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
I have not had a chance to review this popular system in details so far, as I could not find one to photograph.
Thanks to the power of the Internet, I have now found this system scattered between Belgium and Switzerland, and made another discovery - more on this later...
I had approached my good client Pierre Breart at Audioconseil in Uccle, the posh suburb of Brussels, where he has been operating for quite some time, bringing the pleasure of good music reproduction to a lucky and loyal clientele. He was my second best dealer, and share with me a passion for good food and wine, obviously sprinkled with good music!
I was hoping he would be able to access some of my products from of his past clients...and he found something of a rarity, a lone exemplar of an ACTIVE central subwoofer.
My guess is that we would have designed this just for him, as I do not recall selling many.
By co-incidence, a reader in Switzerland got in touch with me to find out more about a pair of ACTIVE SATs! Lucky day...
The SATs in their active version were invented for my German distributor, and ended up being quite a success there, and also in Norway, where my distributor, Martin Viktorin, ended up selling over a hundred pairs to the National Norvegian Radio.
As a further twist in the story, the amplifier was designed by a very good and astute dealer we had in Strasbourg.
His original design sounded sublime, but didn't pass the German inspection, as it was internally wired as a valve amplifier would be - so, in short, it looked quite messy inside, but the resulting sound was outstanding, primarily because of the perfect grounding of the circuit, reducing noise floor and IMD distortion to an absolute minimum. Unfortunately, I have no photos left of this product, and would very much like to find one pair to review.
So, I had to fight with my dealer, to get him to change his design to be more professionally made - at least on the surface...
Being the purist he was, he refused, and reluctantly gave me the circuit diagram for me to produce an "industrial" version myself - here is the result:
Very neat and tidy, easy to build, install and service, but auditively a shadow of the original...
Don't get me wrong, it still work extremely well and I quote my contact in Switzerland here:
"although I didn't position the speakers too precisely, voices were nailed spot in
the middle of the speakers - amazing! With certain music the speakers actually
did what I love about a good speaker: disappeared! There was music - not sound!"
And these speakers are in fairly bad condition, having their foam suspension starting to desintegrate and fed but an iMac...
Now, let's have a look at the subwoofer.
This is actually one sample equipped with the best driver we ever used a double coil Cabasse 21 cm, (single coil in this active version, and a black membrane), specially made for us, and very expensive. It is the ancestor of what is used in the Sphere now, and it works wonders - specially when only using the lower two octaves (30-120Hz).
Using the driver downfiring against a known surface and a fixed distance gives a very linear bass response indeed (+/- 1db over that range)
Using an integrated amplifier helps adjust the levels betweem satelites and subwoofer. The very low cut off frequency ensures that it is difficult to hear the position of the subwoofer.
This active TRITON system would make a very good sub/rear channels add-on to the front channels of a 5.1 home theater system. I might soon be able to report on the results...
Below are a few photos of this unique product, courtesy of Audioconseil
Finally some more images of the SATs active, courtesy of my reader in Switzerland:
I have finally had a chance to find a review of this system in its passive version in "La Revue du Son".
It seems like there is a previous review of the active version. I would be grateful if somebody could find a copy for me. Merci d'avance.
You will have to sharpen your French (and your eyes...as the scan is not very good...) but at least everybody will be able to read the measurement results.
To be noted are the very linear impedance and phase curves, the very good transient response and a very flat amplitude response both on axis and at 30deg
Let's start the year - late for sure - but with a bang!
If you had the chance to meet Georges Cabasse, the man would have left an indelebile impression on you.
First because he was a very big man physically, but also because you could not ignore his presence in the room, nor could you not not have an opinion on his designs.
The Sphere, launched 4 years ago, and its little sister the Ocean launched in October last year are the latest incarnations of Cabasse revolutionary ideas about speaker design. They have been at it for 60 years!
Somebody has tagged this latest incarnation of the "pulsating sphere" as the UFO of French HiFi.
They look more like "Big Brother" to me and I would have a difficult time living with them at home, but one has to admire the work and research behind these massive speakers.
These two speakers share the same medium and treble three-way coaxial assembly, the Sphere is equipped with a 55cm (yes, you read it properly...and that's 22" for the non metrics of you) woofer and the Ocean with only (!) a 38cm one.
The digital filter for the Ocean separates the signal in four bands with 175, 1830 and 4500Hz cut off frequencies and 150Hz, 800Hz, and 4kHz for the Sphere.
One thing to be noted though is that even if you take into consideration the 15 years of research behind these speakers, at 176K$ and 110K$, these are a lot cheaper than the Grand Utopia from Focal.
I missed out on listening to these speakers in Paris, as time was too short to get to the venue where they were presented during the Paris HiFi Show.
But I did hear the first incarnation of that technology, the Baltic, a number of years ago.
It used a simplified two-way the medium-treble unit and a DuoCell 21 cm for the bass.
Now, I am very familiar with this woofer, as I used a double coil version of it in my Triton subwoofer. It is probably the 21cm woofer you can find.
I used to pay 200$ for one of these wonders in 1985...Do the math with inflation and so on and you can see it is not for the faint hearted! (that's about 1000$ in today's money...).
One of the main quality of this arrangement is the time alignement and the pulse response, as well as spatial diffusion and image stability, due to the coaxial design and the spherical enclosure (we are back to Elipson, aren't we?).
If you want a good review of the Sphere, I recommend you read Stereophile: here is the link: http://www.stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/608cab/index.html
And finally, here is a photo of our Microphase Triton, a revival of the triphonic system introduced in 1985, which has been done to death by almost every single speaker manufacture ever since! (home theater, anyone???)
If anybody has one of these relatively rare systems, please get in touch via our comments link.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.