Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
Review - Note Perfect Symphony
Speakers - March, 1999
J.E. Johnson, Jr.
always been highly impressed with Australian hi-fi products, having
auditioned and purchased numerous components from Down Under through the
years. After auditioning the Note Perfect Symphonies, I knew that I would
continue in that tradition.
Symphonies are one of an entire line of speakers manufactured by Note
Perfect. Although the Symphonies are beautifully crafted with an elegant
enclosure, I was much more interested in a unique characteristic of these
speakers, namely that the midrange driver has only an inductor in its
signal path rather than the usual resistor, inductor, and capacitor. In
other words, the midrange driver is wired directly to the amplifier with
just the inductor (other than the speaker cable itself) in the circuit.
This is accomplished by using a small internal sealed enclosure for the
midrange driver that prevents it from having high excursion when low
frequencies pass through its voice coil. The upper end rolls off via the
inductor. The woofer and tweeter have crossovers, but it is the midrange
signal that our ears are most sensitive to, and so, this is where the
clever effects of a (nearly) crossoverless design are
rear of the enclosure has a metal dome tweeter with a 6 step control. This
allows a "presence" or "ambience" adjustment of the high frequencies, and
it lightens the soundstage, which is especially useful in small listening
rooms. The speaker binding posts are complex, allowing for tri-wiring,
bi-amping, and also, if you are really cranking the system, there is a
binding post that inserts a capacitor (gasp!) into the midrange driver
circuit, and which will prevent any unauthorized excursion of the midrange
driver due to high volume. The speakers are 4 Ohms nominal, which means
you need an amplifier with a good power supply, but at $7,500/pair for
these things, I would think that any consumer in his/her right mind would
be pairing them with a terrific amplifier anyway.
listened to the Symphonies using solid state equipment and CDs. I have to
say right off the bat that they sounded like they were being driven by
tube amplifiers, with the most lucious midrange I could possibly imagine.
I used the rear tweeter adjustment to get a huge soundstage even though
the room was relatively small. The silk dome tweeter kept the upper end
smooth, and the bass was nice and tight, but oh that midrange. I'm sure
that the felt pad around the tweeter and midrange driver, along with the
tapered enclosure, made a difference in the mid and high driver
interaction, but the lack of a capacitor in the midrange circuit has to be
the most important contribution to this sound (capacitors result in
it comes right down to the basics, just think about this for a moment.
Manufacturers spend months, years, and a lot of money getting the source,
the preamplifier, and power amplifier, as well as highly engineered
cables, to handle the music signal very carefully with minimum
degradation. They make a point of saying that there are no capacitors in
this or that circuit, and then what do we do? We put capacitors,
resistors, and inductors right in the path just before the signal gets to
the speakers! We must . . . must . . . spend more effort in developing
speakers with no crossover components in the path. The Symphonies have
made headway in this, but a music system with no capacitors or inductors
used as crossovers before the power amplifier or after it would be
achievable with a digital crossover. Using the digital signal from a CD
player, DVD player, or from analog sources converted to digital (A/D), the
crossover separates the audio signal into two or three (or more) spectrum
parts based on user input. For example, 20 Hz - 250 Hz, 251 Hz - 3500 Hz,
and 3501 Hz - 20 kHz could be selected and sent to three power amplifiers
for tri-amping a three-way speaker. Slope could be chosen for the specific
drivers and enclosure. There would be no phase shift. It would be nice to
have it done in 32 bit with 4 MHz clock speed to allow a flat response all
the way to 100 kHz.
course, it is not as simple as just removing the crossover and building a
small sealed enclosure for the midrange driver to make a great speaker.
The sound of the Symphonies is a result of total engineering design, not
just midrange. Although our ears are most sensitive in the midrange, we
can hear the bass and highs too. If they are not right, a clean midrange
is useless. The Symphonies have everything just right, and that is
I am not going to waste time explaining how 1:24 into track 6 of such and
such a CD, the french horns had a lot of "air". We don't do that kind of
thing at Secrets. Being a fan of popular singing, I thought that the
Symphonies would make a big difference with music sung by the likes of
Natalie Cole, which they did. But, what surprised me was how much
difference they made with instrument solos such as saxophones and
trumpets, particularly when the microphones were close to the horns. The
old platitude about being "in the room" doesn't give justice to the sound
of these speakers. The horns were in my lap. With so much midrange, I
worried that it might come out nasal with some music, but it didn't.
Again, this is a careful blending of the midrange driver output with the
other two drivers in these speakers. The Symphonies can be ordered with a
built-in 150 watt amplifier for the woofer (one in each enclosure), which
allows your own amplifier just to concentrate on the midrange and tweeter.
This pushes the price to $9,000 per pair.
going to keep this review short and sweet. The Note Perfect Symphonies are
not available in many stores in the USA, but I think that they will start
showing up here and there, and maybe everywhere, soon. If you come across
an audio shop that is smart enough to be carrying them in the future,
please give yourself the pleasure of auditioning
E. Johnson, Jr.
Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity