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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Apple iMac 1TB with AIFF files up to 24/192, OSX 10.6.6, PureMusic 1.74 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Burson Audio HA+60D as DAC, Weiss DAC2, Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold with Voltikus or Red Wine Audio 18V Black Lightning [on review]
Preamp/Integrated: Esoteric C-03 (transistor), Bent Audio Tap-X (AVC passive), ModWright LS-100 (tube)
Amplifier: FirstWatt F5 & J2, ModWright KWA-100 SE, Trafomatic Audio Kaivalya
Speakers: ASI Tango R, Zu Essence, Mark & Daniel Fantasia S [on review], Living Voice OBX-RW [on review], Aurelia Graphica [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of ASI Liveline, Zu Event, Crystal Cable Ultra, Entreq USB
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF-2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: $2.195/pr

I'm 186cm. With arms hanging and fingers in a fist, I barely touch the Classico III's crest. This is a very small speaker.

I hate box speakers. You'd expect him to say that. Anthony Gallo after all has made a reputation for skirting rectangular conventions with decidedly unboxy speakers. And yet. "One Gallo salesman at a Virginia dealership has sold literally hundreds of Ref 3/3.1s, more than any other individual on the planet. He repeatedly told me that key to his success was that they looked like nothing else. But, most my dealers clamour for box speakers instead. Their argument is that if I could just make a box speaker sound like my spherical speakers, they'd sell a lot more." To even consider square requests, Anthony had bought a few popular box speakers earlier in 2010. His first step was filling them to the brink with his trademark S2 Polyolefin flakes.

"I was very surprised. Altering the air's behavior inside their enclosures eliminated much of that audible boxiness I'm allergic to." This strong personal bias had led Anthony down his well-chronicled RoundSound™ path. Did his discovery presage that he could squeeze orange juice from lemons even if somewhat diluted? The next step was sourcing a suitable mid/woofer from his suppliers. Anthony wanted one that'd meet his CDT III film tweeter filterless. If Gallo was going into the box speaker biz, there would be no conventional crossover. While in rethink mode, easier drive got on the list too. 92dB for a short tower would add to that.

Finally the man who'd built an enviable reputation on sealed spheres and cylinders would use a port to make 32Hz from a small monitor. "After completely stuffing an enclosure with our patented S2 material—you cannot replicate this with the usual fiber fill—a port no longer behaves traditionally and the Thiele/Small parameters no longer apply. The closest precedent would be an aperiodic port but that still behaves differently.

"It turns out that the gravest contributor to box sound wasn't the enclosure or stiffness of its panels. The prime culprit was the air inside the enclosure. The driver rear wave reflects off the walls back through the diaphragm. This is obviously delayed in time and rotated in phase.

"It distorts any driver's direct output no matter how fancy the driver itself might be. Going overboard with ultra-rigid enclosures won't alter that. The cabinet walls could flex wildly for all the air cares. As long as the energy trapped inside reflects back through a driver, there's time smear and blurred transients. That's much though far from all the box talk I've always tried so very hard to avoid."

For his first conventional prototype, Anthony stuck his CDT III on a box and surrounded it with felt for cheap diffraction control. Then Gallo customer Barry Cohen who'd been at Anthony's for the first Ref 3.1 to 3.5 conversion hit the forums: "I went to visit with Anthony today. He's got some new affordable CDT speakers in the works. Strangest of all, they're in boxes. They sounded great, not 3.5 great but amazing for a $999/pair of book shelf speakers. I think they may even go deeper than the 3.5 but of course won't play as loudly. I may have to get a pair for my living room. They are different animals from the Stradas. The Stradas don't go as low but subtle details in a recording are more apparent on them. For comparison, we also listened to a pair of conventional $478 and $1.099 box speakers. Anthony again has done his home work. In my opinion he's created a speaker that's superior to his competition."

By October and RMAF 2010 in Denver, the SoundStage Network had captured the first official sighting of Gallo's new Classico III, a stumpy 3-driver two-way floorstander all of 26.5" tall [since increased to 30" - Ed.], with a CDT III tweeter above two paralleled 5.5" Carbon-fiber mid/woofers in a rakishly shaped enclosure. Doug Schneider's photo credit took it all in stride: "...Anthony Gallo Acoustics was getting big sound from a small package - their specialty these days..."

Lower pricing was the lynch pin on which this entire Classico enterprise hung. The Reference models—original Ref 3 below, prototype 3.5 replacement lower right—already occupied their specific niches. So did the micro spheres and cylindrical subwoofers. With a globally depressed economy and dealer requests for more conventional cosmetics to overcome buyer objections, what Anthony wanted was a new high-performance budget range.

The make-or-break question was, could it be done without sacrificing the company's established sonics?

The original secret project brief might have read 80% round sound from rectangular boxes for half the price. Obviously the enclosures for the new Classico III and IV aren't really rectangular. The only parallel panels are the side walls. This randomizes internal reflections. Two, S2 damps the interior to significantly attenuate the backwave. Three, the purpose-built mid/woofers roll out at the proper frequency and slope mechanically to meet the tweeter without an electrical filter. Four, the trademark cylindrical diaphragm tweeter replaces the usual HF dome for improved dispersion and dynamics (except for the $695/pr Classico I which for cost reasons employs a traditional dome tweeter).

The Classico III under review thus has most the recognizable Gallo elements we're familiar with even if the perhaps most decisive ones are 'under the hood' and invisible to the naked eye. Sonically the original brief hadn't exactly called for sonics identical to the spherical models. It wanted most their qualities to stay true to the brand's identity whilst pursuing new customers who didn't fancy the existing styling. At least that had been the general Classico gist when Anthony first talked to me about it in 2010.


By March 2011, golden samples of Classico III [left] and IV [right] had been approved for formal production. The Classico I and II monitors both in the same box but with film tweeter only in the more expensive model weren't far behind. With F3 figures of 32Hz, 28Hz and 22Hz for monitors and two small floorstanders respectively, Anthony admitted to concerns over publishing them. They appear impossibly optimistic to reek of BS. The secret behind them has since been trademarked BLAST™. Though an obviously clever acronym, Anthony is very firm. It's a lot more than marketing drivel and self-evident in any audition he says.