Ridge Street Audio Sason Ltd. Loudspeaker
In a recent search on the discussion forums page, I stumbled across a few bits written on the RSA Sason Ltd. Loudspeaker. I admittedly have always been partial to the simplicity of a two way design. I was intrigued, however was unfamiliar with the product, so I went to RSA’s website to investigate further. I really wasn’t prepared for the aesthetic appeal these two ways possess (they’re visually stunning). I was also pleasantly surprised to find that RSA is a two hour drive from my home.
I called Robert at RSA and had a lengthy conversation about the Sason, and became interested enough to arrange an audition. BTW, Robert and Steve at RSA are probably two of the nicest fellows and are very accommodating.
Upon arriving, I can confidently say that any photograph of the Sason’s does not even remotely do these speakers justice. They are aesthetically first rate with an exhaustive attention to detail.
The RSA listening room is 19x12x7.5. The Sason’s are placed approx. 11 feet from the wall behind them, and 3 feet from the side walls. This near field position puts your ear about 6 to 7 feet from the speaker. Once I had seen the Sason’s and listened to Robert describe some of the design philosophies, I expected a lot from this speaker, however I was not prepared for what occurred over the next 13 hours. Yes, 13 hours - did I mention that Robert and Steve are really accommodating? The first couple of hours I used RSA’s system for evaluation, which included a highly modified, moderately priced Marantz cdp running direct into a pair of Pass Aleph 30 stereo amps that were vertically bi-amping the Sason’s. The Majority of cabling was RSA’s own Alethias with one pair of Poiema!!! Signature I/C’s linking the cdp and Pass amps. I really wasn’t familiar with the sonic traits of any of these components. I did take my McCormack DNA-2 w/ SMC rev. A amplifier which I used in the system later in the day. The room had some home made acoustic treatments consisting of egg crates surrounded by a wooden frame. These were placed at first reflection points and other strategic places. The room also had a few small tapestries hanging on the walls.
Although I don’t get into detail about each cd and the tracks used for comparison, here is a list of the cd’s I used for evaluation.
Cowboy Junkies-The Caution Horses
Diana Krall- Live in Paris
Stanley Clarke- East River Drive
George Skaroulis- Generations
Kotaro Oshio-Starting Point
Chris Spheeris- Eros
Isreal Kamakawiwo ‘ole- Facing Future
Tracy Chapman- New Beginning
In the first few moments of listening I was amazed by the Sason’s ability to completely disappear. I can only recall one other instance where another loudspeaker disappeared to this degree, which was the Avalon Eidolon a few years back. I have to believe a lot of this is attributed to the use of the granite cabinet, which seems to remove all cabinet colorations, leaving the drivers to do their thing. While we’re on the subject of drivers, I would like to point out that the Sason’s are fast……..lightening fast. Now that I have spent some time with the Sason’s, I better understand the Free Energy concept, which is outlined on the RSA website.
The second thing I noticed about the Sason’s is their incredible ability to render the timbral accuracy of instruments. The Sason’s truly conveyed the rich, woody character of a cello. They also managed to capture the size, authoritative nature, and beauty of a grand piano. I have always thought the piano was one of the most difficult instruments to recreate, but the Sason’s get the overhang and decay of notes just right. The Sason’s also reproduce the leading attack of notes correctly, whether it be the piano, acoustic guitar, or upright bass. The rendition of female vocals was astounding and life like. The Sason’s manage to give you that realistic “in the room” interaction with the performers. When listening thru the Pass amps, I got the sense that the sidewalls of the narrow room were a minor issue, however after switching to my DNA-2 the sidewalls seemed to disappear. I did get the impression that the Sason’s could easily fill a much larger room.
The Sason’s are very balanced across the audio spectrum. The highs were some of the smoothest I’ve heard. The upper registers were incredibly detailed, articulate, sweet and so convincing. The integration between the two drivers is superlative, and the notes seemed to hang in a three dimensional space. The midrange was superb, transparent and free from colorations, and had the ability to preserve the organic elements of instruments, which made it easy to be drawn into the presentation. The bass was tuneful, tight, fast and when called upon, visceral. I was taken back by not only the quality of bass, but the quantity of deep bass the Sason’s reproduced. They are indeed full range. I was also surprised at how dynamic these speakers are for a medium sized two way monitor.
One of my priorities has always been imaging. The Sason’s imaging capabilities are nothing short of magic. The soundstage was wide and tall, but not exaggerated. The Sason’s produced a generous amount of air and space around individual instruments, while still preserving the performance as a whole. The depth of soundstage was one of the most impressive I’ve heard. If your looking for an upfront in your face perspective, the Sason’s are probably not for you, however they don’t put you in the cheap seats either. I think they strike a nice balance between the two. These speakers seem to connect the listener in an emotional way to the performance unlike any I’ve heard. The ease and flow of music from the Sason’s allows the listener to forget about the equipment and be enveloped in musicality.
Late in the afternoon I had the opportunity to spend several hours talking with Steve Rothermel, the primary designer of the Sason. Steve was a wealth of information, and in great detail, described his design philosophies and all the technical features of his creation. Steve is very specific as to the design applications. There are no afterthoughts or band aids with his designs. As I mentioned before, there was an exhaustive attention to detail that went into designing the Sason’s.
In the past twenty years I’ve been very fortunate to have spent many listening hours with alot of great speakers. I’ve owned the Sonus Faber Amati Homage, Avalon Eclipse, Avalon Eclipse Classics, Vandersteen 3A’s, Martin Logan Quest Z’s, and currently use Magnepan 3.6r’s. I have extensively listened to Kharma’s, Genesis, Proac, Aerial Acoustics, B&W, and many other brands. There are traits I admire about all these speakers, however I can honestly say I don’t remember the last time I was so impressed with the overall sound of a speaker. If you can live without a handful of hz at the deepest bottom end, then IMHO I believe the Sason offers the complete sonic package, at least to my ears. I certainly give consideration to the fact that all listening was in an unfamiliar room with primarily unfamiliar equipment. I am looking forward to auditioning the Sason’s at my home with familiar surroundings and electronics. If last weeks experience with the Sason’s is a true indication of performance, I will more than likely be purchasing a pair as soon as my finances allow. I know I have somewhat glossed over some of the details regarding this speaker, however I am trying to keep this to a manageable length. I will do my best at trying to respond to any questions regarding my experience with the Sason’s. Happy Listening.