Great review. Thank you for posting. I would love to hear these things someday.
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An excellent review to which I say AMEN. I've owned the first generation De Capo which has the crossover-less design and the same woven carbon fiber mid-woofer. I'd never heard such bass out of any speaker even near that size, not only deep but natural. It was less impressive in the higher frequencies and in its overall transparency, but so good that even that first generation model became an audio classic.
I bought the new De Capo BEs about 9 months ago and without any break-in at all it was clear they were in a different league. The impressive bass is still there (and improves with break-in) and every other aspect of the sound - transparency and inner detail, imaging, high frequency extension, overall balance - is significantly improved. The Beryllium tweeters reach far beyond the range of my aging ears without the slightest harshness. I've owned Focal Utopia speakers with Beryllium tweeters and there's no doubt in my mind that the De Capos are a superior implementation.
One of the most impressive things about the speakers is their overall balance - nothing missing, nothing exaggerated. You can hear it: the result is a live music sound. You can measure it as well. I used a sound level meter mounted on a tripod and a Stereophile test CD, and the sound level across the frequency range is nearly ruler flat except at the high and low extremes.
I believe this is the 4th generation of the De Capo. They keep looking about the same on the outside, but keep improving on the inside. Tash Gorka has taken this speaker from very good to great.
I would question that the BE is better than the Murata and soft dome working together. It is my understanding that the BE was developed because the Murata was no longer available or maybe it was already in the works for the Decapo and Dulcet and extended to the Episode and Grand Veena? In any case the Murata extends to 100kh vs 40kh for the BE which seemingly might offer greater air and spacial resolution. I certainly was impressed with the Episodes in this area of performance the several times I've heard them, quite special. The BE is superb, very well implemented without any of the cavaets I normally associate with metal tweeters of any kind but then beryllium is quite different than most metals, excellent ridgidity and low mass.
Rebbi, I think I may following your path looking for monitors/stand mounts.
I'm considering several speakers you listed along the way.
I live alone and own several pairs of floorstanders that I enjoy. I'm interested in a pair of standmounts for a different area. I was considering the lsa signature and ascend acoustics Sierra- but after reading your posts I'm second guessing. I was not planning on spending 2k...
Looking back, which of the ones you demoed would you point me toward?? Or are your current speakers so far above the rest that it is a no brainer??
Sorry for the long email. Thanks in advance.
Your question is not at all a bother and I am happy to try to help.
The first disclaimer, of course, is that there are so very many variables that determine the final outcome, including your own satisfaction or dissatisfaction. These include, but are not limited to: your associated equipment, the size and liveliness (or "deadness") of your listening room, the loudness level at which you typically listen, the kind of music you listen to the most, and on and on… That said, I have owned any number of "low-to-mid-level" (in terms of cost) speakers over the years, and this is what I have figured out.
As I said in my original review of the Reference 3A Dulcet, I need to have great imaging and some kind of satisfying low-end response in order to be happy. Other people may not care about these things as much, or may prioritize them differently, but this may give some context to my recommendations, preferences and experiences.
I have owned several floorstanding loudspeakers over the years. My very first was the original Vandersteen 2C that I purchased with my first "serious" stereo system in the mid-1980s. I liked it a lot, but it was a relatively big, unattractive speaker that needed substantial breathing room to sound good and wasn't going to work in my smaller listing quarters years later.
When I began to get back into high-end audio actively in the mid 2000's, I tried a series of "space-saving" floorstanding models. These included the Totem Arro, Ohm Micro Walsh Tall and Ohm 100, and Silverline Prelude (revised). All of these models have their devotees and great reviews, but for one reason or another I found them lacking.
What set me off in the direction of auditioning monitors (that is, stand mounted speakers) was the experience of borrowing a pair of PSB Synchrony One B’s for a weekend from our local, brick and mortar stereo store and finding that they worked much, much better in my room than any of the floorstanding speakers I had owned up to that point.
From that point onward, the following models marched in and out of my listening room (not in this exact order):
PSB Synchrony One B
LSA 1 Statement
Ascend Sierra One (the original, not the newer model with the improved tweeter)
LSA 1 Statement (again!)
Green Mountain Audio Rio
Again, if you’ve been researching monitor speakers then you know that a number of these are very well regarded in audiophile circles. I’d be glad to answer questions about my impressions of any of the above if you like.
Then, during the time period that I had the Merlin monitors, with which I had a love-frustration relationship for about 18 months, I saw an ad on Audiogon for a pair of used, Reference 3A Dulcet monitors. I called Reference 3A and spoke to the head of the company, Tash Goka, who told me that the pair I had seen was not up to the latest specifications and encouraged me to try a 30 day home edition with the latest model.
Within an hour or two of replacing the Merlin's with the Reference 3A's, I knew I had found something quite special. The Merlin's went up for sale. Six months later, I took advantage of a Reference 3A, direct purchase trade up option that allows you to get the full purchase price of any model to move up the line to something more expensive. So I bought the De Capo's and was thrilled.
Again, I'd be happy to comment further on any of the models listed above. I hasten to add that I'm not saying that any of the other speakers I tried are substandard – lots of people swear by several of them. But in terms of imaging, low-end response, coherence and musicality, the Reference 3A's really do it for me, and they get better and better with time and break in.
Thanks very much for the hospitality, sorry I took so long to respond. I did contact Reference for purchasing info.
I have some Sonus Fabers in my living room that I am pretty happy with. My quest for a standmount/bookshelf is more a want than need. The LSA's were my choice until I saw your post and others. I then began reading and confusing myself! (Doesn't take much) When I start considering $3000 or so- I find myself shopping tower speakers.
If you had it to do over again with a $1500 budget for bookshelf speakers what would you have done? Sorry to put you on the spot, but you spent time with many of the speakers I am considering. (Lsa, Ascend, etc)
I listen to Jazz, Blues, Rock, etc and value detail, soundstage, and bass presence much like yourself. There are several places in my house that they may be used, so that is hard to nail down. They will be powered by Monarchy mono blocks or an Anthem 225 wpc integrated.
If I really had a rock hard $1500 upper limit, I think I'd go with the LSA 1 Statement (the one with the ribbon tweet). It's a good looking, good sounding speaker. tbg, an Audiogon Speaker Forum regular, swears by his. If I could squeeze another $200 out of my budget, I'd hands down go for the Reference 3A Dulcet. I think they're awesome.
Hope this helps.
I had been using a pair of Manley Mahi tube mono blocks, in triode mode, which put out about 20 wpc into 8 ohms. They easily drove the De Capo's to louder levels than I'd ever care to listen. I sold my Manley gear to try a SET amp with the De Capo's: an Audio Note Kit 1, which I'm presently building. I'm blogging the build process here if you're interested.
"But the De Capo has the ability to present the complex rhythms and sonic textures in these songs as, for lack of a better word, integrated performances that make musical sense."
So eloquently and clearly communicated Rebbi! Last night I was listening to the Eagles "Hell Freezes Over" CD. "Hotel California". This is just an extremely well recorded live cut. You just close your eyes and when that bass drum comes in you can feel it along with the life like size of Joe Walsh and Don Felder's guitars the texture and richness of the instruments playing off each other, while clearly resolving the space and distance between all the players, it all sounds so REAL.
Hi everybody, I have a pair of Reference 3A Royal Master speakers. They sounds wonderful. When I glanced inside, I saw that high frequency speaker is connect through Mundorf Supreme 4,7 uF capacitor, but there is one more , very cheap chinese capacitor 3,3 uF. Does somebody know, why here connect two capacitors? Maybe somebody have these speakers or a scheme how must be connect the high frequency speakers in theese monitors?