Raven Ebb Debut

Towering Alan Dwight Hulsebus of Raven Design Studio was proud to show off the unusual skeleton of his Raven Ebb loudspeaker ($12,000/pair). Manufactured and designed in Camarillo, CA, the speaker includes a proprietary Raven ribbon and Focal drivers (including two rear-firing drivers to optimize room interactions), and is wired with Clarity cable. (Exhibitor Orca Design and Manufacturing distributes Focal in the US.) Claiming a frequency response of 40Hz–50kHz ±3dB, with a nominal impedance of 6 ohms and minimal impedance of 5 ohms, the 86dB-sensitive loudspeaker was paired with Superlative Audio's SSA-250 50Wpc amplifiers ($30,000/pair), Oppo BDP-83 SE player ($899), Benchmark DAC1 HDR DAC/preamp ($1799), and a host of Clarity cable.

The sound was special. When I entered the room, Brubeck's perennial "Take 5" captured the prize for the most neutral sound of the day. The percussion also had extremely natural leading edges, and the sound of the horns was nicely rounded and alive. What a relief after a host of dark-sounding systems. Ron Carter's bass wasn't perfectly defined in his bossa nova duets with Rosa Passos, but the room undoubtedly did its part to confound things. The speaker also did a superb job of capturing the pomp and energy of a Susato track on the Reference Recording "30th Anniversary" sampler. The triangle sounded just right, and the percussion was very fast. This baby, which will soon have a distributor network, could be a real winner, certainly when paired with the great sounding SSA-250.

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