14 June, 2022

The Budapest system – Part I

Letter from Hungary (22-1): Dexler Poppe returns - with new loudspeakers 

Ed: Welcome back! A short but eloquent Part I, redolent with feelings. Looking forward to future installations.

Late last summer, as the nth wave of COVID faded out, our company returned to normal office life. It meant that I had to find a new apartment in Budapest, which _obviously_ meant that I _had to_ set up a new hifi. Now, I could have put together a source(s)+dac+pre+power+speakers configuration, but since my new place is positively tiny (borderline Tokyo hotel room), I wanted something simple and streamlined. Ideally a streaming capable DAC and a pair of active speakers. I also wanted to keep this system cheap and cheerful and my general approach to building it easy-going. No worries, no over-thinking. In that mindset, I quickly decided that I’ll buy a pair of Tannoy Gold 5s or, if I manage to convince myself that I do need larger driver surface then the net working area of my countertop, then the 8s. I’d always wanted to live with a dual-concentric Tannoy, and in the worst case I can still send them back – told a reassuring voice. (There’s no way to demo these in Hungary, the only option is buying online.)
And yet, I was unable to buy them simply because they were not available anywhere in Europe. For month. Sometime during the fall, I lost my patience and started looking for other options. I casually checked my usual sites for second-hand gear as well and it was at this stage where my original plan went completely off-track. An irresistibly well priced second-hand Xavian Perla is to blame.
I have a history with Xavian. Their various models kept popping up on my radar during my 10+ year “audiophile journey”, and around midway through, after several demos in various setups, I actually fell for the Natura series, the Stella and Perla in particular. Yet I’ve never owned one for various reasons, among which cost was the most prominent. But this time the price was right, so I took a trip to Brno to pick them up from their first owners. On my way back to Budapest I was building fantasy systems from my inventory of electronics and imagined how they would sound with the Xavians. By the time I got home, the bar got set very high, I expected nothing less than wonders. An hour after I got home, I was dancing on the rug in front of the speakers.
I was prepared for this occasion, so I brought my A-team to the party which included the 47 Labs Shigaraki amp, iFi iDSD BL dac with reclocker and my Roon server as source. And the magic - if I’m being completely honest, for the first time ever - happened. It was a sound that I was expecting, and it was a sound that I enjoyed without feeling the need to analyse it after the first couple of introductory songs. No matter which genre I played, how loud, what time of the day. For a mental reference point, I can provide you this: many reviews mention Franco Serblin designs as comparison. I don’t have enough experience with those to be able to meaningfully comment. For those with similar issues: think Harbeth but with bigger balls. There’s the naturalness, the delicacy, the fine and not faked resolution, the gorgeous midrange, and that hard-to-pin-down quality that constantly makes you feel that you are invited into the music. The Xavians also add a charming vitality, a touch of blush which isn’t to hide imperfections but to raise contrast. They are pleasers and most likely cheaters too, if you hold on to the concept of truth in audio. Personally, I stick with the pleaser part.
I celebrate my decision that I finally bought these speakers every day when I hear them. Which makes me contemplate my past: would I have been a happier fella if I’d had the patience years ago to save up for a Xavian? My answer to this: Probably yes and it probably wouldn’t have been obvious to me. I honestly don’t think that putting together a system is the challenge here. I think coming to terms with what one truly likes and wants is the challenge. Even though I’ve always liked Xavian Natura series speakers a lot, I didn’t fully realise back then how important are those particular characteristics for my long-term listening happiness that I happen to appreciate in them. Now I do.
Editor's Postcript: 1) Simple words that articulate well the feelings of satisfaction that comes from the heart; 2) unfortunately not every audiophile gets to this moment - worth an article itself.; 3) Xavian is surely a company worth investigating for its Sf (Franco Serblin era) like sentiments.


  1. Nice read! I always contemplating a simple solution and am intrigued by using my Wattson Emerson Analog directly hooking up to a pair of PSI Audio active monitors or Dynaudio Acoustics Core7...

    1. Simple but not too simple. I doubt ANY active loudspeakers, no matter the hype, shall beat a good pair of passives. BTW, Sonus faber has relaunched the Minima Amator with the Esotar tweeter, THAT's the one u should be interested in, given that your Dynaudo Crafft sports the Esotar!.

    2. Eric, just wait for Part II, complications are coming. ;) That said, on a theoretical/aesthetic level I'm also attracted to minimalist systems, though in my mind's eye the centre piece of such a system is a feature-rich integarted.