And that’s the bottom line: The X-base allows the speaker to perform better and it allows you to extract more of its (and the system’s) performance. Taken together, that transforms the value proposition of the speaker itself and the system it’s connected to. So yes, the X-base looks horribly expensive – at least taken in isolation. But assess it as part of the complete U2-X package and suddenly it makes a whole lot of sense. The X-base, revised rear jumpers and a few minor internal modifications have lifted what was already an impressive performance to a whole new level. Stenheim say that in production they will be adding locking collars to the threaded posts, as well as examining the possibility of a set of ‘feeler gauges’ that will retain the precise height setting of each leg should you want to remove and replace the speaker without losing its precise height and attitude adjustments. In addition, combining the standard cone and footer will match the height of the POM-C placement domes, further streamlining the set up procedure. Even without those niceties the X-base transforms the U2 from an excellent but brutishly awkward speaker to deal with, into one that once upright, can be moved, removed, installed or re-installed by a single person using only those tools inherent to the speaker itself (and an allen key to attach or detach the wheels).
The Stenheim U2 just got a whole lot better and a lot more serious. The U2-X constitutes a significant upgrade in terms of musical performance and mechanical niceties. Save from the increase in footprint, there is no downside. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for me the speaker even looks better than it did. It also raises the intriguing possibility of something similar but more modest (in terms of size and price) for the A5. Now that’s a really interesting thought… As it stands, the X-base upgrade to an existing U2 (or U3 for that matter) might be expensive, but boy is it worth it. It offers a new mechanical termination, new set-up opportunities and a new look. In fact, in performance terms, it’s a whole new speaker!
Prices and Availability:
Stenheim Reference Ultime 2-X loudspeaker with cruciform base – $180,800
Stenheim X-base (for Reference Ultime 2 loudspeakers) – $25,800
Stenheim X-base (for Reference Ultime 3 loudspeakers) – $28,000
Stenheim Switzerland SA