Morel Octave 6 Limited Edition Bookshelf loudspeaker Page 2

With recordings that did not contain copious energy in the 50–100Hz region, such as Chants Grégoriens Pour le Temps de Noël, by the Munich Capella Antiqua directed by Konrad Ruhland (LP, Harmonia Mundi 5112), the Morels played gloriously. The main energy in Gregorian chant seems to fall in that gender-ambiguous range of 120–200Hz, while the subsequent reverberations off the stone walls of Schloss Aicha vorm Wald, in Bavaria, in which this was recorded, can be heard logarithmically expanding and diminishing through the octaves on either side of that center point. With the Morels, the adult singers' maleness was delivered with a lush, saturated tone; I have seldom heard the middle to upper registers of the male voice sound so distinct and beautifully exposed. The Morels articulated the natural reverberation of the room's acoustic with striking clarity; the decaying tones of the voices became separate musical entities worthy of their own moments of meditation and praise.

The Crumpled Sock Mod
Then it hit me: The Morel Octave 6es needed to be on 27"-high stands, not 24" stands such as mine. And they needed to be farther out in the room. I moved my Sound Anchor stands from 29" to 39" from the front wall, and placed between the stands and the speakers' bottom panels 3" worth of heavy Japanese-art books. The results were gratifying: The bass response evened out a lot, and the imaging and transient response slightly improved. But the room boom diminished only slightly. Disappointed and pondering, I had a flashback: I remembered the crumpled-sock woofer mod. I stuffed the Morels' ports loosely with dirty crew socks, thus stiffening the loading of the woofer. The upper bass got tighter. The boom disappeared a bit more. But blocking the ports changed the overall tone and fundamental viscosity of the Octave 6es to a point where their sound became completely unenjoyable. My experiment had failed, so I put my socks in the laundry, where they belonged.

The Burning Tubes Festival
According to Morel's specs, the Octave 6 Limited Edition presents a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. So far, all of my listening was done with the Hegel H160 integrated, which delivers 250Wpc into 4 ohms. When I switched to my Line Magnetic LM-518IA integrated, I was impressed by how effortlessly its 22Wpc drove the 88dB-sensitive Morels. I thought the bass would soften, but it didn't. The gender-specific charms of male and female voices were further enhanced; madrigals and tarantellas played almost perfectly. With the LM-518IA, life was beautiful, but only when I chose music carefully, avoiding recordings with copious low-frequency content. The eponymous first track of Philip Glass's score for the film Koyaanisqatsi (LP, Antilles ASTA 1) had so much uncontrolled bass that I became anxious and took it off.

When I switched to the Simaudio Moon Neo 340i integrated (200Wpc into 4 ohms), the bass did not tighten up, but the mid and high frequencies opened up considerably. In addition to Simaudio's legendary transparency, the 340i added a measure of precision and neutrality to the Morel Octave 6's midrange presentation.

I was very surprised to discover that the best match of all was the $1300 class-D/tube hybrid Rogue Audio Sphinx integrated amp. It couldn't match the Neo 340i's fine-grained transparency or high-frequency perfection, but the Sphinx improved the upper-bass detail and enhanced midrange textures, voice articulation, and slam. Overall, the Morels delivered their most satisfying sound when sitting on 27" stands 44" out from the front wall and driven by the wildly overachieving Sphinx. With the speakers in those positions, my ears were only about 5' from the tweeters: The closer I sat to the Octave 6es, the better they sounded.

And then . . .
John Atkinson brought me the pair of Dynaudio Excite X14s ($1299/pair) that the late Robert J. Reina had used as his under-$2000 reference speakers. I felt sad but honored. Once I'd got the X14s loosened up, positioned properly (24" from the front wall), and playing Koyaanisqatsi, I felt discouragingly foolish and naãve: The difference in bass quality was not subtle. The Excites had replaced the Octave 6es' loosey-goosey with tight and tasty. Bass detail, tone, and texture seemed more accurately reproduced by the Dynaudios than by any of my own small-speaker references.

Like Morel, Dynaudio is one of the few speaker companies that make their own drive-units. Like Dynaudio, Morel was founded in the 1970s, and one of the chief thoughts I had in Morel's room at the 2015 CES was, Who should better know how to implement their own high-quality drivers than the people who designed them? Indeed. Trouble is, Morel's and Dynaudio's speakers were obviously designed to satisfy the tastes of (at least) two very different people. Two small loudspeakers could hardly play music more differently than the Excite X14 and the Octave 6. The Morel's sound was intoxicating, euphoric, and sometimes annoying—maybe a little undercontrolled. In contrast, the Dynaudio had a more sober, starched-collar minister effect—maybe a little overcontrolled?

Truth besmirched by beauty?
During the long course of this review, the Morel Octave 6 Limited Edition Bookshelf speakers inspired fair amounts of Dionysian revelry hereabouts. Goose bumps, tears, synchronized rocking—all appeared unsummoned. My non-audiophile friends thought these were the best-sounding small speakers ever. Many times, I forgot I was an audio reviewer and simply basked in the beauty of my record collection. I have listened to these piano-black, stand-mounted, two-way speakers a lot. More often than not, they have led me into songs and the meanings of their words better than most speakers I have used in my Bed-Stuy bothy.

There isn't much more I can say—except that some personal introspection and reconciliation might be required, the latter between the warring Dionysian and Apollonian tendencies in my own nature. Am I an audio objectivist? You tell me. Am I a silly girl dreamer? Absolutely. But I am also a wrench-twirling, gearhead, artiste peintre, and I need speakers that play to my complete nature.

When I asked to review the Morel Octave 6 Limited Edition, I already knew I could bask in their musical intensity. I already knew they would favor the kinds of music I most often listen to. I already knew they had a kind of rounded, orbicular sound. What I did not recognize was the degree to which I had suppressed (and denied) my own objectivist pride.

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