Short visit to Doxa country

DOXA keeps refining their unique amplifiers and speakers. I popped by for a short demo, and was again astonished by their achievement.

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Next in line is their signature version of already well known power amp Doxa 61, and their quarter wave horn loaded speaker, the Doxa 8.2

We’re looking at even better quality components and small, final touches to the circuitry. Doxa will be thoroughly presented on this page as soon as possible! 🙂

Stakk innom Doxa en bråtur for en hyggelig demo av deres senere kreasjoner, og ble igjen overbevist av hva de har klart å oppnå. 

Klare for levering er nå deres signaturmodell av forsterkeren Doxa 61, samt den bakladede kvartbølgekonstruksjonen Doxa 8.2. 

Vi ser denne gang forbedret komponentkvalitet og små kretsjusteringer. Doxa vil bli behørig presentert på disse sider så snart anledningen byr seg.

Take Heed from outer space!

Norsk sammendrag nederst i artikkelen

Quasar. No idea why Heed chooses to use the name from a quasistellar radio source on their RIAA. Listening to it gave me a hint, though. It literally lightens up my living room!

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The Quasar is the top RIAA in the Modular range, the range of small boxes consisting of 2 headphone amps, one DAC and 2 RIAA’s. Small in the case of Quasar goes for the RIAA itself, since the power supply is around four times bigger, as we during this test use the Obelisk PX. Obviously not as easy to hide as a wall wart, besides, one might argue that a unit so low on power demand as a RIAA should not need a power house to feed it. O ye unfaithful! The proof is in the pudding, as always. No need for arguing, use your ears instead. Case closed.

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The Quasar is not the easiest to use. It’s factory set for MC with a 470 Ohm load, look underneath an you’ll find nothing but a warning saying that you must not open the box, ’cause then you might be killed by trolls or followed by evil spirits. Now, since I, for logistic reasons wanted to start the show with MM pick-up, I consulted the user manual. Well, what do they tell me, other than opening the box and start playing with electrical jumpers? Well, in reality it isn’t much danger, anyway. Remove the power cable, wait a couple of minutes (or the time you spend removing the 4 allen screws), then you’re good to go. So I moved the 4 jumpers from MC to MM settings. Also, there are jumpers for customization to MC pick-ups, both for micro Volts p.u. output (100, 330, 600) and the more normal resistance settings. Also, there are high and low output connections from the RIAA itself on the rear facia, so you have big chances of finding something suiting your p.u. That said, Heed has not opted for more than three different loads, 100, 470 and 1k Ohm, a little sparse for my taste, but still suitable for most.

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The Quasar showed to be rather jumpy regarding RFI, having a mobile switched on in the room soon became a nuseance; the shattering sounds kept on annoying me until I put the phone in flight mode. Well, let’s look at the positive side of this; no disturbances while enjoying your music, as long as your phone is off. And, with the phone out of the way, plus necessary adjustments made, the listening itself is pure bliss. Even though it’s decades since the origin of Heed had anything to to with Britain, they still deliver sound as British as any. It is filled with rhythm and perfect timing,  it spreads joy and light to the world. On top of that, it presents room and positioning to die for. I do admit I was taken a bit aback, ’cause the price wasn’t that bad, was it? OK, so the design is simple, no doubt that saves money. Compared to huge valve RIAA’s, we save a lot on transformers, valves, heat sinks and big boxes, while compared to the more modern designs, we also save on remote control and several switches. The tiny box is full, M-caps clearly visible, the rest seems like rather standard component quality, tidily organized on the PCB. I guess the word sensible is the simple description of the total design.

The MM in use is an Audio Note IQ3, a rather high output design, giving a strong 6,5 mV out. I therefore was puzzled that to get a reasonable gain, I still had to use the “High Output” connectors. Heed explains that the “Low Output” is mainly aimed at older amplifier designs with high input gain, so fair enough. After a couple of weeks burn in, we’re ready to listen, and, since I made a quick check initially, I can recommend new owners to stay calm, the change from new to burnt in, is huge. Initially rather boring, the initial nature takes a 180 degrees turn somewhere down the road, and returns like a hurricane. Or, with the light of a Quasar, if you want. The mentioned p.u. is also a very lively performer, I found this combination to be truly awesome. Probably not heard the AN p.u. coming so much alive since I played it on AN’s own RIAA. And, I don’t think I’ve ever hard it so full of timbral character, this is just beautiful! Especially suited for classical works, no doubt, but the rhythmic behavior also give a certain snap to rock.

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So I start off with something in between rock and classical; the beautifully recorded “Caverna Magica” from Andreas Vollenweider. Here, the Quasar is allowed to show it’s brilliance on several aspects, first the precision. Both depth and left – right orientation is excellent, as we hear the two persons coming walking into the magic cavern, and the sound picture. Then the water drops, perfectly placed, snappy, precise. We clearly notice the changes in timbral charachter as we go from the echo of the cavern over to the drier studio sound. The elegance is fulfilled by Vollenweider’s harp, surrounded by a big soundscape leaving nothing to the imagination. I guess have heard this even better, but to a very different price, indeed. Impressive, Heed, really.

On the more rocky side of town, we find John Lee Hooker supported by Carlos Santana in the wonderful song “The Healer”. This is not as convincing as the previous example, here the presentation needs more “balls” and precision in the lower regions, while the Quasar seems to slowly loose some of the fantastic sense of control lower in the frequency register. Not so that it lets go of the grip, not at all, but the rhythmic sense just gets that little tad slower, and, by that removing the final edge to this beautiful piece of music. In absolute terms, I have heard RIAA’s with more power and control, giving this song even more brutality and presence. But the voices are so elegant, so close and realistic that you can forgive quite a lot on other aspects.

Along the same route, we find Jimmy D. Lane and his album “It’s time”, recorded with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band Double Trouble. The album is a 45 rpm version from Analogue Productions Originals (APO), sounding terrific. Here the bass is sturdy and firm, but still not bulls eye, since being just that tad in the softened. But the timbral qualities are on the other hand brilliant. No problem distinguishing different guitar types and drum sounds, even the backing congas have their own, natural timbre. Loosing out that little bit on the “balls” part is all to hold against the Quasar on this recording, all over this is a very solid performance.

The legendary recording by Miles Davis and his band of stars, this time on Columbia / Classic Records 180 gram pristine vinyl, is allowed to shine through the Quasar. I get totally sucked into the music, the natural warmth and elegance is totally riveting. I know I have heard this also on extremely good digital equipment, with an intriguingly different result. The digital solution probably had more details and focus slightly higher in the frequency spectrum, but I can’t remember it had this level of natural instrument sound. Over an over I was caught by surprise and wander, when the music was presented with such presence and realism. Awesome.

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Now, let’s change to moving coil. In the price range we’re operating at here, there is no excuse for having poorer performance whether you use mm or mc, like we often see among the budget RIAA’s. We fit a lovely Benz Micro L04, checking out what fits best, 100 or 470 Ohm load (it is 100), and put Andreas Vollenveider back on the platter. This pick-up is clearly smoother and more elegant than the AN IQ3, but might lack a tad on raw dynamics. And, no doubt, the Heed Quasar is absolutely wide awake also when receiving the signal from a moving coil. The precision is fabulous;  the room is bigger and wider than with the AN, the details are clearer, the harp is crispier, the bass is… hm… about the same. My first impressions are two; first I am impressed that the Quasar managed to make the AN pick-up so transparent and “mc-like”, second, i am shocked by the level of details it magically digs out from the tracks with the Benz in front. Or, let me rephrase; I have as a matter of fact never before had a RIAA in house that conveys the Benz’ groove-work so lively and playful. And, I mean, this is not the most expensive RIAA I’ve had the pleasure of having in my system, not by far! And, compared to the internal RIAA in my McIntosh MA8000, this is one hell of a beating. The MA has not much success when it comes to moving coil to be honest, the contrast to the Heed is brutal.

So let’s take the next step and enjoy a second round of John Lee Hooker and his friend Carlos Santana. I still can’t copy the most magic moments from the past with this album (way back when with Voyd and Audio Note), but my gut feeling here is that I would have to dig out my valve equipment and change my speakers to go back there. But again it’s striking what level of details the Benz finds, all of a sudden. The song is layered, interesting and comes alive like a hurricane. The AN was slightly heavier and bolder, but the elegance here is still just lovely. I wander if I hear a slight thickening in the midrange around the voice, but I’m not totally sure, so I eagerly continue to the next record. Jimmy D. Lane was flourishing with the AN p.u., and here I guess the combination of Benz L04 and Heed gets just that little tad too light. I can hear exactly the same timbral character from Heed DA (the DAC in the Obelisk range), extremely open and vivid, a tad light in the lower regions. You know what? This might be just the tuning for classical music!

J.S. Bach, violin concerto in A minor, recorded in Sweden and released on Opus3 label back in the eighties, is next in line. I had high hopes, but feel a little disappointed, to be honest, as I don’t find the real Stradivarius sound with this set-up. The room is flawless, as the details and placement of all musicians in all dimensions, but the timbral character is not fully where I want it. Not as soothing and relaxed as a real classical orchestra, when listening to it live. That said, this is not the Heed’s fault alone, here we’re struggling with both german speakers (ouch!) and transistorized amplification, so maybe it’s just me longing for the old times, again. The second movement has a slightly darker voicing, though, and that immediately brings us closer to reality, so to investigate this further, I dig out Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis / Herbert von Karajan / Deutsche Grammofon. Here we have a fuller tone, but also a poorer recording in other aspects, than the Opus3. But still it’s captivating. So emotionally loaded and lingering, that it brings the listener to the edge of the chair. Still I know I have heard this bettered by esoteric valve RIAA’s three times the price of the Heed combination, let’s say this is as it should, then.

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Well, where does this bring us? First, there’s not a touch of doubt in my mind that this RIAA  is tremendous value for money, soundwise. Second, it’ not looking good, and it’s slightly awkward in use, if you change pick-up from time to time, like me. But if you’re looking for a no nonsense product, capable of digging out incredible amount of information from your LP’s, the Heed Quasar might be your savior. Given that you have a system that’s tuned slightly towards a dark presentation, the Heed will blend in perfectly, and lighten up you world. Welcome the Quasar to your own home!

Heed Quasar / Obelisk PX power supply, Norwegian price € 1525 (with standard Q PSU, price drops to € 900)

Imported to Norway by Moiz

Norsk sammenfatning:

Heed Quasar med Heed Obelisk PX strømforsyning, spiller med en lett, luftig klang, store lydbilder og meget god detaljeringsevne. Antakelig vil noen savne et visst skyv i mellombass og dypbass, men uansett er balansen innenfor det noe ulne begrepet “nøytral”.

Heed Quasar har meget god formidlingsevne av musikkens sjel og nerve, men vil nok ha godt av et anlegg som er tunet litt mot det mørke. Den hurtige , presise og klangrike gjengivelsen egner seg nok spesielt til gode klassisk-innspillinger, men fungerer overbevisende på de fleste musikkstilarter. Ikke mitt førstevalg om jeg hadde Drum’n’bass som livrett, men for klassisk og jazzfolket er dette virkelig en perle. 

Litt fiklete i bruk om du er av den typen som bytter litt rundt på pick-up’er, på den annen side er det nøkterne designet garantert en del av realitetene som gjør at Heed Quasar gir mye godlyd for pengene. Strømforsyningen som er benyttet i denne testen er altså fra Obelisk-serien, og det finnes en enklere strømforsyning som vil ta prisen tydelig ned. Basert på generell erfaring vil nok standardløsningen med strømforsyning fra samme serie som Quasar hører hjemme i, gi enda mer for pengene, men allikevel fjerne noen snepp med kontroll og åpenhet fra gjengivelsen. 

Alt i alt opplver jeg Heed Quasar som et meget spennende produkt i sin prisklasse, så levende lyd kan jeg aldri få nok av!

 

Heed RIAA visiting

In a week or so, I’ll finish this review, but  I’m already floored. Small thing, big sound. Distinctive, different, convincing.

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I am very used to the Heed Obelisk DAC, and, obviously they have their house sound, be that good or bad; but there is a certain “eloquence” present. They have their way of presenting the music, we’re talking elegance, speed and rythm. Oh I just love this!

🙂

London calling

NOTE: English translation below

Ok, så er overskriften et billig tjuveri, men pokker heller. London calling er en bra beskrivelse av det faktum at det Londonbaserte audiofirmaet Roksan har laget et sett høyttalere som setter dype spor i sjela. Bli med og lytt på Darius!

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47 store sedler er ikke billig for et par stativhøyttalere. Roksan legger lista høyt her, jeg vil rett og slett sitere deres egen beskrivelse av plan og fokus, for jeg mener dette har en viss relevans for det jeg kommer til å si senere i artikkelen…:

It had long been a dream of Roksan to create a reference loudspeaker that delivered an open, detailed sound, superior bass response and high efficiency housed in the modest dimensions of a standmount design. The Darius S1 is the exciting result of this desire. For quite some time we have been working on applying our knowledge of room acoustics into the design to create the best possible bass reproduction from a small cabinet.

Ja, det ovenstående er neppe en unik plan blant høyttalerprodusenter her i verden. Likeledes vet vi at det er sjelden det virkelig klaffer på alle forsettene på en gang. De gangene vi har vært i nærheten, har det alltid vært et eller annet; størrelse, pris og kompleksitet gjør som oftest et slikt produkt utilgjengelig for den gemene hop. Og, i sannhetens navn, Roksan Darius er vel ikke akkurat gratis den heller, men den er fortsatt et drygt steg unna det eksempelvis Raidho skal ha for sin konkurrent i klassen, C 1.1. Dessuten, selv om jeg mener det er nokså brutalt å forlange gode 7000 ekstra for de tilpassede stativene, finnes det fortsatt konkurrenter som forlanger det doble og mere til.
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Roksan Darius er altså en middels stor stativhøyttaler, det er i hovedsak dybden som trekker størrelsen opp. Noe volum må til om man vil levere noe nedover i frekvensområdet, og det vil man, som kjent. Spesielt om man vil ha en 5,5-tommer i aluminium til å gjøre jobben. En del kontruksjonsmessige detaljer må dermed bestemmes, selvsagt, en av dem er jo at elementet må kunne bevege seg seriøst mye. I Darius’ tilfelle betyr dette faktisk hele 12 millimeter, ikke til å undres over at det kalles long throw… Nå er det også sånn at en bevegelse på over 1 cm må ta en viss tid, og selv om vi ikke snakker minutter her, er det tross alt et regnestykke hvor langt man skal bevege en 15-tommer for å flytte omlag samme mengde luft som denne 5,5-tommeren gjør i løpet av sin centimeter. Det blir ikke langt! Og da er det lett å trekke den konklusjon at 15-tommeren kan gjøre det kjappere, gitt at den har en rimelig motorstyrke (magnet) til å skyve med. Jeg skal ikke fordype meg mer i dette temaet, selv om det åpenbart vil si noe om hvordan høyttaleren løser sine oppgaver. Vi kommer litt tilbake til det, når vi snakker om lyden fra Roksan Darius, om et par avsnitt.
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Roksan har så visst en god del rett i sine ovenstående utlegninger, Darius er en sjelden høyttaler, kan vi fastslå. På toppen troner altså den ekstremt luftige bånddiskanten, en ting er at den er kjent for sin begrensede spredning i det vertikale plan, Roksan har også valgt å begrense det horisontalt. en tydelig wave-guide (kall det gjerne et lite horn), sørger for å samle spredningen, fokusere energien og fyre i et smalere område enn elementet naturlig vil kunne gjøre. Dette har den sideeffekt at man høyner effektiviteten en smule, det kan også ha visse innvirkninger på lydbildet. Sikkert er det i det minste at det begrenser problemet med skarpe refleksjoner fra de nærmeste flatene, og akkurat dette er fullstendig hørbart. Disse høyttalerne låter nemlig mykt, innsmigrende og elegant så det holder, og de gjør det så å si uansett volumet du spiller på. Jeg nevnte så vidt de (dyre) stativene man kan kjøpe i tillegg, og la meg da si at det er gode grunner til at Reliant Motor Company i Tamworth ikke lengre produserer deres ikoniske modell Robin. Faktum er vel at de ikke lengre produserer noe i det hele tatt, men det nå en helt annen historie. Roksan hadde vel uansett ikke behøvd å teste ut trehjulskonseptet en gang til, men tross alt er de britiske til fingerspissene, så de måtte tydeligvis det. Så for å trekke historien kjapt sammen, informeres herved om at det finnes tilleggsutstyr (støttehjul?) tilgjengelig. Spesielt aktuelt for barnefamilier i møblerte hjem som ikke vil ha konstellasjonen av høyttalere og barn i en salig røre.
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Inni høyttaleren er det ikke spart på stort, her finnes Mundorf kondensatorer, metalloksyd resistorer, forsølvede kabler, og diverse andre gjennomførte detaljer. På forsiden finner vi naturlig nok de omtalte elementene, mens på baksiden munner det hele ut i et par kraftige terminaler for bi-wiring, samt to godt dimensjonerte bassporter på hver høyttaler. Kassa måler drøyt 37 i høyde og dybde, mens fronten er behagelig slank med sine 20 cm. Til sammen har vi et par høyttalere som oppgis å ha en nominell impedans på 4 Ohm, og en følsomhet som gir oss 89 dB ut ved 1 Watt påtrykt effekt. Subjektivt oppleves det faktisk mindre, for selv om Roksan har hatt som mål å skape en lettdreven høyttaler, opplever jeg egentlig at den er temmelig effekthungrig. Derimot har de truffet blink på sine andre mål, dette er som nevnt en svært sjelden plante, Darius kan så visst imponere flere enn novisene innen hifi, dette er et kunstverk av en høyttaler, intet mindre.
Roksan Darius spiller med fylde, silkeglatt, innsmigrende, den omfavner lytteren med sin eleganse. Spesielt flott er det at de spiller så balansert og levende selv på (svært) lavt volum, dette er slett ikke alle høyttalere forunt å få til. Det må rett nok på bordet at ingen trær vokser opp mot himmelen, så Roksan Darius må nok også forholde seg til visse realiteter. Til tross for sin eleganse og dynamisk livlige oppførsel på lavere volum, viser den nær utrolige bassgjengivelsen at den ikke er helt ærlig. Det er en åpenbar pukkel her, men selv om den er åpenbar, er den forbannet intelligent tenkt ut. Det er først når man begynner å skuffe på litt seriøst med køl, at man oppdager en viss tendens til “entone-bass”, i det minste en viss mangel på nyansering nedover. Altså, relatert til den moderate størrelsen, så leveres det kopiøse mengder solid bass, det gjøres dessuten med ufattelig overbevisning og eleganse.  Men ser vi det i absolutte termer, er det fortsatt selvsagt at Aurum Vulkan eller Marten Coltrane for den del, er (mye) større høyttalere enn Roksan Darius. Men særlig mer overbevisende enn det Roksan her har fått til, skal godt gjøres på såpass moderat store høyttalere!
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Endelig kommer vi til musikken. Det skal litt til å vippe den moderate kjempen Roksan Darius av pinnen med musikk. Begynner vi på den enkle siden med Sophie Zelmani og hennes låt “All about you”, kan Darius briljere på alle fronter på en og samme gang. Luftigheten er udiskutabel, dette er verdensklasse, det gir ingen mening å debattere hvorvidt du har hørt noe som er “bedre” på akkurat det, her er det åpent helt inn i uendeligheten. Stemmen gjengis med en salig mildhet, Sophie Zelmani er så nær, så nær, man nærmest føler hennes nærvær i rommet. De distinkte gitartonene har et deilig smekk, allikevel fullstendig blottet for hardhet, og de klinger og klinger. Samtidig kan vi “se” inn i et enormt rom med små elegante klanger, lydkulisser og tilstedeværelse. Fyldigheten i den totale gjengivelsen er i total balanse, og jeg har i grunn ikke mer å tilføye. Det er vel akkurat sånn det skal gjøres, tror jeg.
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Så la oss like godt stupe tvers over banen, og la selveste Deep Purple foredra det purunge 70-tallets bombe av en låt, “Fireball”. Vi bruker 25-års utgaven (f…, selv den er jo 20 år gammel!) og kliner til. Jo, dette funker. Nesten. Darius har denne deilige, men balanserte fedmen som passer sånn musikk som hånd i hanske. Men den har også kun et liten basselement, som må sloss litt for å gjøre Deep Purple virkelige, og gi en slags følelse av realisme til Ian Paice’s stortromme. Spiller vi på moderat volum er det rene fryden. Men hallo, spille “Fireball” på moderat volum? Ja, det skulle tatt seg ut. Det er altså bare å vri opp. Her finner vi faktisk Roksan Darius’ grenser, lett som en plett. Roksan drømte om en lettdreven høyttaler, men McIntoshen’s lysende Wattmetre pirker opp mot 300-tallet. På den positive siden virker høyttalerne til å ta dette med stor ro, ingen vreng, ingen stress, det er fortsatt kontant og kontrollert, ingenting som stikker av. På den negative siden er det dog lett å høre at det dynamiske uttrykket, som briljerer på moderat volum, nå er helt borte. Høyttalerne har gått i metning, og har ikke mer å gi. Dermed blir det vel ikke akkurat sinna rock ut av dette her. Men pokker ta for en avslappet eleganse!
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 Klassiske verker kommer vi ikke unna. Opus3 på platetallerknen, Bach, konsert i E-dur for fiolin og orkester. Igjen får Darius briljere, skinne. En viss overdreven mykhet (muligens), men for en tone! Dette er så innsmigrende at det knapt er mulig å slå av. Det flyter, det synger, det sprudler! Kontrollen er total, så lenge du lar høyttalerne leve i flytsonen, er det kun fantastisk. Jo, jeg har hørt det større, voldsommere, mer despotisk. Men har du et ikke alt for stort rom og en god stol å sitte i, har du alt du behøver for en stor, musikalsk opplevelse. Nydelig, Roksan!
Ja, Roksan Darius er en fabelaktig god allroundhøyttaler innenfor sine grenser. Den konkurrerer med alt som har vært laget av moderat store stativhøyttalere, uansett pris. Selvsagt er den ikke perfekt, men den har enkelte sider som er i nærheten. Den har luftigheten og elegansen fra det beste som kan skaffes for penger, og den underbygger denne luftigheten med en særdeles overbevisende illusjon av kraftfull bassgjengivelse.
Den kan leveres med et ikke helt vellykket stativ som ekstraustyr, jeg foreslår at de som kan leve uten det estetiske helhetsbildet, heller blåser noen tusen på solide, konvensjonelle stativer. Og jeg foreslår en kombinasjon med gjennomsiktige forsterkere med rytmikk og driv (gjerne Roksan’s egne, eller Exposure, for eksempel) som drivkraft bak superelegant kildemateriale. Nei, totalen blir selvsagt ikke billig. Så gode musikkopplevelser gjør dessverre sjelden det.
Til slutt: Å gå tilbake til mine store, flotte Arum Vulkan var opplysende. TIl tross for at også disse har strålende kvalitet i alle ledd, ble det en bokstavelig talt hard overgang. Mer rufs, mer summarisk, større selvsagt, men nesten som en elefant i glassmagasinet sammenlignet med Roksan Darius. Trodde nesten ikke det var mulig, men nå har jeg hørt det også.
For pasjonerte musikkelskere som liker moderat volum i moderat store rom er Roksan Darius formidabel. Og det er omtrent det som er å si om den saken.
Roksan Darius stativhøyttalere, kr. 47 000,- + stativer
Importeres av Moet Audio

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

NOTE: The author’s native language is Norwegian, so English speaking readers please bear with me, if you find some strange passages here and there… 

Okay, the heading a cheap theft, but what the heck, “London Calling” is a good description of the fact that the London-based audio firm Roksan has created a set of speakers that’s inspired, no less. Let’s listen to Darius!

The asking price is not cheap for a couple of standmounts. Roksan has raised the bar quite high here, and, I will simply cite their own description of the plan and focus, ’cause I think this has some relevance to what I’m going to say later in the text …:

It had long been a dream of Roksan two create a reference loudspeaker that delivered an open, detailed sound, superior bass response and high efficiency housed in the modest dimensions of a stand mount design. The Darius S1 is the exciting result of this desire. For quite some time we havebeen working on Applying our knowledge of room acoustics into the design two create the best possible bass reproduction from a small cabinet.

The statement above is hardly a unique plan among loudspeaker manufacturers anywhere. Likewise, we know that the producers rarely hits bulls eye on all aspects at the same time. Sometimes we’re close, but there’s always something; size, price or complexity ofte makes such a product out of reach of the common man. And, in the name of the truth, Roksan Darius is not coming for free either, but it is still a significant step away from the natural contenders like Raidho C 1.1 or other in the same group. Moreover, although I think it is rather brutally demanding good 700 pounds extra for the custom racks, there are still  competitors demanding the double and more.

Roksan Darius is a medium-sized bookshelf speaker, it is mainly the depth that draws size up. Some volume is of course needed if one is in need of the lower part of the frequency range, and one is in need of just that, as you know. And, if you want a 5.5-inch aluminum to do the job, volume is indeed mandatory. Some design details must therefore be determined, one of them being a bass unit in need of moving a serious distance. In Darius’ case, this means no less than 12 millimeters, no wonder it’s called long throw… Now, that kind of movement must take a certain period of time, and, although we are not talking minutes here, it’s still a calculation how far a 15 inch unit must move, to engage the same amount of energy. The answer is: Not much! And then it is easy to draw the conclusion that the 15-inch unit can do it faster, given that it has reasonable engine power (magneto strength) at hand. I will not immerse myself more in this issue, although this obviously says something about how the speaker solves it’s tasks. We’ll come back to that when we talk about the sound from Roksan Darius.

OK, so Roksan is mostly right in their statement above, ’cause Darius is a rare speaker, indeed. First, throning on top, the extremely elegant and detailed ribbon tweeter. Being known for limited dispersion in the vertical plane, Roksan also opted to limit it horizontally. A distinct wave-guide is responsible for focusing the energy, making it fire in a narrower area than the tweeter naturally will be able to do. This raises efficiency a bit, plus having effects on the soundstage. First it’s limiting the problem caused by reflections from the nearest surface, and just that is completely audible. These speakers sounds soft, natural and elegant, abilities it keeps whatever volume you play.

I’ve already mentioned the speaker stands, just let me remind you that there are good reasons why Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth no longer produce their iconic model, Robin. (The fact is that they no longer produce anything at all, but that’s a completely different story). Roksan decided to test the three wheel concept again anyway, no soubt they’re British to the fingertips. But to cut a long story short, you’re hereby informed that there is an optional support available. Particularly relevant for families in furnished homes, that wants to avoid the constellation of speakers and children in a tremendous stir.

Inside, Roksan did not save, here you’ll find Mundorf capacitors, metal oxide resistors, silvered cables, and various other costly details. On the front naturally we’ll find the aforementioned drivers, while on the rear you’ll see powerful terminals for bi-wiring, plus two generously sized bass ports on each speaker. The speakers measures just over 37 cm in height and depth, while the front is comfortably slim with its 20 cm. Al in all we have a pair of speakers who is claimed to have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, and a sensitivity that gives us 89 dB out at 1 Watt intput. Subjectively perceived it sounds less, and, although Roksan have aimed to create an easily driven speaker, I find it pretty power hungry. On the other hand, they hit a home run on their second goal, the bass, so Darius can certainly impress more than novices within hi-fi. The Darius is a work of art, nothing less.
Roksan Darius plays with a full bodied tone, silky smooth and coherent, it embraces the listener with its elegance. I find it especially impressive is that they play so balanced and lively even on (very) low volume; this is simply not something speakers normally do. But no trees grow all the way to the sky, so Roksan Darius will also have deal with certain realities. Despite its elegance and dynamic behavior at lower volumes, it also shows that the incredible bass response is not entirely honest. There is an obvious bass “hunch” here, but even if it is obvious, it’s damned intelligent implemented. When you really crank up, that you can detect a certain tendency to “one note bass”, or, at least a certain lack of nuance in the lower regions. Thus, related to the after all moderate size, it delivers serious amounts sturdy bass, even with an unimaginable conviction and elegance. But seen it in absolute terms, it is still obvious that Aurum Vulkan or Marten Coltrane, for that matter, are (much) bigger speakers than Roksan Darius. But designers will have a hard time  making it more convincing than what Roksan have made with this moderate size…

And now, the music, finally. We start carefully, serving the moderate sized giant Roksan Darius, Sophie Zelmani and her song “All about you”. The speakers are then is given the opportunity to excel on all fronts at the same time. The airy openness is indisputable, this is world class, and it makes no sense to debate whether or not you have heard something “better” at just that aspect; we’re listening through an open door to infinity. The voice is reproduced with a blissful gentleness, Sophie Zelmani is so close, so close, you can almost feel her presence in the room. The distinctive guitar tones have a delicious snap, yet no touch of hardness and the sounds just floats in the air. At the same time, we can “see” into a huge room, filled with a backdrop of a small elegant soundscapes and presence. The reproduction is in total balance, and I just don’t have more to add. I guess this is exactly how it should be done.

So let’s just as well plunge across the path, and let good ol’ Deep Purple light up thje room with the 70’s bomb of a song, “Fireball”. We use 25th anniversary edition (f … even that is already 20 years old!). Yes, this works. Almost. Darius has this delicious but balanced “obesity” that fits this type of music like a glove. But remember the small woofer, it will have to fight to make Deep Purple sound realistic, and provide some sort of realism to Ian Paice’s bass drum. Playing at moderate volume, it is pure joy. But hello, play “Fireball” on moderate volume? That would have been something, wouldn’t it! No way but cranking it up. Here we face Roksan Darius’ borders, simple as that. Roksan dreamed of an efficient speaker, but McIntosh’s luminous Wattmeters touches the 300 Watts sign. On the positive side speakers seems to cope rather calmly, no distortion, no stress, it’s still firm and controlled. On the negative side, however, it is easy to hear that the dynamic expression, which excels at moderate volume, is now completely gone. The speakers have delivered it all, and have no more to give. Not exactly angry rock we’re listening to now. But what a relaxed elegance!
Classical works are not forgotten. Opus3 on the platter, Bach concerto in E flat major for violin and orchestra. Again the Darius shines, excels. A certain excessive softness (possibly), but what a tone! This is so ingratiating that it is nearly impossible to turn off. It floats, it sings, it sparkles! The control is total, as long as you leave the speakers in their comfort zone, it’s just amazing. Yes, I’ve heard it larger, more violent, more despotic. But given that you have a not too large room and a comfortable chair to sit in, you have everything you need for a great musical experience. Lovely, Roksan!
Yes, Roksan Darius is a fabulous allround speaker within its own borders. It competes with everything that has been created of moderately large standmounts, regardless of price. Of course it is not perfect, but in some aspects, it’s very close. It has the air and the elegance of the best that can be obtained for money, and underpins this elegance with a very convincing illusion of powerful bass reproduction.
It can be supplied with a not entirely successful stand as additional equipment, I suggest that those of you who can not live without the aesthetic overall picture, rather blow a few bob on solid, conventional speaker stands. And I suggest a you put the speakers in combination with transparent amplifiers with rhythm and drive (preferably Roksan’s own, or Exposure, for example). No, the total will of course not come cheap. This type of great performance unfortunately rarely do.
Finally: going back to my great Arum Vulkan was enlightening. Yet despite the latter’s brilliant quality at every aspect, it became literally a hard transition. Simpler, almost like an elephant in the wine shop, compared to the Roksan Darius. I hardly believed it was possible, but now I’ve heard that too.
For passionate music lovers who enjoy moderate volume in moderately sized rooms, Roksan Darius are formidable. And that’s about all there is to say about that matter.