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!
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!
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
Bruno Gest has been at it for over 25 years and I have spent an inordinate amount of time there in the 80s, investigating drivers, buying samples and components or just listening to the wonderful contraptions Bruno and his team created month after month.
At that stage, they were very much into horns and Fostex drivers, but also keen suppliers of drivers and kits from Audax and Siare, then Focal, and now Atohm, PHL Audio and Davis Acoustics.
I had met Herve Breton on the Atohm stand in 2010, but didn't get a chance to visit the Paris store. In October 2011, I was not going to miss out again...Situated in the 11th arrondissement at 138 Avenue Parmentier, you can find here a very large assortment of drivers, primarily of high efficiency or/and full range variety, components like inductances, capacitors and resistors as well as accessories like wires, connectors, vents, and also full kits to build your own speakers.
In one word, this is the Ali Baba cavern of the speaker DIYer, and also a plave where one can discuss designs, tricks of the trade or simply share a good listening session and enjoy the camaraderie and the knowledge of the people which is the trademark of the place.
Luckily enough on the day of my visit, Bruno walked in about 15mns after me, and once we had reconnected, Bruno surprised me with two things: one, a smaller version of our Microphase SATs that we thought we would market years ago, and two, amazingly a very rare prototype of our SATs, as we probably made 10 pairs to test the waters before going full speed. Bruno had bought them back from a client - I thought I had given him a pair at the time, but not...
Note the smaller cabinet, the off the shelf drivers and vent, and the first order crossover. also the cabinet maker could not make the chanfreined cabinet, so you can see the edge of the plywood on each corner.
Although quite elegant, it is nothing compared to the shear beauty and perfection of the final cabinets manufactured for us by Jean-Paul Guy of GUY HF in Bourbon-Lancy, now part of the Focal empire!
Over the years, our bespoke medium driver has been modified and upgraded and as a result, the later versions are more durable than the original ones.
The main difference is in the suspension: originally we had a foam suspension, supposedly more linear in the midrange.
However, we changed later for a inverted rolled rubber, more linear in the bass, and with very little audible difference (if any...) in the midrange.
I have come across recently two pairs equipped with the foam suspension, and the photos speak for themselves...
If you are in possession of such a pair, don't dispair!
Our friends at www.audiovintage.fr have found three potential repairers in Europe.
I am publishing the corresponding links here:
http://www.public-adress.fr/th-prod-205 ... rleur.html
http://www.reparationhaut-parleur.com/p ... itures.htm
In The Netherlands:
http://www.speakerrepairshop.com/index. ... 15&lang=EN
We will have soon some feedback from the owner of a pair who is using this company to repair his. Stay tuned!If you are in France, I would be tempted to use the official Audax repairer, but obviously, I have not try any of them, so you are on your own, I'm afraid!
Well, this is not MY reference system...
But it was certainly very adequate to listen to the new Martin Logan Ethos!
Thanks to the very friendly and knowledgeable team of my friend Adam Carlino at AudioConnection, I think I was the first person in Sydney at least to have the chance to listen to these fabulous speakers.
I will summarise my findings by saying it is the first time I am considering upgrading from my cherished Microphase speakers in the last 25 years...(yes, I know, I am biaised!)
But let's start at the begining:
I currently use a REGA P1 (in its NAD jacket...) with the new RB250 arm(I also have a REGA P3 - vintage 1984...currently on loan to my daughter) and a recently acquired Ortofon RED MM cartridge feeding a NAD 7140 receiver (1984 vintage) used only as a preamp/FM Tuner and then into my Bryston 3B (1994 vintage).
I use a Pioneer DVD/SACD player as a digital source.
I also recently got an iPhone than I am keen to try as a pure digital source.
I have been very happy with this system for many a year and even after visting the HiFi show in Paris, I didn't find anything that took my fancy at a reasonable price.
I have been investigating upgrading my preamp and am considering buying either a NAD C165BEE (#1500$) or a Bryston BP26 with a MM phono stage (#5000$ for comparable features).
So the question is: Is it worth spending an additional 3500$ to get a complete Bryston amplification, or should we spend that money on upgrading the front-end, namely the turntable?
Obviously, it is only by trying the different combinations that you might be able to find the answer, and this is almost impossible to achieve as it would be almost impossible to find all this gear at ONE dealer, willing to spend the time to put such a system together with the hope that one might something out of this exercise.
My ideal and theoritical reference system today would look like this this:
Michell Orbe turnable with Origin-modified Rega RB250 (as the one fitted on the rega P1/NAD555), probably fitted with a Grado Platinum (6500$)
Bryston BP26 with external power supply, remote control and phono stage (4500$)
Bryston 3B power amp
Martin Logan Ethos (10000$)
Total price of the upgrade: 21000$
My second choice would be to upgrade my Rega turntable with Isokinetic kits and arm using Origin Live mods and Grado Platinum cartridge, a new C165BEE NAD preamp, my current Bryston 3B amp and Microphase speakers - that would cost me around 3000$ and would probably satiate my appetite for a better system for many years to come. And that is a 700% price difference!
Will I get a 700% improvement in my listening pleasure???
I let you be the judge...
In the meantime, my current system is MY reference system as I know perfectly all its weaknesses and strengths and this is totally adequate to review other systems against it
BTW, the Martin Logan Ethos are the best value for money speakers I have ever listen to and they provide REAL music and enjoyment:
It was really fabulous to see the expression of surprise and delight on my dealer's face as we listened together to a live recording of "Private Investigations" from an old Dire Straits album called "Alchemy" and my best test record...
It was recorded in 1983 on a Rolling Stone mobile studio and is a magical piece of music, engineering and it was (unknowingly at the time...) my first encounter with Australia, as Brett Whiteley, one of the most famous Australian painter, did the artwork for the cover.
Brett Whiteley in this particular work could be labeled as the Aussie Salvator Dali, my most favourite artist of all times (Album Vertigo VERY 11 #818 243-1)
Just found out that this is now available as a DVD/Blu-Ray album (http://www.mark-knopfler.info/d2010.htm). My birthday is coming soon...
I will be in Paris next week-end to visit this Exhibition which is a staple on the calendar of French and some european HiFi freaks, and it has been going for over 25 years, still with the same organisers, SPAT and Jean-Marie Hubert, already at it when I was presenting our Microphase speakers in the mid-eighties!
Passion just doesn't go away that easily, and they say, you can't take the spots of a leopard!
If you happen to be there, I will love to meet with you and have a chat about the topics we discuss here and beyond.
I am also interested in buying back some Micrphase speakers, in particular the central subwoofer part of our Triton system (I will post on this product when in Paris, as I will have access to one at a friend's place...) and also, some of the active versions of the SATs, once very poular in Germany and Norway (The Norvegian Radio was a big fan!) and the quite rare black piano lacquer version.
I will be in Paris until the 22nd of October, so plenty of time to do a deal!
I will also use some of my time to visit some of the best dealers in Paris or nearby (Denis Beau, Le Studio Hifi in Versailles, will be one of them) with the intention to report on the evolution of the most enduring French Hifi manufacturers, like Triangle, Jean-Marie Raynaud, Cabasse, Elipson, Davis, Supravox and more...
Your suggestions are welcome and I will try to fit them in.
See you in Paris!