A few years back, this gentleman got in touch with me through the AudioVintage forum. He had bought and restored a pair of passive SATs from Microphase. We talked further about where to find a subwoofer to match. And it just happened that my good friend Pierre Bréart, the happy proprietor of Audio Conseil in Uccle, one of the most respected dealers in Brussels, as well as one of my best dealers at the time, had bought one back from a customer. And I just found out that the two got together and clinched the deal! The power of the internet and social media!
You will find below a few photos of the inside of the beast, including Cabasse 21 cm woofer, modified SAT active amplifier and connectors. And to help this particular fellow and happy new owner of this very rare piece of French Vintage Hifi, I have put together a wiring schematic for his new hybrid system. Very few of these subwoofers were made, so it was quite a surprise for me to find one in such a good condition. When I first got photos from Pierre, I actually didn't remember producing this particular product. So here it is for posterity!
AWOX is a French company based in Montpellier in the South of France. They are experts at DNLA networks and wireless technologies in general and have developed products for lighting, sound, home automation and more. They own over 10,000 patents in this field.
They have been instrumental in the wanderings of Cabasse into wireless audio products for the last five years, and when Canon wanted out, Awox stepped in and spent only 2Meuros for this iconic French audio brand. It is good to have Cabasse remaining a French asset and we wish both companies the success they deserve. They have exhibited at the recent CES in Vegas and would have had a chance to expose themselves to the international market there in a big way.
As far back as 2010, both Ken Kessler and Paul Miller, not renown for being Franco-hifi-philes were raving about this new range of hybrid analog-digital amplifiers from France.
I had a chance to listen to them for the first time at the CES in Las Vegas three years ago and again recently in Melbourne, where they were paired with Atom GT-1 speakers to showcase the new SAM technology that basically uses the DSP capabilities of the amp to linearise the speakers
As for the title of this article, I hope you will forgive me this very bad joke...Having being living with a Scott for the last 30 years, I thought the reference would be funny. Other might have thought of the Phantom of the Opera - we all have our idiosyncrasies, n'est-ce pas?
These new speakers are a mix between the spheres from Elipson and a baby Blade from Kef, both in form and concept at first glance, but obviously there is much more to it than meets the naked eye! First there is like 3KW of Class D amplification in the top model, more akin to the Kronos from Kyron Audio, although in a closed cabinet. The main concentric midrange and tweeter driver is reminiscent of Cabasse, but looks even more polished - a word that would be the best one word description for such a beautiful object. Ken Kessler who is also a famous reviewer for luxury watches, believes high-end HiFi should be marketed as a luxury brand to have a chance of survival and growth. And guess what? Devialet is now part of LVMH, the luxury brand umbrella par excellence! This new concept and marketing will propels this product to the highest possible recognition and suitable market. Smartly, the product is also conjugated down both in specifications, power and price for the mere mortals that most of us are and who would be more interested in the sonic result than the "show off" effect of owning such a luxurious product...And to be consistent with this new image and partnership, Debvialet has open the quintessential "flagship" store in the heart of the trendy fashion district: Place des Victoirs.
This will become a Vintage product! It is a revolutionary product that incorporates the best of DSP technology, Class D amplification, great looks and high-end performance. Can't wait to get my hands on a pair of these beauties for an extensive listening session and to report to you!
And I just received my numbered - 530 - copy today!
It is a beautiful book and I did what we all do, look at the pictures first and read a few articles, before digging deeper into the thick of it!
Only Focal made it to the book in terms of French manufacturers, with a very good interview of Jacques Mahul.
Cabasse is briefly mentioned in the "Oddities and Wonders" section! No trace of Elipson or Charlin, brands that were never exported to the USA and obviously of no or little interest to our American colleagues...
The book focuses mainly on famous American and British brands and is well structured, with many timelines and good stories, some unknown to me, like the fact that Lansing committed suicide over the threat of bankruptcy!
Beautiful photos and archival documents are smartly presented in a dynamic and clean format. I have started reading a few interviews of some of the still alive and famous designers and can't wait to go through all of them!
I will keep you posted on any other anecdote or piece of trivia that I will find interesting over the coming weeks.
You will probably agree that I have milked the CES franchise for a bit too long as the CES 2013 is in a couple of days...
So I thought I would recap here what speakers I really liked or discovered at the Show. I am not going this year, as I am going for a short trip to France to see my family and take care of my children that are or will be in Paris for their studies on an exchange from their Australian Universities.
Hopefully, I will have some time (between Cotes-du-Rhone and Camembert...) to research there some more French vintage products and I can entertain you again "on topic!
And to stay on my favourite brand, here is a shot of the new Thiel speakers on the Bryston stand (ah,ah, you didn't see this one coming, did you?).
The combination of Bryston amplification, 24/192 multichannel live recordings from iTrax and matching Thiel monitors and subwoofers ended up being one of the most sensational demos at the Show.
We are all familiar with the beautiful Nordic sound of Electrocompaniet electronics.
They evemn make their own version of the OPPO player.
But what is less known is their recent foray into loudspeaker design.
These fine little monsters are a very capable team and are built as two separate cabinets, my favourite arrangement, just in case you have not noticed already...
Very good demo and great conversation with the Director all the way from Scandinavia, who happens to know my ex-distributor in Norway, Martin Viktorin - small world!
Kondo + Audio Note Japan - Reincarnation of an ancient art
Beautiful to look at, beautiful to listen to, beautiful to talk about...
It is the nirvana for a lot of audiophiles in Japan, and for some of us, mere mortals, elsewhere in the World as well.
The closest system I have heard from the Pierre Riffaud/Tosca/Ocelia combo (punt intended...) I listened to at Point Musiques in Paris over my last trip.
It is craftmanship of the highest order, as well as technically very sound and painstakingly researched and executed.
A few kilograms of finesse in a world of brutes - better than chocolate? You tell me.
Nothing to do with mushrooms, although these shapes...
Morel is an Israeli company more famous for their drivers (I am about to trial one of their tweeters...) than for their speakers, but hopefully this will change as these beautifully crafted products sound as good as they look. Stay tuned!
REGA - Another first for BMRs in High End speakers
First spotted in Paris on an unofficial release, these speakers are taking advantage of the wide bandwidth of a 4.5" BMR driver to work from 300Hz to 6kHz. Rega has engineered a new tweeter just for the purpose to improve the high end over the BMRs that can go up to 22kHz, but tend to have some ringing over 5kHz.
In the bass, they use two drivers of different sizes in separate enclosures for a smooth and extended bass response. Again the BMRs have trouble getting the right level below 120Hz, hence the separate subwoofer arrangement.
Copmared to Naim, who decided to reengineer the BMR drivers, REGA uses a standard unit and spent the money on a complex filter and beautiful cabinet. And BTW, it sounds great as well!
Waterfall Audio + Tributaries cables
Waterfall Audio have a very good business in the US of A, thanks to a good distributor who pushes the WAF factor into the CEDIA type market and also gets a lot of press in lifestyle and decoration magazines.
They teamed up with Tributaries, a relatively new range of high-end cables, where my friend Helma Paulson (ex Export Manager for Audioacess and Harman Kardon) is doing a very good sales job (she could sell ice to Eskimos, really...) and she almost convinced me that these cables were actually make a difference! Maybe I should ask for some samples....
Audiolineaire, Focal and other French ambassadors
Audiolineaire were present with their leathered speakers (unfortunately my photos don't do them justice...so, I won't post any) Focal were hiding in a private suite at the Mirage and couldn't find them (mind you it was lunch time whenI got there, so maybe that's where they were hiding...) and Cabasse were absent but for their Japanese distributor who distributes Devialet in the US - go figure!
In the New Year, I will give you a (short...) report on T.H.E. Show which is held concurrently at the Flamingos.
In the meantime, I thank all of you that ventured to this site, some more than once - I love Google Analytics - and I wish you a very Happy New Year and many happy returns in 2013.
I will try my best to continue to entertain and inform you. See you in January!
One of my friend and ex-HP colleague is selling his system after 25+ years of good service, because it is supposedly too big for his new "maison de campagne"...
And I thought we had designed it to be the most "WAF" friendly system on the Planet!
"Des gouts et des couleurs, on ne discute point"...
So, if any of you dear readers are interested in a pristine Triton passive system at a bargain price, here is your chance!
If I were not so far away, I would buy it myself, as I do not have this system in my collection. Being in Australia would probably cost me more in shipping than the gear itself, although I am tempted!
Anyway, to do justice to the product and help out my friend Philippe, I have posted a review of this wonderful triphonic system as an add-on to a previous post featuring the active version of this magnificent piece of french vintage hifi!
You will find the review written by Patrick Vercher in the now defunct "Revue du Son" here:
Any enquiries are welcome via our "contact" form
Dan D'Agostino - The Momentum amplifier
What do you do when you leave the business you helped create 30 years ago?
Dan D'Agostino, involved with Krell for three decades designing some of the most famous amplifiers, didn't take long to answer this question: he started to think of his next amplifier, the 300W mono amplifier he called the Momentum.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to listen to it as it was only on static display at the Show.
But allow me to quote Ken Kessler, in his review of the product in the July issue of HiFi News in his typical style:
"What occured was atypical. The gear arrives, I hook it up, I switch it on, I set the CD player to "repeat whole disc" and leave it to cook for a day or two. Yes, I usually have that kind of willpower. But as I was leaving the room,the bottom end of the first track on Keb' Mo's Peace (Back by Popular Demand) curled around my ankles and held me in place. With my back to the bloody system, no less, I knew, I just knew that I was in presence of something so rare, so special, that I had to stay, protracted warm-up be damned".
And this is coming from the most seasoned HiFi reviewer in the World. So go and get to your closest dealer for a listen, and if there is not one in your vicinity, then move!
Canor - an interesting surprise from Slovakia
Canor is not very well know in Western Europe, so it was an interesting surprise to find out that they have been developing and manufacturing high-end audio products for more than fifteen years.
CANOR is a tube specialist, the prototype of yheir first serially produced TP101 integrated tube amplifier was presented at the exhibition in Brno (Czech Republic) in April 1995, as stated on their website.
They were feeding a pair of Neilos speakers from Pascal Louvet, and fed by either their own valve CD player, or the vintage Audioanalyse Lurne turntable, a private possession of Pascal Louvet.
It was certainly a very good combination, resulting in music being played, rather than being exposed to a HiFi system.
Cabasse - Honey, I shrunk the Ocean!
Cabasse was having almost a static display at the show, showing only their in-ceiling and small speakers offering for the Home Cinema market.
A shame, as I had the chance to listen to a pair of Ocean, demoed by the man himself, Christophe Cabasse in Melbourne on my return. Stay tuned, as I will share a video of this event on my Interviews page soon.
Trust me, that was a real treat!
I am happy to report that I will be covering the show officially this year for the Australian Hifi Magazine,
I feel very honoured to be the chosen one!
Here are two links to the show's website for those of you that are keen to visit:
Dates are October 1st & 2nd at the Pullman Rive Gauche Hotel.
One scoop: Ken Kessler will launch his new book on the history of KEF,
who will be celebrating their 50 years of designing beautiful speakers and will introduce the "Blade"
Some of the French brands already registered to exhibit:
See you there!
Or stay tuned for more news on this blog...
Lucky boys and girls, you are getting another post from me this week!
Here is a copy of a press release from Cabasse:
International Dynamics Australasia (IDA) has been appointed the sole and exclusive distributor in Australia for Cabasse. ‘Cabasse has a rich history of innovation and excellence as a loudspeaker manufacturer, and a wide range of lifestyle, conventional and custom speaker products in multiple price categories,' said Michael Thornton-Smith, of International Dynamics. ‘We're both excited and proud about being appointed as the new Australasian distributor. Founded 1950 by George Cabasse, the brand has developed to represent great technological innovation and impressive acoustic performances as a result of extensive experimental research and the endless possibilities enabled by the fact that the company is one of the few that manufactures its own drivers, in-house.' Thornton-Smith told Australian Hi-Fi Magazine that International Dynamics will be distributing the entry-level Oceo, mid-level Idea and high-end Artis lines. Availability and pricing will be announced later this year. For further information, please contact Cabasse at International Dynamics Pictured in previous post: The Cabasse ‘La Sphere' is a four-way active design using a 25mm dome diaphragm to reproduce frequencies between 4–25kHz, a 127mm P2C ring radiator for the 800Hz–4kHz range, a 203mm ‘duocell ring' that handles 150–800Hz and a 558mm bass driver for low frequencies (20–150Hz). The crossover is a DSP type, using a Sharc Analog Devices 32-bit floating point processor. The crossover slopes are variable around the points at 24–70dB/octave.
NOTE from French Vintage HiFi:
And if you buy a pair of Spheres, George Cabasse own's son, Christophe will come to your place and do the tuning for your room.
Hopefully, he will bring a good bottle of French red wine or Champagne with him...
Can't wait to go to Melbourne for a listening session (that should happen mid-April...) Stay tuned!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.