No. 151 December 2016
- REVIEW FROM OUR COVER: Audionet PLANCK – Compact Disc Player | RED Fingerprint | GERMANY
- AWARDS: BEST SOUND 2016 by High Fidelity
- COVERAGE: AUDIO VIDEO SHOW 2016 - audio and video equipment exhibition | POLAND
- REVIEW + KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY, VOL.1 | KTS Meeting # 105: AYON AUDIO CD-35 - Super Audio CD Player | AUSTRIA
- INTERVIEW: Muniek Staszczyk and Maciek “Majcher” Majchrzak about T.LOVE | POLAND
- REVIEW: Ayon Audio HA-3 - headphone amplifier | AUSTRIA
- REVIEW: HiFiMAN V2 EDITION X V2 | HE-1000 V2 – headphones | RED Fingerprint, Reference High Fidelity | USA
- REVIEW: 聖HIJIRI SMT ‘TAKUMI’ MAESTRO - power cable AC | RED Fingerprint, Reference High Fidelity | JAPAN
PYLON AUDIO EMERALD
Writing an editorial about the reference system, the one I use when testing audio components, I knew that soon the theoretical part will complemented with a practical one (see Test method , April 2016, No. 144, see HERE). A month later, during the High End 2016 in Munich Pylon Audio presented the finished loudspeakers, which were inspired by my ideas of a good sound: the Emerald Touched by High Fidelity (see HERE). Big banners used at brand's stand spoke for themselves. I did not know then, however, that even though almost a year has passed since the first conversation about this design, it would take another 6 months before the final version was ready.
September 23rd 2016 and almost final version of he Emerald Touched by High Fidelity loudspeakers.
It was a spontaneous idea that came to me during one of the Pylon loudspeakers reviews. I thought it would be nice to show people my personal view on music presentation. Not in terms of an absolute high-end, but rather on much more user-friendly price level that is actually much more interesting for most “HighFidelity” Readers. I assumed that such loudspeakers should not be overly expensive, but also that they should cost enough so that it would be possible to use decent drivers, components, and so that time and effort invested in such project would pay off for the manufacturer.
I approached with this idea a company I knew would be capable of realizing such project while being patient enough to tolerate me and my ideas and that could disregard financial aspect of such undertaking treating it as a sort of an adventure.
August 2015, my place. Mr Mateusz Jujka, CEO Pylon Audio, and Marek Kostrzyński, engineer, and next to them first propositions of membranes and their suspensions.
I did not have to even try very hard and encourage anyone, because Mr. Mateusz Jujka, CEO of Pylon Audio, agreed immediately. He quickly commissioned development of a concept of loudspeakers including their look. In August, he and Mark Kostrzyński, the engineer responsible for the Pylon designs, came to me and presented conceptual cabinets and components that were to be the basis for a new woofer, designed specifically for Emerald. The whole project became real, because for the first time I could imagine the final product. Or so it seemed...
I assumed that these will be a completely new loudspeakers designed from the ground up for this particular project. What's more, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that the company was planning to soon start a production line with their own low-midrange woofers, so it could afford some modifications (within the constraints of the design). It turned out that the owner of the company and his engineers approached this case very seriously, so when they were presented for the first time ever to the public at the Audio Video Show 2015 ... they did not even work so people could only see them. It turned out that people responsible for the project had just refined something, developed something else, and they had some new ideas about drivers. So another half a year passed - at trials, checking different membrane coatings, crossover improvements, and so on.
November 2015, Audio Video Show – Emerald's prototypes were presented. Next one finds Pylon's own design driver, PSW 17.8 CA.
September 2nd 2016
In August 2016 I got a message from Mr. Mateusz that they were almost ready. Meaning almost ready for testing Emeralds, as they decided to call new speakers, against my Harbeth M40.1. The idea was not to create a copy of British speakers but to preserve similar nature of the sound, to make them deliver performance of the same type as the one I listen to every day. And again - not because it's the best sound, or the only “right” one, but because this was a performance I compared all tested speakers to - for good and for bad. After all, the idea was to present to the Readers, using new Pylons, my sound preferences and, consequently, give them a better understanding of the reviews.
I wrote about it in my editorial, which I mentioned at the beginning, thus I would not want to repeat myself. So all I'm going to say is that for me the matter is the most important element of the sound, ie. tonal saturation, dynamics and liquidity (coherence). These elements are necessary for all others, and to achieve them proper resolution and selectivity are required. But I'm not looking for the resolution and selectivity as such, because it does not make sense. I'm looking for some truth in music and emotions that this music might excite inside me. When I sit in front of the loudspeakers just curious, maybe even respectful, but I do not feel excited, it means that something is - in my opinion - missing.
May 2016, High End Show in Munich – Emeralds still in development, but – as it seemed – almost finished.
Mr Jujka and Kostrzyński brought finished loudspeakers to Krakow. We had met before a few times and listened to my system , so there was no need for much talk, we just had to assess the performance. The effect of the work was very good, although I still asked for a few changes. It was quite easy to point out what I wanted changed, because this pair had external crossovers (Mr. Mateusz says they might be able to prepare such a version) and there were a few redundant elements in it. It took only minor rewiring to change the electrical system. So we did it several times. Gentlemen listened to my comments, I listened to their explanations and we have come to a common conclusion what and how to modify.
Before we move forward I should let Pylon guys talk, too – they shall tell you their side of the story.
The idea of developing a limited edition version loudspeakers based on musical preferences of Mr. Wojtek Pacuła (ed. in chief of "High Fidelity") was born well over a year ago. We agreed that the design would be based on Pylon Audio's own low-midrange drivers (over 1.5 years ago we made a decision to investment in new production plant for Pylon Audio drivers). Better performing, more nuanced low- midwoofer required but accurate "company" to show its advantages.
Pylon Audio PSW 17.8 CA driver in pieces…
At first the works were carried out in our standard mode, as in the case of all other Pylon Audio designs. This means measuring transducers, creating cabinets concepts, simulations, and based on them building different types of crossovers to determine advantages of designed electroacoustic transducers in a given application. Considerable amount of time was also spent on a process of "fine-tuning" of our PSW 17.8 CA driver - at the turn of 2015 and 2016 we prepared around 70 different prototypes of this driver. When designing the speaker we used the Loudsoft software - without it the designing process would have taken much longer.
Emeralds on production line still without drivers and finish, but already with a new base instead of feet.
After completing our work on amplitude and phase coherence, and initial tuning of the resonance chamber we began our standard listening sessions routine. As with other designs, these also were compared against other loudspeakers offered by us, which in the case of Emerald HF meant them going head-to-head with Diamond line monitors 25 and 28. In addition, we compared the set in several different home systems in different rooms - such tests allow us to test the behavior of speakers in different environments – they have to be rather versatile and work well with different amplification.
When fine tuning Emeralds, we were inspired by the performance of the excellent Harbeth M40.1, that are reference speakers for Mr. Wojtek Pacuła. The first longer listening session with the British monitors led us to modify the bass-midrange driver. The changes were made within the structure of the driver's coil. The new version allowed us to get a fuller, richer sound with all resonances around the PSW 17.8 CA bandwidth's limit being nicely smoothed out.
The first listening session with Emeralds still in the first version cabinet with outboard crossovers.
After a small modification of the crossover - using a different coil – we were ready for the first test at Mr. Wojtek's. Although our lineup of loudspeakers is already quite big, we do get nervous each time when presenting a new project for the first time and it was no different this time :-) A visit to Krakow began with the songs of Frank Sinatra from the 1940s, followed by Depeche Mode album Ultra. Let me calm down all those who are waiting for something like: "Emeralds outperformed Harbeths". No, they did not :-)
While listening, it turned out that we went slightly too far creating an emphasis in the lower midrange. The scale of the sound was quite good, even in this reference system, vocals were also complemented. Nevertheless, inspired by the results of a direct comparison, we decided that we would not transform their performance completely but rather shift some accents, which should by the way allow the sound to gain some mass and more precise placement. P
As you probably already figured it out it was not an easy project. And yet, almost a year and a half after it was initiated there was still work to be done.
Crossovers ready for test.
At that time the concept of the external design also it changed. For almost the entire period the speakers' appearance referred stylistically to the 1960s, with small integrated feet and the metal reinforcement on the bottom. I like it a lot. Practice has shown that very soon they fall prey to floor cleaning products and do not look quite as impressive as right after unboxing. Hence a slightly modified design, with solid base instead of feet. It delivered an additional bonus – added rigidity to the lower part of the cabinet. The columns do not look quite as "light" as before, but they are more practical and sound better. It is a pity, but this is one of the many compromises, which the engineers have to make while preparing the finished product (and not just "working prototype").
September 23rd 2016
The speakers that entered my apartment at 10.23 looked significantly different than their previous versions. This is not about the color of the cabinets, because this was one of the available ones, but about how their base. Now they stand on the basis made of steel, which makes it really heavy. They looked very nice, but were lacking this hint of extravagance of the previous project. Although we thought it would be a final audition of the final version, based on proposals from the previous visit, it turned out not to be so simple.
This is final version with white matte finish. The crossover is now inside the cabinet :) But it's always possible to make a special version with an outboard crossover, right?
The sound went toward precision and clarity, which is a step in the right direction, but I lacked some more richness, which was there during previous listening session. Yes, there was too much of it then, but taking it away meant that it was no longer "my" project, and just very good, very versatile one. Therefore, speakers returned to Jarocin for one more amendment. I assumed that it would really be the ultimate one, but as I'd already learned, nothing's done until it's done. Sometimes subtle change in the project shifts accents so that t changes sound significantly.
Anyway, the loudspeakers will keep this look and they will offer a similar performance. This does not mean that it will be exactly the same, but we are already close to my idea of their performance. In turn, the regular, non-limited version will sound exactly the same offering really good sound.
Emerald Touched by High Fidelity
Emerald Touched by High Fidelity are unique loudspeakers. Manufacturer will prepare several, maybe 20 pairs of them, which are to be a kind of reference point for the Readers. These are not the best loudspeakers in this price range, because there are also others, equally good. The point is that these are to offer the best possible performance of THIS TYPE for the price. Their creation was inspired by the letters from our Readers and discussions about reviews I performed in recent years. I don't get paid for this project and I do not intend to review these speakers – this whole case must remain transparent and clean. I do not participate in any beta tests of products before they go to the production. Emerald HF is a totally different situation, and the idea came from me which is why I take full responsibility for it.
The manufacturer would like to use the experience gained during our project for a wider use. So we agreed that they would create a "regular" version of Emeralds, a more neutral sounding one that should appeal to a wider group of music lovers and fit better popular electronics. Pylon Audio will voice this version themselves without any participation on my side. I will not review this model either.
Specifications (according to manufacturer)
Impedance: 4 Ω
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