Many audiophiles who have are using large power amplifiers (usually to feed demanding speakers) may come across remarks suggesting “quality sound reproduction, do not necessary mean a hefty price tag or is only domain to very expensive systems. High efficiency, full-range speakers with matching small wattage amplifiers could produce just as excellent results and is never inferior in the areas of liveliness, dynamics (forte of mammoth systems). In fact, the more complicated the design, the more headaches you could face". This is perhaps the part that is most difficult for users of conventional box speakers to comprehend. Such remarks would usually come from a hi-fi old-hand and this author happens to know one such audiophile and he is Mr. Tan (Katong, Singapore). Mr. Tan has a long history with this hobby and has played some very high-end equipment.
If this reflects audiophiles’ maturity in the understanding of hi-fi, when less is more – wouldn’t it make sense? In many cases, speed is murdered by the inefficiency of cross-over network of many speakers. Unfortunately, most multi-way speakers are designed like Draculas (blood (power) sucking?) with a never fulfilled appetite for power. In the region between 500 – 5kHz (cross-over point) where our ear-brain is most sensitive, crossover-less full-range speakers have an advantage of continuousness, coherence, immediacy over conventional ones. This aspect may baffle those who have never experience one before and may even be dismissed as non-issue.
One of Its Kind
The products of Ocellia (France) understand this hi-fi equation. It uses the most fundamental of tube amplifier design with emphasis on its power stage to support a high efficiency, high impedance, full-range speakers.
The cabinet design and construction method of the Ocellia loudspeakers are extraordinary. Handcrafted in the same manner like a guitar or violin, Ocellia uses rigid but light panels (top) for rapid release of cabinet vibration energy and a thicker plane for its front and sides for stability.
I found some 50 to 60% similarity (in looks) between Mr. Tan’s pair of Musical Affairs speakers vis-à-vis Ocellia. The key differences between the two is that Ocellia’s cabinetry is overall heavier (than Musical Affairs) and its adjustable back port (window) design in contrast to an almost bare back of Musical Affairs. The different thickness in Ocellia’s speaker walls are shaped for tuning and the innards of the speaker is free of stuffing or polyfill. In fact, the enclosures are erected with panels (think: partitions) that are crisscrossed internally by lightweight spruce braces for tuning. The bottom of the speaker is opened (unsealed). All in all, this hybrid design (between an open baffle and a bass reflex) is quite one of its kind.
The speaker in review is the Ocellia Calliope.21 Silver which uses an 8 inch full-range PHY driver in Alnico magnet. Affixed are the optional 1.5 inch paper-cone tweeter (optional at S$1,800 per pair) and bi-wire (optional at S$870). The Calliope.21 uses Ocellia’s very own anti-MDI 99.9% silver cables for internal wiring and voice coils. Other specs - nominal impedance of 16 ohm; sensitivity at 98 dB; frequency response of 45Hz – 30 KHz and weighing 24kg (without packaging) for each speaker.
Retailing at S$10,600 Ocellia Calliope.21 (copper version without adding options) you must be wondering how it competes with loudspeakers in similar price bracket? (Editor: In 2010, Ocellia is only shipping the silver-wired version of Calliope.21 retailing at S$ 12,400).