Cube Audio Nenuphar Speakers, First Watt SIT-3 Amp

I am not a bot. I measure my own DIY audio gear. But as an audio-show reporter, I'm only interested in those biologically significant sounds that connect my mind as directly as possible to the music being played. I want to see and feel some inkling of a real orchestra floating between the speakers. I found that connection right away in the room sponsored by retailer-distributor Refined Audio.

In addition to fine music reproduction, I had the honor of discussing the sensory perceptions of bats and bullfrogs with my new friend and hero, Steven Dear (above), who is a professor of psychophysics and physical acoustics, and a member of designer Nelson Pass's inner circle.

Everyone knows I think the First Watt SIT-3 amplifier ($4000) is one of the most fully resolving amplifiers I've ever used. I reviewed the SIT-3 with every speaker in my house, and I heard it in Nelson Pass's lab/studio, driving a pair of DIY speakers featuring 8" Cube Audio full-range drivers. I wanted to own those speakers. But today, Jon Ver Halen of Refined Audio was using the SIT-3 to drive Cube Audio's beautiful Nenuphar (Egyptian Lotus) full-range speakers. The Nenuphar's drive unit is a unique four-cone design—one main cone and three whizzers—with neodymium magnets. Did I mention that no crossovers are employed?

Quality full-range loudspeakers such as these have a direct, fresh, nothing-between-you-and-the-recording presentation—one that specializes in holding the listener's attention. We played Stokowski (conducting Liszt) and Satchmo (playing King Oliver), and the balance between sweet and uber-clear was profoundly right. Most important, the extremes of the bass and treble ranges, typically areas of difficulty for full-range drivers, were lucid and extended in an extremely satisfying way.

Did I mention the room was all-analog? Other gear included: a Pass Labs XP-17 phono preamp ($4300), XP-12 line stage ($5800), XA25 amplifier ($4900), and a Raven turntable and tonearm with an Ortofon SPU Royal N cartridge.

I am planning a review of those Egyptian Lotus speakers.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Cube Audio 'whizzer cone' loudspeakers have many very favorable reviews ........ Some of those reviews are posted online ....... Whizzer cone drivers are somewhat similar to single driver headphones ...... No crossovers between the transducer and the amplifier :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could also check the Voxativ Absolut display :-) ..........

Dcbingaman's picture

Herb is right on ! I got to compare notes with Steven on building Pass Sony VFET amps. (BTW, he has SIX sets of Sony 2SK82 and 2SJ28 VFET parts, but he's NOT selling - I tried !) Steven was an excellent host and his set-up sounded great. The SIT-3 is a sweetheart and sounds a lot like my Pass Sony VFET driving my ancient pair of Spendor SP-1's.

The Cube Audio Nenuphar's sounded wonderful - I thought they were like a pair of Lowther's on steroids ! They were a perfect match to the SIT-3's. Unfortunately, I spent so much time talking to Steve about Pass amplifiers, I lost track of all the other great stuff he was exhibiting.