Harmonia Distribution: Fyne Audio, Pathos, PrimaLuna, Cabasse

Harmonia—the recently renamed distribution arm of hi-fi company Upscale Audio—had four rooms on the 12th floor at AXPONA.

One room featured had a big, beautiful, woody pair of Fyne Audio loudspeakers—the very Tannoy-like Vintage Fifteen floorstanders ($39,999/pair), which feature a single 15" coaxial driver. These big speakers have a very high specified sensitivity of 97dB/2.83V/m and an in-room frequency response specified as 22Hz–26kHz (–6dB)—and this doesn’t include the optional SuperTrax supertweeter sitting on top, a new product from Fyne Audio, part of the Vintage series. The supertweeter covers the range from 16–60Khz.

Also in use in this room—another source of adjustability—were the new Fyne supertweeters ($4799/pair). These supertweeters are omnidirectional in the horizontal plane and have wide dispersion in the vertical plane, at least in the upward direction. You can think of them as subwoofers at the other end of the audio frequency range; Fyne's explanation for their efficacy relates to phase: It is well-known that phase shift accompanies frequency roll-off; it's the nature of filters (in the analog realm at least). This means that most speakers will have phase shift at both the low and high extremes. Repairing that damage—which I think means adding a higher-intensity source that retains the correct phase—can alter the character of the sound. The SuperTrax has a ±3dB level control. Although an obvious aesthetic match for Classic and Vintage Fyne loudspeakers, the SuperTrax can match up with any speaker with a sensitivity of 98dB or less.

The Fifteens were driven by the similarly eye-catching Pathos Acoustics InPol Legacy Integrated Amplifier ($55,000). The Pathos is modern to the Fynes' classic beauty, yet somehow they're a stylistic match; maybe it’s a shared midcentury modern aesthetic. (Shared design elements--the wide rectangle with a circular center--also helps.) The source was an Aurender N20 streamer ($12,500) feeding a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha Reference Series 3 DAC ($28,000).

My first takeaway from visiting the Harmonia rooms—apart from the wide variety of loudspeaker models Fyne has introduced in just a few years since the company debut—is how adjustable the Fyne speakers are. The Vintage Fifteens have an HF control, which raises or lowers the level above 750Hz by ±3dB. In addition, there's a "presence control," which, as you would expect, raises or lowers the level in the presence region, between 2 and 5kHz. Harmonia’s Alex Brinkman (echoed by Fyne Managing Director Anji Sosna) said that the presence setting moves images forward or back to help the speakers work in whatever room they're in, and—my opinion, not something Brinkman or Sosna said: a listener’s particular taste.

The sound from this system was just what you'd expect from how it looks: big, warm, comfortable, refined—though in a speaker with so much adjustability, that may reflect setup choices at least as much as the speaker’s true nature.

In another Harmonia room, I very much enjoyed the sound of a second pair of Fynes, the F703SP ($19,999/pair). These largish towers are a sort of average between Fyne’s classical and modern designs, combining the Vintage series’ beautiful birch-plywood construction with a thinner, teardrop-shaped body intended (obviously, although no one told me this) to control interior resonance. Amplification was a PrimaLuna EVO 300 Hybrid integrated amplifier ($6995). The source was an Aurender N200 streamer/server ($6300), and digital conversion was achieved with T+A MP200 Multisource streamer/CD player ($5900), which was pinch-hitting for a PrimaLuna EVO 100 tube DAC ($3295) that wasn’t feeling its best.

Elsewhere in the Harmonia rooms: I very briefly listened to a pair of Cabasse Rialto fully active "connected" speakers. Even this brief audition was enough to impress me that there was real bass articulation, from a speaker of a size I'd describe as slightly larger than tiny—definitely small.

In the fourth room, a room full of passive displays, with many interesting and attractive Pathos amplifiers on a table, a big, rectangular speaker intrigued me: the Fyne Audio Classic X. Nothing fancy here—just a 10" coaxial drive unit in a large rectangular box that vents down and out through a fabric grille around the periphery.

I can't say what exactly attracted me to this speaker, which after all was just sitting there on a table, but something did, perhaps a certain old-school simplicity. For those with larger or smaller rooms, there’s also a Classic VII and a Classic VIII (plus the Classic VIII SM, with an 8" driver in a much smaller cabinet).

In this video Ken Micallef interviews Fyne Audio's Dr. Paul Mills and Andrzej Sosna.