Neutrality or efficiency!March 26, 2021
As I am aging, I often think about the many listening experiences I’ve had over the years, whether it’s been through professional or home audio systems. Nowadays when I surf the web, I often find audiophiles who prefer to use a dedicated pro sound loudspeaker in their home audio system. This isn’t unfamiliar to me as I followed the same path forty-five years ago. This was the beginning of my hi-fi quest for optimal sound reproduction performance.
As a teenager, while several of my good friends were musicians, my own personal interest was more into high fidelity, and I was truly passionate about it. Soon after, I quickly started to take care of the sound reinforcement installations of my friends, renting the mixing boards, the microphones, the amplifiers, and the loudspeakers, and most importantly, I was in charge of the mix. I did that for a few years, being very critical about my work, always aiming to reproduce a pure well-balanced, and homogeneous performance from top to bottom. With time, I got very good at it, was enjoying it more and more, was having success, and eventually ended up doing it professionally.
During this period, listening to music at home was still fundamental to me. My intimate and secretive wish was to own the very best system to get my friends admiration. It was obviously not the best motive, but a typical teenager one. During this period, I was relentlessly replacing components trying to improve my sound, but I kept being frustrated. I felt like the typical never-satisfied audiophile. After many attempts and trying several systems, a smart idea came to my mind: “Why not getting a system that sounds like real live music, buying the same system I am using for my pro sound installations.” This is exactly what I did and bought in 1976 a $12,000 system, which was huge money for the time. Today, I still have good memories of this system being a famous horn system with dual 15-inch woofer per channel and actively bi amped by some of the best amplifiers at the time. I also had a great open reel machine (I’ve always loved open reels), a great turntable, and more. Thinking about this today, I still understand why some audiophiles like horn systems so much.
Was it good? Was it great? Was it the best? NAH!!! Don’t get me wrong, this system was exceptionally good for what it was designed for which was sounding loud, efficient and dynamic. I enjoyed it for two years, learned about its strengths and weaknesses, and finally got rid of it. Why? Because I couldn’t get natural human voices, spacious soundstage and image definition. I then took a very drastic turn and bought what was considered to be the best British HiFi system at that time. Even though I had lost my efficiency and dynamics, I discovered that a loudspeaker could do so much more, which was providing instrumental neutrality, definition and tridimensional soundstage bringing the listening pleasure I was aspiring for so long. This was a tipping point where I never came back to horn loudspeakers, not because they do not have virtues, but it simply wasn’t the product for me.
Today, having been a loudspeaker designer for the last 30 years, and with the help of the newest technologies, I strive to design products capable of offering high dynamics without sacrificing precision and neutrality. When I mean neutrality, I mean products that are faithful to the real tonality of musical instruments and their sonic intimacy. Inefficient loudspeakers may reproduce all the music tonalities but still lack the liveliness of a real performance. Designing higher efficiency products is an intelligent choice for Verity Audio as we believe that there are no logical reasons to make a loudspeaker inefficient! Efficiency and neutrality are what a serious listener should be looking for to get closer to a truthful audio experience. I must admit that I am a lucky man, being able to experiment with this surreal experience every day with the Monsalvat System.
Julien Pelchat vp