I have owned and enjoyed 3 different pairs of the de Capo i's over the years, my most recent pair being the newest 2010 versions of the de Capo's with all the latest upgrades. I purchased a new pair of Reference 3A Episodes for my system about 4 months ago, and have been VERY happy with them from the start. It took a few weeks to get them dialed in to the right position in my room, and re-tweak my system to the sonic changes.
Starting with the top-end, the Murata supertweeter is a nice addition. It does not make the highs more "extended" or add more energy in that area, but what I notice most is the extra "air" it adds to the soundstage in the form of more ambience to certain recordings, especially well recorded, minimally processed live recordings. I have tried covering up the supertweeter on such recordings, and things tend to sound less believable without them. In comparison to the highs on the newer de Capo's, they are a bit smoother and not quite as bright on edgy recordings. Well recorded cymbals sound quite impressive, and strings are very sweet and natural.
The midrange of the Episodes is the best I have heard in my system, with excellent tonal balance. Piano recordings are hard to stop listening to, as are vocals. Compared to the de Capo's, they are a bit more relaxed in the upper midrange, and there is more lower midrange body that gives pianos just the right combination of speed, dynamics and weight. Clarity and texture is still outstanding just like the de Capo's.
In the bass area, you would expect them to be quite a bit different due to their larger size and cabinet. Even though the specs. only show them to go a few hz. deeper than the de Capo's, the bass is certainly much more extended. I was running a small, powered sub with the de Capo's in my room on ocassion, but it is no longer needed with the Episodes. The bass does not call attention to itself, or sound slow, boomy or warm as long as the speakers are not too close to the rear or side walls. They did a great job at eliminating cabinet resonance and port noise when they designed the Episodes.
I get a taller, wider and more spread-out soundstage with the Episodes, giving up just a bit of central focus compared to the de Capo's. As one would expect, the smaller monitors can disappear better than larger floorstanders. At almost twice the price of the de Capo's, I was hoping to get a lot more performance out of the Episodes, and I was not disappointed. They are certainly not twice as good, but they are more refined all around, and just as efficient and tube friendly with a more full-range sound. A great speaker!
Good to have you posting again.
I'm still thinking about moving from my Dulcets to DeCapo's while Reference 3A will give me full trade-up value. I spoke to a Reference 3A dealer in Northern California while I was visiting there last week and he said that the DeCapo's are in an entirely different league compared to the Dulcets.
I was wondering about the "brightness" issue with the DeCapo's. I am in a smallish, somewhat lively room with tube amplification, and I can't stand overly bright sound, hence my question. And did your last pair of DeCapo's have the new "acoustic lens" installed?
I think you would be really happy if you moved up to the DeCapo's. They are not bright at all once
broken in. One of the most beautiful, musical & open sounding speakers I have ever heard. And I'm just running them with an
inexpensive but sweet sounding Cambridge integrated. Have never heard the Dulcets, but I'm sure the DeCapo is just "more of that magic".
Good luck, and let us know if you make the move.
My last pair of De Capo's were made in 2010, and had the new tweeters, brass screws, internal wiring, cryo etc, but there was no mention of the "acoustic lens" you mentioned. I am not familiar with it, and will have to look into it.
The newer 2010 ones I had were less bright/forward in the tweeters than the standard "i" versions. I would not call them a forward sounding speaker in general, but the older ones certainly would let you know when you put on a harsh or edgy sounding recording. The de Capo's do not roll off the highs or sound warm or overly lush like some speakers. They will bring out all the flaws in your amps or upstream components.
Hey, just wanted you to know that I took the plunge and sent my Dulcets back to Reference 3A as a trade up to the De Capo's! I should have them in a couple of weeks (they're on vacation this week).
I'll report back! :-)
Rebbi I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the De Capos after you've put them through their paces. Hope everything has been well with you. Cheers.
I will oblige. They're in transit from Canada and should arrive around September 7th!
Arrrgh! My De Capo MM-i/A's were mistakenly misrouted en route via FedEx from Canada. It'll be a few more days until I receive them. :-(
anyone could try the discontinued L´Integrale Noveau from Reference 3a?
MM De Capo iA's here and breaking in! More later. :-)
So Rebbi, as a previous Dulcet owner I'm curious to hear how you are getting along with your De Capos?
Thank you for reminding me about this thread! I am happy to give a preliminary report.
I would say that I have something like 150 hours on the MM De Capo iA's at this point, although unfortunately I haven't been keeping an exact log. What I will say is that like the Dulcet's that I had previously, these speakers really benefit from break-in time. When I first received them, they sounded a bit shut in and vocals had a somewhat "cupped" or veiled quality, but that has completely disappeared with break in time. Tone and timbre all sound really good now, and everything continues to open up and sound more refined and delicate. Tash at Reference 3A told me that he is been told by customers that the MM De Capo iA will continue to break in and improve and that they are not fully broken in until they have logged somewhere between 300 and 500 hours, and I am not there yet. So I have every reason to expect that they will continue to improve.
So how do they compare to the Dulcet's?
I am hoping to post a full review of these, as I did for the Dulcet's, somewhere down the line, but here are some thoughts.
Of course, they go substantially lower, so that music sounds that much more fleshed out and substantial. My listening room is 16 feet by 13 feet by 8 feet, and at this point I can't imagine wanting a subwoofer.
Secondly, the MM De Capo iA's will play "bigger" than the Dulcet, with greater ease. Orchestral music, for example, sounds effortless and convincing in a room of moderate size like mine.
Furthermore, I have yet to have a sense of the MM De Capo iA's sounding stressed or overloaded at higher volumes. Some of this is certainly due to the larger drivers and cabinets. Some of it I also suspect is due to the fact that they are something like six decibels more efficient than their smaller brethren.
So what do they share with the Dulcet's? The emotionally communicative ability is there in full force. Furthermore, these, too, are imaging "monsters." They are also the most holographic speakers I have ever had in my listening room. Given the appropriate source material, they will throw a wall-to-wall sound field and will utterly vanish, acoustically, as sound sources. It can be quite thrilling.
I still have great affection for the Dulcet's and would recommend them without hesitation to someone looking for a truly fine mini monitor at a very reasonable price. The MM De Capo iA clearly shares their DNA but at a greater level of ease and refinement.
Allow me to also add that I am a happy enough camper that at this point I don't have any desire to mess with my speakers. I am more focused on seeing, for example, what taming some of the less than ideal acoustics in my room or trying new speaker cables might do. I guess that says something! :-)
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the update Rebbi. I must admit that my question was somewhat rhetorical being a former Dulcet owner and having heard the De Cappo's on a few occasions your description is what I would have expected. I can certainly attest to the break in time with the Dulcet's and I don't doubt Tash when he says three to five hundred hours. I've admired the whole Reference 3A line for some time and the De Capo's are one of my all time favorite speakers, especially partnered with low powered tubes! Awesome! Congrats on your new purchase and thanks again for sharing. Happy Listening! Jay
Congrats Rebbi. Sounds like you have found your ideal speakers.
I will be driving 5 hours to pick up a pair of Grand Veenas tomorrow. I have high hopes for these speakers. I heard the original deCapos a few years ago and was pretty impressed with them, and am looking forward to hearing the big brothers.
Very exciting about the GV's. Never heard them but I'd imagine they are spectacular. Enjoy and please do report back!
Shakeydeal, any news on the GV's?
Yes, I have news.
The Grand Veenas are certainly something special. Very coherent and musically involving. The bass is extended and powerful enough with lots of texture and detail. The high frequencies are some of the best I have heard. They will get pretty loud in my largish room, although this could be their one small shortcoming. They aren't for head bangers. Sometimes I wish for just a little more volume, but I'm ok with that. At least for now.
So Rebbe di your De Capos come with the new acoustic lens on the mid/woofer? I found a photo of it and its like cascading rings coming to a point. its suppose to disperse the sounds more.
Yes, mine have the acoustic lens. Have a look at my system photos to see it. Yes, Reference 3a (which did not create the technology but licenses it) says that it improves dispersion and eliminates any air vortexes in the speaker cone. Your description is pretty accurate. It looks kind of like a very fat drill bit, except that the rings are separate and not spiraled.
Nice looking system Rebbi. I bet that sounds great.
Thanks. Happier with my system now than I've ever been. But yeah, I'm loving the De Capo's. They "disappear" more completely than any other speakers I've ever had. And that's with a listening room that's still pretty compromised. Now I want to work on the room and get the stupid, unexplained ground hum out of my turntable front end. (Ugh!)
I will say it again: the more the De Capo's break in, the more they surprise me with how good they are. :-D
Want to hear more about your GV's!
The Grand Veenas are extremely good. My friends and I agree that they might be the best that any of us has owned. Very articulate and refined, but musically involving at the same time. They are everything you have heard.
I updated my system pics, although not very good. I am no photographer.
Got to visit a Ref 3A dealer today while on vacation and see my first pair of GV's in person... they weren't hooked up, though, so I didn't get to hear them. They are way, way too big, physically, for my listening room, but in yours they look great. :-)