David from Brigadier Audio Design and my very good friend and hifi freak Fredrik followed in the Kyron boys footsteps and came to my place for a listen of my revamped 30 years old Microphase speakers.
We listened to a wide variety of music and both Dave and Fredrik were kind enough to write a little review after our three hour listening (and drinking French red wine...) session. Obviously, it was a very enjoyable evening!
"Last week I was invited to listen to a pair of Microphase speakers originally designed by Jean-Marie Liere almost 30 years ago. The configuration I listened to consisted of two satellite speakers with an active sub using 10" XXLS from Peerless with its own 200w amplifier. The satellites were perched on two column subs which were not being used at the time. Jean-Marie explained the Microphase speakers had recently undergone an upgrade from an Audax TW51 tweeter to a 1” Vifa tweeter which is now available as an upgrade kit for $199. While I did not hear the original tweeter, the 1” Vifa seemed to be doing a very good job of extending the range beyond the mid/bass driver.
The system consisted of NAD preamp, Bryston 3B amplifier and OPPO player which gave the Microphase speakers every chance of sounding good, and they did. The Bryston 3B provides the necessary current to make the Microphase sing while the Oppo delivered a variety of material in different formats that showed off the speakers at their best. This included an excellent track by a famous French percussionist Jean-Pierre Drouet, which I particularly liked.
In summing up the Microphase speakers, I think it’s true that a lot of audiophiles listen with their ears, but also their eyes, so when I set eyes on these small satellites I was sceptical about their ability to deliver a sonic performance that could pass as 'high fidelity'. I was wrong, the Microphase speakers are the epitome of the under dog, and today still punch far above their weight with dynamics that would puts some floor-standers to shame. I’ve always liked the form factor of two satellites with a sub as a way of getting bass extension with the elegance of a small bookshelf. The only challenge with this configuration is getting the integration right, for the most part the Microphase satellites integrated well with the sub, there was only one occasion were I could isolate the low frequencies as being off to one side where the sub was located. If these are anything to go by I look forward to Jean-Marie's next attempt to better the Microphase speakers, hopefully this time with stereo subs.”
I admit to having a soft spot for small speakers.
Apart from the obvious WAF factor I think that small boxes often delivers a cleaner and more accurate sound.
More detail with better 3D imaging compared to when you are in room with 5 foots worth of grunt.
A small speaker should also result in happier neighbours if you live in an apartment block, and also music experience that works better in your average living room.
This time we are in a large L shaped open room with the Microphase speaker shooting across the shorter length of the room.
Comfortably placed in a large couch a good 4 meters away from the speakers as we start a 3 hour session.
This is a musical and fun speaker. It has a slightly pronounced upper register that gives very live feel especially when playing some of the jazz tracks.
The room is carpeted and sound stage feels natural with great depth and with the active subwoofer integrating very well.
As we move from jazz to female vocal to drums to rock this small speaker proves is very easy to live with.
Female vocals lacks a touch of bottom meat but the upside is the clarity and how it is delivered.
There absolutely nothing woolly with these units and with a very large sweat spot making for a large listening area.
Only when we start to play drums at a sound volume fit for house party the small woofer/midrange started to struggle to keep the crescendos neat.
Still as the active sub is not breaking out in sweat I am more at this point worried about the neighbours then the speakers peak capacity.
I really enjoyed this music session and I think this speaker always will have a very broad appeal with music lovers, including partners and neighbours.
Well, I have to admit of being pretty proud of what can be achieved with the right design brief and be able to keep these speakers relevant after 30 years of great service. We ran out of time to try the passive subwoofer that support the satellites, but I am now planning another more structured session where we will first listen to the original SATs with the AUDAX tweeter and the passive SWS sub, then with the updated tweeter, then with the new active subwoofer. Stay tuned!
UPDATE JANUARY 2018
By now, we have released two versions of our new SATs appropriately named SAT MK2 and SAT MK2 Signature. You can read more about them on our new website:
You can also find out about the genesis of this new products on this website here