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Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: Audio Space CDP 8A CD Player, Luxman Brid CD Player modified by Audio Upgrades into a tube-less, zero oversampling machine with volume control
Preamplifier: Audio Space Reference 2S
Amplifier:Bel Canto 200.4
AV Receiver: Pioneer Elite SC-25
Main Speakers: Apogee Duetta Signature, Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer, AudioSpace AS-3/5A
Stands: Charisma Audio Function stands, Target stands
AV Speakers: JohnBlue M3s
AV Subwoofer: Paradigm PW-2200
Desktop Audio Speakers: Swans M200 MkIII
Desktop DAC/Pre Headphone Amp: DA&T U-2
Cables: Audio Art SE cable loom, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects and speaker cables, digital optical and coax cable
Resonance Control: Solid Tech, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Audio Exklusiv Silent Plugs, Audio Exklusiv d.C.d. Base and d.C.d. Footers, Superspikes, and Black Diamond
Powerline conditioning: Noise Destroyer power filtration
Accessories: TrueHarmonix Black Magic CD Mat, Herbie’s Super Black Hole CD Mat
Main Room size: 12' x 17'
Home Theatre: 10.5’ x 16.5’
Review Component Retail: $7000/pr CND in solid walnut, matching stands $300/pr CND, amplifier $5,500 CND standard (upgraded parts are more and this amp is sold to Feastrex owners only)

During 2011 TAVES I made a few visits to Canada’s very own Mike Tang. His two Feastrex speakers made remarkable sound. When the chance arose to review them, I said yes. Since this would be my first foray into high-efficiency single-driver speakers, he suggested Feastrex’s own amplifier to guarantee an optimal match. He brought along stands to complete the package.

The concept of a single small driver covering the entire spectrum has great theoretical merit. It does away with the crossover and the difficulty of multi-way designs to maintain a cohesive character between disparate drivers. If well executed, a widebander should act as a coherent source. Strong virtues. Those promises have inspired the imagination of designers from all walks of technology and from electrostats to full-range dynamic drivers. The downside has always been a question of basic Physics. Although smaller drivers mean point source radiation and better control, the drawbacks are reduced air motion, lower output ability and limited frequency extension. In the hands of a clever designer, these liabilities can be minimized. Excursion can be improved, cabinets designed to reinforce and augment. This Feastrex challenger looked traditional and demure as it awaited its audition but appearances can be deceptive. This design promised to build on tradition, not be held back by it.

Michael Tang’s Feastrex MTA F-60 aims high in both price and performance. With its companion CV4055 integrated amplifier the pair is intended to approach the peaks of musical ability for small efficient widebanders. How high could these two scale as a musically matched couple and what would happed if their bond was broken?  Would the speakers on their own prove disastrous folly or pleasant surprise for my high-power amp?

Michael Tang describes himself as an enthusiast first. He holds a strong passion for analog and a love of the Decca cartridge in particular. As a distributor he handles several lines, the Ernestolo Carrot One (a tiny low wattage tube/class D hybrid integrated), Orb and Feastrex drivers. While Mr. Tang doesn’t consider himself a manufacturer in the classic sense, he does offer product on a custom-order basis. His APS analog playback system products and services include two different tone arms for the Decca MkI, II and III cartridges as well as head shell holders, racks stands, phono-related wiring, solid wood racks, stands and an arm board for the Thorens TD-214. He also offers loudspeakers in both finished and kit form which use the Feastrex NF-5 driver and cabinets based on a Feastrex design by Haruhiko Teramoto.

Japanese Feastrex was founded in 2005 to be a relatively new entry in the world of established brands Fostex, Lowther, Jordan et al but has quickly distinguished itself as a top performer. The name represents a nod to the legacy of audio giants like Western Electric Westrex. The main participants are Yukihito Akiyama, president; Haruhiko Teramoto Hiroshi; designer Maekawa and sole builder of the Feastrex drivers; and partner Hiroshi Maekawa responsible for detail design and the CV4055 amplifier. This is a small band of talented artisans blending traditional methodology and materials with current high technology to establish a modern legacy of state-of-the-art audio product based on the single full-range driver approach.

The Feastrex driver lineup represents several approaches to driver control. Their patent-pending Naturflux line is a rethink of magnetic flux behavior. Their passive Monster Alnico motors claim to be the largest built for widebanders yet plus they currently build three variations of powered field-coil units applying a wide range of innovative materials. Square wire coils and hydrogen annealed pure iron are employed in the type 1 and progressive amounts of Permendur—an expensive but highly permeable magnetic material—in the types 2 and 3. None of these are budget-conscious drivers. All aim at top performance and are priced accordingly.

The loudspeaker under review uses the NF-5 driver, a small 5-inch widebander utilizing a massive Naturflux Alnico magnet with 16Ω impedance and 94dB sensitivity. The drivers are hand-crafted by designer Haruhiko Teramoto using Washi paper and leather surrounds. There is a rich legacy behind Japanese Washi paper to carry a good bit of mystique. The material predates the introduction of paper in Europe by some 600 years and is superior in both fiber strength and longevity. Mr. Teramoto chose it because he believes it has ideal acoustical properties as a cone material, being lightweight, rigid and having a minimal sonic signature of its own. The Washi provided exclusively for Feastrex is hand-made by master artisan Ichibei Iwano, a designated national treasure. The raw material is harvested from the middle bark of the Japanese mulberry tree without killing the plant and prepared according to traditional Japanese techniques. The sheer labor-intensive art itself is a fascinating exploration and can be viewed in more detail here.

The leather surrounds are an improved version of speaker surround material dating back to 1929, examples of which are still fully functioning today. Metal parts are milled or machined from solid stock by a precision machine shop in Japan. Each driver weighs 9.5 pounds and claims power handling of 15W RMS, 25W peak. The cited in-cabinet response of 35Hz to 25kHz +/-3dB should raise a few eyebrows. Such bass extension is  considered unusual for any 5-inch woofer, let alone a full-range variant