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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.89g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and 176.4kHz NOS-style upsampling,
Audirvana 1.4.6 in 352.86kHz upsampling and integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, TruLife Audio Athena
Power amplifier: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2; Bakoon AMP-11R, Clones 25i [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Zu Druid V + Submission, soundkaos Wave 40 [on loan]
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom, KingRex uArt split USB cable, Tombo Trøn S/PDIF cable
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 on amps, GigaWatt PC3 SE Evo on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
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: $14.750/pr

Saadhanic evolution V2 to V3 even though regardless of iteration the speaker was never called anything but Saadhana. That's simply Sanskrit for spiritual practice. As such it's an ongoing pursuit.

the final iteration of the twin-cab Saadhana

21 March 2012 00:22. Here is our biggest and best. Personally I don't fancy the wood on this unit. It was custom for an Indian client moving into his new apartment. All his wood was going to be this walnut so he sent us the actual veneer we needed. As you know I am not prone to superlatives. I won't indulge them this time either. All I can say is that if you thought the Maargas good, you'll be surprised by how much better the new Saadhana is. Even I wasn't sure how much better it'd be if at all. Until I heard the final prototype. The 7" full-ranger is really really good. And the 3-driver bass module with the new active filters takes bass performance up a notch too. There's really something to be said for the size of a full-range driver. If designed well, a larger one does something the smaller units don't do. - Jacob George, Rethm

Maarga/Gaanam showing in Montreal

27 March 2012 17:09. Got back last evening to DC. The SSI Montreal is not a big show, just about 100 rooms. But public turnout is huge for much larger numbers. It reminded me so much more of Munich and Taiwan. Far more serious and informed listeners too. And many more women! These are both ingredients which are missing at US shows. 

This was probably the best sound I've ever made at any show. A combination of room proportions and the Gaanam amp and my own cables I guess (which I was using for the first time at a show with the speakers). Response to our room and sound was outstanding, again much better than at US shows.

Many more people seemed to 'get it' both aurally and aesthetically. So it was a good show for introducing our Rethm brand to Canadian audiences.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1:38 PM.
Apologies for the prolonged silence on the new Saadhana. We decided to completely redesign it which of course much improved it. We just went into production. It's now a one-piece unit and - well, you'll see it by and by. The 2-box docking system was something almost everyone complained about. I must say I empathized. I did understand how hard it was to move and re-align. So we decided to undertake a customer feedback improvement. We had to rework both modules anyway with new drivers for the main and bass sections, hence new labyrinths and chambers. This made for a timely opportunity to address the twin-cab issue as well. The bonus is that we actually ended up with a better-sounding loudspeaker. We also managed to rework the widebander's labyrinth chamber and length. This extended its bandwidth even lower.

the final unibody Saadhana

Each bass module now uses three 6x9 oval drivers instead of the 6-inch round units of the old Saadhana. These are again custom drivers from Milind. Well, semi-custom as he makes these as mid/woofers for car audio already. I wanted different spiders and more powerful magnets from the stock units he'd sent us for trial. We tried several variations and finally settled on a type of 'progressive' spider because I wanted more speed at lower amplitudes yet not bottom out or distort at high levels. Everything had to be reworked very imaginatively to get all of this to fit into an enclosure the same size as before.

Which obviously was impossible! We thus ended up making the enclosure 100mm wider but not in the curved parts, just the wooden portion. This I designed such as to enhance the aesthetics rather than detract from them. The speaker actually looks a lot more proportionate and interesting now. For shipping it's one larger package instead of two smaller ones but as this is often merely a one-time problem, I didn't consider it a major issue. It's still no backbreakingly heavy speaker as many of our high-end colleagues propose. Moving it around the listening room is easier now being a single box. Considering how this Saadhana competes with any of the big boys on performance, it's still relatively compact for that category.

Previous probably V1.5 Saadhana in my prior Chardonne residence.

By December 2012 final formal production had replaced the three oval woofers with three 7" round ones. Changes to the architecture of the insides when we redesigned the enclosure meant the 6x9 no longer fit. Being an unusual size, the 7-inch woofer had to be custom-made for us. It took a few months to source all its soft parts. The good thing was that since it was custom, we managed to make it better. We upped the magnet size and gave it more sensitivity and control. The surround is rubber and we experimented with a few spiders before settling on the one we have now. It is a cloth spider and the cone is coated paper. The full-range driver took a huge amount of effort, almost 15 months of work. The final iteration has 2 different kinds of paper - a thicker paper for the main cone, a thinner paper for the whizzer.

This was because the thinner paper which is the main cone material on the 5" and 6" drivers became unstable at seven inches and large amplitudes. But when we switched to the thicker paper I didn't like its sound. It lost a lot of the transparency and high-frequency detail. Then we tried heat-pressing the thicker paper, making it stiffer without increasing its weight. We did that with a pattern of embossed ribs which finally gave us what we wanted. 

By February 2013 my practice gong rang when Rethm's Monaco dealer Sound Galleries had a client wishing to demo a pair. On the dealer showroom floor he'd very slightly preferred the new Rethm Maarga to a pair of older Avantgarde Acoustic Duo. When he learnt of Rethm's new flagship he wanted to postpone a final decision until his April return to Monaco for a last audition. To avoid costly two-way shipping from and to India just for a review pair, the dealer arranged to have his demo speakers dropped off in Switzerland before forwarding them to his showroom at the appointed time. Having very recently concluded writeups on the Zu Druid V and soundkaos Wave 40 both of which remained in-house, I already was deep in widebander mode and thus eager to remain in the groove. With compliments to Geoffrey Armstrong for facilitating this loan of his property, I signed on the proposed time line despite a massively booked schedule. Some opportunities are just too golden to pass up.
At Oz dealer Hifi Direct

If you've chanced upon this without prior knowledge of the brand, Rethm designer Jacob George is a US-trained architect practicing in India's water state of Kerala. For a purely pictorial tour of his residence which reveals much about his Zen-inspired design sensibilities, check my 2006 report. The workers in Jacob's wood shop are trained to build loudspeakers when they're not busy building the furniture he designs. Jacob started his hifi career with rear-hornloaded single-driver speakers based on very heavily modified Lowthers. 10 years after joining the single-driver church, our man's faith in complete bandwidth from such an approach had faltered to add active bass modules with electronics of his own design.


Later he crossed paths with Milind Patel, former head of Peerless India's R&D department. Despite Jacob's candidly low-volume requirements and revision-intense prototyping, Milind proved happy to assist him with his own drivers. This had Jacob join the very small fraternity of widebander speaker houses like AER and Voxativ which don't rely on off-the-shelf drive units from Enviee, Feastrex, Jordan, Lowther, Markaudio or Seas. For an obscure brand in faraway India which appeals to a tiny niche of clients within the already shrinking segment of high-end audio, this was a major coup. It finally freed our man from having to battle Lowther's infamous shout (a propensity to get ragged and too high in output in the upper mids and lower treble). For more background via two award-winning reviews of Jacob's smaller $5.000/pr Trishna and $8.450/pr Maarga models each with a Rethm widebander unique to it, click here and here.

Another view on the earlier twin-cab Saadhana in Chardonne.