as I discovered when subsequently carrying out some serious listening tests. I was comparing a Rega Aura moving-coil phono stage with an Audio Note S9 transformer feeding a Pure Sound P10 phono stage, and it was clear that the (costlier) S9/P10 combination did have an advantage through the Hylixa loudspeakers (using Naim amplification).
I was even more impressed when using the S9/P10 combo to compare an original pressing of Freewheelin’ by Bob Dylan [Columbia] with a recent reissue of the same disc. Although the two had seemed virtually identical viathe solid-state Aura, the difference was altogether more obvious when using the S9/P10 combo (and favouring the original). Once again, the Hylixa proved quite capable of distinguishing without ambiguity between the two versions, which is further evidence of its genuine high-end capabilities.
It took quite a while for the penny to drop, but the crucial fact about this loudspeaker is that it looks small but sounds large – a paradox that certainly plays with the senses. When one sees a small loudspeaker, one automatically assumes that it will have limited bass extension. In most cases this is undoubtedly the case, but the Hylixa is very much an exception to this rule, as it delivers a bottom end extension that is normally only found in a much larger loudspeaker.
Alongside this remarkable sense of scale is an equally superior stereo imaging performance. First there’s an almost unbelievable ‘out of the box’ sound, as the sound does indeed avoid clinging in any way to the enclosures, and instead creates considerable depth perspectives. Furthermore, my better half discovered that she could hear a central stereo image, even when sitting well off-axis and quite close to one of the pair.
This seems to be all good news, but there is also a down side, as the second-order crossover network adds a degree of time-smear to the overall sound, with a bass that comes in slightly late.
Although the Hylixa is unquestionably a very costly prospect, it’s also rather good, especially in terms of its exceptional stereo imaging, plus arguably the lowest cabinet coloration I have ever encountered. That said, dynamics could be stronger, bass timing is slightly slow, and the frequency response measurements are a bit wayward at low frequencies. However, at higher frequencies the balance seems close to ideal, with no indication of a presence ‘dip’ or unwelcome ‘forwardness’, and an exceptional dynamic range.