Feedback on the current Reference 3a changes ?

To me (IMHO), the new (slate grey) finish on ALL of the current Ref. 3a speakers looks like the crust on the hooves of old knu's. I'm not sure if the texture is the same... I have only been involved with young ones. Couple the knu finish with the "baboon butt plug" sticking out of the woofer and the race will be on for them to suffer the same fate as their Rhino-coat(ed) brethren (with the ribbons in the middle). Show the wife a picture of the 7th Fleet moving into the living room and there will be no "grey area" as to her response. And of course, for additional torture, lets shove brrrr-illium tweeters in there just to keep up with the current status and bling. I'm sure that they work well for some, but I have always walked away from them (The BE. tweets) VERY happy to walk away from them.
It seems as though Ref 3a has snatched the grasshoppers from our hands and we (I) didn't want them to. They looked great the way they were, they sounded superb, and the price was fairly fair. Are the future owners doomed to the knu look of industrial austerity ? Are the current owners of the gorgeous "gloss red maple" forever to sleep with a smirk ? Should we care ? Please tell me while my grey pants are still dry.

OK, you were either educated by voice recognition software or are translating from Russian. Regardless, you are clearly bonkers.
Hi Bojack,

Yes, I will agree.... I am a bit on the "bonkers" side. But not near as bad as the folks at Ref.3a that made the decision to turn the (once good looking) speaker line into the color of old battleships. They are good, if not great, speakers, but some people still prefer the to look at good cabinet work. What if Spendor and Harbeth were to suddenly decide to change their cabinet work to "only" slate grey ? I will be the first to agree that the Nextel finish is arguably superior (with regards to defraction)... but at least give the consumer the option. The thrust of my ranting, bad spelling (and perhaps a bit of Russian folklore) is that if Ref. 3a doesn't address it's cosmetics, they may find themselves in the soup line along with the likes of Apogee.

I have a pair of MM De Capo iA's (the ones with the Surreal Acoustic Lens in the center of the Main Driver) in Dark Cherry finish. I updated to the BE tweeter about a 6 weeks ago... still breaking it in. I was concerned myself about the reputation of metallic dome tweeters for harshness, but Tash Goka of Reference 3A assured me on the phone that the acoustic characteristics of Beryllium are significantly different than say, Aluminum or Titanium. I am going to post a full review (as I did for my Dulcets) but I can assure you that the new tweeters are anything but irritating or bright.
The original 3As were so hyped at the time with over the top glowing reviews that I bought a pair. I hated them, and sold the as quickly as possible. A change might well be an improvement.

You have a very nice set up. Since I am seriously considering a pair of DeCapo's, I am very curious as to your findings on the new tweeter. My experience with BE tweets have not been good, but I am open to change. I am (once again) going back to tubes. I am a big fan of the EL34 and the DeCapos should work very well with them. I would also like to try one of the DecWare amps as well. I feel that a good SET amp is probably the way to go with the DeCapos and shove tubes in at every possible point in the front end. I lost contact with reality a while back and went totally to Solid State. Do to medical problems I was forced to sell all but my cabling and a few other things. I'm back on step now but have to be a bit cautious with over spending. I was real interested in the Focal 1007s (with the al/mag tweets) from Music Direct, but I have always liked the DeCapos.. especially in the gloss finish. I have a shot at a pair and I think that it is a done deal. I am using a Jolida 202 (EL34 based) amp in the interim until I decide on the DecWare amp. Front end is also Jolida ... A 100a CD player and also their new tube dac. I've got them all stuffed with Gold Lions and new Mullards so it all sounds.... Well.. "Tube like". My speakers now are some relics that I hung onto after the sale of all of my other stuff. They are Cary SP3's. Designed by Peter Norbeck (of PBN Montana) they are identical to PBN's first speaker .. the SP. They sound ok, but look like crap.
Again, I am interested to know more about the BE tweets.

"The original 3As were so hyped at the time with over the top glowing reviews that I bought a pair. I hated them, and sold the as quickly as possible. A change might well be an improvement."

Very curious statement. Out of the thirty some odd speakers I have owned, the Grand Veenas are one of the very best at any price I have paid.

Yes, the Grand Veena is an entirely different speaker which is very well regarded by many. I have never heard it. I am only commenting on my experience with the Reference 3A De Capo.
OK, that's it. I just pulled the trigger on gorgeous pair of Ref. 3a DeCapo,s in Gloss Red Maple. They are the "I" version built in 2010 and they even have the super nice Skylan (4 post) stands cut especially for the DeCapo's. I guess that I want to see if I will have hatred running through my veins as quickly as Roxy54 did. I will pick them up (they are even within driving distance) this coming Friday or Saturday. There is still time to put out an "Equiptment Wanted" ad for a pair of Panasonic Thrusters in case the hatred overcomes me.

I hope they work out.
Bojack, you cracked me up!

Tubeears, congrats on your new speakers!
Let us know how you like them! And do make sure they're coupled to the stands with blu tai, and that they are well broken in. Both things make a big difference.

Do I drive the "blue tacks" in from the side edges of the speakers or take the woofers out and hammer them though the bottoms into the top of the stands ? This stuff is soooo confusing !

Cheers... !
Bluetack should be a putty like substance . Just make three or four little balls and put them on the stand surface then put the speakers on the balls and push down .
That is what I did with a generic form of the stuff . There are , however , some who say that the Di Cappo's should not be fastened to the stands but just sit on them .

There are others that suggest putting "beards" on the speakers as well . Beards are three sided wood arrangements that sort of box in the front and sides of the speaker bottom and stand down to the floor . They are supposed to increase the bass response . I don't know about that though .

Good luck .
Blu-Tak (brand name) is a putty like adhesive that can be removed and reused. Ref 3A recommends putting a very small dab on each of the four corners of the top plate of the stand, plus a front-to-back strip.
We're talking about pressing down a VERY thin strip of the stuff. Easiest way is to work the blu-tak between your palms or fingers until it's pretty warm and pliable, then "smear" it down hard on the top of the stand. You want the blu-tak to be almost as thin as a layer of paint on the top plate of the stand. Then you press the speaker down on top of the stand.
Tip: if you ever need to remove the speaker from the stand (as I did when I replaced the tweeters) you want to use a hair blow dryer to warm up the blu-tak, then ROTATE the speaker to loosen the adhesive and then lift it off. Lifting straight up on the cold adhesive may pull veneer off the bottom of the speaker!
PS: I found that coupling the speaker to the stand really helped the sound: bass got a lot surer and tighter. Worth the effort!
If it works that well, I think that I will try coupling my butt to the recliner with the stuff......

On a more serious side..... I have now a cute little Jolita 202 all decked out with the new Genelex Gold Lion kt77's (outputs) and the new Mullard 12ax7's with Gold Lion 12at7's.
I am thinking seriously of pursuing new DecWare (integrated) with about 6 watts or so of power. Has anyone heard the DeCapo-I with a low power SET amp ? The Jolida sounds VERY good with the upgraded tube compliment and I'm sure the 40 watts will be just fine with the DeCapos. However, I would like to get the best out these speakers.... Any ideas ?

Cheers !

my only exposure for those BE tweets is the Focal/JM Lab speakers.
I use push and pull bat vk - 60 which I think a bit too powerful for the De Capo. I sounded too harsh for the tweeter.

I think a 20 watts SET amp will be very good for De Capo.

I am a big fan of Focal. I just got rid of a pair of 706v (al/mag tweeter) and hated to see them go. Downright excellent pacing and very musical. Very, very important to me is that they played well at low volumes. I am in hopes that the DeCapos can do as well in that area.

I have a pair of the new DeCapo's. I cannot compare them to earlier versions, but do not let the BE tweeter put you off. These sound nothing like the Focal BE speakers which had harsh highs I really did not like.

But the last time I listened to the Focal Be line was about 10 years ago so perhaps the new Focal are better.

The DeCapo is ultra sensitive to placement, height, toe-in e.t.c you have to experiment.

Also do not just place them on a stand. You need the blu-ack, otherwise there will be no bass at all. Rather than blu-tack your best option is a set of Atacama Isolation Gel Pads. The Decapo sounds dramatically better with these isolation pads underneath.
One of the funnier posts I've read recently. Thanks for voicing honestly, Tubeears!
Sharing a few emails with Tash Gohka, I also expressed a desire to mate a low powered amp with my De Capos. He recommended the Antique Sound Lab AQ1005 MK2 as a good choice. It was revised with the De Capos in mind, and they work well together.

I'm using an ARS Sonum Filarmonia and I'm quite pleased with the results.
I discovered this thread looking for other impressions of the Reference 3a products, particularly the DeCapo's as I have been looking for a reasonably priced stand mounted monitor. Heard a pair of Episodes a while back for a brief listen and was quite impressed especially the upper frequency extension and air.

This past Saturday I finally had a chance to audition the DeCapos after reading so many glowing comments over the years. I brought my tube amp for the audition to at least get an idea of what I might expect. This is the BE model with the battleship grey Nextel finish which isn't going to win over the heart of my significant other, THAT I know for sure. Well I must say this speaker really caught my attention in a way that I didn't quite expect and is rare for me. While I like many speakers overall upon initial listening, very, very few have that WOW factor or can engage me for extended periods. Price generally has little to do with this impression. These speakers most likely won't appeal to those that prefers the typical British monitor type sound. My initial impression is that they are quite special in what I value and I plan an extended audition when I get back from vacation. I didn't hear anything I didn't like other than a bit of brightness that I attributed to a break in issue as they were pretty much out of the box, not too many hours on them according to the dealer. They really convey the emotion of the performance than projecting a characteristic sound other than that liveliness and immediacy that I cherish and that disappearing act, excellent tonality and separation of instruments in space that gives a greater illusion of real. I really look forward to hearing them in my room, they look promising.

I called up the manufacturer and spoke with Tash Goka. I expressed my concern over the finish and my wife and if there were other options. It seems that there were two issues concerning going with the Nextel finish, sonics in absorbing both light and and sound which allows greater transparency. The other issue is inventory management of the different veener and automotive finishes previously offered. So it appears for now at least that the Nextel is here to stay like it or not. Tash was a breath of fresh air in patiently answering my questions and concerns, the brightness that I heard during audition that seemed like a break in issue but concern that it might not be. He assured me that the new tweeter is most definitely an improvement and that the super tweeter used on the Episode and Grand Veena were discontinued by their Japanese supplier so this came into play in development of the BE tweeter. I haven't heard many if any comments regarding brightness attributed to the Reference 3a line. Has anyone noted this with the beryllium tweeter in this line? I too would be interested.
I have now owned the DeCapo-i's for about a month. Every day that goes by, I am more amazed by just how good that they really are. Even with my little Jolida 202, they are simply stunning. I have talked a few times with the people at Ref. 3a about the speaker. I have decided to go ahead and purchase the Berylium tweeter and see just how good a difference they make. It is an easy task to replace them and the cost is not too great. They have a "trade in" policy, but for the money it would be wise to just hang on to the old ones. Ref. 3a is a good company to do business with and they truly love their products. They are willing to help with any questions, advice or problems. I have owned so many speakers that I quite simply can't remember them all.. not even close, but the DeCapo is a solid "keeper".

I decided to go another route and use an SS amp (integrated) with them. I pulled the trigger on a Audio Analogue Maestro Settanta Rev.2 . I almost loose my false teeth every time I say it. It is supposed to be a H--L of an integrated amp. I hope that it is just the ticket for the DeCapo's. We will see about that, I guess. A little late now, but does anyone know much about the AA Maestro amps ?
I still need to try the Blue Tac. I would also like to try the Atacama Gel Pads that Agisthos recommended, but where can you buy them in the US ?

Time to melt back into the recliner and listen to the DeCapos. No BS... These things REALLY ARE that good !

Thanks for the heads up Tony. Keep us posted on your impressions of the new tweeter, inquiring ears wanta know. I can't wait to get these babies into the room for a serious listen.

I've been enjoying my upgraded BE tweeters in my De Capo's for a couple of months and I can tell you that they are anything but bright sounding. More transparent with better ambient space retrieval, but not bright.
Rebbi / Tubegroover

I am so anxious to get the new amp that I can hardly eat. I am beginning to believe that the DeCapos are the best speakers that I have ever had... big or small. As I crawl through the A'gon listings every day, looking at all the luscious offerings, I really don't see anything that I would rather have more. Of course, I would be stupid to turn down a trade for a pair of 100k monster speaks but in terms of reality... the DeCapos are in a little world of their own. After the Audio Analogue amp gets here ( about July 5th ) I will order the Beryllium tweets. It will be interesting to see the comparison between your fine tube amps and my incredible SS piece. Something tells me that this thread might not die so quickly. I would sure like to pull some other Philes into giving the Ref. 3a's a try.


You should hear the Grand Veenas. You might not eat or sleep for a week afterwards.....;-}}


This is indeed a brutal hobby. Perhaps a bloodsport..... How I have lasted over 50 years of crawling around empty boxes and peanuts, I will never know. It seems as though there is always another speaker lurking in a back alley whispering my name, asking me to be it's friend and wanting to look at my wallet. So many times I have snuck into that back ally.. only to hear the sound of hissing snakes, bloated bass and low impedance. I stand here now (tattered and scared) with my new friends, the DeCapo's, wondering "what is next" ?
Got to run, I hear that K-Mart has a new monitor.

BTW: Your GV's look great ! Which alley did you stumble into ? ;-)
"I would sure like to pull some other Philes into giving the Ref. 3a's a try."

You know something Tony, I'm not so sure all audiophiles are going to be enamoured of them as some are. When I listen to some systems I realize how differently some hear or value certain aspects. I have been struck at how natural some systems sound with some music and how most absolutely fall apart with others, few have it all. If one has eclectic tastes you really want it all and not distracted by the artifacts that ALL too often rears its head over sustained listening. The majority of speakers sound at best "nice" on a range of music they just don't communicate across the board. I like long marriages and am less likely to change frequently which means EVERYTHING has to be re-evaluated.

On my too brief audition of the deCapos....actually went to audition a different speaker and they were an afterthought, they seemingly walked that tightrope of providing the magic of music, regardless of genre at a really reasonable price. The last one to do this for me at at a show was the 2-way floorstanding YG Carmel at 18K, at least something that will work in my space.

The audition had to be cut short as the dealer had another engagement, I could have stayed and listened for hours I'm sure, I didn't want it to end and I DIDN'T hear everything I wanted to. How satisfying are they in my space with large symphonic music? That will be the deciding point for me as to whether they are keepers. I am going to be doing a head to head with another Canadian Monitor recommended to me by someone I trust who also has great admiration for the Ref 3 line. In any event I find it hard to imagine that the deCapo is going to be "outclassed" by too many monitors or any speaker for that matter. They are just so superb as communicators.

I have stumbled down many alleys and am not proud to admit it, but admit it I will. And I won't go out on a limb and say there won't be another to lure me away, but all is bliss for the moment.

Seriously though, these are excellent speakers and quite a bargain for what they cost. I have heard an earlier version of the decapos, but have not heard the Dulcets. I am sure they are excellent.

Something told me that this was going to get a bit deep. It seem as though many manufactures have there own ways of communication. Not all are bad and some are respectively good. A few years ago, my old system was a pathetic attempt at forcing that communication into my listing area. It was all great gear with great reviews and looked to be synergistic. There is still a picture of it all under my list for "system"(Genesis APM's, Edge amps and some other trendy garb). Do you know those people that stand right up into your face to communicate with you (?)... Well... "That" is what my last system was like. I had to sell it all due to major medical problems for both my wife and I. We are better now and I am on the road to redoing the whole stereo. I too, am tired of the "flash in the pan" system. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to listen to different pieces of equipment, so it all depends on me using what is left of my rather small brain to come up with the communication that I should have had dozens of systems ago. Many years ago, I had a good marriage with a pair of Gale GS 401a's. They were power hungry, but as close to Quads as I have had in a dynamic system. The Apogees treated me well, but they need too much room. The same goes for about all planers. That's why .. this time, I decided on small monitors that hopefully were not a "one trick pony". I took a big chance and bought the DeCapos, mostly based on the judgment of what I have read here on A'gon and my own feelings about the design. I was lucky. It is indeed a pleasure to have a speaker to relax with and feel like each note is being carried to you by the musician. Yes, I feel that there is finally a communication between the performers and myself. Interestingly they also seem to be telling me that my little Jolida is a good amp, but just not quite enough. Hopefully the Audio Analogue amp will make the DeCapo's happy... And us too.
I'm hungry ... Bye

"Do you know those people that stand right up into your face to communicate with you (?)..."

Yeah, I know that type, the high pressure, belly to belly ones that won't take NO for an answer. "Look at me, but most certainly not a kitten up a tree" kind. The industry is full of em.