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4 into 1? Any good stereophonic setup relies on two speakers adding/subtracting into a singular event and signal. The more discrete rather than parallel drive units each speaker employs, the harder this strange math would seem to get. Here we have four drivers in four boxes. Easier or tougher? In theory the point-source cyclops eye atop today's horns would appear ideal to avoid the usual piecemeal sonic reassembly. In practice however such a small driver can't displace sufficient air in the ±150Hz band to portray believable power and impact. That's precisely why my Aries Cerat Gladius stops its Fostex 5-incher with a high-pass filter and has a sealed 12" Fostex woofer take over so the widebander won't run wide open.

Ring Audio pursues the exact opposite. Not only do they run their widebander untrimmed, they deliberately extend its reach with a 2m rear horn to make about 65Hz. That becomes a disadvantage. Let me explain. With its WMDs or woofers of maximal descent, here the lower system bandwidth is a true 20Hz and shockingly robust. This mandates a light touch on both amplitude and low-pass controls. Once these dials have locked in the proper balance for the bottom 1.5 octaves, the power region well above them will be too lean. At best you'll manage reasonable linearity on amplitude. Yet on shove and punch you'll never match the truly terrific low and mid bass. It's intrinsically impossible. And that particular energetic gap is instrumental at explaining why playback over this system fell short on gumption, grippiness and excitement.

But the mixed bag had more. The usually necessary counterpoint to such impressively stygian and expertly controlled bass—treble to infinity—was insufficiently evident. At least that would be the case for anyone intimately familiar with a superior tweeter like the Audio Consulting-powered Serbian Raal ribbon of my reference speaker. Add the Lowther poison of presence region energy. It's typical for all widebanders though quite mild in this case. Now let's add up the implications of the above. The resultant sound was a bit soft on the very top, modestly lively in the upper midrange, weak in the power zone and superbly firm, articulate and punchy at the very bottom. Turning up the subwoofers' high-pass to compensate had the upper bass get too prominent. Turning up just the sub volume had mid and low bass get too much. I adored the subwoofers. They're fabulous. But I did not like this particular match.

Rated at 92dB, our Croatian Fostex implementation wasn't nearly as microdynamically adept as my 100dB Voxativ Ampeggio or Rethm's Maarga I'd reviewed. Neither did it focus as well. Performer outlines remained a bit more vague and ambiguous. This wasn't blurry per se. It simply lacked the heightened focus most widebanders major on. Soundstage size was astonishingly tall however and laterally spread truly wall to wall. Additionally the subwoofers' amazing retrieval of even very subliminal cues made for very deep space. Those were the strengths. Yet the actors within this enormous space weren't drawn in any kind of high relief. This undermined exactitude of layering and specificity of image location. While the stage was deep, it wasn't in proper focus.

Then came the already mentioned. Kick and projection in the upper bass/lower midband transition were soft to present a textural discontinuity with what was below and thus telegraph the presence of subwoofers. Harmonic airiness felt compacted because the very top end was shadowed. The net result was surprisingly uninvolving and as such non-committal. I tried the subs directly bracketing the SIT monos both upright and vertical for a more central narrow placement. I ended up as shown below—outside the Master Horns toed in for an ultra-wide setup—and twiddled with the controls hoping to hit upon a magical combination to no avail. Looking closely at the earlier open sub photo, I also tried 180° phase since the internal driver aims inward into the closed line to have its backside face the twin mouth. 0° still made for a better transition with the main horns.

This particular system sounded best at very low volumes. Then the primary listener focus shifted to phenomenally intelligible light-footed bass—the first thing to usually go AWOL—with overall good resolution and fully liberated staging. At room levels the energetic imbalances came to the fore. If we coarsely divided the audible spectrum into four parts from bottom to top, things were strong in the first and third quadrants, weak in the second and forth. Take Dulce Pontes' stunning voice from Momentos. The trademark inner fire and brio on peaks was quite diminished while her low register was throatier than usual. The spidery reflections of the Portuguese guitars lacked sparkle and shimmer. All the live vibe thrills had been suppressed to generate a strangely ambivalent subjectively tame response. The performance parameters to do with the lower two octaves were superlative. Soundstage width, depth and height followed a close second. Then came the hesitation. Tone colors lacked vibrancy as though this small driver couldn't carry the full weight of a mature vocal band. Snap, crackle and pop were on vacation yet the presence region could approach feeling a tad too prominent to cause a desire to turn down the overall volume again. Things sounded loud but didn't feel like it.

This divider inside the horn mouth disturbs its cosmetics and would look better stained to blend.

I began to wonder just what this designer uses for a reference speaker system to guide him. Anyone who nails his shingle to the understaffed widebander bureau ought to have a really good conventional multi-way on hand to not lose sight of essentials. I eventually gave up fussing with the adjustable parameters. No matter what I tried, the core signature stayed put. Having experienced the sculptural aspects in person as well, I would also say that the combination of Master Horn and CH1 subwoofer is quite incongruent. I very much appreciate interesting visual statements. While they might divide the audience, those in favor should really like them. But shouldn't a modular visual statement speak with one unified voice especially given how sizeable the CH1 are to never hide? Their recommended position is very close to the main speakers to also visually tie them together. Yet looking at the two suggests no cosmetic ties whatever.

Conclusion. Being very familiar with successful single-driver designs solo and with integral subwoofers—Voxativ and Rethm—the Ring Audio system based on my experience doesn't yet belong in their ranks. Its concept read far smarter on paper than its current implementation delivered at my ear. The Master Horn does require subwoofer assist just as its designer accounts for. Yet the chosen combination didn't properly combine for me. I was glad I'd held off on their 300B SET (I have two of my own). That would have made matters worse. The transient behavior of high Z-out triodes and class D amps with high damping factor is wildly disparate. In the end any €15.000 3-way speaker I can think of would deliver far better integration between its drivers and as such, far better performance. As is, I can't recommend this as a system. But I will single out the subwoofers as meriting very close attention. While I prefer no amplifier hum to a faint one, theirs wasn't audible 2 meters away. To insure personal ear calibration, I reverted back to my usual Gladius speakers. Instant sun shine. True cohesion. Different ball game altogether. Except for the low bass. Below 35Hz a pair of CH1 for an activated 1st octave would really round things out in casa Villeneuve. If they came striped like zebras to match my Cypriot mains. So do consider these subs!...

PS: As with any other review, the above reflects the findings of just one individual within a given room and with very specific ancillaries. These findings are also relative to specific expectations as based on prior exposure, comparison points and a personal reference system. Anyone interested in this unique speaker system should make arrangements to hear it at a dealer for a second opinion that's their own and as such the only one which truly matters!

Quality of packing: Good enough to guarantee safe delivery.
Reusability of packing: At least once.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: A cinch.
Condition of component received: Minor finishing nits. The subwoofer finish also didn't match the mains as had been discussed upon acceptance of the assignment. What had been agreed upon was a natural wood finish for horns and subs. What was delivered were black horns and white subs to not present us with a matched set to show you.
Completeness of delivery: Lacked non-standard subwoofer power cords and footers for vertical placement. Those were dispatched by second shipment however but at 1 meter the cords should be longer to guarantee that a customer can reach two wall sockets where the subs end up.
Human interactions: Good as far as replies went but twice Margareta said one thing and did another. She still needs to improve her communication skills as the company's chosen English contact. Managing customer expectations is vital and changes in plans should be announced a priori rather than be presented to the end user as fait accompli.
Pricing: Given personal results, too high for the checkered performance but the subwoofers on their own are highly commendable.
Final comments & suggestions: This performed in my space as a very colored speaker system that was tonally and texturally far for seamless.

Ring Audio website