Göbel High End Divin Marquis loudspeaker Page 2

I had emailed Oliver Göbel a diagram of my room, and he was confident the Divin Marquises would work well in it. I ended up with the woofer of the left-hand Marquis 37" from the LPs that line the nearest sidewall, the right-hand loudspeaker's woofer 34" from the bookshelves that line its sidewall. The woofers were 88" from the wall behind them. This was a little farther out than I wanted, but I couldn't place the speakers any closer to the wall due to the two stairs and raised platform behind the right-hand Marquis that led to the vestibule. The speakers were 120" from the position of my head. Once the speakers were optimally placed, I removed the Delrin coasters and the plastic strips that locked the feet's suspensions.

I started my serious listening with the speakers driven by the Parasound Halo JC 1+ monoblocks that I reviewed in the June 2020 issue. The source was first a PS Audio DirectStream processor, then the latest version of MBL's N31 CD player/DAC, both fed audio data over my network from my Roon Nucleus+ server and controlled with the Roon app.


The review samples had two sets of binding posts to allow biwiring, but I single-wired the speakers with my regular AudioQuest K2 cables, using jumpers made from short lengths of Göbel's Lacorde Statement cable to connect the woofer and midrange/tweeter binding posts.

A common mistake made by audiophiles is to choose loudspeakers that are too large for their room. In a small room, the low-frequency room gain with a big speaker can exaggerate the bass to the point that the music is messed with. (I first experienced this phenomenon when I visited the founder and editor of The Absolute Sound, Harry Pearson, in 1985. Harry was using the enormous, floor-to-ceiling Infinity IRS IIIs, and while his listening room was not that small, the bass produced by the twin IRS subwoofer towers made me feel that my chest was being crushed.)

Fortunately, while its lows were indeed weighty, the Divin Marquis passed this test. It reproduced the 1/3-octave warble tones on my Editor's Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2) with good weight down to the 25Hz band, though the 63Hz, 50Hz, and 31.5Hz warbles were somewhat exaggerated by the lowest-frequency modes in my room. The 20Hz band was only just audible at my usual listening levels, with no chuffing coming from the ports, but this is definitely a full-range loudspeaker. The half-step–spaced low-frequency tonebursts on Editor's Choice spoke cleanly down to 32Hz, with only a slight emphasis of any of the tones with frequencies below 80Hz. When I listened to the speakers' panels with a stethoscope while these tones played, I couldn't hear any vibrational modes on any of the panels other than the name plate on the speaker's rear; despite its size, the Marquis's enclosure is effectively nonresonant.

After the minimonitors that I usually listen to, the support given recordings by the Divin Marquises' extended low frequencies was a delight throughout my auditioning. The deep organ notes at the climax of Philip Ledger's performance of Franck's Chorale No.3 in A minor (24/192 AIFF needle drop from Organ Music from King's College, HMV HQS 1356) were reproduced with seemingly limitless power.

And although the speakers' lows sounded weighty, this was not achieved at the expense of definition. My Fender bass guitar on the channel identification and phase tracks on Editor's Choice sounded as well-defined as I have heard, as did the dropped-octave synth bass notes on "The Trader," from the Beach Boys' Holland (24/192 AIFF needle drop from Brother/Reprise K54008). The sampled kickdrum in "Fit Song," from Cornelius's Sensuous: la musique de 21° siècle (ALAC files ripped from CD, Warner Japan EVE016) had both impact and weight.


Higher in frequency, the dual-mono pink noise track on the Editor's Choice CD sounded too dull if I slumped in my seat but was uncolored and smooth when I sat upright so that my ears were level with the centers of the Divin Marquises' tweeters. I did feel that there was a slight emphasis at the very top of the midrange but assumed that this would disappear as the speakers continued playing. The central image of the noise signal was stable, with no splashing to the sides at some frequencies, but not quite as narrow as I experienced with the GoldenEar minimonitors I reviewed in September.

After a week's listening, with the speakers fully broken in, their balance still seemed a little forward in the upper midrange. As I was already using Göbel's Lacorde Statement jumpers to single-wire the Divin Marquises, I replaced the AudioQuest K2s with 3m lengths of Lacorde Statement cables. The midrange-to-treble transition now sounded even, but the new cables unmasked a touch of mid-treble emphasis. Replacing the Parasounds with Lamm M1.2 Reference monoblocks, used with their output-stage bias set to "1–6 ohms," resolved that issue, but the top octaves now sounded a touch too sweet. I went back and forth between the two pairs of amplifiers throughout my auditioning.

It is always easier to describe "how much" a speaker delivers than to put that into a musical context. The Göbel loudspeakers were chameleons. They sounded small when appropriate, as with Chris Thile's transcriptions for mandolin of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Violin, Vol.1 (16/44.1 AIFF, Nonesuch 5353602) but massively powerful when the recording called for it, as with Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" (24/192 AIFF needle drop from a 12" 45rpm single, ABC ABE 12002).

My ears frazzled by giving in to the temptation to play Joe Walsh as loud as the Göbels would allow without strain, I gave them a rest by cueing up Leonard Shure's performance of Schubert's Piano Sonata in B-flat, D.960 (24/96 ALAC, released on LP as Audiofon 72010). Peter McGrath recorded this performance in analog in 1982, and it has been in constant rotation since he gave me the 24/96 digital transfer a few years back. The piano's left-hand register sounded suitably majestic, its upper frequencies delicate when called for. Peter had placed his microphones relatively close to the piano; there is therefore only a slight hint of hall sound with this recording, but the Divin Marquises were sufficiently transparent to make me aware of it.


I returned to Chris Thile with a recommendation from Jason Victor Serinus, another album of Bach transcriptions, this time played by Thile on mandolin with Yo-Yo Ma on cello and Edgar Meyer on double bass (Bach Trios, 24/96 AIFF files, Nonesuch/HDTracks). I played "Wachet Auf," a work I've known inside out since playing the obbligato on violin at a school orchestra concert in the early 1960s. Thile plays the obbligato with appropriate delicacy, and Edgar Meyer plays the walking bass line pizzicato; the lowest notes were nicely fleshed out by the Göbels but without any boom: There was no indication that these are big loudspeakers with big woofers.

Bach led naturally to Beethoven, specifically a new recording of the Sixth Symphony, the "Pastoral," from the Akademie für Alte Musike Berlin led by concertmaster Bernhard Forck—no conductor! (16/44.1 FLAC, Harmonia Mundi/Tidal). As I was expecting, the thunderstorm in the fourth movement was reproduced in full measure by the Divin Marquises. But it was the unexpectedly delicate way in which these speakers got right the country-dance character of the third movement, the bassoon punctuations in particular, that impressed. And the glorious restatement of that I-vi-IV-V chord sequence—so overused since Beethoven's time (footnote 1)—at the end of the finale rocked my world on the Göbel speakers.

Full range, low distortion, no coloration: The thoroughbred performance of the Divin Marquis confirms that Göbel High End presents serious competition to the Wilsons, Magicos, Rockports, Tidals, von Schweikerts, and YG Acousticses of the cost-no-object loudspeaker world. I am going to miss the Göbels when they go back to the distributor, and I am not looking forward to packing them into the flight cases and maneuvering them up the steps to my vestibule.

Footnote 1: The dominant earworm that uses this clichéd sequence is Hoagy Carmichael's "Heart & Soul." Click on the link at your peril!
Göbel Audio GmbH
US distributor: Bending Wave USA
10404 West State Rd. 84, Suite 101
Davie, FL 33324
(954) 716-7407

georgehifi's picture

How's your back JA after having to shift these things and amps to drive them around for listening and measuring.

Cheers George

John Atkinson's picture
georgehifi wrote:
How's your back JA after having to shift these things and amps to drive them around for listening and measuring.

I am always careful with large, heavy amps and speakers: wearing a brace, keeping the weight close to me and my back straight, lifting with my knees etc. But these speakers almost did me in. I'm reviewing minimonitors for a while now, starting with the Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signatures in the December issue.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

jimsusky's picture

I seem to recall that Pearson - probably in his forties - had Frank Doris (once referred to as "Frank 'n' Doris) as a setup guy. A young(er) strong(er) back (or two) seems to be indicated.

invaderzim's picture

I'm looking forward to the B&W review.

Awsmone0's picture

I know you don’t normally do it, but these speakers measure so well I wonder what their distortion is like ?

John Atkinson's picture
Awsmone0 wrote:
I know you don’t normally do it, but these speakers measure so well I wonder what their distortion is like?

I only investigate distortion when the listening has suggested that there is something wrong. The half-step/semitone-spaced tone bursts spoke very cleanly with this speaker, with no audible "doubling"" - second harmonic distortion - even at high playback levels.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

350 lbs each ? Egads.

How old did you say you are ?

On top of all your other superlatives, you can heft 150 Kilograms without damaging the darn things.

I'd have thought Linn Isobariks would be over the top.

Did you get paid Milwright Scale ? ( about $65/hr )

Well, I guess, you can now accept those big MBLs with all their electronics. ( single handedly )


no more weakling excuses from fragile review staff. Hmph!

I have an elevator in my new Florida Home, I could handle 600 lb. loudspeakers ( although I'm not going to contemplate it )

Dear John Atkinson,
I imagined you drifting into the Lazyboy but you continue to surprise & impress, just like all these long Decades past.

Thank you,

Tony in Venice

ps. I could suggest a nice little electric Hi-Lo with a 4,000 lb. capacity.

Ortofan's picture

... presently on sale (in the walnut finish) for $14K - down from $20K.

In his review, JA1 characterized them as exhibiting "a neutral, uncolored midrange; weighty but well-defined lows; sweet, smooth highs; and superbly secure, stable soundstaging."

If, as JA1 concluded, "I very much enjoyed my time with the KEF Reference 5" and the "KEFs gave me all I need for musical and sonic satisfaction", then what more might the Göbel speakers offer that would justify their purchase at 4-5 times the price of the KEFs?

funambulistic's picture

... by JA1 back in January (maybe again somewhere else - I did not look at all of his reviews): "It's been a long time since I had the big KEFs in my room, and value, of course, is in the ears of the listener."

Why do you keep asking the same question?

Ortofan's picture

... to make it more general.

Suppose that you already enjoyed listening to a given pair of speakers and found that they gave you all you needed for musical and sonic satisfaction. Are those speakers still lacking in some regard? If so, what then might you possibly expect a much more expensive pair of speakers to offer that would justify their purchase?

Is that better?

Anton's picture

I think the answers to your questions are completely up to you!

These are beyond my reach. Plus, they lack a rear firing tweeter (or 'ambience' tweeter on the MBLs,) so they aren't quite in the front rank yet.

Without a rear firing tweeter, the speaker will rank down there with the Tidal Audio Akira or Marten Coltrane 3.

Until they get those rear firing drivers, Von Schweikert, Wilson, and MBL will rule.

Ortofan's picture

... deemed to be an essential feature of any speaker, ought we to conclude that you would reject a product such as the Dutch & Dutch 8c, cited below by the "anonymous internet troll" as something of a high-performance speaker engineering paradigm?
KR found listening with them to be a "pure delight" and JA1 summed up their measured performance with one word: "Wow!"

MhtLion's picture

They are clearly a beast of speakers.

invaderzim's picture

"and I decided to wait until the next day"

That is some real self control. That is like seeing the present under the tree on Christmas and then going "maybe after dinner tonight I'll play with it"

Shangri-La's picture

Is it due? Been refreshing the page all day lol.

John Atkinson's picture
Shangri-La wrote:
Is it due? Been refreshing the page all day

The October issue's Recommended Components will be posted to the website next week.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Shangri-La's picture

Thank you John. The list is what I most look forward to every 6 months. Cannot wait :-)

tonykaz's picture

You are a Pro-Audio , are you not?

and... you have something to say with the ability to say it.

I would value your opinions on Formats if you dare go there.

Thank you for your insights, so far.

Tony in Venice

ps. I too am an engineer

Anton's picture

The more I see them, these speakers bear a startling resemblance to 70s and 80s boombox speakers...

Picture these as 18 inches tall and connected to a tuner/cassette/8 band equalizer section between them and it becomes uncanny.

Perhaps they could even flank one of those 'stereo stacks' from the early 80s that came with the stand included.

popluhv's picture

Anton, now that you point it out I can't un-see it!

remlab's picture

It measures pretty damn well compared to a lot of other ultra expensive speakers from boutique manufacturers(Like Goldmund). I was expecting much worse.

MikeP's picture

These are the best kept secret very few have heard yet !