"White Light Monitor" (slawney's review)

The "White Light Monitors" (WLM) are the first product from Lumen White Research (LWR)--a new European high-end "think tank" whose members are in part secret. The WLMs have a bowed-form chassis with a slender, open-ended back without any parallel surfaces (viewed from above, the two sides of the WLMs resemble the two halves of a modern bow for archery). This unusual "Jet-Valve" construction is similar to the French "Rondo" loudspeaker, and the outcome of the conviction that a LS chassis should be seen as a musical instrument body--an idea, the realization of which is only possible through careful design and testing, the interaction of carefully selected components, and painstaking manufacturing processes. Because of its unusual form, a painstaking 7-hour pressing process at 300 Bar must be used with 7 parallel sheets of 3-layer maple plywood (total width about 30mm) for the construction of the WLM. There was also one delicate point that LWR wished to eliminate from the very outset: the use of internal sound-absorption material which "corrects" the enhanced refracting power of a LS chassis. The WLM does not use it. Instead of dampening material, there is a near-spherical wood enclosure for the mid-range driver inside the cabinet. The one mid-range and three lower-range drivers are among the best in Europe currently available: made by Thiel & Partner. The tweeters either have a ceramic or diamond (at extra cost) membrane. The components for the crossovers are either proprietary or kept secret (LWR will only reveal that the capacitors are "from Canada"). The Synergistic cabling is actively-shielded. The Corian connection plate has only two posts (no provision for bi- or tri- wiring) and a jack for the voltage regulation of the active shielding. The speaker is rated at 91.5 dB/W/m with a nominal impedance of 4 Ohms.
I heard the WLM demonstrated on VAIC Reference 52B (55W) double single-ended triode monoblocs (I listen through the Classic VAIC 52Bs at home), with digital sources playing recordings that I am very familiar with (orchestral music on DECCA and RCA) and I have to say this: I have never heard a loudspeaker that frightened me as much as this one. Because the speaker was "vibatile" and resonant all over, it projected the slightest musical tremblings of the air about the musicians. To hear its soft, liquid inflections, its large and vigorous dynamics and speed was so winning that I wanted to drown myself. For the Main river was close by, and it was much better to accept asphyxia, which takes only three minutes, than to accept the lengthy types of sacrifice the acquisition of a set of these speakers would extract from me at their $38,000/pair price.
To be serious, if you want the deep and underlying reason for my bewitchment by the WLMs, I must take more time to tell it. There is a perfect principle in every form of loudspeaker--using that term in its general sense--that its overall sound consists in a partial and incomplete reproduction of whatever it touches. It throws a few single rays (to use a visual analogy) separated from the rest--red, yellow, blue, or a few intermediate shades--upon the listener; never white light, that is the province of very rare loudspeakers. (It has been reported to me that the chief investors in LWR asked them to develop a loudspeaker that would "surpass the performance standards of the current reference loudspeakers in terms of realistic, correctly-timed reproduction of sound with exact overtones, and to realize the maximum possibe lo-level resolution with current technology"). To be sure, we get beautiful effects from Avalon Eidolon and Wilson Audio Grand Slamm loudspeakers--all the prismatic colors,--but never the recording as it is in fair daylight. The WLMs use no rainbow tints for special effects, but always keep the recording--its essential object--in the purest white light. They seemed to have no color whatsoever of their own, instead there was a thrice-washed whiteness and purity to their sounds.
To conclude, Michael Fremer saw and heard the WLMs at CES and wrote in "Stereophile" (April 2001): "Best sound? The German Lumen White speakers driven by VAIC amps sounded positively gorgeous." I am still hearing the WLMs while I am writing, a month afterwards. What were your impressions of the WLM at CES?
I was afraid to see or hear them because I had left my welder's helmet at home, and my sunglasses back in the hotel room.
Slawney. I just posted positives for you. I must say that I now regret even more not having heard these at last years CES. For those who do not remember, my wife was seriously injured the first show day and I departed to be by her side, long before reaching all the rooms I had planned to visit.

I will look for White Light Monitor at the 2002 CES if only to experience some of the excitement you described in your fine review.
slawney: thankfully, i was not pulled away from ces2001 for reasons such as albert's. the schedule change, however, gave me only 2 full days of listening and ogling. sorry that i was unaware of the white light. i'll remember it for ces 2002. thanks for the review. well done. -kelly
great review Slawney. Now I'll have to go hide in the closet until it's safe to listen to my system again.....$38000? In Canadian dollars that would be be,,,oh my, more than a mortgage.....where are those lottery tickets? Seriously, I enjoyed hearing about your impression of these speakers. Well done. Cheers, Bluenose
Slawney, thanks from me too for the review. What digital sources were used (just to get a complete image)? I assume you heard the WLM at Frankfurt (I nearly made it to the show -- I could have kicked myself now...)?
Thank you for taking the time to post this excellent review!
Thank you all for taking this review kindly (I am purring as audibly as a full-grown cat when it has its fur smoothed in the right way by skillful hands.)
Albertporter, you certainly would have been an excellent listener for the WLMs and I would have been deeply interested in your judgement of them. But I can well understand how the thought of the injury of your wife would not allow you to contemplate the fascinating exhibits pulsating at CES. I personally would have felt like a drop of water imprisoned in a crystal (as good an image as any of the human being in relation to its impassible restrictions) if I had stayed at CES in your circumstances. You had a perfectly clear sense of what to do. I hope that your wife is in good health now.
Gregm wants the identity of the digital sources: the exhibitors used the Ensemble Dichrono CD transport and dCS Delius/Purcell DAC/upsampler. The WLM speakers were exhibited as part of an exhibit of Harmonix tuning devices: the cables were Harmonix.
To avoid misunderstanding, I did not hear the WLMs at CES (although they were certainly there), but at Frankfurt High End 2001, and I heard them more than once, scattered over several listening sessions. (Posts from those who heard the WLM in Franfkurt--or anywhere else--are warmly invited... "cela va sans dire".) In between, I heard a great many other systems: systems in which to look for nuances would be a waste of time; and others where the will to perfection was driven to such extremes that it frightened me. The VAIC/WLM system was one of the latter.