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Reviewers: Marja Vanderloo & Henk Boot
Sources: Acoustic Signature Mambo, Acoustic Signature Final Tool MkII, Kuzma Stogi, Benz Micro Glider [all in for review], CEC TL5100, Metronome Kalista [in for review]. Hifidelio Pro 160 (= Olive Symphony) music server [in for review], Philips DVP 5500S SACD/DVD player.
Preamp/integrated: Acoustic Signature Tango phono stage [in for review], Greattech MuVac 1-watt integrated [in for review], TacT RCS 2.0 room control system; Audio Note Meishu, modified, with AVVT, JJ or KR Audio 300B output tubes
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo, internally wired with silver; Avantgarde Acoustic Solo; Audio Note AN/Jsp, silver wired;
Cables: Audio Note AN/Vx interconnects; Siltech Paris interconnects; Gizmo silver interconnect; Qunex 75 reference interconnect; Crystal Cable CrystalConnect Reference interconnect, CrystalDigit S/PDIF RCA/RCA and RCA/BNC, Y-cable, Crystal Cable Piccolo iPod to XLR, CrystalPower Reference AC-Eur/IEC; CrystalSpeak Reference, Audio Note AN-L, Gizmo silver LS cable.
Power line conditioning: Omtec PowerControllers, PS Audio P1000 [in for review]
Sundry accessories: IAR carbon CD damper; Denson demagnetizer CD; Nespa #1; TacT RCS calibrated microphone and software; Exact Audio Copy software; Compaq server w/Windows Server 2003 and XP; wood, brass and aluminum cones and pyramids; Xitel surround processor; Manley Skipjack.
Room treatment: complete set of Acoustic System Resonators; Gizmo's Harley Davidson cap.
Review Component Retail: Euros 4,650/pr; Euros 1,295 for the stands

A beauty, a looker, cool and hot at the same time. That's what flashes through your mind when you come eye-to-eye with the Scarlatti - a combination of lacquered aluminum and warm wood glowing orange. In combination with the stands, this makes the Scarlatti an almost architectural statement. The slenderness of the 532 x 214 x 315 mm sized enclosure is emphasized by the design of the stand. Three oversized spikes are fitted into three square blocks of aluminum. Two rods protrude from each block and join in the center construction which, turned at a 120° angle, parallels three square 64cm long bars to connect the loudspeaker enclosure to the three feet. Due to the fact that the three bars do not touch each other, light can shine through between them. The result is a speaker enclosure that seems to precariously balance on the stand but is in fact solidly fixed.

The loudspeaker's front is divided into three aluminum panels, three being the magic word for the Scarlatti. The outer edges are camfered except for the top where a ribbed stair pattern bears the Paolo Beduschi logo. The Scarlatti employs a d'Appolito configuration not only for visual balance but also musical harmony. Joseph d'Appolito's idea is based on the fact that every loudspeaker will be placed in a room. A property of every room is that there's always a ceiling and a floor. Each can and will introduce unwanted sonic reflections especially at higher frequencies. By placing the tweeter between two midrange drivers in the vertical plane, the high frequencies are limited in their vertical dispersion. Consequently, the horizontal dispersion of high frequencies is much bigger by comparison since it hasn't intentionally been limited. Many loudspeakers using this particular geometry project a sound image that is wide and deep. A disadvantage of the limited high frequency dispersion in the vertical plane is that listener height is equally prescribed and narrowed.

Paolo Beduschi is a passionately music-loving carpenter from Padua in Italy. Together with his wife, architect Serenella Bortoli, Paolo started working on his dream to create his ultimate loudspeaker. Aesthetics and musical quality were the start, the Scarlatti is the finish line (for now). At the center of the Scarlatti sits a 2.5cm soft dome tweeter from Italian driver manufacturer RES of Turin, a special version modified to Beduschi's requirement, namely placement at the end of a 13cm wide cone. Besides thus making the tweeter's effective air coupling surface identical in size to the other two drivers, the cone acts as a horn. There's a risk of phase shift at the back of a horn, which needs to be electronically corrected. The network is a 6dB/1st-order affair. The carbon fiber mid/woofers from RES also incorporate Beduschi extras.

Is it a surprise that the back of the enclosure consists of three panels? The top is plain aluminum, the middle one holds two bass ports peering through which reveals nothing special, just some damping material behind the tweeter. The lower panel holds a plate with four binding posts, which are non-standard and accept only bare wire or spades. Rated at 91dB, the Scarlatti is reasonable sensitive so there's no need for real big iron to get any life out of it. On the other hand, the nominal impedance is at 4 ohms, a value not every amplifier is very keen on. Beduschi further specifies 50Hz as the bass reach and that the tweeter crosses in at 3200Hz. Two 13cm woofers in a bass reflex enclosure for 50Hz? This asked for a small test, something our TacT RCS easily accommodates with some relative measurements in the acoustic realm.

Our Audio Note Meishu's 4-ohm taps driven by KR 300B tubes puts 8wpc on the outputs. The convenience of Crystal Cable's interchangeable splitter tails made it easy to connect to the Scarlatti's terminals with spade connectors. When the tubes reached working temperature, a few tests with the TacT RCS and connected PC created a first graph that showed a nice gradual frequency response reaching 20Hz. The inherent attenuation means that our ear/brain mechanism will translate this as a natural softening of the lowest frequencies. Another result shown by these measurements -- remember they were generated in the acoustic environment -- was a slight attenuation of the low mids. Most of the time such a response correlates with a somewhat warm sound and a deep soundstage capability. And while we were at it, the TacT's measurement of the impulse response looked healthy.

We now placed the Scarlatti loudspeakers fairly far into the room, about 1.40 meters with an equal distance between them. The listening position was at 2 meters from the baffles, no toe-in used. The listening session kicked off with Luka Bloom's Innocence [Big Sky]. The expectations for a deep soundstage and strong horizontal spread were fully met. Luka appeared well behind the plane of the loudspeakers, starkly centered. His voice rang natural without any trace of 'hifi', his guitar equally natural in both in size timbre. With our eyes closed, the Scarlattis disappeared completely.

The next CD grew more complex with synthesized bass, abundant Arabic percussion and female voices - Su by Mercan Dede [Double Moon]. The lowest-most powerful bass and the impact of the big drums were not recreated fully but very decent and satisfyingly substantial nonetheless. Once again the soundstage invited us with a hugely enfolding lateral embrace.

Even more complex musical structures came by way of Renaud Garcia Fons' Navigatore. This five-string bass virtuoso takes on a world of accordion, violins, a bagpipe, flutes, guitars and a plentitude of Arabic and oriental instruments in a whirlwind of emotions. Paolo Beduschi's design had no problems detailing out the diverse intermingling timbres and attacks without confusion and offered uncut musical joy.

Another challenge with threw at the Scarlattis was the big Concert D274 Steinway on which Yoram Ish-Hurwitz plays his version of Liszt's Annees des Pelerinage [Turtle]. This is a very dynamic recording and trying to project the 2.74 meters of a Steinway in a realistic manner is not an easy task. Through the Scarlattis, the result was pleasing. The Steinway was scaled down but equal to the expected width, depth and height and the timbre remained recognizably Steinway without suffering transformation into a Yamaha of Kawai.

On to vinyl. Album after album conjured up music as music should be: entertaining, touching emotions whenever possible and avoiding annoyances - Miles and Mahavishnu with their electronic bombardments; the prayers of Coltrane; Django Reinhardt sketching a picture of the music of his era and Blondie sounding horrible but fun.

Except for the unconventional terminals, the Scarlatti books no criticism on looks or musical performance from us. Au contraire. That leaves us with the hard facts of pricing and quality. The Scarlatti is a special transducer in a couple of ways. The balanced looks with the repetition of round and square forms and the use of threesomes make the Scarlatti friendly in any kind of room, be it classically restrained or state-of-the art modern opulence. Placement is not a big problem, however some extra distance from the wall lets them breathe more. With the 91dB sensitivity and 4-ohm nominal impedance, many suitable amplifiers suggest themselves. A Prima Luna would work well
both on looks and performance. Contrary to some other fine-looking audio gear, the Scarlatti also sounds good. This is no case of stunning looks, sorry 'bout the brains. In Europe, the Scarlatti has competition in Anthony Gallo's Reference 3s and B&Ws 803S, to name just two classy-looking examples in the same price category.

Paolo Beduschi spent a few days in Holland with his wife so we used the occasion to ask them a few questions: What kind of music do you prefer to listen to?
That depends on the mood I'm in at the moment. For me it's not possible to name just one particular musical genre. Musicians express themselves and communicate not always in a manner that cleanly correlates with a specific historical or social moment. As a direct answer, I could say that I appreciate both jazz and symphonic music although they are completely different.
Why did you develop your own speakers?
For me, giving the best of me and comparing myself to others is very satisfying already in and of itself. Even more satisfying is getting respect from others who appreciate my work. These loudspeakers are an interpretation of visual model of my ideas that haven taken form.
What is missing in other speakers?
What's missing in other speakers is not for me to criticize. I can only say that I've listened to many, including the most famous and revered. All have positive points and I do hope that my speakers will get judged on their personality.
Are the drivers made by special order or are these designs available for other builders as well?

The drivers have electromagnetic parameters created especially for my project.

Are the speakers voiced to specific equipment or are they more universal?

The tuning of the speakers makes it possible to connect many different amplifiers. However, these speakers are capable of reproducing every musical detail and enhance the specific features of high-end equipment, a capability not found in many other loudspeakers.
What about future plans?

Plans for the future are aiming at enhancing my trademark and setting up distribution. Also we want to present new products based on new applications of technology and design.

Manufacturer's website