Sometimes the most affordable systems are the most fun. A good case in point was the tiny speakers with subwoofers from Nola Speakers called the Brio Quattro. This system was producing an impossibly big sound from two tiny monitors in a bright room while Carl Marchisotto was spinning CDs on an Electrocompaniet ECC-1 CD player feeding the Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III integrated.
My ears heard the big sound but my ears disconcertingly saw tiny speakers on stands. The speakers themselves looked like a shrunken big Nola speaker with rear porting on the bottom and an open baffle on the top driver. We are talking about two tiny 3.5 inch drivers here! Wow. The subs cover the lower bass up to 90 hz and then the Brio monitors take over. The Brios were finished in a beautiful gloss black. Like the sublime Nola towers, the open baffle helps create a spacious soundstage and natural imaging. Dimensions of the Brios are just 12″ high by 5.5″ wide by 5.5″ deep. Nice and compact. Sensitivity is 90db at 8 ohms. They seemed to mate well with the Cronus Magnum.
The two subwoofers in the Quattro system (one used on the Trio system, natch), use 8″ long-throw woofers are designed to extend to 90hz for mating with the monitors. The idea is to allow the full sonic benefits of true stereo bass reproduction. The subs are in a sealed enclosure with a Class A/B 250 watt amplifier. Carl feels the Class A/B amps sound better than the typical Class D amps used in subs like this. The subwoofer uses continuously-variable level and crossover frequency controls (40hz to 180hz, 24db per octave), 6b at 35hz switchable EQ, a phase switch and line-level and speaker level inputs, which facilitates it being matched perfectly to the Brio main speakers in different room environments. The whole systems permits a full range from 28hz to 20khz. Carl used his Nola Blue Thunder speaker wire to connect it all together.
The Rogue Cronus Magnum III (updated late last year) uses four KT120 power tubes to output 100 watts per channel, is built like a tank, and looks like it. Frequency range supported is 20hz to 30khz. A switch allows one to toggle between ultralinear and triode amp modes. There is a large linear power supply for supplying lots of dynamic headroom and low-frequency response.
The Electrocompaniet uses fully balanced converter design with lots of isolation between digital and analog and a top-loading CD transport. The player uses fully balanced, discrete audio circuitry. There are five different housings acting as shields for analog, digital, the transport, the transformer, and the controller circuits.
Carl put on the wonderful sounding Pentatone SACD of Lt. Kije. The soundstaging was excellent and there was lots of detail. The Brios fully disappeared into the room. The layering of instruments was top-notch.
We next listened to a small jazz ensemble and the upright bass was deep and very rich. It was a very realistic playback. It’s really amazing what a pair of 3.5 inch drivers is capable of!
Another great sounding room utilizing small speakers in Florida. Well done Carl and team!