Every once in a blue moon -- or green as it were -- you come across a new product that, to you at least, makes perfect sense, seems to be priced right and offers a combination of features that put it on your must-hear list. All purely on spec, mind you. A major brain tease of sorts. Clayton Shaw's new Emerald Physics cs2 speakers just did that to me. And before you ask, yes, I already inquired about a review pair but ship charges to Cyprus make it prohibitive at present. If one of our US-based writers finds himself equally intrigued by this design, however, we might still do more than just speculate and salivate.
For now, let's remember that none other than loudspeaker crossover legend Siegfried Linkwitz has always championed dipole bass as the ne plus ultra of realism and his now defunct company Audio Artistry explored different variations on that theme in the retail sector. His DIY Orion of course remains available for the ambitious solder slingers. Then there is Jamo's statement open-baffle design, the Reference R909 previously reviewed in these pages.
But it is far from the norm to come across full-range open baffles with any ambitions of approaching 20Hz extension. Out-of-phase bass cancellation due to the figure 8 dispersion pattern in the low frequencies makes it essentially impossible without electronic compensation. That's why many proponents of OBs like Carl Marchisotto of Alon, now Nola, have traditionally wedded them to box bass - and to the chagrin of dipole bass devotees who'd consider that throwing out the best part of the recipe.
The cs2 does not. It marries a 1" compression driver in a low-flare 12" conical waveguide above 900Hz to dual 15-inchers on an open baffle and adds a 4-channel dbx DSP-powered active crossover with phase/time and amplitude correction preinstalled on firmware. And for those with huge rooms and serious bass cravings, add-on 2 x 15" open-baffle woofer modules are available. Before you think huge and expensive, think again. $2,995 takes home a pair including the DSP crossover, another $1,795 gets you a pair of auxiliary bass modules. Size? 48" tall, 18.5" wide, 2.5" deep - small Magnepan territory. Add 100dB system sensitivity well beyond any Maggie ever made. Impedance is 4 - 9 ohms and the 55 lbs/per weight is very manageable as well.
Bi-amplification is essential to the cs2's active filter design and upscale customers can reach for an optional TacT preamp/processor which takes a digital signal right off their digital sources rather than inserting itself into the already analog path as does the dbx box from a preamp, thereby necessitating seemingly redundant data conversions. The basic package includes the measurement microphone with the necessary cable and stand to perform system equalization in real time and automatically once the room EQ function has been initiated.
First Emerald Physics sightings at last year's RMAF show in Denver [above right] were accompanied by ecstatic listener commentary which singled out this room for unusually realistic sound. The company has just launched its website and with it, announced the availability of its first product. If my instincts aren't way off, this will be a speaker to watch. See what you make of it all.