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If you have been following this blog recently, you would have noticed me mentioning the names of Brad Serhan and David Allen who were kind enough to help us with the listening session of the new Kronos by Kyron Audio at Len Wallis Audio a couple of weeks back. Following this chance encounter, I was invited to give an opinion on a bespoke pair of speakers that these two gentlemen designed for an overseas and wealthy client.
This client had Quadral speakers and was interested in a little know Finnish brand, Penaudio, but eventually convinced B.A.G. to design a pair of speakers that would use similar drivers to the Penaudio and a ribbon tweeter, as a link to the Quadral he enjoyed listening to previously.
Now, a bit of background: Brad was one of the founders and is still the designer behind Orpheus speakers, a very famous Australian brand and works for other brands no less famous on the local scene as consultant/ designer for hire if you want. He has been designing speakers since 1984, same year I introduced Microphase back in France: good omen!
David on the other end is a Hifi enthusiast and has been for quite a long time. He is also more of a business man than a designer, although he told me that he had once 15" subwoofers embedded in the floor of his living room!
So, we have a lot of talent and experience behind this new venture: Brigadier Audio Group.
We had a first listening session at David's place in Walsh Bay, where we used only digital files from David's computer, Spotify Premium and FLAC files from my iPhone. We had other Hifi geeks joining us and we had a great time! These speakers work, period and they are exquisitely crafted and finished: High WAF, bravo!
Interestingly enough, I have not been given any specifications for these speakers. I have only been told about their genesis, the way these particular drivers ended up being used, some of the challenges along the way (!), but no frequency response or impedance curves. I had only my ears to judge of the result! It was a very interesting and fun exercise...
After an hour or so into this first listening session, I identified two areas for potential improvement, both to do with the way the drivers integrated with each other at the two cut-off frequencies of the filter, which I also identified correctly. We listened to more music, drank some more wine (great choice, David, btw...) and had more conversations between the very seasoned members of the audience and then we eventually had to split.
Brad and David decided then that they would work on my comments and would organise a second session later on, probably at Brad's place! And we did earlier this week.
Trust me, these two guys know their trade, as it took them only a few days to confirm my findings, think about how to improve these speakers by tweaking the filter appropriately and voilà!
For the second listening session, we had David's amp and streamer, Brad's Macbook for digital files and I was convinced to bring my very own OPPO player. Sorry, no turntable, no valves this time around, but eh we are in the 21st century after all!
Here are some of the stuff I brought we listened to:
Well, what can I say? In a nutshell, I really like these speakers. They are really accurate, speedy, they image very well, specially being quite large and the bass is extremely tight, although they are bass reflex, with very low distortion and coloration.
Now, I need to confess something: I don't normally like metal cone drivers and these 6.5" SEAS Excel drivers have magnesium cones. I do like ribbon though and this one from RAAL is really detailed and smooth, which is not a given for that type of driver. Same tweeter as the Kaiser speakers that I like a lot, by the way!
Crossover frequencies are 250Hz and 3.2Khz approximately. The cabinet is a work of art both externally - that you can see for yourself from the photos - and internally: The cabinets are made of a double layer of MDF and ply separated by a viscous compound (can't tell you, would have to kill you...). The drivers are mounted to the internal cabinet and there are two separate chambers for the midrange and the woofer, both bass relax tuned.
The two 6.5" drivers look the same, but are actually two different models with different magnets, voice coils and parameters ((can't tell you more - see above...). Nice terminals, good internal wiring, it is all done by the book!
And not only does it show, but you can hear the care taken in the design of these speakers! Well done!
I sincerely hope that this one off will trigger a suite of new commercial releases. I have been arguing about using a paper version of that midrange driver in future designs: time will tell, stay tuned!
Leon Suter and Lee Gray of Kyron Audio were kind enough to spend a few hours listening to my vintage contraptions, aka my Microphase speakers. My current subwoofer is slightly bigger than the original and now sports a 10" XXLS from Peerless with its own 200w amplifier, and the tweeter now upgraded to a 1" VIFA.
Electronics include a NAD preamp, Bryston 3B amplifier and OPPO player. The Bryston feeds the satellites directly and the preamp drives the Bryston AND the subwoofer's amp separately. I found that setup to give the most control on one end and the best sound out of the satellites, as they are not filtered at the bottom end.
I hope they will leave their own comments below, and without wanting to reveal too much of their reactions, I was pretty chuffed when they said that these speakers "would have created quite a sensation" at the time!
Quite not big enough obviously, but what not cease to amaze me is that after 30 years, they still sound as accurate and dynamic as they were then. Some might say than they have been truly broken in by then...
We listened to Alchemy Live by Dire Straits , Modern Cool by Patricia Barber on Blu-Ray, Anouar Brahem, The Astounding Eyes of Rita on ECM and an historic recording of Bill Evans, Live in Paris, 1972 Vol 2 recorded by Radio France at the time and pressed by the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA) in 1988. we also listened to a famous French percussionist Jean-Pierre Drouet, a digital file kindly "loaned" to me by Alain Wacquet of AW Audio fame. Lee is a percussionist himself, Leon a clarinetist, btw, so he could really appreciate the soundscape!
We had a great time and I had to push them out of the door as they had a plane to catch back to Melbourne.
Thank you guys, it was good to have you in my patch this time!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.