ESTELON PREVIEWS WORLD’S FIRST ‘SMART SPEAKER’
Traversing the endless halls and rooms of Munich’s MOC for the High End Show for a first-timer is a truly exciting experience. But in subsequent years and once the novelty has worn off, covering an average of 10kms on foot per day (according to my smart-watch), it does start to become tiring.
Being the social and working highlight of the year for many Aussies on the HiFi event calendar, the fatigue also kicks in from far too many pilsners and schweinshaxe.
So, as you go through the motions almost systematically, room to room, it starts becoming more difficult to be impressed or even interested. This was the case by the fourth and final day of this year’s High End show.
The name Estelon, an Estonian high-end ‘designer’ audio brand, rang a bell as I passed their room. I was perhaps more focused on the end of the corridor and heading back to the hotel for some well-needed shut eye, but it got the better of me and this show opportunity only comes around once a year.
In a market of too much same-same, what awaited inside was a welcome change and would prove both a sound and visual delight.
My first observation was the simplicity of what I was looking at. No racks of components or cables.
To control Estelon Intelligent Audio technology, you only need to connect the speakers with the power cable, and then you can directly play music from a portable device or over music streaming services using Estelon’s specially developed app.
Estelon were showcasing their “Estelon Intelligent Audio” technology along with what I would soon come to know as their Estelon LYNX speakers.
Catching the back-end of a presentation from Founder and Chief Designer, Alfred Vassilkov, I learned that Estelon’s so-called “Intelligent Audio technology facilitates wireless transmission of top-quality audio without any additional equipment.”
This approach is the pure audiophile equivalent of classic “as short as possible” signal chain, delivering an uncompromised precise soundstage.
So, as I listened from the far-side of the back row, it occurred to me that while I found the LYNX ridiculously pretty, ultimately, I’m listening to an active loudspeaker; hardly ground-breaking? I'd already attended no less than four specific launches for new 'active' loudspeakers while in Munich.
But it was a question from a front-row punter that brought me out of my zombie-like state and to full attention. “So, what DAC chip are you using in the speakers?”. The response, “There are no DACs or typical amplifiers”, which I’m still not entirely sure I heard correctly and I’m sure was very ‘generalised’ … but it did leave me intrigued.
A little digging afterwards led me to this explanation:
The core of the audio is HQPlayer from Signalyst what works as a DSD rendering engine, converting everything to a DSD64 stream. An Integrated Roon streaming player acts as a user interface for playback from NAS or Tidal streaming service.
So far, so good.
The final frontier of the Estelon Intelligent Audio technology is its powerdac - or the absence of it, actually. Estelon LYNX speakers have the DSD stream driving speaker elements directly. As one of the fundamental features of DSD bitstream is its capability to have analog signal reconstructed by simple analog low-pass filtering, Lynxes can get away with no signal processing at the amplification stage whatsoever.
This signal is then run through a precision FET driver bridge connected directly to the speaker (analog) crossover. It is difficult to imagine a shorter and more lossless signal path in the analog or digital world of audio.
I won’t pretend I still completely understand the internal signal path or what method of amplification that is bringing the LYNX to life just yet, but I have reached out for some clarity on what I heard and the corresponding press release.
LYNX features 1x10” woofer, 2x5” mid-woofers and 1x1” tweeter. Uniquely, it is also features motorised adjustable height (from the app) to suit room and listening preferences which is a welcome addition. In addition to choosing the right loudspeaker for your room, selecting speakers based on the height and position of your seating position is almost always overlooked.
As I slip back into the GMT+10 time zone, unfamiliar records and room conditions aside, I can’t help but think back just how good Estelon’s LYNX speakers sounded. Coherent, warm but accurate and detailed, and a very balanced response, at very least. Whatever technology (voodoo?) Estelon is employing, it seems to work and I like it.
The Estelon LYNX is one of only a few speakers I came away from this year’s High End show wishing for an Australian distributor so that I could hear it in familiar surroundings and with content I know intimately.
Meanwhile, LYNX will be available from September this year in a white pearl / black matte or ultimate black gloss / black matte combination of finishes.
You can also choose between a diamond or beryllium tweeter and a pair will cost €50,000 or €40,000, respectively. This is High End folks.
For more information visit the Estelon website.
If you know more about this specific speaker model or technology, feel free to add comment below.
StereoNET's Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.
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