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High End 2016: Zellaton..Wow!

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Zelaton was allegedly working on a big, reference speaker for some time now and this year they finally presented it. The “Statement” is a three way, five driver, six feet tall, open back floor stander in D’Appolito configuration based on massive metallic footers and will cost you nothing less of a slick 300.000 whatevers (as always, if you care to know the currency you probably cannot afford it. I most certainly cannot). As with all uber pricey high end speakers it packs fancy capacitors in the crossover, namely Duelund and even more it also has the Schnerzinger (a sister company) Giga- Pulse system incorporated which in theory generates a shield to effectively protect cables and components from losing sound quality due to low and high-frequency interfering fields. Same -very expensive- cable technology was used throughout the entire system.

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I cannot speak for the Giga Pulse feature, but the system as a whole sounded nothing short of fantastic on day one. With a mix of electronics (NEM Tube Preamplifier PRA 5, Tulip Tube DAC by BFA, power amp coming from Frans de Wit, Reed turntable with Tzar DST cartridge and Loit Passeri mkII CD player, Natural Audio K7 phono stage) the sound was fast, crisp detailed and finally full range as never before on the Zellaton demos. Imaging, a characteristic I cherish, was pin-point with voices standing clearly in front of the orchestra and instruments positioned virtually between the speakers and the glass wall behind the system.

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There are at least two products that must have caught your eye on this report. Caught your eye as never seen or heard before (unless you do nothing else than reading show reports and audiophile press). The Tzar DST cartridge, a $10.000! Neumann DST inspired moving coil design created by Leonid Sinitsin was playing on the gorgeous Reed Muse 3C turntable and while sound was not bad at all I’am almost certain there was a mismatch with the Schröder CB carbon fibre tonearm which presented a rather low-ish inertial mass to the cartridge. DST designs like the Tzar necessitate of truly heavy arms to perform at their best as they usually have very low compliance and track at several grams. For the story, the Neumann DST introduced in 1962 had the coils attached on the front of the cantilever instead of the back end and magnetic poles “hugging” the coils in close proximity. Audio Technica has also introduced a new DST inspired design as $6.000.

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The second intriguing article was the Frans de Wit Century power amplifier, a 65.000 euros transconductance (current feedback) current conveyor design, good for 100Watt/ 8Ohm and doubling at 4Ohms. Speaking with Michael Schwab of Zellaton I got the impression that they loved the sound of the de Wit amp paired with their new Statement speaker and I must agree, it was a fantastic demo.

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About Panagiotis Karavitis (180 Articles)

Doctor and Editor @ Part-Time Audiophile
Publisher @ Audiohub.gr

11 Comments on High End 2016: Zellaton..Wow!

  1. Editor Alan Sircon at HiFi+ liked the Zellaton’s.
    http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/meet-your-maker-zellaton/

    I don’t have the dough or the room for the Statement speakers, nor do I have the dough, garage or interest in luxury cars. If i did have the $$ and space, i’d be for hifi for sure!

  2. I had the great pleasure to visit the show for the third year in a row. As usual we started out on Press day to get the most out of the show. There where many great sounding rooms (Verity, Kaiser, Marten). But this was the worst sounding room IMO. By far. Extremely hard and metallic sound. Like something a bunch of engineers had come up with after looking purely at graphs and measurements – not using their ears at all. How so much money can sound so bad is an achievement.

    • There was a forum back at the NY Audio Show in 2012 where John Atkinson asked a panel of writers the following question:

      “Assuming that moderately priced loudspeakers are, by definition, an exercise in compromise, why then do no-compromise loudspeakers sound different?”

      This is a deceptively profound question, and watching the panel struggle with this was one of my Great Lessons in Audio. Long story short, the lesson was that, in practice, there is no such thing as the Absolute Sound. Instead, there are preferences (from consumers) and targets (for designers). The trick to audio joy is to line them up.

      Obviously, this room at Munich featuring Zellaton speakers just didn’t line up for you. Happily, that show had quite a few other experiences and the hope is that some of those others did the trick.

  3. I went to the High End Show for the third year in a row now. As usual starting out on the press day to get the most out of it. But this years greatest, most overrated presentation IMO was this Zellaton set up. Never have so much money sounded so bad. It was extremely sharp and metallic.

    • This room started off a hot mess, but by Sunday, was quite different.

    • Leaving aside what is overrated and what not, Ι enjoyed it quite a lot actually, right from the start. Out of pure curiosity, did you heard it with the Tzar DST on Reed or with the Passeri CD? What tracks?

  4. The open back intrigues. Any pictures?

  5. The next big leap in hi end hi fi will be getting rid of 100lbs of cable to get music from 2 speakers.

  6. Gavin Hadley // July 2, 2016 at 10:44 AM //

    ..there’s not one speaker in the world worth $300K…not one and I don’t care what sort of exotic cabinets materials, drivers or crossover parts…total insanity. But for those who have more money than sense…go for it. Me, I’d rather own a Ferrari..

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