Audio Arts & the Zellaton Grand

Manhattan retailer/distributor Audio Arts was showing the Zellaton Grand loudspeaker ($39,750/pair). This combines a tweeter and two 7" mid-woofers using aluminum foil-faced rigid-foam diaphragms first developed in 1935 by Emil Podszus—which I had first seen and heard in the Pawel Ensemble minimonitors from 20 years ago—with a downward-firing woofer in a cabinet that is open to the rear.

I had heard the Zellaton speakers at a dealer's last spring, but they sounded much better at CES, less colored and with a more integrated sound top-to-bottom. I put this down to the C1 D/A controller and A1 power amplifier, both from Swiss manufacturer CH Precision, which is now distributed in the US by Audio Arts. CH Precision was formed by engineers at Anagram, whose digital circuitry was featured in the NagraDAC we reviewed several years ago. The A1 offers 100Wpc into 8 ohms and is unique is being able to have each channel's combination of global and local feedback independently adjusted to best match the speaker load. This is particularly useful if a pair of A1s is used to vertically bi-amp a two way speaker, where the two channels' feedback can be independently tuned for the tweeter and woofer.

The Zellaton Grand is very sensitive; the A1's alphanumeric DSP-calculated power display indicated that with the piano recording I was auditioning, the peak output power was <400mW much of the time, with just two peaks reaching 14W.