January
2020

Country of Origin

France

M3

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref,  AURALiC Vega 
Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B, Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, SIT3, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Kroma Audio Mimí; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence; Fram Midi 150 & 120; Acelec Model One
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000 and Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands 
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: $3'300/pr

The pink panther. Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Peter Sellers in the title role. The unforgettable Henry Mancini theme. It's all seeped indelibly into global pop culture. Most mélomanes simply won't have heard of audio engineer Alain Pratali of Marseille's Rouault Acoustic. I hadn't. According to Simon Lee in Seoul, that would be a shame. So, today's assignment is about to rectify this oversight and overhear.

Simon and Alain are friends. When Simon cleared non-compete bans following a divorce from his former April Music company, he planned a relaunch under new brand Simon Audio. For that he again asked Alain to help him design and build speakers. At present their joint portfolio spans the Model Three aka M3 shown at right around Simon's 5-Series separates of top-loading CDP/DAC and 45wpc i5 integrated; and the matching 8" 2-way M1 tower above. The Model Zero Junior is being readied for release later this year. The flagship Model Zero is on the final road map and shown below.

"I've been a music guy since 1965 when my father played the guitar and my older sister sang "Voi Che Sa Pete" every day. A few days ago I passed my 65-year mark. Alain's speakers are the only ones I listen to these days. I tried so many over my more than 40 years as an avid audiophile. I've come to the conclusion that these are really the speakers for all of our homes."

That was Simon condensing why he would only collaborate with Alain on loudspeakers to offer his clients turnkey whole-system solutions.

For EU clients, Rouault's builder Antoine near Rennes in Brittany handles their sales and shipping. Asian customers deal with Simon Audio's Korean headquarters.

In the Pink Panther, the name of the eventual 7-deep movie series derived from a huge, very rare and very elusive pink diamond of enormous value. Would I agree with Simon that their speaker exhibits equivalent rare sonic value? To find out, I emailed Alain. I started by saying that I thought we hadn't met yet. After 20 years on the trade show beat, I simply was hazy. "No, we really don't know each other. In fact, very few people know of me even though I was in audio for 35 years. 25 years ago, I developed the Oracle Audio 1000 and 2000 CD players and amplifiers for Jacques Riendeau. My very first design was the Crystal DAC with a Philips CDM 12 transport, I²S system and nine power supplies for which I had developed a signal path without feedback, capacitors or DC offset servo, just a clean differential approach [see below – Ed.]. Back then I also made products for Simon like an RIAA phono stage. Today I'm officially retired but I love tech and audio so keep working on projects that interest me. 5 years ago Simon wanted to offer a range of loudspeakers. So I developed for him everything that he asked for, including working with the most desirable drivers from Accuton, AudioTechnology and Supravox. I didn't give up when he subsequently ran into problems with April Music.

"So here we are again in 2020. I propose to not only ship you the speakers but also our cables to get the sound we aimed for. I've experimented with all possible filter permutations and slopes and picked what touched and moved me the most. I focus on the impulse response and in-phase transients to get a very natural open sound." [Above left, M Zero flagship render.]

So… what's in our French/Korean diamond if not the pink panther?