Issue 174 / September 2007

hp's Workshop: Updates, Further Thoughts, Sneak Previews, and a Few Capsules

Nola Grand Reference IV.1

The most recent update of this rather massive speaker system (four towers in all) has finally solved the problem that designer Carl Marchisotto didn't get completely under control until now. That problem: an audible discontinuity - manifested as a kind of suck-out, regardless of the speakers' placements - between the main speakers (upfront) and the two woofer towers (at the rear).

The woofer towers themselves have remained unchanged in the years since the "statement" system was introduced in 2001- that is to say, four 12-inch moving-coil drivers, port-loaded, per side, in a cabinet so solid you'd hate to have it fall on you. The old and revered Dahlquist DQLP electronic low-pass filter hasn't been changed either. And the front tower drivers - nine ribbon tweeters, four midbass, and six midrange drivers per side - have remained the same through the last two modifications. What's different this time is an updating of the custom-designed external crossover for the 300+ pound (each - I know, really and truly) multiway hybrid assemblage.

That change has solved the sonic gap and discontinuity between front and rear speakers, while bringing up the heretofore somewhat beclouded midbass, giving the sound greater articulation and definition on the all-critical fundamentals.

Along with these changes also came a silvery sweetness to the top octaves the speaker did not have before, rendering it much more "electrostatic" or "ribbon-like" at the top, with concurrent gains in airiness. A major improvement that would seem to have justified a Series V designation.