Rocket 88s

"What's new?" we asked Halcro's Philip O'Hanlon. He ushered us into a room with the brand new ("North American premiere") dm88 250W monoblocks ($40,000/pair). Also in the room were Hanlon's own pair of Classic Audio Reproductions T-3s ($16,500/pair and up, depending on finish)—updated reproductions of James B. Lansing's Hartsfields.

Ummumumu ummumumu. The sound Hanlon wrested from those speakers was dynamic, immediate, and physical. Sure, you're thinking, We mean the system played loud and had an almost physical impact—and it did. But Hanlon suckered us with the dynamic extremes first, then he said, "You've heard the power, now experience the glory," and cued the new Ladysmith Black Mambazo disc from Heads Up. Ahhhhh, we sank into the harmonies of those rich male voices, punctuated with the clicks and glottal clucks of their native African tongue. It was tonally true and convincingly present.

It was also a tribute to O'Hanlon's demonstration skills and set-up savvy. It ain't just the little guys who know what they're doing.

John Atkinson's picture

Just as I saw this story, Stereophile's Brian Damkroger sat down next to me in the press room, and let me know that the show pair of dm88 amplifiers were the very same samples that he had just finished reviewing for the magazine. I can't tell you what he thought—for that you'll have to read the May issue.

oded's picture

i ,too ,was in awe of the sound generated in the halcro room. the new amps are significantly better then the 68s , which i currently own. they were much more musical, and those speakers were simply mesmerising. i kept coming back for more. it was certainly ,imho, one of the best sounds of the show!

Jon Iverson's picture

I've got to add that the visceral impact of this system was amazing. The first demo cut created the most convincing sense of a real drum kit and bass guitar amp presence as I've heard reproduced by an audio system. And I've heard a lot of live drums and bass amps played in small rooms. Kudos to Philip O'Hanlon for an incredible demo.

John Wolff's picture

PART IIt is an honor to have the T-3.1 loudspeaker system used by one the finest high-end audio amplifiers in their CES sound rooms. We have been producing this speaker for years. The T-3 system was introduced at CES in 1999 and developed as a slightly more reasonably priced version of the T-1 system. The T-1 uses the T.A.D. TH 4001 all wood maple horn on the midrange while the T-3 uses a composite horn. Otherwise, the two are have the same components. The T-1 and T-3 were upgraded to T-1.1 and T-3.1 versions in 2001 and shown at the New York Stereophile show.While it is true that Classic Audio Reproductions was born out of its ROOTS of reproducing products to upgrade Marantz, McIntosh and JBL collectable products, in 1995 it added two additional loudspeakers to its line--The Studio Standard II and IIb to augment the Hartsfield Reproduction Speakers.

John Wolff's picture

PART II In 1997 Classic Audio Reproductions introduced the T-1 loudspeaker system and was given the HONORABLE BEST SOUND of the Show by the much missed Harvey Rosenberg of ?Positive Feedback Magazine?.It is gratifying that people who walk past our showroom each year at CES or the other numerous shows which Stereophile sponsors have rediscovered HORNS. When executed properly, HORN speakers can compensate for the anomalies of a digital front-end system and bring music to life. It is unfortunate that the press has been less than kind to our medium.If you could please indulge me with a few minor corrections: ? The T-3's are now in a T-3.2 version and are priced at $18,500 for standard woods. Exotic woods are slightly more.? The T-3?s and the current line of horn speakers are uniquely Classic Audio Reproductions designs and have no resemblance with other manufacturers.

John Wolff's picture

PART III It is my belief that a horn speaker of reasonable size can be played both in large and small rooms when properly matched with high-quality electronics. The sound that can be achieved has been noted in the Halcro?s room. I would like to thank Stereophile for their positive comments and look forward to raising the expectations of those who have previously missed our presence at the show.John Wolff, Classic Audio Reproductions Visit us at