There is no coincidence – in the day, when the Jarocin Festiwal 2011 begun, I received from the Studio Dźwięku audio salon, housed in Jarocin, loudspeakers from a new Polish company Pylon. Pylon is really an ultra-new company, very recently founded, and has currently only one product. But when we look at the company page from Studio Dźwięku we’ll see, that this company specializes in products from another Polish company – Tonsil. So where did Pylon come from?
First I thought, that this is a child of people previously associated with Tonsil S.A. For sure Mr. Mateusz Jujka is one that kind of person, as he contacted me earlier on behalf of Tonsil , as he was there the director of sales. But it turned out, that this project (and others, which – nota bene – will bear the names of gems) was created by ten people, from whom no one had any relationship with Tonsil. Mr. Mateusz does not want to tell any names, saying that this was a team effort, and it should be treated as such. All right.
Like I said, the Pearl are the first product from Pylon. Those are unusual loudspeakers, because they are very cheap, while being fully fledged floor standing speakers. And they use Polish drivers, made by Tonsil. Subsequent Pylon models will also employ proprietary drivers.
Mr. Mateusz describes their characteristics as follows:
“The Pylon Pearl are two-way, floor standing speakers, based on carefully selected drivers. The tweeter has a textile dome and amplified magnetic motor. The woofer, with a rigid diaphragm made from glass fiber, has additional ventilation below the lower suspension, which reduces the compression at higher volume levels. A solid cabinet with reinforcements, cabling with oxygene-free copper braid wires and cross-over components complete the picture.
It is worth to notice the following:
- Placement of the drivers is optimized to achieve the closest possible acoustic center locations and phase coherence
- Gold plated wire terminals allow to use banana plugs, spades or bare wires
- The cross-over is mounted in the “point to point” way, without elongation of the sound path inside the loudspeaker
- The cabinet is made from 16mm thick plates, with a partition acting as a reinforcement and separator of the optimal volume for the woofer
- The tweeter with textile dome diaphragm and reinforced magnet. The driver has a light aluminum voice coil and a special overlay in the front, made from a foam, which reduces unwanted diffractions
- The woofer with a rigid diaphragm from glass fiber with low distortion. The carcass of the woofer has ventilation below the lower suspension, reducing the compression at higher inclinations
- The loudspeaker is optimized for optimum impulse and bass dynamics reproduction, hence the working volume and tuning is chosen in such a way, that damping is eliminated
- Internal cabling is made using a copper, braid wire.”
A selection of recordings used in the test:
- Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones, Capitol/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90034, HQCD.
- Beverly Kenney, Lonely And Blue, Cellar Door Records/Sinatra Society of Japan, XQAM-1-22, CD.
- Clan of Xymox, Darkest Hour, Trisol, TRI 419 CD, CD.
- Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus 2011, cdbong43, SP CD.
- Depeche Mode, Remixes 81-11: 2, Mute, cdmutel18, CD.
- Frank Sinatra, Nice’N’Easy, Capitol/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 790, gold-CD;
- Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90035, HQCD.
- Holst, The Planets, Buzz Ensemble, Mélanie Barney, Fidelio Musique, FACD028, CD.
- Jan Fukumachi, Jan Fukumachi at Steinway (Take 2), First Impression Music/Lasting Impression Music, LIM DXD 038, silver-CD.
- Jean Michel Jarre, Equinoxe, Dreyfus Music/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 647, CD.
- Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum, EMI, 349962, 2 x SACD/CD.
- Leszek Możdżer, Komeda, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9516-2, CD.
- Madeleine Peyroux, Standing On The Rooftop, EmArcy/Pennywell Productions [Japan], UCCU-1335, CD.
- Max Roach & Clifford Brown, Daahoud, Mainstream Records/Mobile Fidelity, MFCD826, CD.
- Monserat Figureas, Cançons de la Catalunya mil-lenària, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Alia Vox, AVSA 9881, SACD/CD.
- The Modern Jazz Quartet, Pyramid, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-25125, CD.
- The Oscar Peterson Trio, We Get Request, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 032, K2HD;
Japanese versions of the discs available at CD Japan.
Before I go over to the actual listening session, a few words about the price of the Pylon. As you can see in the introductory table, those loudspeakers are priced 980zł a pair. This price is so low, that I asked Mr. Mateusz to confirm it, and three times I received confirmation, that it is the right price. Even more – in the internet I found exactly the same price. And yet, for me this is out of the ordinary, I cannot understand – how can somebody earn money on such well made loudspeaker, with such good drivers and components, even if it costs so little? Even China made loudspeakers, sounding much worse and looking similarly cost more or much more. The only answer could be mass production. Pylon starts its activity as a big company, with elaborated production, design and sales, so maybe this is the right idea. And I really wish the company fast and dynamic growth.
To protect myself mentally I will treat the Pearl like loudspeakers from the 1600-1800zł price range, especially as I can compare them with two other, very good constructions for that money – the floor standing loudspeakers M4 Monitor Audio and Siesta Pro-Tonsil, which I tested some time ago. If those loudspeakers would really cost 980zł in the shop, then I could already finish the test saying “f…n unbelievable!”
Even in such comparison, with loudspeakers praised by me, the Pylon show something special, what is often missing in many other loudspeakers, regardless their price, and the lack of what is very offending in ultra-expensive constructions of high-end companies. I mean coherence.
The Pearl sound like one single speaker. You cannot hear the stitch between the tweeter and woofer, at least when we are talking about the timbre, the bass-reflex is also not separated. Both elements, I mean the relationship between the transducers and between the woofer and bass-reflex port place this Polish construction on par with any other good loudspeaker regardless its price. Such far going integration comes only from knowledge and experience. This cannot be achieved by chance. And the second, probably even more important, part of the equation is their proper application.
Like I said, the loudspeakers sound like one sound source, almost point-like. I tested them with a wide variety of musical styles, torturing them with low sounds of electronics, caressing them with sublime sounds of the voices of Montserrat Figueras and Sinatra. The sound had always the same character, with similar elements brought to the front, confirming the consistence of this project.
Yes, coherence is the most important element here. The second one, not less important, is the well chosen timbre. As it seems to me, the tweeter used in this loudspeaker is close to the one from the Siesta, as is the woofer. The only thing is, that the timbre of the two Polish products is significantly different.
There, where the Siesta were open and a bit bright, the Pearl are quite warm and rich in reverbs; the very high dynamics of the Pro-Tonsil is here slightly tempered, but better integrated internally, I mean it does not exist for the sake of being there, but is subordinate to the communication.
The sound of the Pylon is easiest to be described as being slightly warm. Not overly, we do not talk about muffling or mudding the sound, but about such shape of the midrange, rich, mature and vast, that the treble is subordinated to it.
We can at the same time hear, that the tweeter is also good, that it does not sound bright or sharp, what is a quite common flaw of a textile tweeter, but at the same time that it is not very refined. For the given money it seems to be a revelation, but already the gold colored dome tweeter in the Monitor M4 has a clearer and more resolved sound. The advantage of the Pylon is, that their treble is better integrated with the midrange.
And it is the midrange, that probably is the biggest surprise. I am not 100% sure about that, because I liked the beautiful, low and slightly soft bass in a similar way, but finally it is the midrange, where most things are happening in music, and it defines each speaker.
The midrange will fare well with any kind of music. The warm voice of Sinatra from Nice’N’Easy will be warm and big, the fantastic harmony of the voices of the four boys from the disc Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones will really be reproduced well, and the warm voice of Madeleine Peyroux Standing On The Rooftop will flow out of the Pearl like warm caramel. Everything will be exactly as we would like it to be, due to the very good tonal balance and outstanding internal coherence.
We can of course show, that in absolute categories the treble is a bit back, and to the proper reproduction of for example the piano we would need more energy in the upper registers. Yes, this is true and we will not dispute about that. Shortly I will add more elements, that clearly distinguish those loudspeakers from more expensive, or very expensive, competition and I will not pretend that those elements are not there. But it is really worth to look at the context (contest is another nice word that goes with it): for the given money no other loudspeaker sound so well, does not have such good treble and only the M4 show something else – not really better, but on a similar level.
And finally the bass. It is tight, very full and reaches low. Maybe not as low as in the M4, loudspeakers with a similar construction, but still it seems fuller and more concise. Taking into account what I saw after dismantling the loudspeaker, this is an absolutely amazing achievement.
The lower octaves are a bit soft, but in “good faith”, in the sense, that this does not lead to excessive edginess. The main discriminator is something, that could be called slight overdamping. This is not a flaw or an error. Overdamped is related not directly to the sound, but to the way the woofer is applied in a bass-reflex cabinet. Because when the constructor moves the resonance frequency of the speaker and the bass-reflex port tuning relative to each other, then we get the “overdamped” implementation. In terms of sound this translates into the tempering of the bass-reflex port, what is good, and into tempering of the dynamics of the low frequencies, because the BR port is used not only to widen the frequency response, but also to increase the dynamics (but not impulse response) of the lower octaves.
From time to time I encounter such constructions, and the overdamping of the BR port is not always bad for the sound. This does not allow to fully exploit the advantages of a large cabinet and bass-reflex, but it is not bad. In the Pylon loudspeakers this was done really nicely, so the assets of such solution were translated into good sound, masking the flaws. The latter is usually the damping of dynamics on the bottom range. As you could read in the introduction, the constructors designed this loudspeaker to be able to use the minimum amount of damping material inside. And you can hear that – the bass is quite open and dynamic. It does not develop as much as in bigger loudspeakers, but it reminds me, and I cannot get lose from this comparison the timbre (but not the extension of course) of the bass from the loudspeakers PMC OB1i - this is a controlled, but also nicely saturated sound, ideally combined with the midrange.
The analysis of the individual subranges is, as always, helpful in defining the tonal character of a given product. In well made products, regardless their price, more important is the upper floor, the integration, coherence, ability to convey emotions, the lack of irritating coloring. We have all that in the Pearl, what is something spectacular looking at their price – regardless if it is 980zł or let’s say – 1800zł.
The Pylon are not flawless loudspeakers, I would not like you to perceive this test like that. They differ from more expensive, good loudspeakers, by lower resolution, slight homogenization of the sound and the lack of dynamic, lit treble. We cannot have everything, and probably with those transducers, in this configuration, the fulfillment of any of those postulates could lead to ruination of the sound as a whole. So I understand, that this is a result of the choices made by the constructors. And this is no coincidence or luck. Such things happen, but only in relationship to some element of the sound, but not related to the whole, as it is here. We can hear, that the Pearl were made by people who spend lots of time on listening sessions, and that they used electronics from the price range below 2000zł, which is often bright or sandy. The Polish loudspeakers will handle those especially well. And the better the CD player, amplifier, etc, will be, the better they will sound, keeping their own character. I listened to the Pylon using the Ayon Orion II, a tube amplifier, and this combination was almost shocking in terms of sound and the price of the system. Yes, the Pylon are something that did not happen before in my life.
The Pearl are two-way loudspeakers, floor standing, using two drivers, with the bass-reflex port on the back side. Both drivers come from the Polish Tonsil. On top we have the dome tweeter GDWK 10/80/26 8Ω with a soft diaphragm, aluminum voice coil and the front covered with a special material reducing reflections. The dome is recessed in a short mini-tube, which increases the efficiency, but most of all allows to control the direction of radiation. On midrange and bass we have the woofer GDN 17/40 4Ω with a diaphragm from braid glass fiber, plastic carcass and soft rubber suspension. The dust cup is concave. A similar driver, although with a smaller diameter, was used in the loudspeakers Tonsil Siesta (test HERE). There the dust cup was convex. The same speaker as in the Pylon was used in another Tonsil product, the Maestro S. The speakers are placed closed together – it was about bringing the radiation centers close together. The internal cabling is made by a copper braid wire.
On the back we have the bass-reflex port and wire terminals below it. Those are gold plated elements with plastic screws, slightly recessed in a plastic mold.
The cabinet is made from 16mm plates – the front from MDF, the other walls of the cabinet from chipboard and are veneered with an artificial veneer. The cabinet is well made, although the design is a bit “old school” – I meant the sides protruding to the front and back a little. Just before the test was published I received the information, that the loudspeakers will be changed a little: the front and back will be on the same level as the sides, like in the Monitor Audio M4. There is no grille. The loudspeakers are placed on four spikes bolted in special sockets on the bottom.
After dismantling the loudspeaker – a few surprises. It turns out, that the speakers are in reality stand mount speakers in a big cabinet – below the amplifier terminals we have a partition, which closes the space above. The second surprise is about damping – there is none. Good job! The cross-over is mounted in the point-to-point technique and glued to a chipboard plate. The cross-over uses splendid elements, rarely seen in even many times more expensive constructions, elements like a polypropylene capacitor from Jantzen and an air coil in the tweeter section. Also good resistors were used. In the low frequencies section we have less extraordinary elements, but still good, an electrolytic capacitor and a core coil. The cable is a braid copper one. It is soldered to the speakers.
Very good, Polish speakers, very good cross-over and sensible cabinet. The craftsmanship of the cabinet is not so good (for the money) as in the British loudspeakers I mentioned. But for the test I received a working prototype. So we will need to wait for the production unit to be able to make a final judgment.
Technical data (according to manufacturer):
Frequency response: 43 - 23 000Hz
Dimensions [W x H x D]: 200 x 900 x 250mm
Woofer: GDN 17/40 4Ω
Tweeter: GDWK 10/80/26 8Ω