You gotta love Madison-Fielding.
These guys are newcomers to the audiophile show circuit, and each time they demo, I have to chuckle. I mean, aside from all the pot-jokes (most of which are told by the Madison-Fielding reps), there’s a general sense of merriment in each of these rooms. Why, you ask? Well, because they know something we don’t. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s quite simple really — you’ve never heard anything like this.
I’ve been on something of a tear, lately, railing against the natural isolationist inclinations that high-end audio tends bring out in audiophiles. It’s one of my Great Complaints about personal audio. It’s one of my Big Objections to the padded-wall cells audiophiles lock themselves up in. Great sound doesn’t have to be locked up. In fact, it shouldn’t be.
There was a time we were forced to actually travel to the opera house or the symphony hall if we wanted to hear music. Architects built fantastic spaces with no sense of “sweet spot” — the sonic events that these venues were designed to show off were meant to be shared. When I grew up, back in the Stone Age, I remember the mysterious allure of the basement room my big brother inhabited (like a bear) and I wondered at all that went on there when he trouped in with his group of friends, locked the door and CSN, Foghat, The Who or Zeppelin came leaking out from under the door. This was music shared. And that’s something that my kids won’t ever experience.
Why? Because I brought that shit into the open, that’s why. Music in my home is shared.
Which is why Madison-Fielding’s Flagstone line is just hilarious. Because not only can music be shared, but it can be taken outside. And I don’t mean “architectural speakers” where sound is made to occur in seemingly innocuous places, popping out of a fake rock. I mean, “rock concerts” during the annual crab feast. “Horror Fest” at Halloween to scare the bejeebers out of the neighborhood munchkins. Or just early Fall mid-afternoon coffee breaks.
Here’s the kicker — these $3,500/pair Flagstones sound great. And not just for “outdoor speakers”. They sound great and can be used outdoors.
The Flagstones are planters, ostensibly, with drains that can house your favorite whatevers. Binding posts are underneath, hidden, and pretty much protected from the elements. The Flagstones are meant to be left outside, pretty much all year ’round. Ready for the moment you want to crank it up and annoy your neighbors.
The material used is a polyethylene plastic, so it’s fully weatherproof. The 3-way speaker drivers are all completely hidden from view, and are comprised of a 1″ Audax soft-dome tweeter, a 4″ mid range driver, and a 10″ down-firing woofer. Nominal impedance is 8Ω and an 89dB sensitivity. Considering the long runs of speaker cable that placements may require, you might want to consider an amplifier on the beefier side. They were shown here with a stereo amp from Parasound.
The flagship Flagstone comes in a couple of different varieties based on size (there’s a Mini that features an 8″ down-firing woofer). You can order them in weatherized black or grey.
Madison-Fielding also has a full line of speakers that can be “hidden” inside wood (with an 8″ down-firing driver) and “terra-cotta” planter enclosures, too (with a coaxial down-firing driver and reflector, for a more 360° sound field).
Shown here was a concentric hanging “spotlight” and a new stand-mount outdoor speaker wrapped up in teak. Jammed up in a corner was a prototype Flagstone with a new wood enclosure. Think: 10″ down-firing for those wanting a more organic look.
I have a pair of the “stone” colored Flagstones in for review now. Stay tuned for that.