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Standmount loudspeakers
Everything But The Box

Price: 2000 USD (pair)

Manufacturer: Everything But The Box Ltd.

Everything But The Box Ltd.
15 Hristo Popovich str.
9000 Varna, Bułgaria
tel: +359-89-6628386


WWW: Everything But The Box

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photos: Wojciech Pacuła, EBTB
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

The loudspeakers Everything But The Box (EBTB) are products “you have not seen before”, as we can read in their information brochure (you can find some of those HERE). And this is true – their appearance, craftsmanship and requirements for listening setup will be something completely new for many music lovers. But it is worth to try it, you may learn a lot from this experience. The company was founded in 2003 by the brothers Kamen and Dobromir Dobrev, who gained experience in the custom installation market. But the initial assumption was different than in 99% of cases; the Bulgarians, as the company comes from the land near the Black Sea, decided from the very beginning, that the form of their products will be uncommon. And again – different to lifestyle products, it was about the form following the function, and not the other way round, that the shape of the loudspeakers should be a result of the technicalities. And about the final looks of the product decided the industrial design part of the company. That part works so great, that it was detached from the main company in 2008 and works independently now. Their portfolio encompasses a beautiful project of a electric car, which was bought by one of the major companies.

In the EBTB catalog we will find six stand mount loudspeakers, special stands and wall supports, as well as a subwoofer. Each of those products looks just great! The cabinets are made from MDF and epoxy resins and are varnished in any color of choice, just like luxury cars. Color combinations are also available, with for example a different front and back colors. At extra price you can also have the sphere finished with real leather. We do also have metal elements, laser cut from stainless steel. The tested loudspeakers Terra II Pro are two-way stand mount loudspeakers with high class drivers and a characteristic looks – a slanted front baffle and a sphere on its back, which acts as a load for the midwoofer. The ring tweeter is mounted to the front baffle, behind it, there is no enclosure, only a metal plate. From the front it is loaded with a short aluminum tube; the same material was used also for the bass-reflex port. The whole looks very different. All loudspeakers are manufactured in Bulgaria, from the beginning to the end, in the EBTB factory.


Discs used for testing:

  • Diary of Dreams, (if), Accession Records, A 111, CD; review HERE
  • Diorama, Cubed Deluxe Edition, Acsession Records, A 114, 2 x CD; review HERE.
  • Eva Cassidy, Imagine, Hot Records, G2-10075, CD.
  • June Christy, Something Cool, Capitol Records/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90033, HQCD.
  • Kings of Leon, Only By The Night, RCA/BMJ Japan, BVCP-40058, CD.
  • Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch, 524055-2, CD+DVD; review HERE.
  • Lisa Ekdahl, Give Me That Slow Knowing Smile, RCA/Sony Music, 46663-2, Opendisc.
  • Sakuro Ogyu Trio, Ballad Night, Carnival/BMG Japan, BVCJ-37532, CD.
  • Savage, Tonight, Extravaganza Publishing Srl/Klub80, CD001, 25th Anniversary Limited Edition, CD; review HERE.

Japanese versions of the discs are available on CD Japan.

The Bulgarian loudspeakers look different than our “ordinariness”, sound slightly different, and most of all, require a different approach – I mean mostly their setup in the room. Those are “near field monitors” in the full meaning of that description. On one hand they are precise enough, to fulfill the requirements of the second part of the statement (monitors), on the other hand they require close placement to the listener, much closer than usual. Near field monitor is a description given to rather small loudspeakers, destined to monitor recorded or live sound in recording, mastering and post-production studios. Usually those are placed just above the mixing table, 1-2 meters from the listening position. And that is it. In recording studios they are everywhere, since the end of the 70ties (from 1978 to be exact), when the NS-10 from Yamaha were introduced, with a characteristic white diaphragm of the midwoofer. A loudspeaker everybody wanted to have for themselves. They became the golden standard and are used until now. They are not very linear, they do not sound in any special way, and this is not their strength, but in being everywhere – a sound engineer could go to any studio, even one he did not know before, and could define how everything sounds, because the NS-10 would be there. I heard those loudspeakers many times in many places myself, a few times I engineered opera and theater spectacles using them, and I know, that those are rather puny monitors, at least according to audiophile standards. But they had one characteristic, that impressed me – they created a completely different world in front of the sound engineer, they were coherent enough, to forget about the studio and concentrate on the music. And that their frequency response is uneven, that they have no bass, etc – well, the NS-10 are regarded as one of the reasons, that the quality of music mastering in the 80ties fell so dramatically. A second reason is a trend from the years 2000-2010, that required to prepare the music in such a way, that it would sound well on any player – the car stereo, ghetto-blaster, kitchen radio, etc. And because most users have rather lousy stereo system, they imposed a new “standard” on the big studios.

One thing is important from the paragraph above – those loudspeakers require a short distance to the listener to sound well. The Terra II Pro are made for that kind of listening. You should make one experiment – please put on a disc with big space and get closer to the loudspeakers with your listening chair. I used the Imagine from Eva Cassidy for this experiment. In a certain place something “clicks” in your head and you know, that it is the spot. Usually it is about 1.5 meters from the loudspeakers, so it is not so close. Probably this can be adjusted in some way using the company stands, which allow to regulate the slope of the front baffle, and at the same time the distance from them. The manual writes a lot about this. The front baffle is sloped by itself, so it was cleat, that mechanical phase equalization of the loudspeakers was intended. This is the reason, that the distance to the loudspeakers is so important - only in one spot this equalization is the targeted one. Like I said, those are classic loudspeakers for close listening. We can slope them forward and move away from the listener, but this is not how it works – we move only in a margin of freedom. In the optimal setting it turns out, that the Terra II Pro sounds like one driver. We see two, and a bass-reflex port, but we cannot hear the latter, and the individual instruments do not come from one of the drivers. Those are incredibly coherent loudspeakers. This is the more vital, as we sit closer than usual, and the sound could fall apart in the direction of the individual drivers – this happens quite often, even in expensive loudspeakers. This is the reason, that usually those sound best far away from the listeners.

To create the illusion of “being there”, and the EBTB allow for that splendidly, we should also adjust the level of the tweeter. We can do it using a knob on the back plate – operating it gives a lot of joy, as we deal here with fantastic craftsmanship – the knob clicks slightly, like in pro or medical gear (it has just the right resistance, it is reliable and repeatable). I just wanted to turn it from time to time… But it is better to leave it alone – when we play with it and find the right setting – I ensure you, that the sound will not be good in any other setting. Which one it will be will depend on how far from the loudspeakers we sit, their angle and the accompanying electronics and cabling. It turned out, that for me they sounded best with the knob on neutral setting, “0”, although I know, that other reviewers had different experiences (please look at the “6moons” review HERE). And again – it is worth to hear it to know more: only in one specific setting, the tonal balance is right. Regardless of the recording and electronics, only in that one setting everything will fall in its place. I tried that with the Kings of Leon disc Only By The Night. This is a recording rather difficult for reproduction, because there are warm, saturated guitars and powerful drums, electronics and most of all the quite high pitched voice of the vocalist. And this disc showed most clearly, that although we had sometimes the feeling to cut the treble a little, doing it would destroy the coherence of the sound. It was the other way round with Something Cool June Christy, where it seemed, that the treble is slightly withdrawn – there switching the knob by just one division resulted in a too sloppy sound.

When we prepare the loudspeakers for the listening session, we will get an incredibly coherent sound, with very even frequency response and surprisingly – for such a small loudspeaker – nice bass. We should have no illusions – there will be no lower bass. And the midbass will also not be vary saturated – those are really small loudspeakers. To complete the frequency range below, let’s say 80Hz, the gigantic subwoofer SubTerranean was created. But because we sit closer than usual, this does not matter so much, we hear much less of the room, also we do not “loose” any bass in it, and we hear more of the loudspeakers. That is the reason, that everything combines into something very nice. Coherence is most important here. I repeat this over and over, because this is important – the sound surrounds us, not only with spectacular sounds, like on the disc Magnetic Fields by Jarre, but also with monophonic recordings – let me just call upon June Christy, or the disc Perry Como’s Songs Collection Perry Como. And while in case of Jarre it is about the fantastic reproduction of sounds with intentional phase shifts, showing things behind the listener and to the sides of him, then in case of mono recordings it is rather about “being sucked in” the window created in front of us. The voices of the vocalists – always favored by the sound engineers in that case – are ideally in the middle and have a large volume. But the air around them, noises, etc, seem to come not only from the place where the instruments are, but from a wider area, even around us. I do realize completely the mechanism of that, but this is how it sounds. We can even think, that this is a stereo recording – until we play a stereo disc of course, like So Peter Gabriel. But you have to remember, that this is a completely different way of creating space than in classic loudspeakers. The Terra are closer than usual, what makes the direct sound dominating (to differentiate from the reflected one). This is the reason, that sitting in front of the loudspeakers everything around us disappears. The loudspeakers themselves disappear too, because the sound does not come from them. The space is built from the space in the recordings, without the support of the room.

I have that disc in a not so good edition, one of the less satisfactory – at least in my opinion , namely the re-master from 2003 in a SACD/CD edition. Its sound is quite bright and “raw”. I did not buy any other issue and I am using this disc to verify a few things. Here we can hear, that the EBTB do not sound bright or offensive. Like I said, we can adjust the amount of treble, but not to add or remove them, but to find the neutral spot, in which the Terra II Pro resembles the studio monitors. If a disc is recorded too bright, like So, or is very dynamic and “strong”, like the Kings of Leon disc, then we do not cut the treble, but just turn down the volume (this is another thing, that resembles a studio). As you know, each recording is mastered with a certain volume level (SPL). Unfortunately a very different one. The Bulgarian loudspeakers show the nuances and force turning the volume up or down, depending on how – of course relatively, compared to other speakers – we should listen to a recording. The tonal balance is focused on the midrange, although this is neither warm or “closed” sound. The treble is nice, quite resolved and amends brilliantly things happening below it. Like I wrote, it cannot be heard alone, I mean, that we cannot easily show, when one driver stops and the other takes over the sound. The second edge of the sound spectrum is not especially worked out. But it gives a very nice support for the midrange, so we do not miss anything from the start. There will be no low passages, or high dynamics – the midwoofer in the EBTB cannot handle that. But like I said, it is better to listen at levels the loudspeakers indicate to us, and we can amend them with the company made subwoofer.

Those are exceptional loudspeakers, in every possible aspect. Not for everyone, and not always, but they are a perfect counterpoint for most speakers on the market. Their sound is very pleasing, and it is very surprising, that despite their mediocre resolution, they can show elements of the recording, that are usually omitted. Their sound is a direct derivative from their near field monitor nature. Not only because of that, but this is the most important reason, the sound is very similar to the one coming from high quality headphones. No, it is not a “small” sound – I am not talking about that! I mean how the listener is surrounded, how a completely different space is created, how we are transported somewhere else – to a recording studio or to a concert. There will be no high levels of sound, but – again, just like with headphones – it is not what we expect. If I would have to pair the Terra with something, then my first choice would be a tube amp. A big part of the listening session was conducted with the beautiful amplifier QUAD II Classic Integrated, with KT66 tubes, and it was really brilliant (the cabling was the ultra interesting, mentioned by me sometime earlier, German Ramses-II: the loudspeaker cables Ramses SC and interconnects Ramses IC. Please have a look at their web page HERE). The vocals were saturated, strong, and the space was well distributed. The treble was sweet, but in this case I lowered the level of the treble on the loudspeakers to “-3” (dB). That was better. Solid state amplifiers will also be good, as long as their sound will not be bright, clinical or vociferous. The Terra do not like that.

This is of course not the “world’s eight wonder” and they have their weaknesses. There is no high resolution and dynamics is also limited. The virtual sources have no clear shapes and were shown in a way similar to how headphones show them. We should also remember, that they should be placed close to the listening place. But that last thing can be the biggest asset of the EBTB. There is a debate going on for years in the branch press – the pro (“professional”) and the hi-fi (“audiophile) – regarding the ability to use near field monitors at home. The answers are different, various advice is given, I have also mine. To respond to that question we gave to think about one thing: what will we use the loudspeakers for. If they will be used for a classic audiophile playing in a large room and a standard placement, then the response would be negative. But if they will be placed as they should be, closer, with a narrower stereo base, then it can turn out, that this is the only way to sound in a good, nice way in a certain room and setup. This can also be valid for computer systems, where “near field”, although it is not called like that, is the basis for the setup. So when you cannot place the loudspeakers far away from you, if it is a system at your workplace, like at a computer, but not only there, if you need something else, what looks equally well, or even better than lifestyle products, and sounds really great, then the Terra II Pro can be THE answer.


Terra II Pro is the most known construction of the company. The loudspeakers, which received the prestigious Audio Excellence Award (Japan), is a two-way bookshelf speaker, which bass cabinet is shaped as a sphere, what should eliminate standing waves – not only between the vertical panels – because to eliminate those the elaborate lute shapes are used, but all of them. The front baffle is sloped, which corrects the phase of the drivers. It is wider on the top and narrower on the bottom, what makes the construction optically lighter, but also making something like an open baffle for the tweeter. Its back is finished with a metal plate with a company logo – there is no classic cabinet! From there, an arced piece of metal goes down, with cut lettering with the model name. On the back of the sphere there is a knob for adjustment of the treble level. Actually this is no knob – more a sculpture, showing the globe. On its circumference there is a subtle indicator. The markings indicating the chosen damping or amplification of the treble are etched on the muff surrounding the knob. The damping/amplification scale is in dB.

Like I said, the Terra II Pro is a two-way speaker. The treble is handled by the ring tweeter from Vifa, the XT25SC90 with ø 25mm. Its front was exchanged for another, made by the company itself – it is a short, aluminum tube. But here it was not about increasing the efficiency of the driver – the tube is too short for that, but about the control of how the sound is dispersed. The woofer is a ø 110mm driver with a NdFe motor from Morel, with a cast spider and a very large, 50mm voice coil. It has a varnished paper diaphragm and a rubber suspension. Below the midwoofer there is also an aluminum bass-reflex port. The loudspeakers are placed on three spikes – one in the front and two in the back, with a pair of wire terminals in between. Although those look like Chinese products, in fact those are made by Supra, the BOXCON series. The banana ports are looking downwards, so when you use classic stands (which I discourage) or place them on a table, then the banana plugs cannot be used. The spikes are removable. We get also supports for the spikes in the standard package. Unfortunately, I could not disassemble the loudspeakers, so I do not know what elements are used in the cross-over. I do also not know, if the cabinet is damped. But I do know, that the internal wiring is made with Supra cables.

Frequency response: 69-25kHz ±3dB
Impedance: 8Ω
Efficiency: 86dB 1W/1m
Recommended amplifier power: 30 to 100W
Dimensions: 380 x 180 x 290mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 6.8kg

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  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, tested HERE, Miyajima Laboratory Waza, tested HERE.
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III with Re-generator Power Supply; version II tested HERE)
  • Power amplifier: Tenor Audio 175S, tested HERE and Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom version (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Wireworld Platinum Eclipse
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, tested HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • Audio stand Base – under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE)
  • Pro Audio Bono platform under CD