Fidelity Imports: Diptyque, Audia Flight, Michell Audio, NEO, QED, Titan

The French two-way Diptyque DP140 MKII loudspeaker ($17,000/pair) challenges the preconception that planar magnetic speakers struggle to put out deep bass: It's specified to reach down to 35Hz. Its 87dB/W/m sensitivity is merely average—it will benefit from some power—but its 6 ohm nominal impedance means it's not too heavy a load.

The sound quality of this system was outstanding. Its planar-magnetic mid/bass driver and ribbon tweeter operate in seamless harmony. There's a loss of deep bass output with any open baffle dipole design, but this can be compensated, and it's offset by the lack of cabinet coloration in open-baffle speakers. Such designs need room to operate and especially careful placement, but once that's achieved, they work in harmony with the listening space instead of fighting it. Done right—as it was at the show—the results can sound sublime.

Justin Timberlake's "Say Something" showed how deftly this system separates music elements. The vocal clarity and the guitar's detail demonstrated the fast transient response of planar-magnetic and ribbon drivers, but the attention-getter was the tight, full bass. It was textured, thick, and agile in whatever proportion the program demanded. The way the system handled "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"—a live recording of Sara Bareilles covering the Otis Redding classic—had me feeling like I had the best seat in a cozy jazz club. This planar-magnetic bass sounded and felt closer to live than what many speakers achieve.

One of the notable trends on display at this show was the number of systems powered by an integrated amplifier instead of separates. Here, the Audia Flight FLS10 ($12,999) proved a great match for the Dyptiques. The power rating—200W into 8 ohms, 380W into 4 ohms, 700W into 2 ohms—suggests that it has plenty of headroom powering the DP140 MKIIs. The sound corroborated that: It seemed effortless to reproduce music at lively output levels.

The Michell Audio Gyro SE ($6499) with CUSIS E cartridge ($1299) served as the analog source. A NEO rack, QED cables, and Titan power cords round out the system.

Check out the video below of the DP140 MKII speakers and the rest of the system, demoed at the show. Use a decent pair of full-range headphones to get a taste of the system's in-room sound.

Anton's picture

I'm a suckwer for planar and ribbon speakers.

curbfeeler's picture

I heard these in Munich. This design should have been done by Magnepan, but for the leadership there. It would have been an evolutionary development. Magnepan missed the boat on planar magnetic headphones by Jim Winey's own admission.
The Diptyque sounded right.