Issue 154 / June-July 2005

hp's Workshop

No need to linger here. Carl Marchisotto, Nola's designer and an alumnus of Jon Dahlquist's old company, has, over time, made several revisions to this statement speaker system. The drive units have remained the same, hut the crossovers have not. Marchisotto has made three updates to the crossovers integral to the main towers. The separate crossover to the ported bass towers, an old Dahlquist DQLP-10, remains the same. I have no idea what internal changes he made to the three-way external units this time, but I do know he has devised a better isolation system for each unit, as well as sexier-looking wood enclosures.

Do I hear a difference? Well, he has enhanced even further the sense of continuousness and coherent soundfield from about 40Hz (the towers' lower limit) up. I already considered the Grand Reference the most continuous hybrid I've experienced. I call it a hybrid because it is a combination of cone drivers and a series of true ribbon tweeters, which now are better integrated than they were before. It's a case of improving on a good thing, even though any discontinuity previously there was quite minor-few even noticed it.

That said because, otherwise, the revisions to the Grand Reference occurred during the time when the new and more revealing gear became part of the chain. And this was a period in which I, temporarily, as it turned out, thought I had lost my reference and so, without having the old crossover boxes to re-insert in the system, I can't judge the overall degree of improvement.