Pascal Louvet has been at it since 1976, and it shows.
His new venture, the Neilos, is quite a grand affair: 4 drivers, 4 way filter and 38 kgs of grand design.
Interestingly enough, the bass is handled by two different drivers; a 20 cm Kevlar unit from Davis in a transmission line, a 17 cm in carbon, also from Davis in a bass reflex enclosure, then a 17 cm in paper from PHL Audio in an open box, and a Fostex tweeter.
This gives the speaker a 93dB/1W/!m sensitivity and a beautiful generous sound, definitely well driven by the Canor valve electronics and his own Audioanalyse Lurne turntable.
I need to go and visit him next year, as his atelier is near Bordeaux, hopefully amongst the vines!
LEEDH C - Gilles Milot - Acoustical Beauty
Gilles Milot has a long tradition of innovation in speaker design, first at Leedh in the 80s, then as the Technical Director of Audax, after Philippe Lesage's tenure.
In his new venture, Acoustical Beauty, Gilles has reinvented the driver itself, by totally removing the iron from the motor - using very powerful neodymium magnets in an attempt to get rid of a large source of distortion, and then going even further by replacing the suspension with what we could call a ferrofluid bath.
The membrane is also unconventional, as it is very small and rigid being made of a carbon alloy almost as rigid as diamond and beryllium, but at a fraction of the cost.
Gilles compares his invention to the same technological leap that saw the TV set becoming a flat screen.
The results are particularly good in the mid and high range, not so convincing in the bass, but Gilles promises us a new version with more little bass barrels - see conceptual drawing below.
KEF: 50 years of acoustic design culminating with The Blade
Ken Kessler was there signing his reference book on 50 years of KEF innovation - see below. It is a beautiful coffee table book that any serious audiophile should have...(and no, I am not paid for the plug!).
The bigger piece of news was indeed the first public showing of "The Blade", an extra-ordinary piece of technologie, ticking all the boxes of good acoustic design:
* Form follows function (think Elipson 4260 in one box...)
* Time coherence - coaxial midrange and tweeter
* Smart bass drivers arrangement
* Stiff cabinet
* Good WAF
Dubbed the "the world’s first Single Apparent Source loudspeaker", it is an unusual bundle of smart ideas, some tried and tested with the 140K$ Muon, now in a slightly more affordable and easy to own package at 45K$.
What I like the most about this speaker is its coherence: you really get the sensation of a point source with an extraordinary wide and still pinpoint accurate image. The bass foundation is rock solid, and the details higher up in the frequency range are very delicate and precise. KEF claims .5% distortion from 40Hz to 100kHz, and .2% from 200Hz to 10kHz, and it sounds like it! The McIntosh amplification certainly helped as well...
One of the best listening pleasures at the Show, for sure!
JMB Acoustique: Bertrand Valere, the gentleman of the trade
Who can spend months designing a speaker in "Hommage" to Andre Charlin, and then sell a pair for 1500 euros in 28 different finishes!
The "Colonne JMB Accoustique" is a modern take on the famous electrostatic hybrid columns, one of the few systems I had a chance to listen to and wonder about at the start of my HiFi journey.
It sports a ribbon tweeter, and a 165mm bass-midrange firing up and loaded by the column, delivering 90.5dB efficiency and a frequency range of 41Hz to 22kHz, and it sounds delicate and powerfull - I would happily live with a pair of them!
Bertrand and I shared a "steak frites" and a glass of red wine near his office on my way to Point Musiques on my last day in Paris, and it was a delight to share that French staple of a lunch in the company of a man living his passion and quite "out there" in his design propositions and certainly a gentleman.
If you look at "La Chose" (meaning "The Object" roughly...), it is a very clever design of the open baffle variety, and quite a sculpture - may be not of every body taste - but amazing nevertheless, and very rare, as only 50 pairs will be ever sold - so hurry up and order one!
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...
I have not visited this exhibition for 15 years, I have been surprised to see a number of new, innovative, successful French Hifi companies, primarily in the realm of speakers and turntables, but also valve and silicon-based electronics.
Obviously some of the most famous and long established brands were there as well from Elipson to Micromega, Davis Acoustics to Focal.
The newcomers of note were from A to W: Atohm, Jarre Technologies - yes, it is Jean-Michel - , JMB Acoustique, KTR Lab, Leedh, Pierre Riffaud, Soledge, Stenheim,
Stormaudio, Vismes and Waterfall Audio.
Famous absentees: Cabasse, Jean-Marie Raynaud, Triangle to name a few.
Some of the famous Brits were here too: B&W, Chord, Cyrus, KEF, Lowther, Michell, Mission, NAD, Naim, Roksan, and Rotel to name a few.
A few Americans like JBL, Vienna Acoustics, you guessed it from Austria, Saegan & Shanghlin from China, nobody from Australia though, but the famous Perraux from New Zealand, and the powerfull Japanese Yamaha and Pioneer, giving an extraordinary multichannel musical demo!
Here are some pictures to satisfy your curiosity.
We will review some of these products in more details later, so stay tuned!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.