These Estelons deftly bridge the gap between the radically bizarre and domestically acceptable. Simply put, they look wonderful. Made from a marble based composite, standard finishes include black or white gloss, or matt black for £22,000 per pair. The review pair was finished in ‘Red Rocket Liquid Gloss’ [+£3000]. The same level of finish is also offered in gloss silver or matt silver. A third level [+£2000], provides matt white, ‘Blue Cobalt’ or ‘Deep Purple’.

A main woofer sits at the bottom of the enclosure, then a driverless span of cabinet until you reach the upper section, with the tweeter placed directly below the midbass. The three drive units are cutting-edge, German-made Accuton drivers – the 220mm bass unit employs an ultra-rigid ceramic sandwich dome, the 160mm mid-bass unit features a titanium voice coil former and the 25mm tweeter has an ultra-hard ceramic dome.

Other internal details include a specific type of Kubala-Sosna-made cabling and a minimalist second-order crossover design fitted with ‘Mii Teflon-Hybrid’ capacitors and air core inductors, the network encased in a separate chamber.

Form matches music

With power courtesy of Devialet, we fed the Estelons a barrage of tracks that, inadvertently, complemented their mien, starting with Eleanor McEvoy’s piano/vocal-only rendition of ‘God Only Knows’ [If You Leave… Mosco]. After careful placement with toe-in, the Estelon XB did something wonderful: it matched its physical form to the music! You’re probably tiring of HFN’s continued adoration of Ms McEvoy, but suffice it to say, the Estelon could have been made for female vocals. Perhaps we had stumbled upon the Estelon’s forte?

We moved to Albert King’s ‘The Very Thought Of You’ [Born Under A Bad Sign, Stax] with backing by no less than Booker T and the MGs. Piano and subtle drums far right, Mr King strumming guitar and singing in the middle, the Memphis Horns stage left. Why the Estelon and this track so loved each other is down to a synergy that occurs often enough to make us love and appreciate high-end audio. It was a case of a sound system shouting, ‘This is what it’s all about!’

That noted, knowledge of the listening material as heard though other systems pointed out a minor demerit. The caveat is obvious: if you’re a hard-core bass junkie, look for another solution. Two standouts, though, ensure that the XB is worthy of your attention. Joe Brown’s heart-warming ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ from the astounding The Ukulele Album [Joe Brown Records] was rich, glowing, scintillating. All we could think of was Burl Ives in the old Disney lump-in-the-throat-former, Summer Magic, warm ’n’ fuzzy but in the nicest way.

And then there was Keb’ Mo’. If a speaker can ‘like’ a recording, Peace… Back By Popular Demand [Okeh/Epic] struck the right note, any concerns about the odd behaviour at the lowest registers simply not mattering at all.

Verdict

A slight disconnect between the mid and lower bass creates a lightness to the sound when mass is required. That aside, the Estelon XB is a smooth, silky, sexy performer that simply adores female vocals – apt, as this is a mighty fine speaker that just happens to have Sophia Loren’s curves

Originally published in the 2013 Yearbook