LOS ANGELES (PTA) — Alaia (“ah-lye-a”) is the Hawaiian word given the wooden surfboards originally used by the Hawaiians in the 19th century. Alaia Audio in partnership with LKV Research electronics, made their world debut for both Alaia Audio (the company) and Alaia’s debut ‘Ekahi loudspeaker.
I couldn’t be more proud to introduce you to Alaia Audio. If you follow our live-show-reporting, you may remember reading about Alaia Audio and their new ‘Ekahi loudspeaker making our list of “Must See Rooms, Day Three”. The reasons they made our list are many. They are a new player in the market, made in Chandler Arizona, they make an interesting product, and that product sounds damn good for an initial outing. THE SHOW 2019 is the launching pad for both Alaia Audio and the ‘Ekahi loudspeaker.
The word ‘Ekahi (“eh-kah-hee”) is the Hawaiian which means “one.” One as a cardinal number, denoting a quantity, as opposed to first, second or third. However I would argue it holds double meaning in this case as the ‘Ekahi loudspeaker is the first product ever brought to market by Alaia Audio, and it remains the only one (cardinal usage) in their stable.
The ‘Ekahi is a two-way design, that is stand-mounted with it’s own multi-function stand. The stand of the ‘Ekahi contains no drivers or amplifiers, only an isolated crossover, which in my opinion, is the perfect place to locate them. I wish more manufacturers would explore this territory. The ‘Ekahi and all forth-coming products from Alaia Audio has been years in the making, with owner Bill Sarette designing each one.
Production began in Mr. Sarette’s garage as he transformed his design ideas into a finished product. His process was further refined when he joined a maker-space, where he had access to multiple CNC machines, laser cutters, and 3-D printers. Not exactly a garage workshop. With the access to this equipment Mr. Sarette was able to go from cutting out speaker cabinet parts using saws and templates, to CNC machining the cabinet parts Alaia Audio uses. Alaia Audio now have moved into their own small facility to manufacture all of their speakers. In keeping with sustainability and cost savings, they try to source as many production parts as locally as possible.
The ‘Ekahi design is more than it’s outer wood cladding would even dare you to take guesses at. The front and rear baffles, are entirely made of solid wood, the 18-piece side walls are made of sturdy MDF with veneers attached. The internal sub-cabinets house separately the tweeter and midbass drivers in isolated chambers. The midbass sub-cabinet is actually round (like a ball) and made from fiberglass, and outfitted with multiple layers of damping material. The entire cabinet structure is made of multiple layers or differentiating materials to channel and dispose of resonances. After all of that, each driver is mounted to an isolated ring, dubbed “Driver Mount Isolation (DMI)” by Alaia Audio. This means that each driver, houses in it’s own chamber is free-floating, not to interfere with the inner sub-cabinet, which also doesn’t interfere with the outer “cladding cabinet” (my quote, not theirs).
Driver complement of the ‘Ekahi is a familiar looking 1-inch tweeter, and an also familiar looking 7-inch midbass. The speaker stands 43” tall, 18” deep, 14” wide, and weighs in at 86-lbs when both speaker and crossover-base are combined. Frequency response is stated to range from 42Hz-to-20kHz, and carry an impedance of 4-Ohms with 87dB sensitivity. Recommended amplifier power is from 30 to 200-Watts per channel.
The ‘Ekahi loudspeaker did a boatload of things right, and then nothing wrong that I could find. It handled the 180-Watts of LKV Research Class-D amplification with poise under power. Bass was powerful and deep, despite the 42Hz low-frequency barrier, but I account that solidity of bass to the ‘Ekahi loudspeaker being rear-ported, tuned perfectly, and working well with ample power. The ‘Ekahi performs like a large speaker does when it comes to bass, but does well to use its cabinet design to play small when it comes to the disappearing act. Imaging was stable and rather deep set considering the room placement, and size. Overall, I was thrilled to give these some extended listening, looking for mistakes, and smiling when I found none.
– ‘Ekahi Stand-Mount Loudspeaker (w/Base) – starting at $8,849 pr USD
(add $400 for high-gloss finishes)
– Verito 1 Integrated Amplifier w/Phono – $2,700 USD
– Sondek Transcription LP12 w/Van Den Hul MC10
– MITerminator 4 Cables
– Vulcan X Four Shelf Audio Rack
– nano iOne DAC