I first ran across Estelon at RMAF last year. There, the big, beautiful, top of the line, $64k X Diamonds were a very pleasant shock, and earned a nod toward Best in Show.
Here again, I found the lovely Alissa Vassilkova and her father Alfred, the designer of the gorgeous sound-making sculpture that had the room completely in thrall. This time, the pair was showing off their newest — the $32,900 Estelon XB, and she was wearing a daring blue.
There are only a few manufacturers that are really bringing the Accuton drivers to the high-end here in the States, now that Kharma seems to have forsaken us. There’s Marten, TIDAL, Lumenwhite and Estelon, but only a few American companies, like Vapor, Fritz and Clearwave, seem to be playing with them these days. The reason? Not exactly sure, but Fritz has told me that while they’re extraordinarily linear, they’re problematic too — it’s hard to get “real bass” out of an all-ceramic design, and blending those drivers with … well, with anything else … tends to give you nothing but a hot mess. So, if you’re gonna go Accuton, you’d better bring the big brains — or else.
Well, obviously Alfred Vassilkov has brought it — the Estelons on both RMAF debuts have been just stunning. And while I’m not prepared to call $33k a bargain, exactly, I’m also hard-pressed to avoid using the term “value”. It’s really hard to find a loudspeaker this transparent, this fast, and this enjoyable, period. Yes, they’re that good. And the fact that it actually looks like art, well, consider this a sharp poke in the eye for loudspeaker makers fond of mere boxes. This is not to say that the aesthetic will universally appeal, but it is as statement, and trust me, folks will be talking about your hi-fi. If they’re able to find and wag their tongue at all, that is.
The XB is for “smaller rooms”. That said, the website has the specs with the low-end rated down to 22Hz. Yikes. I will say this — I’m seriously beginning to wonder how these loudspeakers would look in my main rig. Ahem….
The electronics in this room came courtesy of Vitus Audio, quickly becoming one of my favorite ultra-fi brands. From the Signature (mid-tier) lineup, the Estelon team was demoing with the following:
- SM 010 100wpc monoblock amplifiers
- SL 102 preamplifier
- SCD 010 CD player
A brand new power conditioner from Silver Circle was providing the power — a new $10k Tchaik 6. This is Dave Stanard’s latest and greatest, and according to him, is a huge step up in performance over the Pure Power line. I’m hoping to get one of these in here at some point — you listening, Dave?
Also in the rack was a curious Silver Tellus device from Entreq, supposedly for grounding issues, and Kubala-Sosna Elation! cabling was used throughout. An attractive steel Stillpoints rack held everything up, and the feet on the loudspeakers were also from Stillpoints, a full set of Ultra 5s.
I think part of the reason that the all Accuton route isn’t that popular is that the Accuton drivers seem to be best suited for midrange duty, where companies like Avalon and Talon have been using them for ages. The Accuton ceramic tweeter isn’t for everyone. Marten uses the Jantzen diamond tweeter in their high-end speakers. Talon had been using a diamond as well in their Firebird, along with I think a Focal bass driver, but the new Phoenix is all Accuton. Consensus Audio of Austria is also all Accuton. I’ve seen the Accuton mids paired with soft domes like the Scan Speak Air-Circ with good results.
Much less popular is pairing them with ribbons. One company does it with a surprisingly low priced speaker, but I can’t place the name at the moment. Vaughn also had one, but I don’t think they do anymore, they seem to prefer using FR drivers as mids.
Coincident’s Pure Reference Extreme uses the Accuton mid and tweeter paired with 12″ aluminum woofers. They probably couldn’t get the output from the 11″ Accuton woofers that they wanted in an enclosure that size.
Wyred4Sound has a ceramic driver speaker as does Lumen White. Both available in the US.
Wyred4Sound uses/showed with Clearwave — is that whom you meant? And yes, I forgot Lumenwhite ….
Here is a picture of the W4S via Mojo:
Yeah, that’s Clearwave. I have the latest iteration of their monitor loudspeaker in my listening room, playing “Know What I Mean?” right now.
Good point. PranaFidelity, like Salk, uses Accutons as part of some of their designs. But it’s surprising that tehre aren’t more like Lumenwhite, an all-Accuton loudspeaker, or Estelon. There just aren’t many that go the all-Accuton route.
Hmmm? Dont you still have Lumen Whites in the US? They pioneered the accuton driver as far as I know!
Do you guys have Franco Serblin Speakers in the US? He is the original Mr Sonus Faber and his $29K speaker is a DREAM. Super imaging, dynamics, bass response, resolution, PRAT, Soundtaging, etc, etc. Beautiful too!