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The CV4055 amplifier on the Clearwave Symphonia 72R was an intriguing mismatch into the opposite side of the impedance spectrum. Though still suitably efficient at 90dB, these speakers present a 4Ω load. Under these conditions the amplifier maintained its sweetness and luminous midrange but in turnabout fair play proved a little bass shy compared to the Bel Canto combination and was ultimately underpowered. In other parameters like soundstaging, resolution and sense of ease it held onto its character, breathing tubular life into the recordings as long as it was driven within its limits.

Listening sessions both fun and formal were drawing to an end and it came time to muse on comparative analysis. This outing from the onset was a journey of new exploration for me so comparisons were going to be a tough question. Against other small widebanders I can claim only casual experience but I can say that it lived up to the best of those few encounters. Hallmarks of the breed—coherence and authenticity especially in the midband—were all there in spades. But it would be exclusionary to confine those virtues to the world of small widebanders. At this price it’s necessary to examine a broader scope of alternatives.

Here the Feastrex at optimum shows the ability to compete against the strengths of different technologies including panel speakers. Appraising the MTA F-60 in that larger arena reiterates its strengths and adds amazingly comparative dynamic agility. The low-mass rigid cone and monster magnet of the NF-5 exercised phenomenal control and responsiveness historically associated with the panel category. This merits considerable credit to the design of the Feastrex NF-5 driver and its implementation in the F-60 cabinet. In bass capability it reached lower than most small full-range panels and under proper circumstances challenged the lower limits of other exemplary small-driver bass references like the Ologe and Mark & Daniel in depth if not shove.

At this elevated price point there are many alternatives, most of them multi-way designs. By coincidence the $7.200/pr Clearwave Loudspeaker Design Symphonia 72R, an ambitious two-way pairing of Accuton and Raal, was breaking in for an upcoming review. Here was the perfect opportunity to examine two very different but price-matched design approaches side by side. The Symphonia was still finding its true voice but even at the early stage I could definitively hear how that Raal ribbon tweeter is a master of detail and that the ceramic woofers plunge lower and with much greater veracity than  Mike Tang’s loudspeaker. The 72R can play much louder with tremendous impact. And yet in coaxing the Clearwave to speak with midrange eloquence and coherence, it was the MTA F-60 which I used as reference point. There are things that Mr. Tang’s loudspeaker does very well.

The big point of contention will be absolute volume. It will play at levels comparable to a Quad ESL 57 or AS3/5A. This will be adequate for some but not all. While dynamics are broad, they are confined to lower levels closer to acoustic concert hall as opposed to blistering Heavy Metal. The MTA F-60 is a speaker which invites you to listen into the musical event rather than assault you with it. Zen moments of musical coherence. The CV4055 amplifier enjoyed the luxury of lack of comparable references. The closest in power would have been the Trueharmonix 6550 integrated, a 30-watt class A triode affair long since departed. How it stands up to similar low wattage competition can’t be answered without hands-on exploration. Since Mr. Tang himself has used different amplifiers on the MTA F-60 during show demonstrations, the speakers themselves are not confined to any particular amplifier marriage to achieve greatness. The advantage the CV4055 brings is a guaranteed match from the mind of the same designer. Since it is only available to owners of the speaker, the potential buyer must decide if this is a sonic vision they wish to share. The CV4055 is easy on the ears, sweet with delicacy and detail but gives up a little dynamic power on the forte end of the scale to remain that way. Bass capability with the Feastrex speaker is close to subterranean. This is a refined and tempting view of the audio world.

Life is about priorities and choices. The Mike Tang Audio MTA F-60 speaker showed itself capable of satisfying broadly divergent system priorities. Those desiring the joys of a classic tube approach will find it easily attainable with the addition of the companion CV4055 amplifier. The pair will give you the best attributes of warmth and intimacy combined with an immensely wide frequency response for the driver’s size. Our editor in chief shies away from using the term ‘full range’ for most small wideband drivers of this type. Here if used with its matching amplifier it appears to apply. The only tradeoff is a dynamic presentation that is a bit relaxed.

On the other side of the equation was the pairing with the Audio Space tube preamp and Bel Canto class D power amp. For those who prize lightning speed, dynamic gradation and transparency, it proved to be a mismatch made in heaven. The downside was the loss of 30 cycles of bass extension. The gargantuan power attainable by the Bel Canto also was drastic overkill and waste. And yet the mesmerizing musical results argued for the potential of joyful union with a smaller amp of similar virtues. A nimble subwoofer could potentially round out the package.

Who should be interested in the MTA F-60? Followers of the wideband school and those who value coherence and control regardless of technology will find it immensely satisfying. Caveats? Those wanting to listen at louder levels will not be satisfied nor will those who demand even more bass extension at the price. Otherwise it’s an honest-sounding little gem that can reflect transparency or romance at your command.

Who should look at the CV4055 amplifier? Listeners wanting a guaranteed matched pairing that can accomplish stellar bass results with warmth and naturalness. Provisos? Single input limitation may prove frustrating for some. The sonic signature will appeal to those who favor low-level retrieval over dynamic excitement. Richly refined, sweet and expansive.

Quality of packing: Speakers and amplifier are shipped in wooden crates.
Reusability of packing: Yes
Condition of components received: Perfect.
Delivery: Hand delivered by distributor.
Website comments: Comprehensive but requires update to include products under review.
Human interactions: Professional and informative.
Warranty: Speaker 3 years, CV4055 Amplifier 1 year (tubes 90 days)  
Order waiting time: Approximately 2-3 months.
Parts Pricing: NF-5 driver $2250/ea. - waiting time is 4-6 weeks if not in stock; F-60 cabinet in Birch ply $600/ea., MDF $300/ea. Kit available as requested, spray paint extra. Cabinet order waiting time 3-4 weeks depending on  wood type and finish, longer with exotic wood/veneer.
Final comments & suggestions: A 5-inch driver loudspeaker that can run true full-range with the speed and dexterity of some of the best designs if used at moderate volumes. With the CV4055 there’s full-range extension and a touch of romance in the air.

Mike Tang Audio website