This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

The drivers employed are the same amorphous C-core version of the Raal 140-15D tweeter as used in the Petra and the Scanspeak Revelator 18W/8531G. The low-mass Raal aluminum ribbon is 140mm long (5.5 inches) which gives the advantage of greater surface area and includes a pair of moveable foam wings that mount magnetically to the top and bottom of the tweeter faceplate to shape its radiation characteristics. The attributes of the foam material are intended to adjust the wave front from cylindrical to spherical at the user’s discretion and should not be dismissed as inconsequential but instead viewed as critical to the performance of the loudspeaker. The 7-inch Scanspeak mid/woofer from their Revelator series was chosen for its combination of best midrange match with the Raal and generous LF extension. The published frequency response is 38 - 100kHz with a sensitivity of 89dB and the nominal impedance a relatively benign 6 ohms dipping to 4.5 ohms. These numbers indicate that the speaker should be easy to drive and compatible with amplification of more modest wattage but not of the flea power variety. They also indicate that driver matching involved padding down the Raal tweeter from its native 95dB spec.

Internal wiring is solid-core copper of 10 and12 gauge and the crossover employs no circuit board but rather point-to-point wiring on a specially prepared and ventilated MDF layer within the speaker. It uses Goertz copper foil inductors, Mundorf resistors and a combination of ClarityCap PX and ESA capacitors. The already low internal cabinet resonance is further damped with a fiber material.

The real panel is comprised  of a single pair of WBT binding posts (although biwire terminals can be ordered); an identification plate displaying the Bogdan Audio Creations name and product information; and a 2-inch port. The port construction bores through a solid mass of 1" Cherry and a 5" block of MDF and is externally finished with a polished flare carved into the wood.

Speaker and stand are designed as functional art. The rectangular shape is softened by the curvature of the vertical edges and the semi-gloss finish allows the character of the Cherry wood to change, reflecting the ambient light of its surroundings. In daylight the Catalina displays a paler hue and in incandescent light sinks into a richer auburn palette. The unusual base gives the massive two-way speaker the illusion of floating, lessening some of its visual bulk and completing an aesthetic of decadently rich art deco furniture.

Initial tests were done with the AudioSpace CPD 8-A CD player with both tube and transistor outputs, the AudioSpace Reference 2S preamp and my vintage Bel Canto 200.4 amplifier using a progression of different cable combinations. The Densen B-130 integrated amplifier was pressed into service with the speakers upon its arrival for review, giving opportunity to introduce a different flavor of electronics into the mix and test for affinities. Although I had no tube amplifier on hand, the specifications don’t indicate any potential issues and I encountered no nasty quirks with any of the equipment used. The Paradigm Reference Servo 15 subwoofer was employed to check the benefits and compromises afforded by the addition of a subwoofer. As soon as the speakers were positioned, it came time to see if the Catalina could sing.

A Sampling of CDS
"Herdesang" from Hush! The Angels are Singing [FIM CD001 1997] is Winston Ma’s remastering of a Proprius two microphone recording done in 1996 featuring the Taby Church Chamber Choir in Stockholm Sweden. Full church acoustic, air, detail, dynamics and well recorded vocals. Single cut of what some consider the best recording of choral work.

"Capriccio Italian – Tchaikovsky" from Ports of Call [Eiji Oue/Minesota Orchestra Reference Recordings RR-80CD]. Lush collection of diverse popular classical music representing different exotic locales recorded by the Reference Recordings team of Tamblyn Henderson Jr. and Keith O. Johnson. This cut has RR’s signature wide dynamic range and warmth in the service of a lively little piece from Tchaikovsky with a delicious blend of sweetness and crescendo.

Disc2 "Take Five" from Jazz at the Pawnshop: Arne Domnerus [FIM XRCD012/13]. A wonderful well known piece from this classic Jazz recording lovingly remastered by Winston Ma to preserve the fire of the 1976 Proprius original.

"I Can‘t Give You Anything but Love" from Keepin out of Mischief: Judy and the Jazzmakers [Coherent Recordings CD501]. Head of Morrison Audio and successor to Stewart Hegeman‘s omnidirectional speaker designs, Mr. Don Morrison dons his alter ego as record producer and engineer for Coherent Recordings in this purist two microphone recording employing no manipulation or compression. The listener is treated to a talented small jazz group with spicy vocals in an empty church. A dynamically engaging 3D experience in a large warm acoustic.

"End of the Line" from Tron Legacy: Daft Punk [Walt Disney Records D001323402] manages to successfully reawaken the raw primitive power of early electronic music for the eyes and ears of a young audience. Homage abounds in various cuts interweaving symphonic and 80s synth. Here is a little piece that has a definite John Carpenter minimalist feel.

"The Ballad of Bill Hubbard" from Amused to Death: Roger Waters [Columbia CK47127]. Solo effort by Pink Floyd member Roger Waters marks an incredible introduction to the world of Q Sound, an attempt at an electronically manipulated soundstage and placement information on two channels to rival multi-channel surround. Dark musical material and sound effects with placement that can be unnervingly convincing and seemingly unrelated to the actual speaker positions. This is a detailed and subtle cut on a CD that moves between minute scale and full Floyd assault.

"Prelude to War" from Battlestar Galactica Season2: Bear McCreary [La-La Land Records LLLCD1049]. Kudos to my son for introducing me to a few of the fresh discs, especially this one. McCreary is one of the fresh faces in the game of composing and manages to meld a large amount of musical background into a style that weaves from Celtic to Middle Eastern, always remaining fresh, unique and remarkably integrated. This cut was chosen for percussive detail and force but any cut here is an exploration of something new and interesting.

A preamble is in order to bring the observations of the Catalina’s character in perspective. The use of the adjustable foam wings on the Raal tweeter yielded drastic differences in the parameters of soundstage and imaging and to a smaller extent frequency balance. While resolution and dynamics remain unchanged, their perceived integration did not. Although the Raal should function as a smaller line source with the wings spaced wide apart, in practice it achieved considerably more lifelike performance with the wings operating closer together as a spherical wave front. This did however reduce the tweeter output slightly, shifting the speaker into a slightly warmer tonal balance. On the opposite extreme, employing less of the foam wings created a cooler response with greater emphasis on the tweeter’s transient capabilities but also a considerably less defined and less dimensional soundfield. The choice amounted to letting the Raal grandstand or integrate as a coherent whole. Since the foam wings are easily adjustable it will be the end user’s choice.