Joël Chevassus - Septembre 2017
For a long time I wanted to test a pair of Nola Speakers.
Indeed, there is sometimes a noise footprint that holds your attention and makes you love a brand of speakers simply because they trigger in you a true feeling of pleasure.
Especially since I remember, I was never disappointed by a single listening of Nola in the living room. Yet I have seen many demonstrations, from the smallest models to the biggest ones, and each time the fluidity of the sound message coming out of these lacquered wooden boxes excited me, and prompted me to sit for a while next to Carl Marchisotto, their designer, not to discuss technical but simply to share a listening.
I believe that this case is unique, and I have no memory of other examples of successive plays achievements of a speaker manufacturer who have been able to react in the right direction so unanimously ... Even the demonstration a few years ago of the high-end Nola "Grand Reference" in a room of modest size in Munich, seeming at first sight unsuited to such a system, really challenged me by the quality of the service delivered that day ...
Carl Marchisotto course knows perfectly his stuff and some tricks are repeated invariably like to position the transducers on the wall length, favoring the lateral spacing over the decline of the listening point, and that to deport electronics to keep a blank space between the two speakers. It is probably less interesting for the associated electronics supplier to see its products confined in a corner of the room, but Carl is adamant about the implementation of his products because only the result counts.
The rectangular face of Nola reinforces this side a bit "old school", choosing rather conventional speakers, cones and ribbons. But this willingness to work within the rules of the art, however, gives some originality to this production, by dint of seeing spread everywhere in the world supply ceramic membranes Acuton.
Writing moreover that the Nola speakers are conventional would be inaccurate. The fact of working on a flat baffle base (dipole) for the high frequencies and on a bass reflex structure in the bottom of the spectrum, without losing the homogeneity of the shapes and the sound result, is quite unprecedented.
I also like the no-frills style of the Marchisotto family. Carl is a whole character and does not bother him with false pretenses or staged pompous intended to emphasize the exclusive side of its products or to justify (more or less skillfully) asking price.
No, with Marchisotto is direct, simple and some form of consistency in the way to approach things: the pleasure of listening to music, and not much else ...
Carl Marchisotto told me that the reorientation of his company towards an exclusively family structure (ie father, mother and daughter) had enabled him to considerably reduce the time and energy lost in the internal struggles, ego and the conflicts of interest that the capitalist association may have with third parties. Simple but effective, and probably also the voice of reason in a fragmented market and fought as high-end speakers ... Long gone are the days when Carl Marchisotto officiated at Dalquist as the designer of many flagship models like the DQ-8, 12 and DQ-DQ-20. Carl, Marilyn (his wife) and Kristen (his daughter) are the three people in the family to run the company Accent Speaker Technology Ltd., and Nola brand.
So when the second generation of the Metro Grand Reference Gold came out, Carl proposed to test them first, an opportunity I seized with the greatest pleasure.
This new version is a deep revisits the previous model, the Metro Grand Reference Gold itself is an evolution of the original "Metro Grand Reference".
Beyond this new model, culminating pregnant Reference VI Grand Gold and Gold Concert Grand Reference. Almost everything has changed except for the body and the midrange speaker. Thus, both magnesium serious transducers have been reworked in order to reduce distortion and increase therefore the accuracy and dynamic range. The ribbon tweeter has also been revamped and filter which enjoys even higher-end components than the previous version.
Finally, the Metro Gold 2 feature standard of the double ball-platform system that isolates noise and harmful vibrations of contact with the ground.
Carl Marchisotto came to settle in my room with its French distributor, the company TecSArt, fairly slender columns and discreet, delivered in a very elegant black lacquer. These speakers are available as standard in lacquered rosewood finish, but I find that the combination of lacquered black with the golden finish elements is finally a very aesthetic combination. Other colors and finishes are available on request.
The two magnesium alloy cone woofers of SEAS origin are the result of a high degree of customization (manufactured on specifications). These speakers of modest size (16 cm) each have their own isolated and unbalanced load type with a rear bass reflex vent generous size. Checkout incorporates the two woofers consists of five layers, including the last two inner layers serve to dampen internal resonances of the cabinet. Standard ferrites of the woofers were replaced with Alnico magnets ensuring a lower level of distortion and therefore greater precision and clarity. Version 2 of the Metro Gold, featuring new bass transducers, further reduces the level of distortion at the bottom of the spectrum, along with an improved dynamic response of both Alnico woofers. The bass / lower midrange is so subjectively faster, descends lower and no audible lag. The mass of the mobile structure of each speaker (13 grams) is very light compared to what is usually found in this class of transducer.
The central ogive copper and gold plated serves both kernel cache and phase corrector. The gold plating is not only for aesthetic reasons or to up the price of this version but for its ability to better absorb vibrations on this part of the speaker and thus ensure a better response from HP and a less pronounced directivity . The decision to move to these more expensive options was validated after many sessions of comparative listening between standard warheads and warheads gold plated.
The top of the enclosure is an extension of the front face, but completely open on the sides and back, like a baffle mounting plane. This architecture makes it possible to limit any coloring or sound of box by drastically neutralizing the problem of the rear waves of the loudspeakers. In this case, so the listening room as a whole that functions as a decompression chamber of the rear wave transducers acute-medium.
This structure thus accommodates a paper medium cone Treaty of 11 cm, also with an Alnico magnet, and a ribbon tweeter (aluminum membrane) manufactured in Serbia (in the RAAL manufacturer) capable of mounting 100 kHz the paper. The ribbon is placed between neodymium magnet bar and is connected to an impedance matching transformer to reduce it to 8 ohms.
The Metro Gold 2 benefit from a changing profile of the plate loading the tape, machined directly from Nola, and to further increase the openness and transparency of the tweeter. The conical midrange transducer is operated over a wide frequency band ranging from 200 Hz to 3,500 Hz, which makes it possible to maintain consistency in terms of acoustic phase and amplitude response in this critical area. It is asymmetrically positioned to limit the comb effect.
Carl Marchisotto is a mono wiring supporter. The rear terminals are also machined in a high quality copper and any enclosure of the internal wiring is made with high mono strand silver conductors range from Nordost. The speaker filter is spread over three separate circuits to minimize magnetic interference, and embeds the best components of the market in terms of capacitors and inductors. The architecture is based on a proprietary filtering variable slope (ranging from 6 to 12 dB). Carl Marchisotto is not a fan of steep slopes. Indeed, it considers that these are too disadvantageous for transient response.
The wiring circuits is carried in the air and used capacitors listed among the high-end low inductance at Mundorf. Carl Marchisotto attempts to use no self based on iron or ferrite, or PCB, or any kind fuses, in order to guarantee the highest linearity.
In terms of technical specifications, Nola Metro Gold 2 show the following performance:
We had to work on positioning the speakers accurately, which is a priori not a big surprise. Nevertheless, the positioning of my speakers, as indicated by the marking on the ground, generally works well with other pairs of speakers, whatever their format.
But this form of universality has not checked with Nola, which require both pretty little pinch, if at all, and also a certain distance from the side walls. I can not say that my usual position was totally inefficient, but it took the gradually optimize to find this typical sound of Nola pregnant that I like. The sound of the achievements of Carl Marchisotto is characterized by a rather unusual fluidity, and a holography really bluffing.
For me, the Nola are at the acoustic enclosure what the tube is to the transistor in terms of preamplification, not that it is impossible to arrive at a very close result with transistors, but it is so much more obvious d 'get this illusion of presence and incarnation with a good tube preamp, while it is always much more complicated with transistor stages ...
Use a nice pair of Nola with a tube amplification powerful enough to cope with a generous yield, and it is an apotheosis of fluidity, as if the air molecules themselves loaded themselves with music.
In short, it took me some time to find the ideal position but it was worth it: the image expands and space becomes liquid.
The quality of stamps is to go with a very nice medium low, rich and varied, and a very high saturated medium.
The ribbon tweeter fits very naturally over these very carnal medium frequencies. The quality of the tweeter is also quite impressive. There is of course the natural elegance of the tape, but there are also a lot of life and rhythm. It's very cleverly done and the association is really successful, obviously better than what I could listen to Lawrence Audio Apertura or earlier speakers that already worked well yet ...
Low frequencies are always a challenge on columns of this size operating in bass reflex. Very variable results but we have not obtained provided the extension and magnitude one might have with larger speakers and larger HP.
However, this register appears to have increased significantly over previous versions of the Metro Gold. So, even if the tension in the bass is not as striking as with the Vivid Audio G1, the Metro Gold 2 does not show any feeling of frustration, especially if you listen mainly to acoustic music. They are also convincing on amplified or electronic music but they are certainly not as universal as the Vivid Audio.
The overall balance of the enclosure seemed very good to me. If I could send some earlier reservations about a pair of speakers going further in the low end, I sincerely would touch anything on the new Metro Gold Nola because the balance is near perfect.
They are pregnant we definitely recommend more to lovers of classical music or jazz, or opera and variety, as fans of heavy metal. Carl Marchisotto has developed an enclosure according to its affinities, and the man listens mainly classical and jazz, this explains it ...
But back to the lower register, it is surprising because the speaker response in this frequency band is subjectively convincing. The bass is fast, it is not heavy but rather nuanced. Again, the break with the midrange HP is really good and brought it almost like listening to a wideband speaker that would be more linear in the low and high bandwidth that the only typical speaker embarked by the latter.
The Metro Gold 2 are particularly efficient regarding the return of voice. The grain and the crystalline sensuality of the female voices are beautifully reproduced.
On the album "Handel" by Sonya Yoncheva, it is really obvious. I am however not a fan of Handel although I sometimes hear quite often.
In fact, listening to the album of the Bulgarian soprano with the Nola reminded me of one of the lessons (lecture-concert) of William Christie and his Arts Florissants that he had given in 2015 to the Philharmonie de Paris about the rhetoric of passion and eloquence in baroque music.
I was quite amazed by the accuracy of the two female performers (Lucía Martín-Carton and Léa Desandre) in the incarnation of diferent feeling and states of the human soul. And, with the Metro Gold 2, I felt a similar emotion, pure and very direct, as if the eloquence of Handel's music had not lost its luster in my ears since this live performance. It really is a disturbing sensation.
On the jazz singer's voice the land of morning calm (Youn Sun Nah) captured in Munich duo with Ulf Wakenius, the Metro Gold 2 have equally served the Korean stamps.
The voice modulation and softness in the treble has been beautifully reproduced. The ribbon tweeter is really an excellent transducer because the way of singing of Youn Sun Nah very close to the micro little sometimes bring some hardnesses if the top of the spectrum is not managed in an exemplary way and that the mezzo launches in a rabid scat or in vocalizations of soprano ...
Again, Wakenius guitar sounds very natural and consistent that could deliver a wide band performance on its entire frequency band. The filtering seems to have been realized in the letters of art.
Let's move to the next stage with jazz soul singer the most enigmatic of the history of black music, called Rachelle Ferrell, and live recordings in Montreux.
As with the " mounted in towers "Of Youn Sun Nah, the North American singer does not pose more worries to the Metro Gold. The consistency of the timbres of the voice of the diva impresses on the whole of the octaves sung. The piano attacks are also very clear, probably indicating an impulse response in progression compared to the first version.
The live atmosphere of the concert is also very well restored with an increased sense of depth and a fairly wide soundstage.
What struck me is that the changes of female performers are really marked to listen to the Metro Gold 2, more in any case than with the Vivid, which testifies to a correctness of timbre no doubt of a very high standard with my American hosts.
On large symphonic masses, Carl Marchisotto manage to recreate a beautiful three-dimensional image with a serious bodied but fast and dry.
It's amazing how they manage to stay in the very low frequencies with this outfit and this level. The answer is subjectively good, although down compared to my big Vivid Audio in severe infra.
A friend spent hearing this new version at home (he has a pair of original Metro Gold) was surprised by the stereo image and the fact that Metro Gold 2 happen to occupy the space of my room as if they were a lot more imposing. He's right, I think I can live very well with a pair of Metro Gold without feeling the need to move towards the higher models, more bulky.
On the recording of Pentatone Classics by Marc Albrecht conducting the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra in Korngold's Fifth Symphony, opus 40, the impact of the orchestra and the holding of transients seemed to me to be excellent for this type of orchestra. columns. In fact, I do not remember hearing the speakers of this size that soiussi accurate and transparent.
There is also a great readability between the upper and lower midrange that makes nothing ever sounds really dark or truncated by a frequency response that is not quite linear.
The articulation in the scherzo of the second movement also seemed excellent. It is beautifully done and again, filtering is undetectable : Everything flows very smoothly, almost liquid. The result will depend of course on the amplification that will be put upstream of this pair of speakers with a rather low efficiency (87 dB). These speakers are not particularly difficult to operate, but like any high-end speaker, the Nola Metro Gold 2 will give its full potential with the best electronics.
The Lumin M1's all-in-one digital amplifier with 50 watts of power under 8 Ohms has made them work very well without opening the realistic level of two Luxman M800a in bridged mode, digital source and a very high level preamp. It is therefore possible to obtain excellent results by combining these speakers with a wide variety of tube or transistor amplifiers.
On beautiful baroque ensembles like that of Maestro Biondi (Europa Galante) is reached with my American residents an emotional debauchery and stamps that I have rarely encountered.
It's beautiful. What should I say more "I Concerti dell'Addio "Disrupt and tear. At that moment can we think if anything it is essential to keep these speakers? I see myself immersed in the baroque and majestic atmosphere of the Venetian Biennale, with Biondi exceptional eloquence.
The Nola air breathe everywhere, even in the bass and lower midrange. It's rich, harmonic appear everywhere, and the high frequencies have both a definition, a yarn, a brightness and a sweetness unheard.
So, not forgetting amplified music fans, it was of course mention some experiments bringing out the Metro Gold 2 Nola outside their comfort zone that is acoustic music.
A Queen album is always a good test, even if the Japanese DSD remastering still allows to smooth things over. On the last album of the group "Made in Heaven" of 1995 (the one whose cover is a picture of the statue of Freddy Mercury erected on the shore of Lake Geneva in Montreux), I could appreciate both the yarn in the treble the ribbon tweeter (really beautiful) as well as the quality of the low.
I do not really find myself in the measures that were taken by J. Atkinson for Stereophile of the first version of Metro Gold. Subjectively, the balance is nothing in physiological and curve response at the listening point seems indeed very balanced, with very dense record, it act Treble of the medium (which is really amazing) or low.
The Nola adapt perfectly to this romantic and sophisticated pop rock.
What impresses is the extension in the treble with exceptional definition and at the same time extremely low distortion. I never, regardless of the type of music played with the Metro Gold 2, or whatever noise, ear fatigue felt during those few weeks with my American guests.
Listening to the American group of Steve Lukather and David Paich, Toto, the Metro Gold 2 also give a lot of fun, even if the sound pressure level is not really comparable to what I feel listening to my Vivid Audio G1.
The Nola are clearly not Wilsons or Vivid who will make you feel the demonic energy of a hard rock band almost as if you were there. At the same time, they are versatile in comparison speaker as those in the manufacturing Sonus Faber (in size and budget comparable course).
As much as these two brands will compete in terms of quality stamps and fluidity of sound message, as well as the return of the magic of opera scene, as the Nola will take the advantage in terms of reproduction 'a live recording of pop-rock music, where the Italian will become in my opinion a little too wise and too smooth ...
This new generation of Nola Metro Gold is excellent. They are undoubtedly expensive, but the quality is the appointment and the pleasure they provide to listening is the highest level.
It is in any case a pair of speakers with which I could live without problems, and I had no time to want to come back to my beloved South Africa. No, what was achieved Carl Marchisotto commands respect. We often speak wrongly and through musical term that means nothing apart mean we experienced a lot of fun listening to an audio equipment.
Well then, these Nola Metro Gold 2 are highly "musical" in the sense that they are simply a concentrated auditory ecstasy ...
If Nola Speakers is a brand still unjustly neglected in France, these speakers certainly deserve to be listened to because what they do, few competitors achievements are capable of delivering or even to approach. The Metro Gold 2 is undoubtedly a very large enclosure, which we logically attribute our best buy recommendation.
Joël Chevassus - Septembre 2017