Apogee Duetta II loudspeaker
We got off to a bad start with the Duettas. Ricardo Franassovici, of UK importer Absolute Sounds, thoughtfully decided to help me unpack and set them up, but on doing so discovered that the screws for mounting the rear of the baseplate were missing. impatient to hear what they sounded like, he stood them up on their vestigial fixed stands, and the inevitable happened: one of them keeled over, taking a bite out of a windowsill and doing some internal damage to the frame of the speaker in the process. They nevertheless continued to work.
That was the only snag, however, and the Duettas have subsequently proceeded to charm everyone who's heard them, with the single exception of the Man Who Doesn't Like Loudspeakers (Keith Howard, editor of Hi-Fi Answers).
I think I understand why he doesn't like them, but it does nothing to diminish my admiration for a loudspeaker which, how ever uncomfortable it can feel at times, is the single most extraordinarily lucid and colorful transducer I have ever heard, with the possible exception of the Koetsu Rosewood Signature (which also has a telephone number instead of a price tag).
The bass end, despite being slightly OTT, has real depth and power combined with pitch, bounce, and an unmistakably tactile quality. Bass instruments have an unbounded, in-the-room quality that for once makes sense of that old cliche about reaching out and touching the instrument. At times, that's almost exactly how it was. The speaker has near-perfect integration and uniformity from the lowest to the highest notes, and a wonderfully vivid sense of tonal color and instrumental separation.
But they stretched my Krell KSA-50 up to and frequently beyond its limits. It took an all-too-brief spell with a new KSA-100 (and a prototype 300-watt class-A monster from Musical Fidelity I'll tell you more about in the future) to show that it was the amplifier, not the loudspeakers, putting the lid on that final 10%.
All this makes the Duetta a very expensive animal in more senses than one. Right now, though, it is my sincere desire to be marooned on a desert island with a pair of these for company (footnote 1).—Alvin Gold
Footnote 1: Though I have no desire to be marooned on a desert island, I have to concur in AG's assessment of the potential wonders of the Duetta. I was privileged to hear an a recent demonstration of them at Audio Vision in Arlington, MA. The problems that J. Gordon Holt and I heard at Apogee's CES room in the summer of 1985 were totally absent, and the remarkable coherence that I've heard from every Apogee speaker was quite stunning. I can't say whether they'll pass JGH's "raise the hackles" test, but most listeners will find them wonderful to listen to—but only with absolutely the best source material and drive electronics.—Larry Archibald