The Forthcoming Baun Hydra Loudspeaker

In the hallway outside the JMF Audio/Ideon Audio room, Benno Baun Meldgaard, former speaker designer for Gamut, Raidho, and Gryphon, discussed his prototype Hydra loudspeaker. Expected in October, the cost for the for the entry-level 3-way floorstander—the smallest model in Baun's forthcoming Reference line of speakers—is projected at "around $150,000/pair."

Above the Hydra, at the top of the Reference line, will sit a 4-way model with three 14" woofers. It has a projected price of perhaps $400,000/pair. All models are designed to have a frequency response of 16 or 17Hz–30kHz, ±3dB, and a sensitivity of 92–93dB. Nominal impedance with be 6 ohms and will never dip below 4 ohms.

The Hydra represents a paradigm shift. Both the drivers and the 24mm-thick enclosure are manufactured from the same proprietary and sustainable environmentally friendly, 100% recyclable composite material. Meldgaard claims the material has the same weight as aluminum but is harder than stainless steel and does not ring. Developed by two companies in collaboration, it comes in sheets that are machined to the correct size. Meldgaard claims the enclosure is completely silent, ensuring that all sound only emanates from the drivers.

"At the heart of the system are woofers that use a unique magnetic system," Meldgaard explained. "They have an underhung voice coil with a linear travel of 40mm." The coaxial tweeter is a 1.18" (30mm) design with an inverted solid-diamond dome. The coaxial midrange is a 7" (170mm) inverted cone with a 70mm voice coil. Woofers—there are two in the Hydra—are 10.5" (266mm) with a 107mm voice coil.

"I flipped the midrange cone so it's concave and no longer acts as a (moving) waveguide for the tweeter," Meldgaard said. "Everything remains phase-coherent, and timing is correct. This creates a bigger soundstage with a bigger sweet spot.

"The crossover is 80% of the design and 80% of the work. In the end, we're creating a different sound than before. The goal with Gamut was to create a more organic sound, and the goal with Raidho was to increase resolution. Now I want to combine the two goals in the Baun speaker line."

Meldgaard was candid about his design philosophy. "There is not a single measurement of a loudspeaker that can predict how an opera singer will sound," he declared. "Whenever I hear something, I try to find a way to measure it. But if I can't measure it and it sounds great, I go with my ears regardless of the measurements."