Lumen White Whiteflame loudspeaker Page 4

With the Rockport Antareses still fresh in my mind's ear, I gravitated toward some of the recordings used for that review, including Jascha Heifetz's Scottish Fantasy (LP, RCA/Classic LSC-2603), and Beethoven's Symphony 3 with René Leibowitz and the Royal Philharmonic (RCA/Reader's Digest boxed set). Whatever reservations I might have had when listening with the Nu-Vista 300 were quickly dispelled when I listened to these recordings through the Music Reference RM-200. With the tube amp driving the Whiteflames, strings had detail, delicacy, body, and warmth, and orchestral colors were rich and appropriately complex. As convincing as through the Rockports? No, but I think it will be a long time, if ever, before I experience anything like that from another set of speakers.

Three smallish bass drivers in an undamped cabinet can combine to produce prodigious, believable bass. There was nothing "polite" about the bass extension on the Beatles' "Baby You're a Rich Man," from the German pressing of Magical Mystery Tour (Hör Zu SHzE 327), nor did the clarity and precision collapse when I cranked up the volume. The bottom line: While the Lumen White's fast, clean, and detailed ceramic drivers were extremely revealing, with the proper choice of associated equipment they were more than capable of telling the story, as opposed to becoming the story.

Like the heavily damped Rockport, the Whiteflame could play very loud without congestion, and, with the right tube amplifier, could do so at very low levels while maintaining exceptionally high resolution, superb image focus, microdynamic authority, clarity, and, especially, transparency. As I wrote in my review of the Rockport Antares, "The best cabinet is no cabinet." Rockport "gets rid" of the cabinet with damping taken to the extreme. Lumen White claims to do likewise by allowing the energy to dissipate quickly. Whatever the measurements show, subjectively at least, the design seems to succeed.

$24,000 may seem like a lot to pay for two speakers of modest size that, while offering superb bass down to around 35Hz, miss the bottom octave delivered by other, similarly priced speakers. Lumen White justifies the Whiteflame's price with a combination of the highest-tech ceramic drivers and a breakthrough enclosure design (available in a variety of finishes) that seems to be as effective as it is strikingly stylish.

Build quality and finish are meticulous—what you should expect for this high a price. With the right amplification—ie, tubes—the Whiteflame offers effortless, seamless, natural musical performance subjectively free of obvious colorations or dynamic constraints at either end of the scale. Play it loud—and you can—and it will not change its balance or compress dynamics. The Whiteflame's fast, unforced sound was "breakthrough" special—something I noticed the first time I heard them and every time I heard them.

The Whiteflame's overall transparency and ability to resolve low-level musical detail was exceptional, and its midband performance was lush and airy. I've heard bigger soundstage presentations at home from the Rockport Antareses and the Audio Physic Avanti IIIs, and while the Avantis (and other Audio Physic speakers) have that "disappearing act" down in a way that few other speakers can match, neither the Rockports nor the Avantis delivered greater image focus or better overall soundstage organization than the Whiteflames. Good as the Avanti's Vifa ring-radiator tweeter is, it doesn't appear to resolve low-level information or behave as fast and as clean as can the Whiteflame's ceramic Accuton tweeter.

The reliably neutral Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 300 sounded nervous and a bit edgy driving the Whiteflames, but if you drive it with a good tube amp, you'll be in for an exceptionally musical ride that will be worth the Lumen White's high price.

Lumen White
Acoustic Dreams
RR 5, Box 429
Fairfield, IL 62837
(618) 847-7813