Joël Chevassus
Financial interests: click here
Source: Esoteric K-03, Lumin A1, Lumin S1 [on loan], Apple iMac Lion Osx/Audirvana, Trends UD-10.1, MacBook Lion OSx with M2Tech HiFace USB bridge
Amp/preamp: Coincident Technology Statement Line preamplifier, SPL Volume2, Luxman M-800a x 2 (bridged), Coda CX [on loan], Trends TA-10.2, SPEC RSA V1EX [on loan]
Speakers: Vivid Audio K1, Magnepan 20.7 [on loan]
Cables: Skywire Audio 2020 digital cable, Naturelle Audio interconnects Live 8 MK2, Grimm Audio TPM interconnects, High Fidelity CT1 Enhanced speakers, Triode Wire Labs cable loom [on loan]
Power Cords: Audio Art Power 1 SE, Supra, DIY, Triode Wire Labs [on loan]
Stands & room: Music Tools Alicia furniture, DAAD 4 bass traps, Microsorber room insulation, PYT Panels
Review component retail: $28’500/pr

The Double Bass and its creators.

Context. The model Double Bass is Lawrence Audio’s new flagship for their string instruments lineup. The 'string family' consists of the Mandolin, Violin (reviewed in August 2013), Cello and now Double Bass. These speakers all have the same elegant necks and flaring bottoms. Orchestral string instruments re-imagined from a cubist perspective have contributed to a genuine visual identity for Lawrence Liao’s loudspeakers. In fact, it has become a sure way to true status amongst the overcrowded speaker market. Compared to players having the same interest in polygonal non-equilateral shapes like Avalon for instance, Lawrence Audio have simultaneously achieved an artistic, easily identifiable and efficient enclosure design. Not too shabby for a relative newcomer in this sector.

The "stringed instrument" family.

In my opinion the design of the wood here remains quite typical of an Asian lifestyle. It’s a kind of concentration on both sobriety and elegance. At this price point, one could perhaps prefer the opulence and classicism of a B&W 800 or the angular extravagance of a Wilson Audio speaker. But these instruments dedicated to reproduce any kind of music have realized their own appeal and use a complex set of drivers that can be compared to any other ambitious Western statement. The Double Bass would also seem an expression of universality. Indeed this instrument is featured in very diverse musical styles from classical music to Jazz to Folk to Rock’n’Roll.

More prosaically, a double bass means low frequencies, conferring on this model obvious full-range status. In fact, the names contrabass and double bass refer to the instrument's range which enters the contra octave below the cello also called the 16' octave relative to the church organ. On a standard 4-string upright, the lowest note is E1 at approximately 41Hz; or C1 (~33Hz) or B0 (~31Hz) when five strings are used. This is within an octave or less above the lowest frequency the average human ear can perceive as a distinct pitch. Orchestral parts rarely demand that the double bass exceed a two-octave base range (an exception to this rule is Orff's Carmina Burana, which calls for three octaves and a perfect fourth). However, there is no hard limit to the upper range a virtuoso solo player like Renaud Garcia-Fons can achieve using natural and artificial harmonics. And the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument is also the trusted rhythm keeper which sculpts the music especially in the Jazz and Blues genres.

The Double Bass at HighEnd Munich 2014

Despite the Lawrence Audio Double Bass being nearly identically shaped if obviously scaled up to the other models in this range, it also embodies special features such as new drivers and a rear-firing tweeter. These loaners were definitely of far greater mass than what I experienced with their little Violin sisters. Due to their superb piano gloss lacquer, their nonlinear shape and respectable weight, it became a true physical effort to move them into my first-floor auditorium. Putting these words on the paper, I have no concrete idea yet what will be the bloody details of their short journey back to the ground floor. Make no mistake then, these angular irregularly shaped minor behemoths create a real challenge to anyone who needs to move them up narrow flights of stairs. It was truly impossible to keep them inside their transport crates which were enormous wooden boxes heavier empty than the actual speakers themselves.

The Double Bass at casa Chevassus.

The very first time I had opportunity to presample the Double Bass was at this year’s Munich High End show in a rather small temporary sound room on the busy open ground floor. The speakers were associated with a dCS Puccini CD player and Avantgarde XA amplification. This setup worked fine considering the very limited space available in that demo room. That curiously tends to often be the case for the M.O.C’s ground floor. Perhaps it's due to the absence of any window surfaces which the upstairs crowds must deal with to excess. I think it also was very helpful that they used an Avantgarde XA amp which thus far has always provided me with good results regardless of speaker. The Avantgarde XA is in fact part of a very short list of desirable amplifiers on my review wish list. I thought it made for a far more musical choice over the Jeff Rowland gear Lawrence Audio employed for the previous installment of the German show. My 2014 audition concluded in an arrangement for a 6moons review and here we are now.