I got a chance to meet NY audio dealer (and PTA sponsor) Shayne Tenace of Tenace Audio at this year’s New York show, and happily for me, Shayne brought along some new speakers from Italian speaker company Opera.
The new Callas, shown on static display as you walked into the Tenace Audio suite, has abandoned the five (!) tweeter design in favor of a more traditional two-way (1+1), with no rear facing tweets, but still wrapped up in gorgeous boat-tail shaped wood cabinets and a black leather (!) face. The new aesthetic cues include a big piano-black top plate.
Moving deeper into the room revealed more tasty bits from Opera, including the Opera Seconda. For $4k, these floor-standing loudspeakers offer an extraordinary dose of old-world luxury. These speakers deviate a bit from the Callas line in that the side walls are straight, not curved, and feature large flat panels of wood. Yes, wood. Like the Callas line, these speakers don’t just have veneers — that’s solid wood on the side walls, there. Not a lot — it might be about a half-inch — but the finish is enough to make me think “Mad Men” (i.e., 1960’s design). A matte wood finish is a real wood finish (to my mind, anyway), and does not in any way call to mind the cheap, plasticky “wood” trim bits you’d find in a Ford dashboard. No, this is altogether a different animal. Anyway, the cabinet sidewalls are not parallel, so while they’re not boat-tailed like the more expensive speakers, there’s attention to acoustic resonance. And speaking of which, there’s all that leather from the top and all down the front face. Real “Italian Leather” is not only fun to rub your fingers along, it’s fun to rub your face along. Wait, what? Did I just type that? Hmm. Frequency response for the Seconda is 30Hz to 30kHz and it’s a closed-box design — say hello to a less problematic room placement. 89dB and a 4Ω nominal load mean that the speakers are probably going to be asking for a reasonably robust amplifier, but megawatts are going to be overkill.
Paired here with the new Peachtree Audio Nova 125SE ($1,500), the Seconda was able to draw on some 200 watts to make with the pretty-pretty, and that was very satisfying. The Nova 125SE also features a tube input stage, a headphone amplifier output and a 24bit/192kHz capable DAC. Nice piece of kit, there, and this is (to my mind, at least) a high water mark for Peachtree. Wrapping it up in a Rosewood veneer (my preference) adds $100, but I think that the upgrade is very definitely worth the extra scratch.
Audioquest Rocket 44 speaker cables, a Carbon USB, and Audioquest interconnects connected all the components together.
Altogether, this system was not only on the “more affordable” end of the spectrum (everything, together, was under $5k), it was also on the “more enjoyable” side as well. I loved the textures and the ease with which the music flowed in this room. Warm, smooth and non-fatiguing, this system was a showboat and I would have no complaints about wrapping it up and taking it home, plopping it in the middle of the living room and letting every one of my friends and family admire my astonishingly good taste.
The bigger of the two systems sat silent on my trip through, but featured the Opera Grand Callas ($12k/pair). These beauties are extremely well kitted out, with a deep lustrous finish in beautiful woods with more of that touchable black leather on the front. The Scanspeak tweeter is mirrored front and back, to create something of a dipole in this reflex-loaded design, and sports two 8″ woofers and one 7″ poly mid-range driver. Frequency is 32Hz-24kHz, with an 89dB sensitivity and 4Ω load, very similar to the more modestly turned out Seconda.
This was driven by a Unison Research Unico 50 integrated amplifier ($4,495) and aided by a High Resolution Technologies Stereamer HD DAC ($499) and a DSPeaker Dual Core room correction system ($1,099).
Audioquest Castle Rock loudspeaker cables and Audioquest interconnects connected this system as well.