After our first meet with Saša, it took a while before we received a review sample of the LA17 loudspeaker system but eventually we were presented with three heavy-duty transport cases loaded on a pallet. Two contain the LA17 SW subwoofers and the taller case the two LA17 FR widebander beams. That last case also contained two sets of Audio Alto interconnects in RCA and XLR termination. To make the shipment complete, there were two sets of Audio Alto power cables, white gloves and a user manual. The subwoofers and line array came with matching cloth grills for the fronts and backs.

We unpacked the cables and loudspeaker units and carried them up to our living/listening room. Though the LA17SW is heavy, it was doable for one person. There we placed the subs in the same spots where all big loudspeakers in our room start out: 2.85 meter center to center, with the baffles 1.7m from the front wall. After the subwoofers we carried up the two line arrays. On the top of the subwoofers were two openings, one for the wires connecting sub and widebanders electrically, the other to attach the array to the bass bin mechanically. The latter job is best done with two persons. A long M8 bolt with wing nut protrudes at the bottom of each array through a piece of felt but not only to smooth the joint as we would still learn. Connecting the wires was easy and the driver arrays soon towered above their woofer cabs.

At left, with grill.

So what were we looking at now? To start at the top, there were no fewer than 15 x 7cm widebanders with aluminum cones mounted in a vertical but curved line. At the top, the depth of the array was 6cm, at the bottom joining the subwoofer, 11.75cm. Its width was 13.5cm. Tapering the array made for a lighter look when observed from an angle. As mentioned, the LA17 is a dipole so the back of the array is fully open.

For the Ripole subwoofer this was also true but now by way of a W cross section. 2 x 12" woofers mount face to face inside a narrow 9.5cm slot which is open to the front. Meanwhile their backs vent into channels which are open to the rear. Wired in phase, the slot between the driver fronts creates compression to lower their resonant frequency whilst increasing control over their suspensions. That compression also assures that the air velocity is greater at the front than back.

In a separate compartment inside each subwoofer are the electronics. The Audio Alto LA17 PA is a fully passive/active system: the version LA17 P is semi active with only the subwoofer powered, the LA17 A fully active.