PranaFidelity: Non-Defensive Listening

I wanted to better understand what I was hearing in the PranaFidelity/Musical Concepts room, so I asked PranaFidelity’s Steven Norber to tell me about his design philosophy.

Norber said something very interesting: He thinks in terms of “friendliness.” He feels an urge to build “responsible” loudspeakers. To that end, he places an emphasis on those aspects of speaker design that influence impedance. He strives for a very flat 8 ohms, with the object of building a speaker that will present a very stable load for either a tube or solid-state amplifier.

Further, Norber believes in “non-defensive listening.” A listener shouldn’t have to do anything other than be a recipient of the information presented by the system, he explained. In this way, the listener can feel free to drop any guards, and simply listen.

To me, this seemed to be a fascinating and excellent way of thinking about speaker design. Equally fascinating was the system’s sound, which was decidedly different from every other I’d heard at RMAF: It was as though the system drew a spotlight on midrange and textural elements, especially magnifying voices, stringed instruments, the sound of fingers across a fretboard, and hand percussion, making these aspects seem larger than life. It was a spectacular sound, in the most literal sense.

The source was a Kuzma Stabi Reference turntable with a 4Point tonearm and Denon DL-103R phono cartridge; the PranaFidelity Model Fifty90 loudspeakers ($3495/pair) were being driven by Musical Design Chameleon preamp and T-100 hybrid power amp combo; cables were by Belden. When digital was called for, a Wyred4Sound DAC-2 ($1495) accepted signals from a PC running JRiver software.

Regadude's picture

Nice system, but too expensive for that Johnny on the swing. cool

JohnnyR's picture

What's with all the new age babble? Yes a speaker can be built for a constant impedance across the spectrum. KEF did just that YEARS ago. "non defensive listening"?  I didn't realise that people are so uptight when listenijg to their systems lol

From your "review" it sounds like the midrange was cranked up somewhat in relation to the rest of the frequency response. THAT is NOT a good thing. If I wanted to change the sound from NEUTRAL (which any good speaker design should aim for) then I would use tone controls or a Parametric EQ to do the job.

Shows the error of relying upon listening only and also of relying upon a "reviewer" who just spouts platitudes.

Stephen Mejias's picture

From your "review" it sounds like the midrange was cranked up somewhat in relation to the rest of the frequency response. THAT is NOT a good thing.

Johnny: 1. It's not a review. 2. Did I say it was a good thing?

Consider the source of your information (that would be ME) and then ask yourself why you're criticizing me.

JohnnyR's picture

Silly me for not considering the source of the info. I should have known better than to think you would do something well.

You DID say the sound was fascinating and spectacular. Was that a criticism?  Strange choice of words if not.

Sorry but we are not mind readers, we only know what you report.

Stephen Mejias's picture

You DID say the sound was fascinating and spectacular. Was that a criticism?  Strange choice of words if not.

You mean, "Strange choice of words, if so."

Sorry but we are not mind readers, we only know what you report.

Speak for yourself before insulting our other readers. You'd do much better with an open mind.

JohnnyR's picture

Oh come on......this is childish. Either "fascinating" and "spectacular" mean a good thing of they don't. Make up your mind and stop waffling. You got caught being wishy washy and are looking for a way out


So you are also saying that the rest of your readers ARE mind readers LMAO. This is pathetic. Go write another "spectacular" and "fascinating" report then xD

If you want "open minds" go watch the conspiracy videos on Youtube, plenty of potential although prob not rich customers there. Cuck-coo!


I'm sure it will be COOL COOL COOL!

kelven's picture

Please help me understand the source of your anger against the reviewer?

To me he appears to be doing his job: reporting/relating his experience and the information he received from the manufacturer.

Maybe a dose of "friendliness" could include questions to the reviewer asking for more details about his experience?

Such a mode of non-defensive questioning might help one feel listened to, maybe even facilitate a softening, per se, so the information at hand, for a moment--if only for the blink of an eye--renders the moment full of essential/authentic sweetness to receiving the world from a place of unguardedness.

Granted, such a practice is much easier said than done, but one than can be practiced, nonetheless. . .



JohnnyR's picture

Stereophile and Fearless Leader only want the sheeple to sit back and absorb their "wisodm" and not to ask questions and make waves.

Regadude's picture

Hey Johnny, why don't you try this crap on Fremer's Analog planet? Mikey is a very nice guy, but he will F you up if you act like a rude arse on his sight. 

JohnnyR's picture

Kelven, you saw how he used "fascinating" and "spectacular" instead of just coming out and saying "the midrange was too forward sounding".....that's being a good reporter?

kelven's picture

. . . you interpret Mr. Mejias words "fascinating" and "spectacular" to suggest the midrange had a pronounced forward sound, and if this was the case, you would have been more at ease had he provided such a description.

After reading several entries from Mr. Mejias and other writers, I am impressed by each and every one of their skills, insofar as the amount of stimulation with which they must contend, sort through, and ascribe meaning during any one of these audio events, be they in the states, or overseas.

As much as these writers may well love what they do, it is still a job that requires a great deal of focus, not to mention effective writing skills--and deadlines (heaven forbid!).

I hope this little bit of information can be seen as helpful in cultivating compassion for these folks--even if their style of writing is different from yours.

Maybe a "fun" experiment would be to attend one of these shows and fulfill an assignment not unlike what the magazine writers are required to do as their actual job.

Personally, I have a feeling I would still be in bed from exhaustion!

Best to you JohnnyR.  You have a great deal of enthusiasm.  Rather than it getting the best of you, take a breath or two and witness its flame.


JohnnyR's picture

The "reporters" take every opportunity to not step on any toes when writing up their frankly sad writeups. We need honest reporting not some sugar coated drivel.

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