Review: Odyssey Audio Lorelei Speaker

Category: Speakers

It's been over a year now, and a few thousand hours on the Lorelei's so I thought I could finally write a valid view of my thoughts on these.

I've had my prior speakers since the late 80's. Polk RTA11t's which I modified to 11tl's and upgraded the crossovers. I'd been pretty happy but I knew they were now what was holding things back. My search for new speakers was long and laborious, I considered quite a few; North Creek Borealis, Ellis 1801b, Tyler 7U, Meadowlark Kestrel 2, VMPS RM30, various other ribbon or planer possibilities. When it came down to it I knew I wanted a full range-ish floorstander, but that didn't narrow the field much. By the time I'd read, listened, PM'd and emailed anyone and everything I could find I'd pretty much made up my mind to get the 7U's. Just before I placed the order I changed my mind the final time and went with the Lorelei's! This was 3rd week of December. The wait began.... And so did all the extended reading and questioning. I drove my wife a lot more nuts than usual!

At the end of February Klaus said they were ready and would be in my garage when I got back from at business trip to Dallas. While in Dallas I got the chance to visit a friend, who also has Lorelei's and was a great help through the whole process. After spending a couple hours listening I was confident I'd made the right decision - but how would they be in my room?

When I got home the Lorelei's were in the garage, but UPS had done a number on them, beat them up pretty badly, dented corners on each, both crossovers had been torn from their mount on the bottom panel. I was pissed. Klaus took care of me though, had another pair ready for me two weeks later - this time I met his wife in northern IN for pickup rather than mess with UPS.

So, I fire them up and the first thing I notice is - 6Moons was right on. Plenty of low end! I thought the Polks could belt it out down there but not like this. After listening to these I understood what people meant by one note bass - because the Lorelei's DON'T have it! Not that the Polks are bad there but these are just SO good, listening to Ray Brown Trio I picked up on sublte tone changes and the not so subtle ones were easily evident. And, oh, the musicality. Everything you've heard about these regarding both low end and musical involvement is exactly true. Amazing. They really draw you in and actually pull your attention away, make you want to sit down and listen and then keep listening. And this is right out of the box.

Now that things have worn in for awhile, it just gets better. Bass is smoother, deeper, more accurate. Mids - fantastic. Female vocals are fantastic with these. Highs, well I think the thing that jumps out most at me about these is they made me realize that the Polks were either a little bright or not as good a system match. Highs are sweet - not shrill or ear piercing, just right on. Songs like Eva Cassidy Tall Trees in Georgia used to have a couple parts that just made me cringe, I chalked it up to poor recording because I didn't want to think it was speakers, also the crowd cheering at the end of Hotel California live, same thing, made me cringe. Now, just smoothness! A triangle strike on Johannes Linstead CD sounds like someone is standing behind the guitar with a freakin' triangle. Which brings me to imaging. Again, it's impossible to fault them there either. Spot on, able to place things appropriately and convey so much detail! That's one of the biggest surprises for me. Everyone has talked about how emotional and musical these speakers are, but what gets lost is they are also providing all the detail you could want. The beauty is it's there but that's not ALL that's there - so you find yourself getting so lost in the music you might not pay attention to the tiny details these are providing. From breathing nuances to Ray Browns fingers on the stand up bass. They are there!

Soundstage is appropriately wide, outside the speakers. On sympathy for the devil by the stones I'd swear the bongo dude is sitting in front of the equipment rack. It's a very full but not in your face presentation. Another area these really excel at in my mind is for home theater. As mains these have brought movies to a whole 'nother level. The amount of bass and detail they provide add awesome punch to things like the Lobby scene in the matrix or the Balrog scene. Awesome performers for this - and not mentioned enough I feel. They bring you into the movie like they bring you into the music. And for concert DVD's and such - I was up until 4:00 AM last weekend listening to Paul Simon, Sting, Sarah, Eagles, James, Peter Gabriel - nearly every one I had. Just couldn't pull myself away.

One final thing, fit and finish. Klaus uses top quality parts throughout as you know, we all know about the drivers and the crossovers - which by the way are just silly big. They may not be the very last word in furniture quality cabinets, but they are beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I've got no issue with them at all, but, to be fair I have seen MUCH more expensive speakers with a bit bitter cabinet, Dynaudio Special 25's come to mind, but they are well more than twice the price for 1/2 the cabinet size.

Forgot to mention one other thing. Off axis is also wonderful. Sure the imaging goes away, but all the dynamics and musicality of these just fill the house. I moved out of the sweetspot and into the kitchen to make breakfast and my toes are still tapping!

I really don't know what else to say other than I don't know how Klaus can do it. Comparatively, what you get with this speaker is outstanding top level sound for what really is a DIY price. The Borealis would have run only a couple hundred less and I would have had to put it together (cabinet provided). These are exactly the Symphonic Line Legatos which sell for almost $7k in Europe after all. Am I happy? Couldn't be happier! My highest recommendation. Why people would spend more on ProAc or Sonus Faber or anything else is just beyond me.

Associated gear
Lorelei mains
Odyssey Stratos Extreme Monos
deHavilland Ultraverve
Turbomodded Sony DVP S7700 transport
Scott Nixon Tubedac and power supply
VHAudio Pulsar digital cable
Groneberg TS Premium Speaker, power and IC's
BPT 3.5 Signature power conditioning

Similar products
North Creek Borealis, Ellis 1801b, Tyler 7U, Meadowlark Kestrel 2, VMPS RM30, Polk RTA11tl
Klaus Bunge is one of the rare enthusiasts who has created a company delivering amazing value, and yet not a household name despite 17 years in business. That's almost as long as his twenty (!) year warranties.
Last year at the NYC Stereophile Spring Show he demonstrated the Lorelei, and the diminutive Epiphony, and each gave impressive sound at prices usually associated with used, or re-sale prices. When he cranked up the Lorelei stereo pair the sound was both powerful, and refined, which he modestly attributed to the use of Scanspeak drivers that make it easier to create great finished loudspeakers. Of course, at his price points, this level of listening enjoyment is quite unusual.
I hope anyone who reads this is tempted to give a listen at the same Stereophile Spring Show this year in NYC, if Klaus comes back to wow the budget conscious, and show the big spenders that it can be done for less.
I very strongly considered these speakers as the upgrade to my Paradigm Studio 100 V3 speakers. The one and ONLY reason that I didn't audition them was because I had already heard a different, similarly configured loudspeaker which sounded great, and I didn't want the hassle of doing an in-home shootout between the two sets of speakers, and then having to send one of the two back. It seemed like a decision had to be made, with no more "research". That's IT--no other reason. If I were a single male with unlimited time, I'd have done the shootout at home for sure. So I've never even heard them, but get a good idea from your excellent review.

Even though I didn't audition the Lorelei Speakers, I still appreciated your fine review, and thank you for taking the time to write it: it did not fall on deaf ears. I agree with Listener57 that Klaus Bunge makes very fine products at great prices. He's been quite helpful and friendly on many occasions and always great to talk to and deal with. I do own Odyssey Stratos Extreme monoblock amplifiers, an Odyssey Tempest Extreme preamplifier, three Gronberg (spelling ?) reference power cords, and a Groneberg (spelling ?) digital cable. The system sounds excellent. Klaus rocks!