Newport 2012: The Lotus Group, Esoteric, SMc Audio, Hanss, Pranawire

I have two sets of the Magnepan speakers going at my home, so I guess you could say I’m a fan of the open baffle design. The approach is supposed to eliminate the colorations that are the “necessary evil” of box-based designs, but the biggest flaw (some say) is that by eliminating the box, you throw the baby out with the bathwater — that is, you kill the bass. I think the counter-argument, that the bass in an open baffle tends to be more “real” sounding, falls a bit flat — there is something to having your system able to perform CPR on you while you’re sitting in the sweet spot, and telling me that it “isn’t correct” doesn’t make me want it any less.

There are only a couple of options open to you, really, if you want to go this route. The one favored by Emerald Physics — and the $75,000 Granada G2 from the Lotus Group — is the outboard approach. Through external DSP-based crossovers, the Granada — and the Emerald Physics — can get you where you need to go with the bass and do that in any crappy room you could be unfortunate enough to be stuck with. Add a powered-woofer section, and you’ve got yourself a platform that should thwack the living crap out of you. I mean, when you need it, of course. Ahem.

At Newport, Joe Cohen of the Lotus Group was displaying the latest version of his Granada speakers, the G2, shown in a one-off color (any color can be requested) that looked like a rich metallic plum. The G2 is a bit different than the earlier model in that it does away with the $27k Feastrex Field Coil D5e Type II drivers and replaces them with a trio of more traditional and far more linear Scanspeak Illuminator drivers — one 4″ midrange and two 1″ soft dome tweeters — and pairing them with the two big 12″ woofers.  Frequency response is listed as 25Hz to 25kHz. The G2 is actively tri-amped, but the user will have to supply only four channels of amplification as the woofers are driven by an integral 500w ICE power amp, one per cabinet. The recommendation is for 50wpc for the mid range and 22wpc+ for the tweeters.  The G2 is 22” wide, 54” tall, and 16” deep.

Can’t decide which version to get? No worries – both the “old” $125k Granada and the G2 are currently orderable, today.

A $16950 SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamplifier with outboard power supply was paired with two $12,900 Esoteric A-03 50wpc (8ohms) Class A stereo amplifiers.

There was a whole bunch of Esoteric digital sitting idle in the rack while I was in the room:

  • $23,500 Esoteric P-02 transport
  • $23,500 Esoteric  D-02 Digital to Analog converter
  • $8,900 Esoteric  K-05 CD/SACD player

Analog was handled by a giant $8,800 Hanss T-60 turntable, mounted with an $8,500 Talea tonearm from Durand and my current reference cartridge, the $3,900 Windfeld from Ortofon. A $5,500 Esoteric E-03 phono stage handled the transition.

A whopping $95,000 of PranaWire cables were used here, including: Avatar, Cosmos, Nataraja, Kensho, Satori and MahaSamadhi cables, plus 3 Linebacker In-line Passive Power filters.

Having never heard the “old” Granada, I can’t comment on how much of any improvement the G2 might or might not be. I can say that my time with the Lotus Group was well spent, however. The sound was perfectly balanced, top to bottom. I’m not sure that this was my favorite room at the show, but it was certainly up there. I spent far longer here than I ought to have, so, if there’s a room I didn’t get to at Newport — you can blame Joe Cohen. I do.

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3 Responses to Newport 2012: The Lotus Group, Esoteric, SMc Audio, Hanss, Pranawire

  1. stew says:

    PtA,

    The idea that OB speakers can’t make bass without a bunch of equalization and DSP is not completely correct. One just has to seek a design that works. That is, the driver chosen for bass must be very efficient, but also the amp chosen to drive them needs some balls. My favourite speakers of all time (that I’ve had in my house) are a set of crudely built OBs that had been driven by one of Yamaha’s infamous V-fet amplifiers. These OBs are patterned after the Wharfedale SFB3 design, but mine were 2 ways and had a salvaged Mission tweeter, 2-way crossover and Leslie driver in each. Bass is not an issue. The only unfortunate thing is that they are so large (35″ X 31″ or so) They simply don’t work in my existing room. If I ever get a large enough room again I will reinstate them as the standard speakers in my house.

    You and your readers might also check out the Basszilla design by Dick Olsher which is a very good sounding speaker (a friend built a set, but he was floored by my cobbled together OBs…). They are very efficient, and very good.

    I’d say the thing that I find most prevalent about OBs are that they have no box colourations, and they have very little “impact”. The bass is there, it just doesn’t hit you with a thump to the chest. If none have experienced what an OB can do, I suggest that they try to listen to some.

  2. Joe Cohen says:

    Scot,

    Thank you for your fine coverage and the great photos! While we don’t claim that the Granadas or the G2 will deliver the last word in bass (after all 2 x12 is still 2 x 12 and not 8 x 15), we do feel that the bass impact is considerable depending on the material and the volume. We were playing at fairly conservative levels at the show, but we have run the G2s wide open at maximum volume playing ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against the Machine – no problem and at Newport had plenty of bottom end heft on the crescendos in the Dallas Winds version of ‘Trittico’ by Vaclav Nelhybel. The DSP crossover allows us to insure that the bass is absolutely appropriate for the room without any deficiency. It not only gives us the flexibility to provide the speaker with a “textbook” response, but to make adjustments that will be aesthetically pleasing to the owner/listener. Let’s say you walk into our room and you feel that for you personally, the bass is a tad to much or too little or that there is too much or too little sparkle or air on the top end, it does not mean that you are hearing the character of the speaker. You are hearing the character of that particular calibration. The beauty of this is that these kinds of adjustments are usually fairly minuscule – perhaps 1/2 db over a very narrow bandwidth. Of course, the room is always a huge factor. The placement of the speaker and its distance to the front wall and side walls will dictate in some measure the size and depth of the soundstage. For large scale speakers such as the G2, having a large room is always better, but, unlike other large scale speakers, the G2 will always scale perfectly to any room in which it is placed.

    Thanks again for the care and attention you put into this review.

    Best,

    Joe Cohen
    The Lotus Group

  3. Jim Anderson says:

    Very impressive system. Joe Cohen and Lotus Group always put together awesome systems. One of my favorite was when he paired with deHavilland.

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