Another under-rated Polish loudspeaker brand has Trevor Butler enraptured by its evolving dynamics as he puts Sveda Audio’s active Blipo monitors through their paces.
The four boxes which arrived from Sveda Audio filled my exterior porch but thankfully Greg from UK distributor G Point Audio was on hand to help me unpack and assemble these beasts on their substantial stands. The striking, gloss finish on the review pair was his personal choice, for use when demonstrating at audio events. For home use, a wide variety of veneers and powder-coated finish options are available along with a series of stands to suit the match.
The Blipos were created as studio monitors, not the BBC-style speaker, but serious, hefty monitors capable of moving substantial volumes of air and with music, rather than speech (or a speech/music mix) in mind as the source. Thus they are not as dry or lifeless as I had expected (feared, even), but have a warmer midrange for greater listener involvement.
Designer Arek Szweda designed his first speaker when he was just 14, alongside several valve amplifiers and some CD transport mods, before spending time working in IT. Thankfully, for us, active monitors became his focus and he’s spent the last two decades perfecting his craft, firstly with R&D work at Tonsil which boasted an impressive anechoic chamber. Eight years later he severed links in order to be able to devote more time to ambitious domestic designs. Thus Sveda Audio was formed at the end of 2012 with the first product, the D’Appo pro monitor, launched the following year. A further three years of development resulted in the Blipo we have here.
A two-way stand-mount, these hefty beasts have three drive units on the front baffle of the sealed enclosure, the soft-dome tweeter in the centre of two 7-inch coarse-textured paper cones. Created in Poland, and utilizing drive units from Scanspeak in a vertical d’Appolito array, the Blipo is a £5,490 package (sans the dedicated two- four- and six-legged stand options) which includes 300W Class A/B amps for the mid/woofer drivers and 80W of power for the tweeter. 380 Watts per side in an active arrangement is capable of generating as much energy as most domestic environments will ever need.
Placement of the 33 litre cabinets was easily accomplished although the 500mm depth (which are also fairly narrow in proportion at just 220mm wide) did project the speakers into the room slightly more than my usual alignment. Audio input to each speaker is via a balanced XLR (and I am grateful to UK importer G-Point for the loan of suitably long leads for the purpose). Other rear-panel controls allow for tweaking of the crossover, including an eight-position rotary switch for overall input gain (using a resistor ladder) alongside three toggle switches offering earth-lift, bass boost of 6dB at 30Hz, and a plus/minus 1dB treble cut/boost option. There is also an ‘audio out’ to give a pass-through option The internal Class A/B amplifiers cause the large heatsinks to run warm and best sonic results were obtained after leaving the system powered overnight.
Attention to detail has been paid to the active circuitry, with Siemens NOS styroflex film capacitors (1% tolerance), 6N copper cabling, Minimelf SMD resistors and large toroidal transformers employed. The crossover frequency is 2.8kHz with two 12dB cascade filters (second order) allowing the designer to deal with frequency and phase response more easily than a textbook implementation of a fourth-order arrangement.
With no digital input on the Blipo, I pressed my trusty Hegel H190 into service purely as a streamer and DAC, feeding the speakers from the analogue pre-out, as well as listening to a variety of broadcasts via satellite. One gets an immediate sensation of this being a highly competent loudspeaker design and clearly very much in the studio monitor class of loudspeaker. And, by that I do not mean the classic BBC-style of monitor (derived for a mainly speech or classical music balance), rather a monitor capable of handling modern music as well. The performance is placed in a beautifully array in line with, and behind the cabinets across a wide and deep soundstage.
Setting the various controls allows the Blipo to be configured to work optimally in a variety of room characteristics. For most of the time, I relied on the ‘flat’ setting to create an exemplary sound, with just occasional use of the treble attenuation. Bass boost actually removed an annoying room resonance I have around 40Hz rather than increasing the LF response here and worsening my problem.
In ‘flat’ mode I enjoyed many hours of the Blipo’s smooth tonal balance which went deep enough to satisfy this listener (down to mains hum frequency of 50Hz, certainly) and providing an extended treble to something like 15kHz. My usual acid test of human voice recordings was passed with flying colours, revealing the Blipo’s studio credentials as I enjoyed a variety of well-produced BBC drama recordings.
As one would expect with a design of this calibre, and intended for critical studio monitoring use, the level of neutrality was superb with sublime transparency and near pinpoint imaging. Track after track was brought to my listening room with such convincing reproduction as to transport me to each recording venue. None more so than on live performances including Genesis Live from 1973 and Supertramp’s Live in Paris. The digitally re-mastered Runaway Horses (from Belinda Carlisle’s Access All Areas Live) as well as ‘Heaven on Earth’ not only had my feet taping, to reveal Bipo’s ability when it comes to pace and timing, but had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up as I was immersed in the live audience with such convincing realism. Truly the hallmark of a well-executed loudspeaker design.
Surprisingly though, at times the dynamics were not as great as I might have expected from a design at both this price point and of this physical size but will be more than adequate to suite most audiophiles. This was evident on some large orchestral works, some of the giants of the genre such as Antonio Pappano’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812, with Italian forces strengthening the purely musical values of the piece where the special effects do not overwhelm the final triumph but appeared a tad more muted than I remember. That said, the piece retained its scale, majesty and grandeur as well as the involvement of that opening string arrangement.
Given the inclusion of the high-power inbuilt amplification, the Blipo is a superb package of competitively priced professional engineering. As one would expect with a design of this calibre that’s intended for critical studio monitoring use, the level of neutrality was superb with sublime transparency and near pinpoint imaging. I was very sorry to say good-bye to what had become centrepieces of my listening room when they had to go back. What more can I say by way of endorsement? I shall certainly miss the Sveda Blipo.