Cabasse La Sphère powered loudspeaker Manufacturer's Comment
Editor: First, I'd like to thank Michael Fremer for the exciting time we had together, sharing our passion for music and engaging sound through numerous tests and comparisons of different components, as well as digital and analog sources. It was a rich experience, although I missed the pleasure of meeting with John Atkinson at MF's place and comparing the measurement process and human perceptions with him as well.
Regarding the measurements, I was surprised to see that my mine were much smoother that the ones John gathered, and in many ways mine were more in line with MF's comments. The one major exception is the level of the tweeter. My records reveal that it is aligned with the one of the midrange. This is not a surprise to me, as I did not modify the processor in the anechoic room set-up for both ways. Michael and I were missing some air in the upper frequencies, and as we significantly improved the treble reproduction using a TARA Labs cable between the preamp and the processor, I intentionally chose not to raise the level of the tweeter. And that was for two reasons: first, Michael was also intending to use TARA Labs cables between the processor and the power amps, so I expected another step further in the upper-range results. Second, he is well familiar with the acoustics of his room. An inappropriate compensation would have probably sounded unnatural to him, thanks to his skill in sorting out what is intrinsic to the system vs what comes from the nicely damped room.
So I am puzzled here: While I believe Michael and John when they mention that they missed some level in the treble, I do not see why our nearfield measurements are different. Nor why our measurements around the listening point alike, where the treble level is, not surprisingly, rolled off from 10kHz, far above the 4kHz low-pass frequency. Regarding the peak around 30Hz, it represents only +4dB at Michael's listening point compared to 100Hz. Listening tests with +2dB and +0dB at 30Hz instead of 4dB were frustrating, especially with digital software. Therefore, I decided to leave a room characteristic that Michael is used to at his listening position, even if, away from that one listening armchair, the LF level rises dramatically in most areas.
In his detailed review, Michael asks for answers on some "digital" points. John already answered for the choice of 24-bit/48kHz conversion: more precision. The 24/96 option implies dividing by 2 the processing complexity when 24/192 does it by 4. The other "digital" question refers to the choice of ICE amps and deserves more than a "0 and/or "1" answer. We selected those amplifiers to offer the best possible entry package for La Sphère: an optional set of eight amplifiers known to work perfectly together and to not affect the absolute linearity in-phase of the system, and with 1000W for the 22" unit. A set of amps as compact as our speakers, especially considering the built-in drivers and their specs, actually requires a very small space: 5200W in one-and-a-half square feet! This unique solution is already creating great excitement for audiophiles and music lovers around the world; some are ready for more, and would (like me) have been delighted to read Michael's comments on a La Sphère setup with four of his reference amplifiers. Perhaps next time, and in a larger room!
A full digital chain, from SACD player right down to the amplifiers, has been considered at Cabasse. In fact, it still is. For this project, though, we decided to concentrate on the speakers and processor. You know, it took us 15 years to create a digital processor that sounds better than our active analog filters, so please allow us a bit more time to develop, experiment with, and validate with listening sessions a full digital solution.
Among all of Michael's positive comments, I want to thank him for pointing out the signature qualities of the Cabasse soundstage: wide, especially deep, with the most stable and three-dimensional images. These qualities are inherent in all our speakers that are based on our Spatially Coherent System principle, especially spherical enclosures and coaxial drivers. We believe these qualities can be achieved only with point-source systems, where the response at the listening point is very smooth, showing perfect coherence between direct and reflected sounds.
La Sphère is a masterpiece that encompasses 60 years of development in high-performance drivers, filters, and acoustical know-how. Every model from the Cabasse range owns a part of La Sphère—that little something extra that makes your favorite tracks sound real.—Christophe Cabasse
Cabasse Acoustic Center, France