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Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: Audio Space CDP 8A CD Player, Luxman Brid CD Player modified by Audio Upgrades into a tube-less, zero oversampling machine with volume control
Preamplifier: Audio Space Reference 2S
Amplifier: Bel Canto 200.4,Pioneer Elite SC-25
Loudspeakers: Apogee Duetta Signature, Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer, AudioSpace AS-3/5A, JohnBlue M3, Paradigm PW-2200
Stands: Charisma Audio Function, Target
Cables: Audio Art SE cable loom, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects and speaker cables, digital optical and coax cable.
Resonance Control: Solid Tech, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Superspikes, and Black Diamond
Powerline conditioning: Noise Destroyer power filtration
Accessories: TrueHarmonix Black Magic CD Mat
Main Room size: 12' x 17'
Home Theatre: 10.5’ x 16.5’
Review Component Retail:
$22.000/pr including stands

Audiophiles may note with some amusement that ultimately there are two classes of audio components, those that come in cardboard and those that arrive in wooden crates. The Bogdan Audio Creations Catalinas fall into the latter category. They are an all-out assault on the ideal of what can be achieved with a compact two-way stand-mount monitor. The components include the best available off-the-shelf drivers that match the designer’s requirements and the cabinets are an 18-layer thick lamination of aluminum, MDF and solid Cherry wood. A clear finish with a minimum of 12 coats of semi-gloss lacquer is finely hand sanded between coats. The Catalina is designed to appeal to the upscale audiophile who appreciates a combination of fine sound and opulent hand-crafted art deco furniture and prefers the flexibility of the monitor style to the demands of a full-scale floorstander. They are aimed at those of means and priced accordingly.

Bogdan Audio Creations is a fresh face on the extreme High End scene and American readers will be proud to note that these uncompromising products are handcrafted in the USA by owner and designer Mr. Bogdan Petrescu in Findlay Ohio.

Two models are currently on offer. The speaker under review is the Catalina and the smaller of the two. The Petra is a 350-pound three-way floorstander comprised of 50 hand-cut layers and Bogdan’s top product. Both are personal labors of love named after his daughters and the result of months of intensive construction. Readers may be surprised to know that the speaker laminations are hand cut with a jig saw rather than CNC routing, a situation the designer says is necessitated by the complexity of the cabinet design.

The Catalina requires a month of build time and the Petra takes an astonishing three months to complete. Both are built to order. This is neither mass market construction nor turnkey turnaround but pure hand-built/finished craftsmanship.

Mr. Petrescu has been building speakers for 25 years but made the leap from talented enthusiast to business entrepreneur in 2009, bypassing value-conscious fare to concentrate on state-of-the-art efforts. His cabinet design evolved over the years from conventional box configurations to the more rounded and aerodynamic forms he has favoured since 1999 and is embodied in the sleek contours of his Petra model, which won top prize in the 2009 Midwest Audio Festival. He won again in the following year with a 1999 commemorative effort called the Born in the USA. The Petra has since seen public exposure and some tantalizing preliminary press at the 2010 Audio Karma Fest, the 2010 RMAF in Denver (where the new Catalina also made its debut), and the 2011 T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas. The Catalina makes a slight aesthetic bow to more conventional form but any close look at the speaker will convince you that it is hardly conventional and at this price the sonic results (have to) promise to be far from ordinary.

Mr. Petrescu and his charming daughter braved treacherous weather to personally deliver the Catalina speakers. Three study wooden crates, one for each speaker and one for the pair of integral stands were wheeled into the house on a dolly. After unpacking the crates Bogdan proceeded to assemble the stands. They are mechanically and aesthetically unique, comprised of a 3/8" thick aluminum top plate and two legs, one built from solid 1.75" Cherry, the other a carved piece of 3/8" thick aluminum plate with a large block of rounded shaped 1.75” Cherry which serves multiple purposes beyond uniformity of finish trim.

The material is intended to damp resonance from the aluminum plate and the shape is designed to diffract wall reflections and prevent them from muddying first arrival information. The assembly is secured by a combination of thick Philips screws of different lengths to accommodate the depth requirements of the angled wood leg and Allen head machine screws to fasten the metal plate. Leveling spikes are included but the legs also have a thin layer of dense foam cushioning for those who prefer an unmarred floor surface. Each stand weighs 30 pounds.

The 65-pound monitors measure 18" H x 18" D x 12" W and sit atop the stands separated by four standoffs which are secured to the stands by three Philips screws accessed from below. The cabinets of these behemoths would be considered overkill by most individuals but are deemed vital in every parameter by the designer. There are 18 stacked layers laminated one above the other each comprised of six individual pieces of MDF, aluminium and Cherry wood cut by jigsaw, sanded and lacquered.

The internal panels incorporate variable geometry to maximize thickness at the middle of wall where it is most prone to resonate and flex. The average wall thickness is two inches with an outside surface of thick solid Cherry. The drivers are mounted through the formidable front face into a 3/8" thick 16 x 8" aluminum plate to further ensure maximum solidity. The fascia is taken up by the two drivers mounted into a routed recess to bring them just slightly above flush with the cabinet surface. There is no front grill.