The origins of German hi-fi brand Heco can be traced back to the late 1940s.

These days, however, it's owned by another loudspeaker firm - Magnat - which acquired it in 2001.

At present, there are four distinct ranges in the Heco catalogue, the Celan models being the cheapest. Aside from the 300 standmount, the family includes three floorstanders, a centre speaker and two subs.

Magnat product manager Shandro Fischer developed the pulp drivers for the Celan range using Saba and Graetz designs from the 1950s/60s as a model.

Hence the kraft-paper main driver cone, made of long-fibre pulp from Nordic trees with ten per cent wool for damping. This cone is supported by a cast aluminium chassis and equipped with a shielded magnet system that helps the speaker achieve a high 90dB sensitivity. The bass/mid driver, meanwhile, has a 120mm cone in a 170mm chassis.

The 300's soft dome tweeter is coated with carbon nano-particles that are said to reduce the problems associated with break-up in such drive units. Unusually, there's an optional connection to this driver via an extra terminal on the rear panel alongside the usual bi-wire pair. This produces a 2dB treble increase for rooms with a lot of soft furnishing.

The cabinet is shaped asymmetrically in an attempt to reduce standing waves, and is fitted with a bolted-in aluminium reflex port. Overall, it's finished to a very high standard.

It's not hard to hear what a valve enthusiast would like about this speaker; it has an open quality thanks to very good retrieval of acoustic space around instruments and voices. It's also highly detailed across the band and does an unusually good job of rendering instrumental timbre. Pairing it with a Pioneer A-A9 (a clean, open amp at the same price point) enables

it to produce a crisp - but not overly bright sound - with excellent imaging in terms of both spatial positioning and solidity of sounds.

Timing, while good, is about average for the price. While it's slightly dearer, Ruark's more compact Sabre III does a distinctly better job in this respect. Given the 300's size, bass extension is respectable when used in free space on 60cm Atacama stands, though it'd probably work as well positioned about 30-50cm from a rear wall.

By far the most intriguing thing about the 300 is the option to increase the treble output by 2dB. We feared this might make the speaker too bright, but in fact it produces a significant increase in vitality and realism.

With some discs this is quite captivating; the way you can hear right into a voice results in an edge-of-the-seat experience we've not encountered since there was a London Decca cartridge on our deck.

It's a sort of magnification of the system and recording that'll be too revealing for some combinations, but delivers a degree of emotional communication that's addictive.