Part II: Set Up and Break In Process
Like my DA-1.1s, the Apollo’s proved incredibly easy to place. I don’t have a dedicated listening room so my hifi must share our living room, whose configuration demands loudspeakers on the long wall with their backs to each passage into the space. Given the need for egress and ingress (my father-in-law loves these terms) and the desire to produce the widest possible stage, there is very little room to maneuver. So basically, I plopped the Apollo’s down exactly where the DA-1.1s had been and that was the end of it. However, had I a more forgiving room with lots of placement options, Lou assures me that the Apollo’s can perform their magic positioned virtually anywhere in rooms of varying shapes and sizes--another reason he calls them his “desert island” speakers.
Once so positioned I connected them up. I purposely held off on making any system changes while Lou did the build so that I could have a clear comparison to the outgoing DA-1.1s.--so I was dying to hear what the Apollo’s had to offer. My DA-1.1s were fully tricked out--Lou supports his clients by offering upgrades as his craft and available components improve--so I was keen to see just how far the new models were going to exceed the exceptional sonics of my old 1.1s. Over the decade I owned the DA-1.1s, they went back to the PNW twice to receive enhancements of the crossover network and internal wiring (All Poly and V2) as well as the addition of trim rings for the woofers. Each upgrade preserved the inherent warm musicality that Daedalus is known for while enhancing speed, inner detail, resolution, and staging.
I loved my 1.1s and would never had parted with them had I not traveled to Ferndale last year and heard the new ten inch driver for myself. Housed in a pair of mid-sized Apollo 11s, I was stunned by the seamlessness of the presentation, by the fullness of the sound, and by the sheer impact of the bass (when demanded by the material). What really got me was how integrated the bass was with the rest of the sonic picture. My DA-1.1s did bass better than most--in fact, much better. The Apollo 11s, with the new ten inch driver, owned the bass. So shortly after I returned from the PNW Lou and I began talking about my next pair of Daedalus speakers. And now here they were, all wired up and amps aglow--sweet!
For the first track, I put on Rosanne Cash’s “10 Song Demo” CD. I sat back, hit play and adjusted the volume. Promising, but not what I had anticipated. Lou told me to expect a long break in period--up to 400 hours--so I wasn’t concerned. He had put some hours on them in the shop but clearly things needed to open up. Also, my system had not been used for several months while Lou was working on my cabinets, so the electronics also needed some time to gel. So I stayed for the first few songs, pushed the “repeat” button on my Esoteric X-03SE, and left the room. Over the coming hours and days I would return to assess progress and it was very illuminating. Like an early spring flower responding to the warmth of the sun, the chill of the night, or a late season snow shower, there were (mostly) big gains and (occasional) minor setbacks.
The notable gains through the break in process fell into three broad categories: refinement, extension and staging. First, as the hours passed a slight coarseness to the sound, particularly evident in voices and piano, became smoother. Like a vintage bottle of bordeaux that needs to be decanted for an hour before you take the first sip, the midrange began to develop a more complex and pleasing character after 40-50 hours of playtime and improved slightly thereafter--thru the 100 hour mark. In addition, both the bass and treble seemed slightly constricted--the bass a little lean and the treble lacking air, delicacy and immediacy. Here, too, the hours were very kind, with substantial progress in both areas realized after only 10-20 hours but with further gains in the treble response (in particular) even after 100 hours. Finally, the speakers initially sounded a little two dimensional. There was some depth to the soundstage but limited layering. As the midrange came into focus, so did the staging with significant layering evident by the time I got to the 40 hour mark.
After four straight days and then another two weeks of periodic play (over 200+ hours), I began to listen in earnest. To follow--my listening impressions of the Daedalus Audio Apollo loudspeaker system. Stay tuned!