I should add that i'm looking for a replacement for my venerable Totem Acoutic Hawks.
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I listened to the contenders at The Show in Newport Beach a few weeks ago and was very impressed. They were in the Upscale Audio room. You can see the equipment they were paired with on Upscale's web site. They have some photos of the show set up. A digital source being controlled through an IPad was also being used but is not mentioned. The were playing some Jazz and at my request played PF's Comfortably Numb. To my ears the speakers handled everything that was played very well. I currently have Paradigm Studio 100 ver 2 speakers. The Contenders are on my short list of speakers for upgrading and about half the cost of anything else I have listened to that I am considering.
I was traveling las week. I stopped in a store to listen to the Nola Contenders. All I can say is I was blown away. Are you kidding? A $3400.00 speaker that sounds like this? I bought them. I have been looking for a smaller type floorstanding speaker and feel I have heard a lot of them and nothing grabbed me like these did. Good luck finding them. I got lucky. My local dealer,2 hours from my place has 5 pairs on order and they are all sold, and apparently Nola is overwhelmed with orders.Mine are being delivered from the east coast!
I replaced my Focal Scala Utopia. I did not want to sell them but the size of my music room is now smaller thanks to our new economy. They were tough shoes to fill. The Nola Contender IMHO is going to be very tough to beat. I cant wait for them to get here! The cool thing is I will feel no sense of loss. I have heard alot of great speakers in the size and price on my hunt for the perfect speaker for me. Nothing sounded amazing until I heard the Nolas!
I will post a short review after arrival.
Please throw away all your reviews of speakers and go listen to them. My equipment includes:
MBL 6010d Pre
Audio Research PH7 phonostage(changed all the tubes
rogue M-180 monos(Amazing for any price!)changed input tubes
VPI Classic with AirTight PC-1 cartridge
Nordost Valhalla everywhere
Shunyata Power and Cords
Congratulations on the purchase. It would be something special indeed if the Contenders could fill the shoes of the Focal's. I have already listened to the Contenders once but they were not fully broken in and the bass was not as extended as Id like. The manufacturer does not provide any reference points for its frequency response specification so one doesn't really know from paper what potential exists and whether the manufacturer is exaggerating claims. I will be going back for another listen soon. In the meantime I eagerly await your short review - one which I won't be throwing away :-)
Oh, and one other observation before I shut up, the designer believes these speakers don't need toe in due to the wide dispersion characteristics of the tweeter. In the context of my system and room I most respectively disagree. Some toe in further enhances the soundstage depth and instrument localisation, which was already good with the speakers firing straight down the room.
I had a chance to listen to these this week. I was pretty
excited after all the good press I'd read. They were in a
room directly next to a pair of Focal Aria speakers of a
similar price (I hadn't head either speaker at that point).
The salesman threw on the Focals first...Sounded pretty good
(both speakers were being fed by the sames source
components: an iPod dock and McIntosh integrated amp; no
fancy cabling). Then, I asked to hear the Nolas and man, I
was totally disappointed. Compared to the Focals, they Nolas
were flat-no life, and they didn't image particularly well.
They reminded me a lot of the Acoustic Zen Addagios I heard
years back (another disappointment-placed next to Dali
Helicons which put the Zens to shame). Compared to my
current speakers, the Monitor Audio RX6 (and a Monitor Audio
sub woofer on occasion), I didn't feel that either the Focal
or Nola was worth three times the RX6's price.
Nolas flat? No life?!? Not the Nolas I've known and loved, and that includes 6 different models, including the Contenders. BUT.
The earlier Contenders and the newer Contenders sound as though the tweeter is voiced differently. The earlier ones were brighter-sounding, something that, if you read John Atkinson's measurements in Stereophile when they reviewed them, is clear. He found a slight brightness around 9kHz: That would certainly give more life to the sound if not matched with something else bright. I remember playing the Supremes Anthology album when the first pair I bought arrived: for the only time in my (audio) life, I could not listen to that album. Bright??? No, it was BRIGHT!!! As it turns out, listening to the album 14 months later, it was the combination of the Nolas and the new Nordost Frey 2 that caused this effect, but even after the Nordost fully broke in (nearly 30 days later [no exaggeration], the Contenders had a heightened treble, evident if you listened to any Ella Fitzgerald CDs, where every single breath she took was audible - easily audible at that.
The newer Conteders are more balanced in the treble, but are "quieter" with solid state than with tubes (and Nola never, EVER shows at shows with solid state. ONLY tubes).
But flat, as in two dimensional? That's not Nola's "sound." They - all the models ever reviewed (and, again, I own six different models) - are all fully three dimensional with outstanding low-level detail. I don't know what was going on there, but it wasn't the speakers problem. I can get mine to sound "flat," but only due to placement in the room.