Alain and I struck a friendship over many joint exhibitions, not least because I was very impressed by his products and his extremely well run demos.
Alain is first and foremost a music lover and a musician himself, involved in Electronica and all sorts of up to the minute electro-acoustic experiments.
As a speaker designer, he is a pure autodidact and, as such, his designs are certainly coming from left field, and outside the square.
Over the last few months, I managed to track him down and convince him to tell his story on this website.
Here is the first instalment: The EA-12 panel speaker
I first heard this product at a small show organised by a famous (although eccentric...) dealer in Lille, not far away from Alain's patch.
Being a small show, there were lots of free time to go and listen to each other's contraptions and have a chance of a proper listen.
Alain was always very secretive about what was IN the speakers and I have been guessing ever since...
One trail I pursued as he conjugated his range into EA-11 and EA-16 later, was that 12, 11 and 16 represented the number of drivers in the panel.
One could imagine that EA-12 was equipped with two midrange drivers and a tweeter in a D'Appolito arrangement and another 9 speakers were handling the bass.
I have actually started designing such a panel, but have not built it just yet...
Then I thought the EA-11 would drop one of the midrange driver to make it more affordable, then the EA-16 would go back to a more complex D'Appollito and more bass drivers: That would have been far too obvious in Alain's mind...
Alain has since sent me a copy of the reviews published on the EA-12 in 1985 and then the EA-11 in 1986, both in the now defunct magazine HiFi Stereo and I just found out researching this article a defunct reviewer as well (for those of you reading French, here is a link http://www.homecinema-fr.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=173595141).
Ghislain Prugnard was a good journalist and his reviews quite thorough and fair.
We are very sorry to hear of his passing away (over a year ago in March 2010).
Back to the EA-!2, as you can see on the photo, this is a large panel measuring 1560x540x70mm, with a faceted front baffle.
It is very thin at 70mm, just enough to support the small drivers all in line in the centre of the panel - I believe 5", 12cm drivers and my guess, from Audax who were the manufacturer of choice for us young designers at the time.
The tweeter would have been a Scandinavian 25mm fabric dome, but again this is a guess (Maybe Alain will finally unveiled more details on his designs over time...).
One thing we know is that it is essentially a two-way design with a crossover at 5kHz
These speakers have the most beautiful image I have heard until the later release of the Martin Logan. They also have an extremely good transient response and timbre accuracy, all coming from using the same drivers from bass to midrange and small light membranes - my guess again here in paper, as kevlar was still to come to prominence...
They were not trying to go very low (my guess is that they would roll off gently with a 6dB/octave slope from 100 Hz), but to get the most accurate rendition of the different instruments and their location in space.
Obviously, they would work better with the simplest (and best...) recordings, and were particularly brilliant at reproducing percussions (Alain has a passion for jazz...) and could withstand quite a wide dynamic range as they were very efficient at about 90dB/1w/1m.
They were also beautifully finished, should I say handcrafted to the highest standard.
Alain does not have a pair anymore, and this is the only missing piece in his collection.
If you own a pair and wish to sell them, get in touch via our contact page, and we will work out a very interesting deal for you - it is such a good deal I wish I own a pair...
Anyway, stay tuned, as we will soon talk about the EA-11, EA-16 and more