Review: NSR Sonic Research D3 Sonata Speaker

Category: Speakers

This morning I was going through my browsing of different websites to see if any new reviews had been posted when I came to the Stereo Times site. There was a review by Frank Alles that gave a large thumbs-up to a speaker I had never heard of the NSR Sonic research D3 Sonata. At the end of the review it stated that NRS Sonic Research is located in Dyer, IN. Well, I live in Crown Point, IN, which is less then ten minutes away, so I immediately called the president,designer, and builder of this speaker, John Tabernacki, to see if I could arrange a visit. John said it would be his pleasure to have me come over for an audition and he was free all afternoon. There must be something in the water in Northwest IN, in less then a hour away from were I live, we have three brilliant speaker manufacturers, S&P Technology, Ridge Street Audio, and John's company NSR Sonic REsearch!

John turned out to be a down to earth, good guy with a love for music, who has been working on and perfecting two new technolgies for over twenty years. The first is what he calls Acoustic Projection Lens for shaping/contouring the bass frequencies and a NSR exclusive Acoustic-Comb non resonant panels that are used inside the speaker cabinet to create an anechoic chamber for the backwaves of the speaker cones. For all the technical details regarding these innovations I recommend you go to either the Stereo Times website review or John's website.

The physical appearence of the D3 Sonata is very attractive. It's 48" tall, weighs 100 lbs, and is very easy to drive with 93.7 db/watt sensitivity. This is a three way, four driver system. It is constructed of melamite particle board, which is plastic coated. The paint and finish, along with the overall construction were reference level. They kinda look like miniature Wilson Audio Alexandria's. My review is on the D3 Sonata's with the optional reference crossover, which brings the price of the speaker to $6,995.00.

Here's what I heard:

1) A huge soundstage with excellent layering and exact placement of players on that stage. The "sweet spot" extends to vrtually the whole room and does not collaspe regardless were I moved in the room.

2) Great image density with air around the individual players with a 3D sense of acoustic space and yet woven into the fabric of the overall sonic prespective.

3) Natural harmonics and dead-on timbres. Since I mainly listen to acoustic Jazz, timbres are very important to me and these speakers offer reference level performance in this area.

4) The top octive is very detailed, airy, and textured, but I heard no glare or harshness at all.

5) The bass was powerful, quick, and accurate and was totally intergrated with the rest of the speakers overall voicing.

6) This is one extremely quick, transparent, speaker that has a great PRAT and offers micro and macro details at a very high level.

7) None of the above would mean anything to me if the D3 Sonata did not have what I call "musicality/liquidity" or make organic sense when playing music, but it did, in spades.

I have no doubt that Mr. Tabernacki, has created a speaker that will compete sonicly with designs well up into the $20000.00 price range. Recently I listened to the Magico V3's, retail for $25000.00, and I can't really say that they sounded better then these speakers for almost another $18000.00! One cavaet, this speaker offers such clarity and transparency ever thing you have upstream in your gear, you will hear through the D3 Sonata's. These are the farthest thing from being euphonic transducers, but if you have the right gear, they will sing a very pretty song.

Associated gear
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Hi Teajay,
You have an interesting little review here. Let me see if I have this right. You are reviewing a speaker that you listened to in the manufacturers listening room? If this is correct how could you possibly come to any conclusion on the sound of the speakers alone in a room that is unfamiliar to you and a system that is unfamiliar to you? Did you buy the speakers after the audition? Thanks
Hi Geared4me, to answer your questions:

1) I run all Stealth cables in my system, Indra-Metacarbon IC's and Dream Petite speaker wire, have extensive experience with Mod Wright preamps and have had Nelson Pass amps in my system for over twenty years, this gear was what John was driving his speakers with, so I'm very comfortable with what the system was adding to the overall sonic prespective.

2)John's room was too small in my opinion to allow his speakers to really show their full potential, yet they still offered all the wonderful sonic traits I discussed in my review, so there performance will just become better in a larger acoustic space.

3)I always bring the same four CD's to audition speakers with, so I have baseline of what the speakers/system is producing compared to my MG-20's in my system.

4)Finally, I would never buy a speaker that I have not had in my own system for an extented audition period. I did not go to John's place because I'm in the market for speakers, but because I find it to be great fun to listen to new designs and talk to creative designers about their products. I'm really at heart a planer/di-pole speaker fan, so for me to be impressed by a box enclosure design is quite a compliment to this speaker. No, I did not buy the speakers, but would love to do a home audition sometime in the future.
Thanks for the additional information. That looks like a very sane and reasonable approach. I hope more people will take the time to check out local manufacturers of quality equipment.
Once again a great review, with just the right amount of "audiophile' terminology yet a down-to-earth explanation of what real music sounds like. And i owe you a call back, I know.

Two things:
1) Let's do an investigation of the science departments of the local high schools in NE Indiana. Bob Smith, Steve Rothemel, Robert Schult, and now John Tabernacki are state of the art acoustic scientists (I call Bob a mad genius) that hail from the same high school or two in the area!! Wild!!
2) Bob's wonderful transducers come from SP Technologies, not S&P (a nit, but worth noting) ;)

Hello I see comments that the designer of NSR loudspeakers is a audio scientist where ? the designer of the NSR loudspeaker runs a train for a living - that is the truth, Degrees -0 Where is the scientist ?
Does he actually "run a train"...he is it's power and direction?? Do you always take language literally?? The idea of these NW Indiana speaker designers all hailing from the same area, and all possessing very good audio transducer brains (and I don't mean their brains are actually transducers, so don't take this literally; I'm speaking of their knowledge of new and innovative speaker designs) must have something to do with the level of education (science in particular) in that geographic area!!