Surreal Sound

The Surreal Sound Speaker ($10,000/pair) is the small, three-way floorstander finished in cherry, not the massive bass bin behind it, which belongs to the GOTO Horns speaker (see next story). Surreal Sound's Ralph Helmer is passionate about midrange, feeling it is in the midrange where the music truly lives. To that end, his speaker features a beryllium-disc midrange unit, mounted in an open baffle. A Heil Air Motion Transfomer supertweeter and three spider-less, aluminum-alloy, 10" cone drivers for the bass, all also mounted in open baffles, complete the drive-unit line-up. Mr; Helmer believes that one of the advantages of his dipole speakers is their high Wife-Acceptance Favor, in that they are smaller than expected for same amount of bass.

Listening to Gershwin's "Summertime," from the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong LP, played on a JC Verdier turntable with a Zyx low-output MC cartridge, amplified by a new phono preamplifier from DSA (to be formally launched at RMAF in October), the sound of the Surreal Sound speaker was fast and clean. However, the bass was somewhat lightweight and I did feel that there was some "cupped-hands" coloration present, something that I have heard from some other open-baffle, moving-coil designs.

Chaucer's picture


Did you hear this system with David Berning's amp on Sunday afternoon? It was an EA-230 (works only, no case) that he had whipped up the day before. So there was no rehearsal and no burning-in (no pun intended) or even warm-up.

With this amp, the Surreals took off. The crowd reaction was very favorable and for good reason. My sense was that any remaining cupped-hands coloration was room induced. (I hadn't heard the Surreals or any of the associated electronics before, although I am familiar with the outstanding sound of Dave's amps. So that's speculation.)