Hardware Reviews

Node Hylixa Signature for maximum musical reward

Node Audio Hylixa Signature review

Node Audio Hylixa Signature loudspeakers

Before the Node Hylixa Signature was a glimmer in its designer’s eye we made a factory visit to Node Audio in Cambridge. A review of  the original Hylixa was published the following month and they were awarded our coveted Innovation Award. So why, you may ask, are we revisiting the Hylixa in the spring of 2023? The main reason is that in the year following our initial review, Node Audio released a significantly revised version, the Hylixa Signature, with changes being made to the external design, with a new base plate and a new support pillar. The former is created from a single billet of stainless steel, with a U shaped cut out into which the newly designed column slides, with the binding posts for the single wire speaker cabling almost at floor level. I have only seen the original three footed base in pictures, but compared with that original design the Hylixa Signature base is much more elegant and gives a rock solid platform for the speakers to work from.

The complete redesign of the column has had both aesthetic and sonic benefits for the loudspeaker. It is now fashioned from same glass-nylon compound used in the speaker pods. Internally it is more spacious than the original extruded aluminium, and houses the upgraded cross-over which is contained within its own capsule inside the column. The column is laser fused to the head pod giving greater rigidity and structural integrity than in the original two-piece design. The business end of the Hylixa Signature is, as before, a tapered pod created with a glass-nylon compound using laser sintering. Creating the cabinets for a pair takes more than 80 hours, after which they are hand finished and polished, with a special fibre-optic camera being used to ensure that the critical 1.6 metre helical transmission line is absolutely perfect, in order that the bass can flow unimpeded to its concentric venting aperture at the front. Multiple layers of paint are applied and the final, polished surface is absolutely flawless. The review pair were finished in the dark Bentley Green, with a polished chrome removable fascia disc. Inside the pod a Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) driver faces forward through a cut-out in the fascia, with a second one mounted facing the rear behind it. Above the front facing driver sits a high frequency unit.

Node Audio Hylixa Signature review

Hylixa Signature visual impact

This might be the place to address the issue of the visual impact of these loudspeakers. For me and many others the word loudspeaker immediately conjures up an image of a rectangular box, on which all but the front are dressed in a wood veneer, with a black grille attached to the front. After more than half a century of being fascinated by (or some might say – obsessed by) music reproduction, that is how my brain works. Sure, there have been some variations on that theme, and some relatively different designs by companies such as Eclipse and Vivid Audio, but for the most part, any internet search for ‘loudspeaker’ will result in many images of a rectangular box.

Walking into our lounge once the chaps setting them up were happy for me to join them was quite a surprise. The Hylixa Signatures make a very bold visual statement indeed, especially as it had been determined that their ideal placement in our room was a metre from the rear wall. I was smitten from that first sight of them. To me they resemble an inverted racing yacht keel, with the bow of the imaginary sleek craft behind them. Others reacted differently – the most common utterance was that they look like alien eyes watching your every move. Beauty is of course subjective, but to my eye the Hylixa Signatures are stunning. If I was ever able to afford a pair I would opt for the matte titanium face plate, which I think would tone down the negative reactions of some who meet them.

Node Audio Hylixa Signature review

Setting up the Hylixa Signature

Setting up the loudspeakers properly is key to getting the very best out of them and is undoubtedly best left to the supplier. In my case, the two man team spent a good three hours and after considerable experimentation found that the best position was with the rear of the base exactly one metre from the rear wall, with a very slight toe-in towards my listening chair.

The rest of the system on the day installation was a Moonriver 404 Reference integrated amplifier (review coming soon), which was connected to the Signatures using Audioquest Robin Hood cable, with sources being my Yamaha CD-S3000 SACD/CD player and DAC, an Auralic Aries Mini streamer, my Gold Note PH10/PSU phono-stage with my Linn Sondek LP12 and Dynavector XX2 moving coil cartridge. Our television was connected to the Yamaha via optical cable.

Listening to to the Hylixa Signature

At the suggestion of the installation team no critical listening was done on the first day, I spent that afternoon doing other things while the Signatures got to grips with my ever-growing playlist on Qobuz. Of course my curiosity got the better of me and after a couple of hours I went in to have a cheeky listen, which turned into an afternoon of surprise and astonishment. I truthfully did not quite know what to expect – I had read about the Hylixas, not least from the Editor’s previous pieces about them – but I was not ready for the experience of hearing them for myself.

Node Audio Hylixa Signature review

In that warming up phase, the first thing that struck me was the absolute clarity of the sound. Every tiny musical nuance was being delivered yet there was punch, there was bass weight and midrange that delivered the human voice with an extraordinary realism. The upper registers had a purity and clarity that even my ancient ears were able to pick up. And all this on the first day, when I was not supposed to be listening too closely.

By the next morning I was ridiculously excited about getting to hear what the Hylixas could do with an analogue source. The first disc onto the Collaro mat on my LP12’s platter was my current favourite album, Dave Alvin’s Eleven Eleven (YepRoc Records). I had played some of it via the little Auralic Aries Mini the day before, and had enjoyed it, but as the first track Harlan County Line started I sat bolt upright in my listening chair, the sound was overwhelming, immersive and emotional. I shut my eyes and Mr Alvin and his band were arrayed before me – the Hylixa Signatures simply disappeared in the service of the music. I was privy to an intimate private gig by this veteran road warrior and his compadres. I played all four sides of this excellent 10th anniversary reissue and then, believe it or not, played them all again. In fact I only left the room twice between about 8.30 and five o’clock, when Mrs K returned from work (she has a proper job).

The Moonriver strays slightly to the warm side of neutral and made a perfect pairing with the Hylixas, despite ‘only’ offering 50 watts of power and thus being at the lowest recommended output for the Hylixas. Even when cranking up the volume, just to see how it fared of course, the music did not lose its shape. There was no hardening of the sound, no change at all in fact except in volume. This system really worked well, and in the next two weeks I put it through every sort of musical test I could think of, from Gary Karr’s wonderful double bass to Emma Kirby’s exquisite soprano voice and from the Allman Brothers band to ZZ Top. The Hylixa Signatures gave every genre the chance to shine. In the evenings when we tend to watch movies or the occasional TV program, they gave an extraordinary exhibition of how to fill a room with pinpoint accurate sound.

Node Audio Hylixa Signature review

Dazed and redundant

The Moonriver then gave way to the PMC cor integrated amplifier, so 50 watts of available power became 90, in theory giving extra headroom to the system. However, the cor was specifically designed to be as close to the ‘straight wire with gain’ concept as the PMC design team could make it, so pairing it with loudspeakers which seem equally unwilling to inject their own character was going to make things very interesting.

I played the SACD of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, an album that I have heard hundreds of times over the years, and it was as if this was my first ever experience of it. When the last notes of Shine on You Crazy Diamond had been played, I sat slightly dazed, my notepad and pen temporarily redundant. It had been a totally immersive experience. Here we had an amplifier that costs less than £7,000 paired with loudspeakers more than four times as expensive, and it really worked. This pairing genuinely seem to disappear so that the sound that reaches the listener is, as far as can be practicably gauged, the sound of whichever source has been selected. In this exalted company the tiny Auralic Aries Mini did not fare as well as the two physical disc playing sources. The sound was diminished in height width and depth, not to the ‘it sounded broken’ judgement so beloved by some audio folk, but definitely inferior in sound quality to the LP12 and the Yamaha. The moral of the story is that the Hylixa Signatures deserve the best replay system that your budget will allow.

The final phase of the Hylixa’s extended tenure of was played out with the Primaluna EVO 400 integrated amplifier replacing the PMC cor. Chalk, meet cheese. Could an amplifier whose main technology is more than a century old play nicely with a loudspeaker that is very much of the 21st century  Reassuringly for all of us who cherish our glow in the dark, electricity sucking yet totally beguiling valves, the answer is a resounding yes. In its default ultra linear mode, the EVO 400’s EL34 valves produce 72 watts per channel with plenty of current available, even for the relatively inefficient Hylixas to thrive. I would not recommend a low power output SET tube amp as the Hylixas need plenty of current to work optimally.

Node Audio Hylixa Signature review

Just as the Hylixa/cor pairing pulled off the ultimate disappearing act, with the EVO 400 the Hylixa Signatures were able to demonstrate that modern valve designs do not sacrifice the pace, rhythm and timing so beloved by many of us, whilst still retaining that richness of tone which distinguishes them from their solid state counterparts. For me, the combination of my vinyl front end playing through the EVO 400 to the Hylixa Signatures was the most musically rewarding experience I have ever enjoyed in my home. Playing the late David Crosby’s 2018 Here If You Listen  was my way of paying homage to one of my musical heroes, it went beyond giving me goosebumps to a level of emotion which I only usually experience at christenings, marriages and funerals.

I realise that I have got this far without dwelling for long on the bass, midrange or treble performance of the Hylixa Signatures, largely because at no time during their extended stay did I really think about those hi-fi things. I think the Hylixas transcend all that by virtually disappearing and allowing the musicians to speak for themselves, in their own voices and without the loudspeaker ‘editing’ them in any way. They draw no attention to themselves at all.

Hylixa Signature conclusion

If you make up your mind that you could not live with Hylixa Signatures from an aesthetic point of view, then nothing that I have written here is likely to change that. If you love the look, or are willing to reserve judgement until you have seen and heard them, you may find yourself, as I have, recalibrating your expectations of what can be achieved by a radical rethink of loudspeaker design. You may also reconsider the age old stand-off between price and value. Having come to understand the huge amount of time, effort, engineering prowess and design skill that goes into every pair of Hylixa Signatures, and having heard their extraordinary capabilities in my modest lounge and with far less expensive source components and amplifiers, I believe that the Hylixa Signatures actually offer excellent value. If you order a pair you will be treated to an extraordinary level of involvement in the fit and finish of your pair, and they will be unique. They can be quietly understated (the Bentley Green of the review pair was gorgeous), or can make a striking visual statement – I have seen pictures of them in Ferrari Red for example. It may seem a tad contrary to thoroughly recommend an expensive pair of loudspeakers which promptly ‘disappear’, but that is one of the conundrums of high end audio.

Node Audio Hylixa Signature review

The Hylixa Signatures are undoubtedly the most extraordinary loudspeakers ever to grace my listening room, and if you flick back through these pages you will see the I have had some wonderful examples here, so take that as the high praise which it is. If you can afford them, you really must hear them. As reviewer I get quite a lot of wonderful equipment to play with, in the full and certain knowledge that in due time it will move on for others to enjoy. Very rarely do I suffer from the reviewer’s curse of wanting to buy that which I have had the privilege of reviewing, which is just as well, for reasons of both financial prudence and marital harmony. However, these Hylixa Signatures have left an indelible impression and if a Euromillions lucky dip ticket were to come good, I would be on the phone to those nice people in Cambridge just as soon as I had recovered from the shock. In the meantime, I shall cherish the memory of the time when they came to visit.


Type: 3-way transmission line loaded loudspeaker with integral stand
Tweeter: 19mm ring radiator
Midrange driver: 46mm BMR
Bass driver: 140mm cone
Recommended amplifier power: 50W – 150W
Sensitivity: 82.4dB
Nominal impedance: 6 Ohm (2.6 Ohms minimum)
Frequency response (-6dB): 39Hz-25kHz in room
Connectors: silver plated copper binding posts/4mm plugs
Dimensions (HxWxD): 960 x 433 x 278mm
Weight: 15kg inc stand
Warranty: 5 years

Price when tested:
Manufacturer Details:

Node Audio Research
T +44 (0)12 2389 5854


loudspeaker with integral stand


Chris Kelly

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