For prior personal encounters with Ripol bass systems in our Mont Le Pelèrin flat above Lake Geneva, I heard this Zugspitz system designed by Robert Bastanis…
… these Quasar monitors with Ripol subwoofer from Germany's Cygnus Audio…
… and Voxativ's Pi 9.87 system.
In our next Irish residence of Lecanvey, I then heard this Ecobox Daydream open baffle with Ripol bass designed by Raal's clever inventor Aleksandar Radisavljevic. Later I spotted the ModalAkustik MusicBass subwoofer at the HighEnd Munich show's newcomer exhibit and secured a review sample in our Liscarney house.
My fascination with this bass solution thus spans many years. Despite its continuing rarity, it's no longer a one-pony trick. As I put it in a subsequent review of Sonnet's Pasithea DAC, "aside from a twin-tweeter mohawk, Aurai's Lieutenant 3-way runs a big Supravox-style classic paper midrange. It opens into a short horizontal tapered quarter-wave tube to work dipole. Bypassing most of the hidden 4th-order bandpass woofer inside is my external -6dB/80Hz high pass. That hands over to a 2×15-inch Ripol sound|kaos subwoofer. Because of the sub's highly directional output and velocity conversion not pressure generation principle, the 20-80Hz octaves no longer trigger room gain from 360° dispersion. That eliminates the usual time smear and pressure effects sans room treatment. Above true sub bass down to beyond 25Hz, the midband really opens up. Subtracted from it is the usual overlay of bloomy bass ricocheting around the room. Alain Pratali's big vintage mid has excellent tonality as is. Running it dipole avoids thru-cone bleed. It also breathes without cabinet pressurization effects. Now eliminate bass/room issues. Midrange quality and tonality purify still further. If you don't enjoy equivalent transparency from a tamed room with a sub 28dB ambient noise plus drive units of matching quality plus true bass extension, you'll hear Pasithea in a different light; which is to say handicapped. Extra resolution demands proper conditions to telegraph fully. It's typical small print but still valid qualifier worth a mention."
After I'd finished my Carbide review, their Jeffrey Jenkins asked me to forward two quads to Martin. "They turned up about 10 days ago. I put them underneath my Liber|8 prototype open baffles. I couldn't believe the difference. I've never tried anything that made such a huge improvement. I've been in this 24m² room for 5-6 years. No matter what speakers I use, I always had the right one play more forward. I had to compensate with asymmetrical placement to get imaging right. I've agonized over probable cause and futzed around with different attempts at room treatments. What cured it in one fell swoop were these footers. Not only that, I now have the best bass I've ever had. I didn't realize that the floor coupling which these footers interrupt has such a pronounced effect. Before my prototype small dipoles gave me too much bass which also was ill-defined. With the Carbide footers that's wholly transformed. It's a real mind bender. Needless to say, I'm already working on incorporating them into the actual Liber|8 plinth. Even for the Vox 3 I'm consulting with Jeff Jenkins on a solution that'll be size/load appropriate for the monitors.
"My mind was already preoccupied by visions of a floorstanding Vox. Now that I'm hearing the Liber|8's six 8" woofers on Jeff's isolators, that idea is fading. It's very difficult to describe how clean, quick and linear dipole bass is. I still can't get my head around it. I keep coming back to your Ripol descriptions of time smear, how used we all are to it from the usual room interactions in the bass to which I now must include floor coupling. I haven't quite figured out the feedback loop that sets up when speakers are allowed to couple to even a very substantial suspended floor as we have here. But the difference is undeniable. It now has me think on the subject in an entirely new way. In a room like mine, one certainly won't need a subwoofer with the Liber|8. It's in bigger rooms where open-baffle bass begins to drop off prematurely. It's why Siegfried Linkwitz always compensated his dipoles electronically. Hearing those very low frequencies whereby good recordings map venue acoustics at very low levels creates real magic. Disbelief suspends and everything feels more real.
"A dealer of mine had just one issue with his Vox pair. He found their bass amazing but the midrange not quite full-bodied enough. Having just tried the Vox on Jeff's footers, I realized that by cleaning up their bass just like Dawid Grzyb described with them in his Carbide review, it brought out the midrange exactly like this Belgian dealer was after. I'm already drawing up how I might incorporate a single Carbide under the Vox plinth, then use two small outriggers for stabilization. The details of the execution will come but I'm certainly very excited to make it happen." Playing footsies can be very serious business indeed. Disregard at your own risk of leaving performance under the table; or in the floor as it were.
… to be continued when sound|kaos launch their matching amplification and filter modules…
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