Extreme in size, price and engineering, Estonian brand Estelon couldn’t have chosen a better name for its 250-kg, $225,000 statement speaker that measures 6 ft, 10 inches when fully extended. You could say $225,000 is a lot of money. Most people could live off the interest or invest in real estate, but then Extreme is not a product for most. Its creator, Alfred Vassilkov—who has spent 30 years of his life working with sound—wants his creations to go to discerning audiophiles who “want their speaker to disappear as a sound source,” leaving them alone to appreciate every detail of the music of their choice, every undertone, every overtone, the smallest dynamic shift.
And that’s exactly what these speakers, made one at a time at a factory in Tallinn, do. Each unit, in its journey to becoming a high-resolution, zero-distortion speaker, gets the individual attention of Alfred and product engineer Andrus Aaslaid. The 50-something Alfred, who studied Electroacoustics at Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University, set up Estelon in 2010 with his mechanical engineer brother Valeri Vassilkov and daughters Alissa and Kristiina Vassilkova, who handle sales and marketing. The idea, he says, was to “synergise high-end audio and aesthetics to create masterpieces that deliver exceptional experiences”.
The Y series is the company’s new lifestyle-oriented offering. Model YB, which comes in white and black, retails for $20,000.
The X-Series is the premium product line and consists of Models XA, XB, XC and the X Diamond. Prices range from $24,900 to $69,900. The marble towers make for imposing visual sculptures. Alfred explains that it’s the quasi hourglass shape of the speakers (and the position of the tweeter, woofer and midrange within) that help achieve near-zero distortion of all sound emerging from the units. The X Diamond shares the physical dimensions of the XA (the XB and XC are smaller), but it is much more advanced in its 30-mm high frequency diamond tweeter and carbon fibre chamber.
The Extreme, which is the star performer, has two 10” aluminium-dome woofers, a 10” aluminum-dome mid-woofer a 1.5-inch diamond inverted-dome tweeter and a 7” inverted-dome ceramic midrange. The drivers are all custom-sourced from Accuton in Germany. Extreme’s size tells you the speaker is designed for large rooms (50 to 200 sq metre). But its internal engineering makes it effective for all sorts of spaces. Here, Alfred and his team have integrated two modules in one large column. This keeps the vibrations of the two aluminium bass drivers from interfering with the other drivers. More importantly, the upper module—which holds the treble, midrange, and mid/bass drivers—can be moved by remote-control to minimize or account for reflections from the walls or ceiling. Explains Alissa: “You can try different heights and find where the sound is the most natural.”
We put the speakers to the test at Estelon’s listening room, playing a suite by Modest Mussorgsky, then rock and pop and, finally, Bollywood, and came away entranced. With the singers, the speaker replicated the full sound of the performers with layered depth. With the orchestra, the X Diamond unleashed a huge sound field, where each instrument seemed to have a three-dimensional presence. By 2017, the speakers should be in shops in India. Till then, music-lovers can order them directly at the company (firstname.lastname@example.org). Satisfaction guaranteed.