Three December 2020 FollowUps

Three products are the subjects of lengthy followup reviews in the December issue of Stereophile: MBL's Noble Line N31 CD player-D/A processor, the GoldenEar BRX loudspeaker, and Alta Audio's Alyssa loudspeaker.

I very favorably reviewed the MBL N31 in February 2018—the current version is both certified as being Roon Ready and has an Ethernet network port. (The original price was $15,400; with the new network module it's $16,420.) You can find my comments on how the new N31 performed here.

I also reviewed the stand-mounted GoldenEar BRX loudspeaker ($1500/pair), this time in Stereophile's September issue, concluding that while this affordable speaker benefits from being powered by high-quality amplification, "its sound quality features an uncolored midrange, clean high frequencies, and enough mid- and upper-bass energy to satisfy, coupled with stable, accurate stereo imaging." Following my review, Herb Reichert told me that he thought that the BRX would work well in his room, so I drove the speakers over to what he calls his "Bed-Stuy bunker." Did he like what he heard? You can find out here.

Herb reviewed the Alta Audio Alyssa ($5000/pair) in November 2020 and while he liked much of what he heard from this standmount speaker, he was bothered by what he referred to as ""a vexing lack of focus in the lower midrange and upper bass." To achieve greater low-frequency extension than is to be expected from this relatively small speaker, the Alyssa loads the woofer with an internal folded transmission line that terminates in a long tubular port on its rear panel. (This combination is usually referred to as a "mass-loaded transmission line" or ML-TL, and the line and port work together to tune the system.) My measurements found some high-Q, low-frequency resonances in the line and port that seemed to correlate with Herb's findings. However, both Herb and editor Jim Austin wondered if these resonances would be less audible in a larger room than Herb's. "In a larger space, with lower levels of reflected bass energies, the Alyssas would, perhaps, present themselves with a more balanced tone and sharper lower-midrange focus," Herb wrote.

Accordingly, Jim Austin took delivery of the review samples. One complication was that while the loudspeakers had been auditioned and measured without any stuffing in their ports, when Jim unpacked the Alyssas, he found that the ports were tightly packed with foam. He therefore auditioned the Alyssas with and without the foam. Which did he prefer? You can find out here, along with the answer to Herb's conjecture.

Anton's picture

I finally got the visual reference for the Alta Audio Alyssa.

funambulistic's picture

Truth be told, to these beholding eyes, these speakers are not the least bit attractive.

Kempff's picture

The three pieces of equipment discussed in this article are all unattractive -- in three very different ways.