On Monday, October 16, at 4:15 p.m., the shipping company picked up the Estelon XB Mk II speakers that I reviewed in July for SoundStage! Ultra. The XBs had lived in my main system for close to six months, and, as you can read in my review, I spent those months enamored by their dynamic prowess, retrieval of detail, and utter musicality.
I clearly recall the day and time of their departure because I felt a deep sadness—the kind of sorrow I rarely feel upon returning review equipment.
Further, the exotic appearance of the XBs was almost as appealing to me as their sound. Estelon speakers have a lithe, statuesque quality, a look of organic elegance, and the XBs had that in spades.
Coincidentally, just a couple of days before the XBs were scheduled to depart, I received an email from Ilias Koutromanos, Estelon’s marketing and sales director, detailing the company’s plan for its demonstration system in a large showroom at the Golden Tulip Hotel during Audio Video Show 2023 in Warsaw, Poland. It seemed that Estelon would be playing a pair of its Forza Anniversary Edition speakers—the last pair remaining unsold from a limited run of ten pairs. When it was still available, the Forza Anniversary Edition sold for €154,000 per pair. The non-anniversary version is still available, and it retails for €137,000.
The general proportions of the Forza are similar to those of the sorely missed XB. The Forza is a larger, more complicated speaker though, considering that it’s part of Estelon’s Flagship lineup. Where the XB is a three-way speaker, the Forza is a four-way, adding a dedicated 8″ mid-woofer and a second 11″ woofer.
All drivers in the Forza are Accuton units, with the tweeter featuring a diamond diaphragm. The Anniversary Edition differs only cosmetically from the standard production run, but it’s crazy how much the small flourishes highlight the cabinet’s sensuous curves. Two gold pinstripes caress the front baffle, guiding the eye to the two signature Estelon swipes, also in gold, down at the bottom.
Goddamn is this speaker physically elegant. Last year in Warsaw, Estelon was demonstrating the Extreme, an over-the-top alien invader. The Extreme is stunningly beautiful, that’s for sure, but it’s not going to fit in just anywhere. The Forza Anniversary Edition sure as heck can blend in; it’s just so tasteful.
My own YBs, and the XBs I had in for review, were notable for the monochromatic color scheme, which I found very dramatic. The two pinstripes on each of these here Forzas in Warsaw really pick the speaker up a notch. It’s not overdone, and it remains exceedingly tasteful.
Arrayed between the speakers was about a gazillion dollars’ worth of Accuphase equipment, the gold faceplates tastefully picking up on the matching swoosh down the front of each speaker.
There were two A-300 mono class-A amplifiers, which retail for zł112,000 (Polish zloty) apiece (about $26,600 in the US), each chugging out a conservative 125W into 8 ohms, but ready to octuple down to 1000W into 1 ohm should there be an emergency. Preamplification was by way of a C-3900 (zł134,000). Digital signals came from a DP-1000 SACD transport, which fed a DC-1000 DAC. These components retail for zł108,000 each. Rounding out the system were Siltech Double Crown speaker cables and Crystal Cable da Vinci interconnects and power cables, which probably cost as much as the electronics.
And this system sounded just so very right. So clear, so elegant. This is one system where the looks coincide with the sound. Deep, realistic bass, with a clear, open top end. It was just delightful.
I met Roman Nowak, the owner of Nautilus Salony Audio Video, last year in the Nautilus room, and we did the Vulcan mind meld regarding music. So this year I just asked him to play whatever he wanted. I didn’t recognize much of it, but the sound was so world-class I just didn’t care. Wonderful music played through a wonderful, mature, classy system. When I grow up, this is the exact system I want in my house.
Senior Editor, SoundStage!