Morel Octave 6 Limited Edition Bookshelf loudspeaker

My first girlfriend was a hopeless kleptomaniac. Once, just before sunrise, as I helped her bury a few hot items in the woods, she asked from which direction the sun would rise. Always the smart-aleck, I told her: "It rarely fails to rise in the east."

She frowned and stared quizzically into the darkness. After a long moment, she said, in a low, sad voice, "Really . . . ?"

September 23, 2015: In his response to and defense of Elizabeth Newton's wildly insightful essay "The Lossless Self" (footnote 1), Michael Lavorgna wrote, on Stereophile's sibling website "My idea of hi-fi is to make the possibility of losing oneself in the music happen as often as I choose with the least amount of brain processing as possible." He continued: "Here's my preachy dogma in a nutshell (something I've been saying for years): the best hi-fi is the one that's used to discover and enjoy music most often." (footnote 2) When I read this, I thought, Right on, brother Mike!

One of ML's readers responded: "All I want is faithful reproduction of the recorded signal. Accuracy to the recording source as best I can . . . and I believe that standard can be achieved and objectively verified."

Recording source? Objectively verified?

Another reader philosophically stated: "But the meaning of 'high fidelity' is about accuracy; or at least as 'faithful' as we can achieve. . . . One can achieve enjoyment with 'euphonia' as well, which does not necessarily mean accuracy."

Suddenly, I was channeling the Klepto. I frowned, thought for a long moment, and whispered aloud to no one: "Really . . . ?"

Every time I hear that annoying phrase objectively verified, I reach for the humanist cosmologies of Plato and Duchamp. Nothing makes me madder. My sensitive, self-centered mind translates the words into a smug objectivist audioperson gazing down at me and smirking as he says, "I am an enlightened man, in control of my emotions, who specializes in science and reason, and you, my weak-minded inferior, are just a silly girl!" (I knew I should have hid my stickers and tiara!)

Then I remembered: Such folks feel certain that if the racket streaming from their audiophile superspeakers resembles in some way the noises that they imagine came out of some headphones or studio monitors (typically desktop or wall-mounted Altec 604s or Yamaha NS10s), they will be experiencing "faithful reproduction of the recorded signal" and "accuracy to the recording source." Does that mean they want to hear what some stoned, sleep-deprived recording, mixing, and/or mastering engineer heard? Or does it mean that they just want to hear what's actually encoded on a CD or pressed on an LP? I assume they mean the latter; therefore, I am forced to wonder: Which DAC, phono cartridge, or loudspeaker will objectively verify what is on their discs?

Now that you've spotted my Barbie collection, I might as well admit: I am totally with Michael Lavorgna. My idea of a great hi-fi is one that actively enables me to lose myself in the music. One that requires the least psychic effort or brain processing on my part to hook me in. One that takes my hand, looks me in the eye, and leads me to the intentions of the artist(s). What other purpose should a hi-fi serve?

With that rant off my chest, I can begin . . .

The Morel Octave 6 Limited Edition loudspeaker is made in two versions: a 37.4"-tall floorstanding model, and the stand-mounted bookshelf version reviewed here. At 11.6" high by 7.3" wide by 13.3" deep, the latter is deeper than it is tall, and has a 11/8" (28mm) Acuflex soft-dome tweeter and a 6" (130mm) mid/woofer with a one-piece polypropylene cone. Both drivers are manufactured in-house at the Morel factory in Ness Ziona, Israel. On the rear panel of the Octave 6's polymer-coated MDF enclosure are a modestly sized port and a pair of high-quality binding posts. Overall, the Morel Octave 6 looks and feels as if it should cost more than its asking price of $2799/pair (plus $399 for 27"-tall stands).

Des basses profondes
Ever walk into a room at a hi-fi show where two little speakers are making more than their rightful amount of bass? The roomkeeper looks at you and smiles: "I bet you're wondering where the subwoofer is." Then, with a fiendish grin, he blurts, "There is none!" I hate when that happens. For the rest of the audition, my mind is stuck not on the music but the bass response.

That's a bit what it was like last January, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, when first I heard the Octave 6 Limited Edition Bookshelf: Even without being asked the Ritual Rhetorical Subwoofer Question, I immediately noticed the speaker's bass energy. Nir Paz, of Morel America, had the Octave 6es about 3' out from the front wall, sitting on those 27"-high Morel speaker stands and driven by a Hegel Music Systems H300 integrated amplifier (430Wpc into 4 ohms). I asked Paz to play some orchestral music. I didn't see a subwoofer, but occasionally, as I listened, a French horn or timpani would surprise me with their fullness. Strings were extraordinarily sweet. Texture and tone color were vivid. I soon forgot all about bass energy. Of all the rooms I visited at that CES, this was the one where it took virtually zero effort to lose myself in the music. It felt so satisfying to shut off my critical mind, close my eyes, and enjoy a large orchestra. I exhaled and relaxed.

Paz then played a recording of a female singer whose voice had a seductive, liquid fullness that drew me in even further. I sensed the moisture on her tongue. I told Paz I was deeply impressed by the power and naturalness of his speakers' sound, and confessed my love for their tweeters. I told him I thought his speakers played music in an exceptionally non-audiophile way. Finally, I asked him how he might feel about my reviewing the Octave 6.

I had to beg a little, but ultimately my loaner pair arrived. Soon enough I had them sitting atop my 24"-tall Sound Anchor stands (I didn't receive Morel's own stands for this review), connected to a Hegel H160 integrated amp and playing Willie Nelson's To All the Girls . . . (CD, Columbia/Legacy 88765425862). This charmer of an album, produced by Buddy Cannon, comprises one duet each with 18 different women singers, including Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Mavis Staples, Alison Krauss, and Nelson's daughter, Paula Nelson.

I listened to every singer on this tastefully engineered CD. By track 4—Nelson and Rosanne Cash singing "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends"—I was fully aware that the Octave 6 had a special way with singers and songs. I realized that I was sitting more focused and still than usual. My head nodded, and my body pulsed with each forward step of the call and response of Nelson and Cash. Musical impetus was driving the show: My mind and body were locked in on the pauses, the resumptions, and the empty spaces in between. The textures of Cash's and Nelson's resonant voices were prime evidence of the soulful beauty of old-school country music. This song played with so much rueful expression that I had to play it thrice before I could work up the courage to let track 5 have its way with me.

By track 16, I was sunk low and teary-eyed in my seat. Still, I was not prepared for track 17: Willie and Paula Nelson singing John Fogerty's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain." As of today, I've heard this cover, and Creedence Clearwater Revival's original recording (7" 45rpm, Fantasy 655), more than 20 times through the Morels. Sonically, CCR's 1971 single smokes Nelson's 2013 CD: Fogerty's voice never sounded better, and the beautiful tone and artistry of what is surely CCR's most poetic song seemed to leap from the Morel boxes.

With these and numerous other recordings, the Octave 6es drew me into my music and held me there. Very much like headphones, the Morels showed me the feelings in and behind these songs . . . but in ways I cannot now explain.

I played the same Willie record for a sophisticated (but jaded) audiophile friend and asked him why it was that, through the Morels, the music affected me so emotionally. I played him the Willie and CCR versions of "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" through the KEF LS50, the Technics SB-C700 that I reviewed in January, and Octave 6 speakers, and asked him to explain his feelings in comparison with mine. After an hour of listening, he spoke: "The Morels are extracting more music than the others."

I asked him what he meant. He thought for a moment: "Something in the Morels' overall sound makes me pay attention. The other speakers are more accurate—they don't have big bass energy like the Morels—but they also don't show you as much of the music part."

"What about the Technics and the KEFs?"

"The LS50s are a little stiff through the midrange. The Morels are fat and loose on the bottom. And the Technics . . . they seem just about right up and down."

I asked if maybe it was the extra bass that was causing my hormones to surge. He shook his head: "Maybe . . . but I doubt it."

Then I blurted, "So tell me—why am I having such an emotional connection with music played through the Morels?"

He smirked sarcastically. "Herb, you know the answer: Our test instruments measure quantities, not qualities!"

Okay. The Morel Octave 6 obviously catered to my poetic enthusiasms. But what about my objective audio standards? And yours?

Speakers & Rooms
I didn't tell you that the Morels sounded quite different in my tiny refuge (13' long by 11' wide by 9.5' high) than they had in Nir Paz's considerably larger room at the 2015 CES. All of my dinner guests noticed it: "Is all that bass coming from those little speakers?" I heard that a few times. It seems my salle d'écoute is just the right size to excite a room mode right around 80Hz. Because of this obvious bass reinforcement, virtually every note below 100Hz had a noticeable loss of leading-edge definition. Not infrequently, bass notes would jump right out. With some recordings, a dark, soup-like density would rob bass information of its detail and contrast structure. Objectively speaking, what I heard in my room was not entirely "faithful reproduction," and likely not "accuracy to the recording source."

Footnote 1: Elizabeth Newton's essay was published in The New Inquiry on September 21, 2015.

Footnote 2: Read ML's and readers' responses to Newton's essay here.

Morel America
1301 Hempstead Turnpike, Suite 1
Elmont, NY 11003
(877) 667-3511

Nellomilanese's picture

Who needs a subwoofer? just get a tiny bookshelf LOL
I have a VERY hard time believing a bookshelf speaker with a single 6" woofer can go to 30Hz at -3dB. Please....the B&W sub with a 200W amp and a 8" driver goes to 32Hz at -3db!
Silly me...all along I could've just get this tiny bookshelf and have a FULL RANGE sound. In an instant these speakers have wiped out the hi-fi industry...need to sell your CM9 guyz...useless...a floorstanding with dual 6.5" drivers and it only goes to 30Hz but at -6db! pffff losers!
Someone needs a Nobel prize for reinventing physics here...more likely it's time to cut the cr@p...both the manufacturer and Stereophile for having the guts to even publish these specs.

John Atkinson's picture
See the measurements sidebar for the actual LF extension. The Morel's port is tuned to 53Hz, which corresponds to the -6dB point.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

seank's picture

I assume that's a typo.

John Atkinson's picture
seank wrote:
I assume that's a typo.

Yes it was. Good catch. I have corrected the price to $1299.00/pair.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Nellomilanese's picture

But burying the REAL -3db point in a graph at the last page is just fraud. This fraud is perpetrated by the manufacturer making such ridiculous claims and Stereophile for allowing it.
How many americans do you think can read a graph like that John? assuming they understand anything about -3db point and it's meaning.
Yet the bogus spec is printed right there -30HZ.
I suggest you start doing that if you want to keep any (little) trace of credibility left.
This is like me selling jewellery with a 18k gold sticker and price on it....but then burry inside the last page of the owner's manual the fact that it's actually scrap metal.
Because make no mistake, when it comes to speakers, the difference between 30HZ at -3db and 57HZ at -3db, is the difference between gold and scrap metal painted in gold.
Best regards.

John Atkinson's picture
Nellomilanese wrote:
burying the REAL -3db point in a graph at the last page is just fraud.

I really hope you're smiling when you accuse me of fraud.

Nellomilanese wrote:
How many americans do you think can read a graph like that John? assuming they understand anything about -3db point and its meaning.

I assume that people read the measurements sections we publish, otherwise what would be the point of publishing them.

Nellomilanese wrote:
I, as an honest person, would've start the article in BOLD letters ... I suggest you start doing that if you want to keep any (little) trace of credibility left.

Please ask yourself how you know that the Morel's LF response doesn't extend down to the manufacturer's claimed frequency - it is because Stereophile told you so, right there on our website and in the print magazine. So please don't lecture me on our supposed lack of credibility.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

JoeinNC's picture

"So please don't lecture me on our supposed lack of credibility."

Nellomilanese's comment was over the top, but then you respond by... lecturing him. C'mon, really?

There is some validity to the point that manufacturers' specs are stretched beyond credibility, and that Stereophile's measurements (while I don't doubt they are accurate) are not as readily deciphered by those with less technical backgrounds. Or shorter attention spans. (They've already had to wade through stories about kleptomania and where the sun rises to get to the subject of the review.)

Yes, "fraud" is too strong a characterization, but the attitude with which some of the reviews are written might invite such comments, and then your vaguely threatening response to what is obvious trolling ("I really hope you're smiling when you accuse me of fraud.") doesn't elevate the conversation or win any converts.

Thus endeth my "lecture." Make of it what you will.

Just the facts's picture

I have been under the impression that the smallest acoustical pressure difference generally discernable was 3db.
Hardly gold to scrap to most.
If the Mfr stated its -3db point was 57hz and the reviewer noted it was down 3db at 30hz, that's -6db.
You probably are not in the market for 6" woofer stand mounts anyway.

John Atkinson's picture
Just the facts wrote:
I have been under the impression that the smallest acoustical pressure difference generally discernible was 3dB.

A difference of 3dB is often quoted, but it is is not correct. 1dB is more typical and depending on the bandwidth covered and the frequency range in question, a level of just 0.1dB can be detected. See my article on the significance of small measured differences between 2 speakers at

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Anon2's picture

This looks like a nice product. Debates over the low-end aside, the product has a nice response curve.

Stand-mount speakers are like compact sedans. Both still fall short of the performance of larger products. But both exhibit performance, in a small size, that far exceeds what was available 20-30 years ago.

We are debating in this forum the frequency response of the Morel stand-mount in the vicinity of 30 Hz. 20-30 years ago the debate would have centered on whether a similarly sized speaker was capable of any meaningful response around 50 Hz.

Another thing I like is that there is a raft of medium-grade stand-mounts coming out with relatively flat, or reduced prices from predecessor models. B&W, Kef, Amphion, Dynaudio, and now Morel, are getting a sense that consumers see $1,500 to $2,500 as the viable price range for an upgrade of stand-mount speakers ("affordable" for the editors who may need a sense of what that threshold might be for real consumers). $3,000 is not an "affordable" price for products in this quality grade.

Stand-mounts have their limitations; they have their benefits, too. One thing is clear though: there is a lot more than ever to be had in a small package.

corrective_unconscious's picture

There's no debate about whether this specific, small speaker has any meaningful response near 30hz. (A -6 point anywhere around 53hz puts that "debate" to rest.) That is not what the debate is about. The debate is about manufacturers' specs and then, apparently, how many "Stereophile" readers actually read the Measurements sidebars with comprehension.

crenca's picture

That article of Elizabeth Newton's was not "wildly insightful". It took NPR's flawed assumptions and ran with them with radical subjectivism and a healthy dose of neo-Marxist analysis that seems to live only in the darkened and insular world of academia. Sure, it was written in a lively style that affirmed enjoyment of music, but those who seek "fidelity" are not against enjoyment of music despite what you seem to think.

You guys need to get out more and read more - try some of the classic canon where you will find real "insight"...

Catcher10's picture

As I was reading this I was expecting to see "...and all for just $5,999.." Still $2,799 for a small bookshelf with 6" mid/bass to me is high. But yes does signal hopefully the audio companies are starting to see the bubble bursting....Upgrading today means a 2nd mortgage.

Archimago's picture

A few concerns and objections...

Russell Dawkins's picture

JoeinNC, I think John's response to the hysterical blatherings by Nellomilanese was measured and entirely appropriate, and where do *you* get off in lecturing John?
Catcher10 - it's $2499, not $2799 and, yes, it appears the high priced boutique bookshelf bubble may be leaking if not bursting with such as Andrew Jones newest three way bookshelf, the Elac Uni-Fi B5 at $500 the pair.

JoeinNC's picture

Russell Dawkins> "and where do *you* get off in lecturing John?"

The same place *you* get off in your response to me. It's a comment section. If you invite comments, should you should not expectthem?

Nellomilanese's picture

So i'm calling bs on ridiculous claims by the manufacturer and you think that's "histerycal blatherings"? Interesting and fascinating at the same your reaction proves EXACTLY why manufacturers can make such outrageous claims.
Can you imagine the equivalent claim in the auto industry?
The whole credibility of a brand would be wiped billions in fines....but in audio? everything goes....the many drooling, open-mouthed idiots with money burning in their pockets believe everything.

A. Hourst's picture

This strange preamble has been brilliantly answered by Archimago on his website, but there’s still a few points that call for attention. First, the major part of this ferocious tirade is occupied either by an odd and meaningless anecdote about an ex-girlfriend (Both “really…?” echoing one another are supposed to tell us what? That both comments were as obvious as they are useless…? “Sun rise in the east” and “euphonia does not mean accuracy”…?), or by a confession of faith, so a lot of words for not much. Second, there’s the typical audiophile reaction “what even is reality?”, found in Ms. Newton’s text, which elsewhere should bring up the question of the validity of our senses, but here is intended to diminish the concept of reality itself. Sad. And then the idea that the truth is like a hot bath in which you can relax (“One that requires the least psychic effort or brain processing on my part to hook me in”); we have to wonder if the reasoning methodology employed by Mr. Reichert isn’t the same as his music enjoyment one. Because fidelity means “faithful” or “truthful” to the original, as annoying and difficult to assess this can be. To determine if the truth have been said, or the signal faithfully transmitted, in any field, require “psychic effort” and a level of consciousness beyond simply enjoying a pleasure… By any meaning of the words, to lose oneself into something means to lower one’s critical thinking and get partial to what’s being enjoyed. Not to get closer to its objective value, which is what “fidelity” is about. Like Archimago said, you could get an extremely euphonic system, very pleasing, and far from faithful. That’s the paradox of the high-end: audiophiles can not admit that some design choices are a deviation from fidelity. Instead, they will distort the meaning of the word “fidelity” so it will adapt to the feeling associated with one piece of equipment.

The audiophile community is embedded in a world of confusion regarding each people or each equipment’s role, which is materialized by a confusion regarding the terms they employ. Elizabeth Newton navigates with difficulties between philosophical, sentimental and practical concept, and comes up with what finally appears to be a tasteless soup. The artist role is to touch your emotions, the hardware role is to relay the information. To those who claim that their audio gear have spirituality, I would ask: what spirituality does have the molecules of air between you and the singer of a live performance?

michaelavorgna's picture

I've come to realize there are different approaches to hi-fi. I don't see this as "confusion", unless someone feels they are in a position to dictate to everyone the means and ends of listening to music.

Since hi-fi is a hobby, there is no one correct approach to its enjoyment. The definition and understanding of the word "fidelity" as it pertains to hi-fi is not carved in stone, as is evident in reality. Beyond the fact that we can disagree over what we are being faithful to, i.e. some limited set of measurements taken somewhere along the reproduction chain or the experience of music, the steps involved in the recording process and the reproduction process are littered with choices that have nothing to do with some fictional notion of objectivity.

If we could first agree on an appropriate sampling of state-of-art equipment from the recording studio out to the listening room, we would find wildly varying sound. If this notion of some "objective reality" is the goal of hi-fi, then we have obviously failed miserably in its pursuit. However, that's simply not the case. In reality, music reproduction has led to the inspiration to create, among other things more music, which has shaped our society. I can think of no higher goal.

My approach to hi-fi defines fidelity along these lines:

"Let's redefine high fidelity as being faithful to the passion for and discovery of music. This means that the best hi-fi is the one that perpetually fans the flame of this passion." from my AWSI "Why Music Matters Most" (2010)

If someone else wants to define fidelity as a common objective goal guided by measurements and these arbitrary "rules" extend into what happens in the recording studio all the way through to my living room, and further that everyone's experience is dictated by this necessarily limited and unrealistic goal, I'll happily to stick to my approach since the outcome of listening to music, in reality, far exceeds such mundane concerns.

Michael Lavorgna
Editor, AudioStream

A. Hourst's picture

"Let's redefine high fidelity as being faithful to the passion for and discovery of music"

Let's redefine truth as what makes me feel comfortable.

michaelavorgna's picture

If you prefer to be uncomfortable when listening to music, that's fine by me ;-)

John Atkinson's picture
michaelavorgna wrote:
If you prefer to be uncomfortable when listening to music, that's fine by me

The late J. Gordon Holt used to say that as live music can sound aggressive and harsh, so should a good audio system when reproducing the same music. To me and others, this was a non sequitur: yes, some live orchestral music can sound harsh, particularly when the brass are playing flat-out. I also know from my experience as a violinist that the sound of a string instrument with your ears inches away from the instrument has an astringency that has disappeared at the audience's distance. But live classical music never sounds like a tweeter resonance, a woofer cone breaking up, or an amplifier driven into non-linear behavior.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

michaelavorgna's picture a recording which employed close miking, turn it up too loud, and stick my ear against the tweeter for an aggressive and harsh experience ;-)

Michael Lavorgna
Editor, AudioStream