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!
I was beyond excited and not a little nervous to exhibit our new speakers at the Marriott Rive Gauche (once called the PLM Saint-Jacques and alledgedly the most modern hotel in the World when it opened) after a thirty year hiatus. I will be forever grateful to Jean-Jacques Capello of Point Musiques for hosting and demonstrating our new Microphase Audio Desigh SAT MK2 to a knowledgeable audience. I was quite chuffed to see them mesmerised by our minuscule speakers...
But this article is all about the other exhibitors and fantastic products, from the oldest players and classic designs like Pierre-Etienne LEON to the revolutionary Devialet.
Vincent Brient, the talented French designer of DACs and music servers was presenting his d1-serverwhich can work from a hard drive or as a streamer then onto a DAC like the Totaldac d1-core, or the more upmarket Totaldac d1-twelve-SE. Amplification was courtesy of "Integrated Signature" from the US based Absolare, a hybrid design of valve preamp and solid state power amp generating 2x200W. The horn speakers were not for the faint hearted and behind next door to our own minuscule speakers, we had to fight some serious sound levels! It looked more like a Japanese DYI design than a finished product, butthey did shake the walls even though they were not the sweetest or more accurate design at the Show... WAF = 0 as well...
Point Musiques - Ocellia - ConceptS - Gold Note - Artec - M.A.D - Kelinac
Jean-Jacques Capello was presenting four different systems, all designed to provide the best musical experience for a given price point. A Gold Note CD1000 CD player from Italy and a French made turntable ConceptS Sonata were feeding an all ARTEC Ultimate amplification, cables and speaker system. A ConceptS preamp and two 300B Ocellia mono valve amps and an integrated Tosca amp Tosca were driving the amazing and totally unconventional Ocellia Calliope 30 Twin, with Ocellia cables throughout. (read my article about them here: http://www.frenchvintagehifi.com/interviews--reviews/point-musiques-a-musical-afternoon-chez-jean-jacques-capello )
Another system was driving the Kelinac 914MG driven by an integrated Gold Note Demidoff, a CD player Gold Note Favard Anniversary and câbles from Actinote. Finally another system based on the ConceptS 7W integrated valve amp driving the ConceptS Couleurs 94 equipped with a full range 31 cm driver and an integrated 2x50W Artec were feeding the M.A.D SAT MK2
Calamighty Sound - A mecca for all things vinyl
Plus vintage, tu meurs! Mighty it is indeed, with refurbished Garrards, Pierre Clément cartridges, and all sorts of plinths, arms, etc... The enthusiastic founder François Saint-Gerand is a delight to talk too and is passionate and very knowledgeable about all his products and beyond.
Marc Fontaine is an ex colleague of mine at Hewlett-Packard and a very good friend, as we both share a passion for music reproduction and speaker design. He "retired" from HP/Agilent in 2005 to buy Mulidine to continue and expand on the legacy of the original founder Marcel Rochet.
Note the elaborate acoustic panels revovered from the studios of the French National Radio and Television ORTF.
Micromega - PMC
This was an amazing combo of the new M-One integrated amp/DAC, etc with the fabulous PMC speakers, used by Bryston to demo their amps before deesigning their own... So I am pretty happy to report that the M-One make thenm sing beautifully. It was one of the very best demos at the Show....
Metronome Technologies - ASA - JADIS
I will not insult you by presenting Metronome - alledgedly best CD player in the World, and JADIS, alledgedly best valve amplifiers in the World too, but ASA? Never heard of this Atelier de Synergie Acoustique...Et pourtant! There are a lot of similarities with my own designs and the manufacture of the cabinets in solid wood is amazing! The sound is spectacular too...
Gryphon - Pierre Etienne LEON
A mighty association of Danish powerhouse The Gryphon and French legend Pierre Etienne Leon speakers. These two rooms were very well attended throughout the Show. It is a tribute to persistence and good genes to see Pierre Etienne surviving decades of ups and downs but still passionate about designing new speakers and try to achieve the Graal of music reproduction!
Expert Pro, the new top of the range amps from Devialet was displayed here and the Expert 1000 Pro put to the test. Power, slew rate and dynamic range are the main features of this new range. Obviously the Phantoms were playing their part as well...
Davis Acoustics turns 30 this year! And for the occaion they are gifting us with a new speaker called Renoir. Interestingly enough, the 'homemade' 31 cm bass driver is paper based, where the 17cm midrange uses the proprietary woven kevlar cone. Both use Ticonal magnets. The TW20K2F tweeter with double magnet and kevlar membrane takes care of the higher frequencies. Like the top of the range Karla, the system comes in two cabinets, a configuration inherited from Elipson and favoured by many, including myself... Electronics used are an Aura Note V2 and a Gryphon Diablo.
FOCAL - OCTAVE
I happened to visit before the opening of the Show and was privy of the vagaries of the setup. Interstingly enough, there was one position of the Focal speakers (Sopra 3) which gave an amazing image and general rendition. The unknow (to me..) German electronics from Octave were driving the Focals with ease and confidence.
Nautile Acoustique - FISCH Audiotechnik
To be honest, I have never heard of this French brand before... Their coaxial driver is complemented by a super tweeter Townshend. This « Nautile Acoustique by Bel Canto design » electronics were developed by John Stronczer himself. Integrating a DAC and a two-channel Hypex N-Core amp module, they drive the drivers and manage the crossover. Mark Levinson electronics, includingthe new combined server/transport/DAC ML519 and new préamp-DAC ML526, phono preamp double mono ML52 interfaces the EAT turntable to the system. Probably the most innovative speaker at the Show, besides the Phantoms...
Ever since the Chario was introduced decades ago, I have been in love with Sonus Faber speakers, probably the most beautiful speakers on the Planet... And they don't sound too bad either!
Very interesting coaxial speakers from the US 0f A. First time I had a chance to listen to them and I was certainly impressed.
Line Magnetic Audio
oVous avez dit Modern Vintage? Then Line Magnetic is for you! These modern replicas of legendary valve amps and Western Electric speakers are a delight to the eye and a great comfort to the ear! To be discovered absolutely!
Pèle mèle or meli melo...
Ming Da France
Haute Couture audio components in small and affordable packages. To be considered to drive our minuscule Microphase Audio Design SAT MK2...
ATOHM - Trinnov Audio
No need to introduce Atohm and his charismatic founder Thierry Comte, ex Technical Director chez Triangle... The mighty active subs (in black...) were certainly shaking it!
Hifi Câbles et Compagnie
The infatigable Jean-Claude Tornior is still at it after probably four decades in the business under various guises, including Phonophone reviewed elsewhere on this blog. He knows how to design a decent pair os speakers and he is has a great following for his cables...But you know what I think, the best cable is the shortest cable...
Definitely, the vinyl revival is here to stay... Almost every stand had a tyrntable or two or more... Here is a little feast for your eyes as a conclusion to this article. This is obviously not an exhaustive coverage but a glimpse into the products which took my fancy. Thanks for tagging along my journey!
After the overwhelming response to our SAT MK2 at the Paris Hifi Show, we are now open for business and we are ready to take your orders. Current shipping time is end of January 2017 for orders and deposits received before 15.12.2016. Any questions, get in touch via email or our Contact Us page
After 30 years of absence, we are about to start marketing a new range of speakers under the new name of Microphase Audio Design (M.A.D. in short...). It will be sold only online with five showrooms around the World where you will be able to listen to them. All products will be limited editions and the first product to be release, the new SAT MK2 pictured, is available through our e-store on this website. Towards December 2016, we will launch a dedicated website for these speakers.
To help you understanding the qualities of these speakers, we have started a new page here where we are documenting our design principles, the process, the measurements and listening test and eventually some testimonials from trusted professionals.
These products are fully manufactured in Australia and will be shipped around the world from here. So, don't be shy, read our story and if you are in Australia or New Zealand, we can organise a listening session in Sydney by prior arrangement. If you are in France or in Europe, stay tuned for an announcement in the coming weeks.
I have been communicating with Raymond for quite some time as he is the lucky owner of a pair of EA12 from my friend and fellow speaker designer Alain Wacquet. Raymond has also been helpful in providing information for my article on Confluence.
He has just posted a comprehensive review of these fabulous speakers on the forum Audio Vintage and has kindly given permission to rewrite and translate his prose in English here.
For those of you who read French and want to read the original post, here is the link:
My notes are in italics in the text below
EA12 presentation by Raymond Lerat - The English version
Raymond Lerat had the pleasure to meet with Alain Wacquet in Nancy chez Audio Video Son in the mid 80s. He found him affable and full of humour with a smile on his face, and passionate about music with a penchant for jazz, and a composer himself, up to this day where he indulges in more esoteric compositions with prepared instruments and noises. He was born near Lille in the Northern part of France, close to the Belgium border. (This is where I met Alain...)
Raymond first interest in presenting these panels to the Forum was to gauge the level of knowledge, interest and exposure that the members of the forum might have with this confidential range of vintage speakers from the early 80s.
Raymond notes that all people he knows who have been exposed to AW speakers were all enthusiastic about them, specially when reproducing jazz ensembles and small classical formations where they excel.
Their main characteristic been described as "energetic", with a real sense of "beeing in the room" and with perfect imaging and spatialisation.
All reports written over the 10 years of research by Raymond have all returned an "enthusiastic" response.
The way Raymond describes his first encounter with AW Audio fells short of a "love at first sight" declaration, but like often, the object of ditto love seems unreachable financially and is left confined to the realm of dreaming...until such a time where it suddenly becomes accessible.
Raymond goes on to describing various experiences with other panels, like Magnepan, Stax, Audiostatic and Quad, products which were not lacking in anything, but which would actually add undesirable things, in his opinion.
With Magnepan for instance at the time, the image of a piano might have been stretched to 15m or so, within an orchestra which would feel like 20m wide, so the proportions of the sonic image was distorted. Inadequate dynamic range, lack of the bottom octaves, short circuit between front and back fields made it near impossible to position the panels for the best results in a given space.
Lansing Trimline, DCM Time Frame, Carver in the US, Phonophone, Triangle in France have tried to use electrodynamic drivers to design such a type of speaker with various degrees of acoustic success, but no commercial one.
Alain Wacquet managed to stay in business for over 10 years, while producing a "haute couture" type of product, made by hand, with love and exceptional craftsmanship, hence expensive.
The objectives and typical qualities of an electrodynamic panel are a credible horizontal and vertical image, with a cylindrical polar response, providing a stable, accurate and homogenous response and image.
The impulse response - slew rate - will have to be exceptional, vastly superior to any other system, with a very good reproduction of timbres, the hallmarks of an acoustic doublet system.
The use of a linear array of mostly identical small full range drivers will provide such result if they are correctly implemented. If not, the result will be like a "sonic porridge" as Raymond nicely puts it.
NOTE: I have found this measurement from a LEEDH Perspective designed by Gilles Millot, using the same driver as a midrange. This shows the exceptional impulse response of the main driver used by AW Audio, a WFR12 from Audax. It is to be noted that 6 12cm drivers have an equivalent surface to a 300m woofer with half the mass...But the resonant frequency would be about double, hence why the lower octave can't be reproduced at the same level as a 300m woofer which fs would be around 30Hz.
Obviously, it will be expected that the lower octaves of the audio spectrum will be somehow reduced in level, but still extremely clean because of the speed provided by the light membranes of the drivers, but also by the acoustical short circuit between the front and rear waves.
Trying to add a subwoofer often results in a bad marriage, which Raymond describes as trying to mate a carp and a rabbit!
Raymond has experimented with electrostatic and isodynamic panels over time but found them lacking inefficiency, and dynamic range, qualities required to give life and freedom to the music, a treat that a boxed system cannot achieve. For these reasons Raymond had abandoned his quest, even though he owned a pair of QUAD ESL 63 in the 80s.
The various advantages of a panel speaker compared to a box speaker
A bit of history - You might want to read my own articles on the timeline of AW Audio
The AW Audio adventure started in 1985 after two years of research prior, resulting in the introduction of the EA12 first panel, then the less expensive EA11 and finally the outstanding EA16 which only 10 pairs have been sold.
Later the EA12 would be replaced by the PA12 and there are a few units of the ultimate Transparence (in Alain's basement...) all this over a 10 year period and through a handful of dealers around the country.
Raymond didn't get a chance to listen to this second generation of panels, which seem to carry the same drivers, although they are no longer locked behind the fabric. (neither did I...)
Obviously, the difficutiles of marketing and selling such a boutique range of products of such high quality, superb finish, designed by a passionate and uncompromising man such as Alain was not a piece of cake, having to abide by the rules of greedy esoteric and high end dealers, (being used to extravagant margins to push such a product and others..)
Raymond goes onto explaining some of the reasons behind Alain's decision to abandon the project although all public demos were all spectacular and well received in comparison with similarly priced products at the time. Essentially, it was extremely difficult to transform all these marketing efforts into sales.
(I have witnessed a number of these demos and they are amongst the best I have ever heard at any price... It took me decades to find something better, and you probably know that I am referring to my friends at Kyron Audio here!)
Raymond goes on to compare the experience of listening to an AW Audio panel to the degustation of a Grand Cru wine, as it stays with you for the rest of your life either on the palate or in your ears. (Obviously, you can rejoice time and time again to the pleasure of listening to a pair of good speakers, difficult and somehow far more expensive to keep drinking bottles of Ducru-Beaucaillou 1982, my all time favourite wine, if you can find some, that is...).
The relation between cost of manufacturing and sale price is quite similar in both cases...
To calibrate the topic, a pair of EA11 cost 15500 francs, EA12 25000 Francs. EA16 50000 francs.
(The dealer was probably buying them for less than half that price, and a pair of EA12 was equivalent to my generous monthly salary at Hewlett-Packard..., so Alain would have to sell at least two pairs a month to barely survive!).
A pair of EA12 was sold at the same price as a pair of Confluence "Pastorale" designed by another atypical engineer, musician, music lover and passionate.
Alain Wacquet had some serious criteria and objectives to design his panels: linear phase, homogeneous polar response, slew rate and extended dynamic range, timbres accuracy and enough bass in such a dipole setup, maybe not as deep as a traditional box speaker, but certainly cleaner in many aspects. The AW Audio panels had very few rivals at the time with these parameters in mind.
Alain has never unveiled anything much about the crossover schematic, nor the treatment of the midrange drivers, but one can see that 8 drivers (WFR12 from Audax) were used in line, the two top ones have some treatment applied and are dedicated to the midrange, the six at the bottom are the bass drivers. A Focal tweeter takes care of the higher frequencies. It is a 2-way electrically but three way acoustically. The coherence and balance of the system are outstanding
(The quality of the voices, male or female and accuracy of the timbres particularly on percussions were astonishing and Alain was a perfectionist when it came to choose the music that would put the best out of his speakers... At some hifi shows where we were both exhibiting, I would sometime abandon my own stand to delight myself in Alain's demos...).
The AW Audio panels are quite easy to set up, specially compared to other types of panels, when it comes to spread and tilt as well as distance from the walls. A reasonable power amplifier is enough as the efficiency of these speakers is around 91db/1w/1m. Even a valve amplifier will be a good match, bringing out all the qualities of the panels on vocals and small musical ensembles.
In a few words, the general impression left by listening to the EA12 is one of balance, with an image as wide as it is high and deep with a great sense of precision, without halo around the instruments, with no listening fatigue.
The differences between live or studio recordings are well articulated as there is no fuzzyness attached, giving the impression of space between the various instruments, what can be expected of a panel speaker versus a traditional cabinet of the same quality.
Percussions are very realistic, the brass are physical, and the strings are very quick, all timbres rendered with accuracy, speed and finesse, the vocals are superb, palpable...
The bass is as speedy as the upper spectrum, there, with a sense of freedom, it breezes...
All listeners agree that, even though the very bottom part of the spectrum is not present, the quality of the bass is second to none, not withstanding much larger box speakers.
Having bought the Confluence "Pastorale" two weeks after getting the EA12, Raymond had extensive comparative listening sessions over the last two years.
The EA12 excel at jazz and classical small ensembles with their imaging, finesse and precision, still providing a big sound even at low volume
On the other hand, the Pastorales are more polyvalent, specially if one listens to pop, rock or soul music..
(I am tempted to disagree with Raymond on this, being a great lover of small speakers, where imaging, precision and finesse are more important than a lot of bass. In many ways, AW Audio and Microphase were very similar in their objectives and were both very accurate and quick, with a great imaging, hence why we became friends quite naturally).
Each speaker brings its own character to the party and that is why so many people design speakers as it is still the realm of some "black magic", definitely an art form.
Raymond goes onto stating that his "graal" for listening at home still favours high efficiency and dynamic range over other criteria, implicitly giving the preference to AW Audio. It is worth noting that the EA12 and the Pastorales are in the same price range, hence there is a valid point in comparing the two systems.
Raymond concludes by saying he was very lucky to find a pair of EA12 to buy, almost 30 years after having first seduced by Alain's demos and contraptions, as most owners of AW Audio panels tend to keep them for themselves. And I would agree with that statement 100%!
I was at university when Scientelec was the go to brand for cashless students like me. They were primarily sold via people like Cibot Radio (Paris 12ème) and some of their amplifiers were available in kit form, which made them even more affordable. Some would say that the good look of the products were hiding a not so upmarket performance... But, in fact some of the products were really good for the time and they also made an interesting turntable, which by many aspects, seemed to have been inspired by ERA (designed by the famous JC Verdier...).
Way before the internet (which turned 25 this month btw...) .
Very little information is available online, and after trawling all my forums and various vintage hifi vendors, I have compiled here a few photos to give you a glimpse of what the product range was about. Created in 1968, the company went bankrupt in 1980 and the founder ended up behind bars, a rare thing at the time for such a small business...
Photos courtesy of Audio Vintage Forum, Hifi Antique and Hifi Vintage Audiophile.
It takes balls, resilience and determination to take on a big multinational press group and organise your own local HiFi Show. Not only Marc Ruston of StereoNet fame has these qualities, but on top, he made a success of the event. Well done Marc!
It is not a big show by any measure, but to be able to pull out about 40 companies representing not far from 200 brands, mostly famous, but with some more esoteric gear thrown in, I really enjoyed visiting the show, meeting people I knew, and newcomers, as well as talking to a fair number of visitors and listening to some amazing systems and music bien sûr...
There was obviously a plethora of turntables, even though digital files were never far away. One wealthy distributor had even brought his own Studer pro tape machine to play first copies of master acquired through very special connections. A treat!
I missed my friends from Bryston, Kyron Audio and Brigadier Audio, but the last two had just broken the piggy bank to attend the Newport Hifi Show in the US of A, a show with a lot more exposure for their very special speakers indeed...
There was, surprinsigly, only a handful of Australian manufacturers, and I was the only French thing in sight, besides a static display of Cabasse speakers and Audio Aero imported by Osborn.
So, let's start with these Aussie legends!
Holton Precision Audio - Ex Nihilo Amplifier - Tasmania
Anthony Holton is a serious person when it comes to designing amplifiers - he has been doing for 20 years - and it shows. This new Ex Nihilo monster is just that, the result of doing table rase of previous designs and starting with a blank sheet of paper and giving himself carte blanche in terms of budget and the sky is no limits specifications. By the way, Anthony is one of the rare amp manufacturer to specify slew rate, the most important parameter in my view, as it will give you a good idea of the transient response of this piece of electronics.
And it is beautiful too, the chassis being machined in Switzerland, a country that has produced other fabulous sound machines like Stellavox or Nagra, not to mention Goldmund, Alumine and a few others..
We were treated to listening to these beauties (it takes two to tango...) on some open baffle speakers from Israel, Pure Audio Project. See below for my take on these speakers.
Osborn makes almost French speakers, using a lot of Focal drivers and interestingly enough manage to get a much more lively and interesting result at a tenth of the price of the Grande Utopia using most of the same drivers! The cabinets are magnificently crafted without shouting "Look at me".. Interestingly enough, Greg Osborn also imports French electronics from Audio Aero.
Quoting his website here says it all and certainly reflects my opinion:
"After several years of experimentation the Mark 1 Epitome was born. This speaker easily eclipsed the best of the references used in their design and they captured the heart and soul of those that heard them. The same ideals are reflected in the present generation of speakers where each instrument is separated from the next and operates in its own acoustic space. They have spectacular dynamic range with no dynamic compression and awesome bass response, so that the potential power of the orchestra can be sensed by the listener even during quiet passages. Osborn Loudspeakers put back what has been missing from reproduced music: life, excitement and satisfaction.
Although the three larger models epitomize the designers goals, he at least appreciates that people live in real houses and usually have real wives who can see no reason why the living room should be dominated by something as imposing as the Monuments or the Epitomes. The Eclipse was the major attempt to bridge the two ideals. It is large enough to be able to reproduce deep bass and it is lightning fast, with a sound out of all proportions to its size."
VAF Research speakers
I like Philip Vafiadis, i like the man, his enthusiasm, his dedication...and his speakers. And I suppose their trademark is the consistency across the whole range from the tiny i(0 to the towering i93 shown above. And I hear him saying "Darling I shrieked the i90..." as there is now an even smaller version of the i90, the149! You can stop this guy and that's fine with me!
Wyndham Audio makes more traditional speakers, but I was really interested in listening to folded horn single driver design. There is a fine line between transmission line and folded horn, but we will leave that discussion to the experts... This implementation of the concept, based on a single Fostx 108 full range driver was a delight to listen to. Single driver designs give the best phase and with a very high efficiency, the Fostex gives great slew rate and timbre accuracy. Au external baffle compensation filter gives the system the extra bass required together with the folded horn. Quite impressive result in a very spouse friendly package...
And now let's have a look at the foreign contingent...
Well, if you are a regular reader, you will know I like horns and Avantgarde's in particular. So I was pretty keen to get a listen to this "tout en un" system, not dissimilar in concept to Kyron Audio, just a hornier version...
The room set up was no ideal, as I think the speakers were too far apart to produce the kind of image these type of speakers are capable of. But,eh, every exhibitor had some of the same problem. After must tergiversations, we finally managed to plug my famous USB stick in the system and play these percussions from Jean-Pierre Drouet, one of my definite test.
It played quite well, maybe not as accurately as the Kronos from Kyron Audio, but still very realistic with good timing and slew rate, but the timbres were not as precisely rendered.
Mind you, these are also a lot less expensive that the Kronos... Great looking speakers!
German Physics, Ypsilon electronics and Studer tape machine
Telos Distribution are very good at showing their very expensive but magnificent products.
Ypsilon and German Physics need no introduction and we have covered them before on this blog. I like these german speakers much better than their MBL "cousins".
Fed by either first copies of master tapes running on the Studer or from the Doehmann Helix turntable, the result was some of the finest listening sessions of classical music or jazz at the Show. I did spend an inordinate amount of time there, just because I could...
PureAudioProject - Open Baffle in kit form (almost...)
This was the best surprise of the Show. I am a bit of a fan of Open Baffle speakers, as you have probably noticed if you are a loyal reader... The small version called the Trio 15 got my vote (well it was Election Day in Australia on that Saturday...) and with two 15"/38cm woofers from Eminence and the famous Voxativ full range driver in a d'Appolito arrangement, a complex and high quality Leonidas crossover (and we are not talking Belgian chocolates here...), the result was not short of spectacular... Mind you, with two mono blocs of power from Holton, there was plenty of juice to drive these beauties designed in Israel.
One interesting thing is that they are shipped flat packed and ready to assemble by the end-user, IKEA like. They are also very affordable, in the same price range as the now famous Emerald Physics from the US of A.
Curiously, I was far less impressed by the "grand modèle" using Morel drivers (also from Israel).
I thought they sounded more brittle and the timbres were not accurately reproduced. Unfortunately there was no possibility to plug my now (in)famous USB stick, so I could not test them with material I knew intimately. These larger speakers are not on their website yet, so let's give them the benefit of the doubt and consider them at prototypes for the moment.
Harbeth - Un grand classique
The quintessential British design originating from extensive research by the BBC and now with a new bass/midrange driver developed in house. Refined sound, very polite and accurate, great to listen to classical music, but maybe a tad restrained when it comes to more modern repertoire.
The construction, manufacturing and finish is outstanding although very dated in terms of look, a real vintage winner with a modern twist.
A couple of electronics from the USA and China
Bricasti Design - USA
Like Bryston, (you know, my favourite brand of amplifiers...) Bricasti started in pro audio and still get the bulk of their business from recording artists and studios, but with the introduction of the m1 DAC/preamp and M@* mono blocs , the consumer market was within reach.
Brian travels the World to show his wares with his own pair of speakers (Accuton) and his demos are some of the best you can get as he not only knows his gear, but his music as well.
I have never heard them before and it was quite a revelation. Besides Brian looks and talks like an HP engineer, so we got along just fine... I was expecting Siegfried Linkwitz to walk in any minute...
You should visit their website, as there a number of interviews of pro users raving not only about the sonic qualities of these electronics, but also about the care taken in their manufacturing!
Melody - China
Pardon my ignorance, but I had never heard of Melody... And that is a shame, because these people craft some of the most amazing looking valve electronics I have ever seen. The quality of the finished product rivals my all time favourite Allnic.
Unfortunately, the Chinese music being played almost exclusively was not familiar or should I dare say enjoyable to be able to give them a fair judgement and hopefully I will have a chance one day to listen to them on material that I know. Just from the manufacturing quality and aesthetics point of view, they certainly look the part and I expect them to perform accordingly!
A diarrhoea of turntables from all over the World
Acoustic Signature makes a dozen different turntables, various tone arms and phono amps, built in Germany, with a little resemblance to Clearaudio at times. Well designed and beautifully crafted, they are objets d'art as much as turntables. And not all will break the piggy bank...
So, in conclusion, this was a great show and it was well organised and attended. We will be waiting for the Sydney event in March 2017. Well done Marc Rushton!
Many of you will remember my great appreciation of these electrodynamic panels created in the 80s by my long term friend Alain Wacquet. From time to time, some of my loyal readers take the time to write to me and contribute more information on the products I have featured here over the years (more than 6, as of today, not that I am counting...)
And it was the case recently when fellow audiophile Raymont L. who owns some of these panels himself and a great fan, found this article on the forum Vintage Audio Laser.
I don't know the people behind these entries, but theyr nicknames are "zolbergue" and "aerosteph" respectively. If you guys want to make contact, you are welcome!
The article gives a rave review of the PA12 as per photo on different sorts of music, and concludes, rightly so, that these panels are particularly well suited to small jazz ensembles.
So surprises for me though, as Alain is himself a musician and loves that sort of music. He used to delight us with lovely percussions, saxophones and piano pieces, the core of the modern jazz repertoire. He definitely is responsible for my love of Bill Evans in particular!
What the article reveals for what I think is the firs time ever, is the actual configuration of the drivers, a week kept secret up until now, even for myself. I have gathered somehow the gist of the design (see my previous article" but Alain has never revealed the details even to me so far...
So here it is in all its vintage splendour! And yes, it uses an inverted kevlar dome tweeter from Focal and 8 almost identical drivers from Audax, the upper ones being dedicated to the midrange and slightly treated as the photo reveals. It would be great to get a close up, but I do not have one...yet!. One can also see the 5KHz crossover at the bottom (no, these are not extra tweeters, but inductors....). All these drivers give to the panel its efficiency, power handling and transient response. Also, being a line array, it provides a very cylindrical polar response, hence the amazing and very stable soundstage and presence.
And finally, one can find at the back of the panel in a separate box, the baffle compensation crossover, indispensable to counteract the dipole effect of any open baffle speaker.
Some people, like Kyron Audio, choose to do this compensation electronically, but the beaty of this design is that it works beautiful as an entirely passive, and still very efficient at 91dB/1w/m, panel. Well done Alain! We love your work and wished you had continued a tad longer...
PS: all photos courtesy of Vintage Audio Laser Forum
For my French readers, here is the link to the original post on the forum
I finally made it! I had planned to spend a few days in Paris before heading to the West Coast to meet with my family there and some of that time was going to be dedicated to my HiFi freakiness! It started very well with a lunch with Jean-Paul Guy, just a few hours after landing from Australia and a visit to Presence Audio Conseil, one of the top dealers in the City of Lights. But first thing, first on the Monday morning (after a pit stop at arguably the best boulangerie in town, Du Pain et des Idées, for the the flakiest croissant ever!) I took the metro to the Sentier station and here it was, a few meters away in a magnificent late 19th century building that took part in the 1898 facades' contest, hosting the whole company from showroom on the ground floor to offices and R&D on the other floors.
It is a very big space, very confutable with the highest quality fittings and finishes, thanks to some famous investors money... The main space is dedicated to static displays of the products and a demo space for the Phantoms in stereo together with a very big screen advertising the company's technological breakthroughs and main features.
The demo itself is completely based on Tidal running on an iPad and feeding the Phantoms via Bluetooth. Difficult to be simpler and at about A$7,700 including a free subscription to Tidal for a year, it would be hard to assemble a separate components system to match the sonic result...
I had listened to a single Phantom at Len Wallis Audio a few months back and was suitably impressed! But the stereo experience is ten times better, as you suddenly can appreciate the polar response of what is essentially a compact Cabasse Sphere (at a fraction of the price...)
Tidal had all my favourite test songs in store, so I could fully investigate these revolutionary speakers. For the first time also, I had a chance to look at the guts of the beast and that was another good surprise - although I was not expecting to be disappointed. This product is highly sophisticated inside and outside, using the best electronic and mechanical design tools and manufacturing techniques available today.
Obviously, the bass driver assembly is the talk of the town here, and even if I still not sure I can trust the distortion figures in the very low part of the spectrum, I have to acknowledge here the fabulous work of Philippe Lesage, ex-Audax Technical Director and founder of renowned pro audio drivers manufacturer PHL Audio. The principle is derived from the Bruel & Kjaer vibrating pot but that's about it in terms of inspiration. The rest is pure mechanical and electronic genius!
If I were a 30 something young executive today, I would certainly buy a pair and be content with it. If I were the same hifi freak as I am, then I would also consider moving up to the Expert amplifier and a pair of SAM compliant speakers...and that was the second part of my demo time there...
Out of 5 or 6 pairs of very good loudspeakers, it just happened that these beautiful Sonus Faber columns were wired in, so I decided these would be good enough for our experiment. Now, we are talking 5 to 6 times the price of the Phantoms, as you will need two Expert amplifiersapnd the speakers... And its shows or rather it sounds!
The specifications are astonishing as per below, to be compared to the latest Bryston 4B cubed amplifier (my reference...)
Whether or not, one can hear the difference is a matter for further discussion, but Devialet has another weapon of sonic construction with their SAM software which basically digitally corrects some of the imperfections of your speakers (645 of them at last count, quite a choice by anybody's standard!). The Sonus Faber are already a very fine set of speakers out of the box, but SAM gives them another level of transparency and smoothness.
Another impressive feature of the Expert is in the range of inputs available from turntable (and precise matching of almost any cartridge...), any line source, bluetooth, NAS or streaming services...
Our friend Ken Kessler, of HIFI News fame, who is not famous for being Francophile when it comes to Hifi is a fan. That says a lot!
I had a great time and I was looked after very well by a quite knowledgeable young man. He promised to send me more technical information, but in typical French fashion, I have not heard from him yet... I will keep you posted with an update when I receive his correspondence.
So, if you are in Paris, spare the time to visit: it is well worth your time!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.