In 2013, I briefly presented this iconic brand up there with the likes of YBA and JADIS. You can read it here:
Since then, I have acquired a great deal of original documents from that era, courtesy of cabinetmaker extraordinaire Jean-Paul GUY.
I had a request from my Facebook page this morning for more information on a potential special edition of the PA-90 integrated amplifier, hence why I though appropriate to put the original brochure online today. As it is both in French and English, I will serve it to you raw below!
I have tried to compile a number of documents from various sources, including Audiovintage and Cabasse forums. You might want to visit these sites for more info in particular on the speakers.
If you have more documents, do not hesitate to forward them to us for future inclusion via our Contact page.Thanks in advance and Happy Lunar New Year of the Rooster!
Even if you are a talented and well thought after jazz musician, you are not necessarily made of money, but you still want to be heard properly at the venues you are playing, specially in outdoor situation, and not everybody can afford a Wisdom Audio system, not to mention transporting it in your car and playing outside in all kind of weather....
Unlike regular speakers, line arrays have the unique feature of getting an even levelled sound regardless of the distance the listener is from the source, hence their use in professional audio applications like concert halls and outdoor rock concerts. They are generally heavy, expensive, difficult to set-up and require electronic equalisation and a big bank of amplifiers (Bryston anyone...)
Paul Sun went and designed his own (relatively...) portable system comprising 4 line array modules, each including 8 VIFA 3.5inch drivers, and two subwoofers using VIFA 12inch drivers.
They stack on top of each other nicely to provide an intrusive but highly effective sound system.
They are powered by two professional stereo amplifiers and a dbx electronic crossover set at 240 Hz. Although the full range drivers are limited to about 12 Khz, it is amply sufficient for this application. The sound of the guitar was reflecting the perturbations of the top end of the speakers and could be improved by using a few 19mm VIFA tweeters on a LR2 passive crossover
I have successfully implemented the 2.5in version of these drivers coupled to a 19mm VIFA tweeter and a 6dB/oct crossover for a PA application for schools and museums to be integrated into a lighting profile. We just got our first order for a project in Sydney.
VIFA also makes excellent 10in and 12in bass drivers that I have also implemented in an active subwoofer built in a 27 litres closed cabinet. You can see the combined response below. The system generates a very warm sound, and even without the subwoofer, the result is impressive.
So, Paul has managed to design a very good system, with enough portability and performance for his application, at a reasonable cost. Well done!
I was one of the very first to talk about these speakers that I discovered at the Paris Hifi show in 2010.
Although their designers come with an impeccable pedigree having worked at "cost is no object" Swiss manufacturer Goldmund, I was not totally convinced even though the woofer is made by long time friend and partner in crime Philippe Lesage (ex Technical Director at Audax and now MD of PHL Audio, as well as fostering a VIFA tweeter that I have learned to love in my own design. You can read my first impressions here:
My impressions were further vindicated by the measurements conducted by Stereophile two years later:
Although the listening tests were somewhat more elogious than mine, the measurements show a more rugged picture, as well as confirming my comments on the cabinet vibrations.
I have just received my copy of the April issue of Hifi News and Ken Kessler mention of Stenheim having exhibited at T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas. It caught my (well-trained...) eye, as the company has now unveiled a subwoofer for the Alumine, a configuration I particularly like (in part for historical Microphase related reasons) but also because it makes perfect technical sense.
Ken doesn't say if he liked them or not but Dave Thomas from Stereo Times, that I had the pleasure to meet in Vegas, says:
"The Stenheim speakers are gorgeously built and executed with clean lines and flawless construction. The sound of the system was extremely musical and dynamic, sounding far bigger and more natural than you’d normally hear under show conditions" Humm...
Spencer Holbert from The Absolute Sound says of the Alumine:
"The Alumine 2 Ways were incredibly tight and fast in the mids and highs thanks to its aluminum enclosure (hence the name, Alumine), and would be perfect for smaller room" Ah, ah...
And over last few days, Stenheim has unveiled a new "REFRENCE" system at the HIGH_END SHOW in Munich, so there is certainly something interesting going on there...
The management has changed, and it seems that the original five designers and founders have been sidelined. Jean Pascal Panchard, the new MD, comes from NAGRA, quite a good pedigree as well!
What can be noted is that the most recent incarnation of the Alumine has a more streamlined front baffle, with a more conventional horn piece for the tweeter - a feature I have personally investigated and found quite satisfactory - and a new midrange, or at least a new chassis from this speaker. I cannot find information whether or not it is still made by PHL Audio, but it looks like more of a carbon or kevlar cone as it looks woven rather cellulose. The bass driver in the subwoofer is made of polypropylene, material that I personally wouldn't use for that application, but as I have not had a chance to listen to this new incarnation, I will have to reserve my judgement. (In short, I will have to just shut up!)
The REFERENCE looks mighty enough and sports my favourite WMTMW arrangement, so I am inclined to say it would have a mighty sound indeed. The ribbon super tweeter is mounted off center, so a pair comes as a mirror image and the MTM part of the speaker can be angled remotely to fine tune the image at the listening position!
This is all extremely well fabricated in probably a very limited quantity, so the price of a pair of satellites (Alumine 2) starts at USD 15,000, add the sub and it jumps at USD 35,000 so you can guesstimate the price for the REFERENCe. Maybe I should design new speakers if there is a market at that price point...Just a thought!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.