Italian products always enjoyed appreciation and esteem in Poland. Sonus Faber, Pathos, and more recently Audionemesis or Bluenote - just to name the more recognizable ones. But Italy is the home of many small, although very well prospering; among whose Sonus is a real tycoon. The place I discover them regularly since two years is the High End show in Munich. Already last year, during the 2007 edition (report HERE) the activity of the Italian companies was clearly visible, and this year it was confirmed by the presence of new brands (coverage HERE). This is the place where I met Mr. Paolo Martinelli, the marketing manager of the company Emmespeakers (owner of the brand Emme), privately the son of the main designer and owner of the company, Mr. Lorenzo Martinelli. Emme occupied one box with Audionemesis, whom I fondle, and another Italians, the company Norma. My attention was immediately drawn by the interesting form and the cross section of the Emme loudspeakers, although the company presence was modest. It turned out, that this is a complicated construction, with many layers of MDF plates glued together, in which the chamber is being cut. This “patent” is known from other Italian loudspeakers - Eventus Audio but in this edition it seemed very interesting to me. So I requested the loudspeakers for testing, and Mr. Martinelli sent them to me not looking at the fact, that those products do not have a distributor in Poland.
Model β, as we are talking about it, is a quite big floor standing loudspeaker and square base. However its shape does not dominate in the room, because the enclosure is narrowing to the top and is crowned with a half round top. This has an acoustic explanation – this minimizes the baffle step and the risk of standing waves. The Emme loudspeakers are a three way construction, with a metal (aluminum) dome tweeter, a midrange driver with a diaphragm made from woven glass fibers and a big woofer made from coated paper. Interestingly the speakers work in a closed cabinet setting. This is not a popular solution. While this improves the impulse parameters of the loudspeaker (they are quicker), but it limits the bass, that is usually helped by the bass reflex. Almost all closed cabinet loudspeakers are members of an elite “club”, as they offer refined sound. We will see if this will also be the case here. Emme informs that besides the Beta also the Alpha model is available (2340€), and in the second part of the year new veneers will be available. In the beginning of 2009 a new model Gamma should be available, based on the same assumptions as the α and β, but with another external design.
To be able to fully convey what I want in this test I recommend reading two reviews first: the amplifier Audiomatus AM500R (in this issue of “High Fidelity”) and the loudspeakers ART Loudspeakers Stiletto 6. It is not directly about the comparison of the sound, although this is a valid path, but about the descriptions I introduced there. After reading those it will be easier to correlate what I am writing and what I want to show you with your experience.
Because this is a very similar driver to the one mounted in my Dobermann from Harpia Acoustic, so I was not surprised, that the way of sounding will be similar. The Emme transducer is not as detailed, or as vivid as mine, also the resolution is a bit different. But those are not overwhelming differences, especially when we look “up” on them, meaning coming from worse speakers. In general this is a very good loudspeaker, in this case well composed with the midrange driver. The latter has quite a diameter, so we can assume that the cross-over frequency between it and the tweeter is quite low, and this tells that the tweeter covers a lot of the frequency range and thus us responsible for everything being full and clear at the same time. This is not a question of detail, this is not a very high level here, and I will write about that later, but the cleanness of the phrases and the melody. And at the same time a certain restraint is kept in “letting through” of the annoying coloring, that accompanies the treble on some discs. This is for example the case with Kate Bush that sounds much better from vinyl – because the digital version is copy protected, and this always leaves a trace. Anyway, the Emme, although they show broad frequency range, slightly smoothen or even draw back the upper midrange and some of the treble. I do not know what they actually do, because this is not working in their disadvantage, but a choice of their designer. Interestingly, this is the same thing I heard with the mentioned ADAM and in the, described in the July lead article Between Scylla and Charybdis, loudspeakers Sound&Line. And this has sense – all of them sound with a very saturated midrange. But the ADAM and the Emme have the upper midrange rather dense than clear. This gives this involving sound, but is a step away from neutrality. That is life and that is a choice. This is heard mostly as a limitation of the resolution of this frequency range. Although the treble is splendid, and gives “openness” to the instruments – that was for example on the superb disc with guitar of Alex de Grassi Bolivian Blues Bar (Narada Jazz, 48282-2, CD; review HERE) – but the contours, the edges of this range are rather smoothened and faded into the whole transmission.
The range of the midrange coming into bass, where the driver’s responses meet, seems equally important. The choice of the closed cabinet gives a certain sound, different to the one we are used to when using bass-reflex speakers. There is no physical “punch”, no animal “push”. The middle and lower ranges are a bit damped. This is not the best word, because this has a negative context, and this is something I would like to avoid. But the sound is like that. In return we get an incredibly clean bass, without any colorings, that we usually perceive as good “stretch”. It has a very high energy (this is why the word “dampening” describes this only partially) and can reach really low. But this is not as impressive as with bass-reflex. Comparing with the mighty Dobermann the Emme do not reach that low, but the timbre of the bass and its consistency are splendid. The low hum opening the piece Song of The Stars from the Spiritchaser Dead Can Dance was fleshy, substantial, really good. It did not go as low as on my speakers, but much lower than I remember from the Stiletto 6 or the Penaudio Alba and much lower than in the tested last month KEF XQ30. Even more - its character is ideally conform to the one of the midrange driver. Just like the tweeter also the woofer was chosen splendidly, to compliment that what is in the middle. The dense lower sounds put weight to everything, but only enough to make sure that no disc will sound thin. This homogenized the discs in some way – I mean that masterings very different on my speakers sounded alike here. But this is just how the Model β is.
This is a very good product, but is has its character. The voices are a bit heavier and not as open in their upper part as in other loudspeakers from this price range. The resolution is not bad, but not very good. The hits in the upper bass range, and also in the treble, are a bit “hardened”, what can be heard as if the contrast is raised too high in a TV set. However the Emme have a fantastic timbre and sound equally well at lower volumes. The stage is dense and deep, what allows the sound to detach from the speakers. Yes, I almost forgot, but this is one of the things that will allow giving an A+ for the Italian speakers, and what shows that the constructor’s efforts were effective: the Emme just disappear, the sound is not bound to them in any way, it is just in a window between them. The common belief is that only bookshelf speakers are capable of that, but the case of the loudspeakers of Harpi Acoustics proves it wrong. It is only needed to get good speakers and place them in a good cabinet. The one in the Italian speakers must be outstanding, because the speakers disappear from the room. They need of course good amplification, preferably a strong solid state amp. It can be 60W in class A (like from my Luxman) but those need to be real watts, doubled at the twofold lowering of the impedance. Then we get exactly what the constructors wanted: a warm breeze under a quiet Tuscan sky…
The Model β from the Italian company Emme is a floor standing loudspeaker, three-way, with closed cabinet. It stands out on first sight due to the unconventional shape of the cabinet and used drivers. The enclosure is narrowing upwards and crowned with a half round top. This allows for optimal conditions of wave propagation, minimizes vibration (this form is more rigid) and eliminates standing waves from inside the cabinet. It should be noted, that some time ago that kind of enclosure was proposed by the British Revolver the model Cygnis, and lately the company ART Loudspeakers in the Deco series. The cabinet is made from glued together MDF plates, in which the chambers for the speakers are cut. The whole is varnished in a silver color (like in the tested model) with piano varnish.
The loudspeaker is equipped with three drivers. On top we have a small aluminum dome tweeter with a protective hash. The speaker was manufactured in Germany (so it is not a SEAS) – it has a metal front and a double magnetic drive. Seemingly this is a product from Monacor. This is confirmed by the choice of the midrange driver – this is the model SPH-165C made by Monacoir with a 165mm diaphragm made from woven glass fibers. This speaker is often used as a mid-woofer, but here it is cut from below. It has a nice aluminum spider and a large magnet. This section, meaning the midrange-tweeter section, has its own chamber, loosely damped with artificial wool. The woofer, with a diaphragm covered with a sticky substance and 212mm diameter is also Monacor made (SPH-212). It has a metal spider and a small magnet. This is very interesting because Monacor is a manufacturer of loudspeakers for the professional and stage market, and is not regarded highly by audiophiles. And here – they sound really nice. And their high efficiency allows to get as much from the closed cabinet as possible.
The drivers are connected to the cross-over, mounted to the back of the cabinet on the level of the midrange driver, by means of not very thick plaid cables, the ‘minus’ being from silver plated copper and the ‘plus’ from OFC copper. The cables are connected by tags, what should be exchanged to solder. The cross-over is mounted on a PCB made in the “old style” – with only small separations etched between large areas of copper. The circuit is quite complicated, with many polypropylene and electrolyte capacitors. The coils are of the air type. All elements were provided by… Monacor. On the outside we have single, massive terminals. Frankly speaking I would prefer smaller ones – those maybe look good, but are not very functional. The loudspeakers stand on rubber feet and do not have any grilles.
CDs FROM JAPAN
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