Capital Audiofest 2017: Classic Audio Loudspeakers dances with coils

The Story

I ran to this room when I was told Classic Audio Loudspeakers would be demoing with the Atma-Sphere Novacron monoblock amplifiers. Originally introduced in 1991, the Novacron was the first US product to use the classic 6C33C Russian power triode. Twenty years later, Atma-Sphere is making the Novacron, now updated to Mk 3.3. A true brute in Class A tube terms, at only 60 watts. This was my first chance to hear them in the new form.

The fine gentleman at Classic Audio Loudspeakers often demo with at least two pairs of behemoth sized field coil speakers. Here at CAF it was business as usual, it was the T-1.5 that I heard here and am more familiar with from shows past. The T-1.5 is a 450lb large horn based loudspeaker owing much of it’s heritage in design to the James B. Lansing Hartsfield loudspeaker. Utilizing energized field coil drivers to replace the typical permanent magnet structure found in every other cone speaker driver that isn’t a field coil design. Field coils for lack of better terms are “perfect” in that the magnetic field they create is more stable in certain aspects. Something interesting that most people don’t know about the T-1.5 is that it’s front facing 15” woofer isn’t the only bass providing driver in the loudspeaker. Under the cabinet is a floor-facing 18” woofer used to wrangle in true 20hz extension. I think from that bit of trivia you can now understand why these speakers need room to breathe.

The Sound

Right out of the gate I love the sound of the Classic Audio room here at Capital Audiofest. Even more so than I did at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. This room here is larger and allows the speakers to breathe. The Rocky Mountain Room seemed congested at times, even though it was not by any means a small space.

“Romance and Squawk” are the initial descriptions I have scribbled in my chicken scratched notes. The highs are big but not harsh. Music from all sources heard had a certain bounce and frolic that only field coils seem to produce. Even while listening to Enigma’s MCMXC a.D. the energy of songs like “Mea Culpa” were transporting me to another time, where Chicago house style beats were raging enough to incite riots. I don’t know if what I am hearing is hifi or something bigger, it’s borderline a club-like event in the atmosphere it creates. I’m imagining that the most relatable comparison I’m having here is that of what I’ve read about from the French Discotheques of occupied France in the 1940s. The human voice delivered from the mid-range horn is otherworldly and full. There is nothing akin to this elsewhere at the show.

The fiery track “Gubben Och Källingen” from Jazz At The Pawnshop 2 was exactly that, fiery and attacking. Speedy and weightless were the horns, popping in and out of the picture as was written on the page. Schedules barring, I probably have not spent enough time in the Classic Audio Loudspeakers rooms when at shows. This is going to change.

The System

Classic Audio Loudspeakers T-1.5 Field Coil Power System ($72,950 pr USD)
Classic Audio Loudspeakers T-3.4 Field Coil Power System ($54,950 pr USD)

Atma-Sphere Novacron Mk3.3 Monoblock Amplifiers ($22,200 pr USD)
Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3 Preamplifier ($18,900 USD as optioned)

Kuzma Reference Turntable ($8,900 USD
Tri-Planar Ultimate 12 Tonearm ($9,800 USD)
Van Den Hul Crimson Stradivarius Cartridge ($5,500 USD)
Studer A810 Reel-To-Reel Tape Deck  (Priceless)

Purist Audio Design’s NEW Neptune AC Cables, Balanced Interconnects, and Speaker Cables were used throughout. Along with AC Extension Boxes, Dominus Diamond AC 30th USB Analog System Enhancer. (System Retail – $45,000 USD)