By John Stancavage
In the case of Germany’s Lansche Audio, though, it would mean the company’s high-frequency units were working as intended. Lansche, you see, has developed the Corona plasma tweeter, which uses an 8 mm long arc, combustion chamber and high-voltage outer electrode to form an ionized gas field.
Sound is generated by the burning plasma’s direct stimulation of air molecules. Yes, this means your tweeters literally are fire — you can see the purple-colored flame in the center. This strategy may sound nuts, but according to Lansche, it’s safe. Moreover, it promises to eliminate the distortion introduced by mechanical membranes and magnets, and greatly increases speed.
The general concept of using this “singing flame” phenomenon for a speaker dates back to the 1940s. Lansche started making its version in 2008, and has made the Corona available only for its own line of speakers.
I’ve heard the Corona tweeter before at RMAF in some of Lansche’s huge floorstanders, but the company brought its mid-size 5.1 ($50,000 a pair) to the 2014 show. When I walked into the AAudio Imports room, the attractive speakers were playing Melody Gardot’s “My One and Only Thrill” on vinyl. The New Jersey-born Gardot’s faux-French accent sounded charming and the acoustic guitars and string section were particularly lush.
I settled into the center seat and listened for several cuts. The 5.1s had no problems creating a large, deep soundstage in the large room. Outfitted with two 22-cm woofers, the Lansche speakers provided a tight, slightly lean, bottom end. In between was a 155-mm midrange driver which the company says has an ultra-low-mass cone (just 7 grams) to better match the quickness of the Corona.
The drivers were housed in a beautiful light-toned wood cabinet that Lansche has gone to heroic lengths to brace.
On some other systems, Gardot’s recordings can sound a little edgy, but the Corona tweeter instead projected a warm ease. The many subtle instrumental touches in the songs, such as guitar fills and percussion, seemed clearer and more prominent in the mix, while her voice was palpable and dead-center. Cymbals, which with conventional aluminum tweeters in particular can take on the sizzle of raindrops hitting a hot frying pan, were shimmering and seductive.
Overall, it was an impressive demo, although I’d like to hear the 5.1s mated with a really worthy pair of subwoofers — such as those made by REL — that favor speed and depth over boom. In a space the size of what the Lansche speakers were charged with at RMAF, a little fuller low end would have created an ideal tonal balance.
The 5.1s were supported by electronics from Ypsilon, including the Phaethon integrated amplifier ($24,000), VPS-100 valve phono stage ($26,000) and the new MC26L step-up transformer ($6,200).
Connecting everything was an HB Cable Design Powerslave Marble power distributor ($8,995), Stage III Analord Master phono cable ($5,300) and Kraken power cord ($8,400), along with Thanes Line Cables ($2,200). Support was provided by the very modern, vibration-fighting Finite Elemente Pagode APS Hi-Fi rack ($10,200).
I could close here with some would-be snappy line, like the Lansche 5.1s left me with a burning desire to hear more, or say that they set the room on fire. Instead, I’ll just suggest that if they are anywhere in your pocketbook range you should hear them. They may ignite your passions like they did mine. (Whoops, couldn’t resist).